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The Nurture Versus Nature Debate

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The nurture versus nature debate is commonly seen as one of the most important issues in psychology. It is assuredly one of the best researched, with various studies dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Two schools of individual difference theorists clearly differ in their approach to this question. The first school of thought, implanted in social psychology and sociology, claims that the environment is of principal importance in determining how individuals behave. For these theorists, the examination of social processes by which intelligence and personality traits are attributed to others is seen as the only relevant issue in personality study. As shared environment has been shown to have a certain impact on personality and intelligence, affirming that « children are not empty canvases on which parents can paint their dreams » (Judith Harris, 1998) is not legitimate. However, the second school of thought claims that personality and ability appear to have a distinct relationship with biology and the nervous system. For these theorists, personality and intelligence are behavioral consequences of biological structures that are within the individual. As it can be shown that a trait is substantially influenced by genetics, affirming that « we can make our children turn out any way we want is an illusion » is reasonable.The aim of this essay is to evaluate the extent to which evidence supports the idea that personality and ability cannot be influenced by parental
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