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Key Elements of the Nature-Nurture Controversy Essay

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Updated: May 13th, 2022

Introduction

The nature-nurture controversy centers on the contributions of the environment and genetics to the development of human behaviors. Nature, in particular, refers to the genetic composition that some psychologists believe has a significant role in the formation of behavior. On the other hand, nurture refers to environmental factors and interactions. Nature-nurture has been controversial because of the differing views among psychologists and researchers.

Why the nature-nurture debate is controversial

Some researchers argue that people are born with innate traits and abilities. They add that these intrinsic abilities are fully responsible for the character growth and development of a person. On the other hand, their opponents assert that environmental factors chiefly influence the growth and development of human traits.

In a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from the Twins Early Development Study of King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry observed 45 childhood characteristics of approximately 6,759 pairs of identical and non-identical twins in the UK. These characteristics included their IQ, hyperactivity, height, and weight. The purpose of the study was to determine whether the genes or the environmental conditions contribute the most to the development of behavioral patterns. Moreover, the geographical difference in the UK was observed in terms of environmental and genetic variations (Brierley, 2011). The result of the study revealed that some places occurred to be environmental hotspots for certain traits’ formation. In other places, it was genetics that governed the traits. In London, the environment plays a key role in the formation of traits. One reason for this is income and social status differences within communities. Twins who grow up in the same place are likely to have different friends who impact their behavior.

In a study conducted by Dr. Peter Neubauer, a New York psychiatrist, five twins were separated at birth. They were brought up in different homes, and their families were informed about the study. Although they were twins, they participated in the research study without knowing their relationship (Discovery Communications, 2011). Dr. Neubauer discovered that despite the separation, the twins had common traits. He concluded that genetics plays a significant role in the formation of human traits. During the study, one set of twins was excluded from the program because they did not progress at the same rate.

Similarities and differences

The research conducted by the researchers from the Twins Early Development (TED) Study and the research of Dr. Neubauer involved twins. This was the main similarity. However, a large number of twins participated in the study by TED, while Dr. Neubauer had only 15 sets of twins. The TED group of researchers did not have to separate the twins, while in Dr. Neubauer’s study, the twins were separated. TED’s study revealed that it was the environment that influenced the traits of the participants. In Dr. Neubauer’s conclusion, he stated that genetics was responsible for forming human traits.

In terms of reliability in the conclusion of the research studies, none can be considered to be more acceptable than the other. TED’s research had several participants. Even though the results of most of the participants were influenced by environmental factors, it remains that some participants were not influenced by external factors. In Dr. Neubauer’s study, he excluded one set of twins who did not show the same progress rate. Any form of study which asserts that only genetics influence human behaviors may not be considered to be reliable. Both genetics and the immediate environment influence human behaviors. Further research studies should be conducted in this area of controversy.

References

Brierley, C. (2012). Nature or nurture? It may depend on where you live. EurekAlert! – Science News. Web.

Discovery Communications, LLC (2011). Can we understand nature vs. nurture by studying twins? – Curiosity. Curiosity: Discovery Channel. Web.

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