Discuss the Nature-Nurture Debate in Relation to Individual Development (M1)

2187 Words Nov 9th, 2012 9 Pages
Discuss the nature-nurture debate in relation to individual development (M1)
Evaluate the nature-nurture debate in relation to development of the individual (D1)

Over the course of the last century one of the greatest debates in psychology concerns, the basis of behaviour, specifically whether behaviour is innate i.e. genetically controlled, or whether it is learnt through the socio-cultural environment. This is often referred to as the Nature vs. Nurture debate. There are two main arguments on this issue. The ‘Nativist’ claims that all behaviour is innate believing that genes control the majority of animal behaviour. On the other hand, the empiricist position suggests that all behaviour is learned through an individuals cultural
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It has been argued that the propensity towards intellectual plasticity is determined genetically, but that the environment is what governs the moulding of that plasticity. As such, people who have a genetic propensity to intelligence and a highly stimulating infancy will become most intelligent, while those who have a lower genetic propensity to intelligence may still demonstrate high IQ through a highly structured intervention program. This would explain both Ramey’s study, as well as the Devlin argument, and hence support the concept that there might be both a genetic and an environmental influence on intelligence.

Naturally there are opposing views, from the ‘Nativists’ that individual’s genetics are determinant in regards to behaviour, and that indeed certain behaviour and ‘instincts’ are in fact largely under genetic control. A prime example of this is the Chomsky’s cognitive theory of language. Chomsky’s approach to the study of language emphasizes an innate set of linguistic principles shared by all humans- known as universal grammar. N.Chomsky was the first behaviourist to provide a functional, operant analysis of language. He proposed that we are born with a brain mechanism he called the ‘language acquisition device’ (LAD). This

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