The nature/nurture debate looks at the origins of behaviour. Nature suggests that behaviour is determined by biological factors (genes, brain and chemicals) that are in place before birth, or through maturation. Nurture arguments suggest that behaviour is shaped by our environment, and that we are all product of surroundings. An interactionist view would suggest that both nature and nurture work together to shape our behaviour.

One approach that takes the nature perspective is the Physiological approach, as it states that behaviour stems from biology, brains and genes. One approach that takes the nurture view is the Behaviourist perspective. Behavioural psychologists use the idea of ‘Tabula Rasa’ in that all people are born as blank slates and that all behaviour is shaped and influenced by our surroundings and our environment.  

One advantage of studying with both nature and nurture is that if we can understand what behaviours are learned, rather than innate, then we have the possibility of changing that behaviour for the better. For example, the study conducted by Bandura showed that when children were exposed to an aggressive model they learned to show the same aggressive acts. This shows if a child can learn aggression then we can prohibit what children are exposed to and therefore what they are/ aren’t learning. For example putting age ratings on films and having the watershed for tv.    

A weakness of studying nature and nurture can be that it is difficult to separate out the effects of heredity and environment and researchers may expose participants to negative stimuli in an attempt to access the impact of the environment. This therefore raises ethical issues, particularly linked to the protection of participants.

A further benefit of studying nature and nurture is that if we know what behaviour is innate, rather than learned, then we can recognise that people cannot be blamed for it, as they have no choice. Instead of being punished for undesirable behaviours, they should be treated or made aware that they are susceptible to health issues and know how to access help. Raine discovered that brain dysfunction can cause criminal behaviour. The murderers in Raine’s study pleaded not guilty due to reasons of insanity, and evidence from their PET scans showed abnormal activity in the brain. However, this view can be seen a deterministic as although the behaviour may not be their fault they still committed the crime and still deserve to be punished for it.   

A further drawback of studying both nature and nurture is that as genes and environment are often combine together to affect our behaviour, there may be evidence for both nature and nurture affecting behaviour but often researchers only focus on one or the other. This can lead to problems of reductionism.

Overall I feel that it is important to consider both nature and nurture when looking at behaviour as I feel that they both have an impact on a person and their behaviour/decisions and that one is not more important than the other when influencing a person.

About these ads