Welcome to Philosophical Friday with the Discussion Division. Today we are going to be discussing the Nature versus Nurture debate. This debate is concerned with whether our behaviour is most heavily impacted by our genetics (nature), or the environment we grow up in and the way in which we are cared for (nurture).
One largely argued idea is that our genetics dictate our behaviour. The basis of this argument is that our genetics decide what we think is right and wrong, as they do for our gender, hair colour, and eye colour. That they dictate all aspects of the human, including mentally and physically. The differences in people’s judgement is explained as differences in the genomic sequence for each individual person. A person’s mind is already decided prior to birth, thus behaviours, personality, and mental abilities are all pre-set. Some characteristics are not observable at birth, but have an internal biological clock in which they activate at a specific time in live. The primary example of this would be development in early adolescence at puberty. However, the earlier a specific trait or ability becomes apparent, the more likely it is influenced by genetic factors. John Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment supports the nature argument, as he argues that the bond between a mother and child as process pre-built into us to ensure survival. There have been many experiments conducted to see whether nature influences human characteristics. One such experiment included the use of apes who were given a variety of toys that were associated with genders, such as dolls with girls and cars with boys. It appeared that the female apes were drawn immediately to the baby toys, and the males to the cars, implying that nature heavily impacts how we behave. Therefore, these theories and experiments show that our behaviour and personality may be contributed to by our genetic sequences, and influenced by what our minds already have pre-set.
The opposing idea to nature, is that human behaviour is affected by nurture. This belief is that people learn from examples and experiences, and eventually, over time, these behaviours become adapted into their own lives. Albert Bandura’s social learning theory heavily supports this, stating that there are four conditions for learning. These conditions are; observation – seeing someone else perform a certain way, retention – remembering what was seen, reproduction – practising similar behaviour to the actions seen, and motivation – a reasoning behind performing the way one does. All of these are necessities to the social learning support that human behaviour is affected by nurture. For example, if two children named Child A and Child B watched two separate adults playing with a toy. Child A sees an adult with a teddy bear, having a tea party with it. On the other hand, Child B sees an adult with a teddy bear who is acting aggressively towards it. This would be observation. Next is retention – if the children forgot what they saw, it would likely not affect their behaviour in the future. For the sake of examining nurture and the social learning experiment, say the children do remember what they saw well. The next requirement is reproduction – say the children are given a teddy bear, and have the option of how to play with it. They would likely reproduce what they saw, being affected by the environment they were around beforehand. Lastly, the children in the future would need motivation about what they do with the bear. If Child B was scolded for hitting the bear, they would likely not want to do it again for fear of the punishment. However, if Child A was praised for behaving nicely, they would be more inclined to behave like that again, in order to receive praise. Overall, the idea that nurture affects human behaviour is shown in everyday life, thus studies and theories such as Albert Bandura’s social learning theory support it and explain it how it works.
Now you’ve heard the debate for each side, we want to know your thoughts.
Do you think our behaviour and personality as individuals is most effected by nature or nurture and why?
Fight the Good Fight!
– The Discussion Division
Daniellem, Queenieliz and Reyder