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The Nature versus Nurture Essay Debate

Introduction

The discussion of nature versus nurture rotates around the issue of behavior and development. Those who argue for the nature side contend that what we become or who we are is influenced by our genes and hereditary factors including physical appearance and personality traits. On the other hand, those on the nurture side argue that the environment plays a massive role in influencing who we are, referring to environmental variables such as childhood experiences, parenting styles, social relationships, and culture. Although these two sides argue for different factors influencing behavior and development, nature and nurture cannot be isolated since they both play a significant role in the life of an individual.

The nurture versus nature debate began many decades ago. It started with the world’s greatest philosophers including Plato and Socrates who maintained that certain things are inborn and occur naturally without an influence of environmental factors (Kong et al., 2018). On the other hand, nativists posited that all behaviors are inherited through an individual’s genetic make-up and composition. The nativists tried to argue that evolution causes behaviors and traits and genetic traits are handed down from parents to their children making every one unique. Other thinkers such as John Locke, as pointed out by McLeod (2007), brought in the idea of tabula rasa that is based on the argument that at birth, one is born with a blank mind and through development and growth everything starts to take shape.

In essence, people believe that nature fixes behavior and that development is entirely a matter of choice. However, it is crucial to consider the fact that in the course of human life, there is an interaction between nature, nurture, and the choices that people make. Biological programming refers to our genetics. Biologically, genes are responsible for structuring amino acids which also impact on the body cells by influencing on the proteins leading to the chemical components of our biology. The shape, size, and behavior of people rely on their biological make-up through an interaction of environmental factors (McLeod, 2007). That is, the actions and development of any individual are explained by their genetic composition and the environment in which they exist.

The maturation theory is an excellent example of child development. In this theory, the argument is that development is comprised of genetically determined series of events that unfold automatically (Petersen, 2017). This argument strengthens the idea that development is a biological process that takes place in predictable stages over the course of time. Here, the ability of a child to speak in a specific language is assumed to be as a result of their genetic makeup. The argument is that at first, a child starts to become interested in sounds and signs that they see with their parents and other people around them, thereby triggering the need to speak.

It is not in doubt that development is highly dependent on an individual’s genetic make-up. However, genes cannot function without significant influence by the environment. For example, in case a child is born deaf due to inherited genetic composition, they will never learn how to speak, but they might learn sign language if the people around them use sign language. It is thus without a doubt that the environment and the genetic makeup of an individual work together in the maturation process. A more interesting example is that of feral children who are kept away from human contact from the time they are born (Rollo, 2018). Due to the isolation, such children lack parental care and love, and cannot pick any human language. In most cases, they end up becoming mentally and physically impaired.

In yet another example, individuals may not have inherited such concrete behavioral traits as the political party they support, the religion they practice, and the language they speak because these traits are largely provided by one’s environment, including their culture and home environment. However, they inherited the traits upon which their underlying talents and temperaments are based. For instance, one may have inherited from their parents how to be religious, how to become conservative or liberal, and how to become proficient with language. This then means that whether they are conservative or liberal determines their political stance. It also implies that how fast they can become proficient with language affects the number of languages they can speak. On the same note, their understanding of religion and extent of religiosity significantly impacts their religious affiliation. As such, both nature and nurture have an input into how one develops.

It is therefore challenging to isolate nature and nurture in the developmental process of a human being, and this can be explained using several other examples. For instance, in the case of academic success, one might wonder if people succeed because they are genetically modified to succeed, or it is out of the environment they exist in. Similarly, one might consider the case of an abusive husband where the question is whether one is born with abusive tendencies or they learned the behavior by observing the behavior of others during their development process. In these two cases, it is difficult to blame genetic composition in entirety since environmental influences go a long way in explaining violent tendencies and academic success.

There are traits and physical characteristics that can entirely be blamed on genetic composition. For instance, biological composition influences an individual’s hair color, eye color, and genetic diseases such as diabetes. However, other examples such as life expectancy profoundly affect biological makeup, lifestyle, and environmental factors. On the issue of life expectancy, one might have been born with a strong immunity, but if they smoke or eat a lot of junk among other unhealthy lifestyles, they will not have a prolonged life expectancy.

Conclusion

The nature versus nurture debate is still on despite being initiated many years ago. Different branches of psychology tend to focus more on one side than the other. However, as seen, the truth is that neither can be explained in isolation. It is true that some behaviors and traits are in-born. However, it is also true that the environment also plays a significant role in influencing such behaviors.

References

Kong, A., Thorleifsson, G., Frigge, M. L., Vilhjalmsson, B. J., Young, A. I., Thorgeirsson, T. E., … & Gudbjartsson, D. F. (2018). The nature of nurture: effects of parental genotypes. Science359(6374), 424-428.

McLeod, S. (2007). Nature vs. nurture in psychology. Simply Psychology.

Petersen, A. (2017). Brain maturation and cognitive development: comparative and cross-cultural perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

Rollo, T. (2018). Feral children: settler colonialism, progress, and the figure of the child. Settler Colonial Studies8(1), 60-79.

Outline of the Nature vs Nurture Essay Debate

Introduction

Thesis: Although the two sides argue for different factors influencing behavior and development, nature and nurture cannot be isolated since they both play a significant role in the development process of an individual.

Body

Paragraph 1:

The nurture versus nature debate began many decades ago.

  • It started with the world’s greatest philosophers including Plato and Socrates who maintained that certain things are inborn and they occur naturally without an influence of environmental factors.
  • Nativists posited that all behaviors are inherited through an individual’s genetic make-up and composition.
  • Thinkers such as John Locke brought in the idea of tabula rasa that is based on the argument that at birth one is born with a blank mind and through development and growth everything starts to take shape.

Paragraph 2:

In essence, people believe that nature fix behavior and development is entirely a matter of choice.

  • . However, it is crucial to consider the fact that in the course of human life there is an interaction of nature, nurture and the choices that people make.
  • Biologically, genes are responsible for structuring amino acids which also impact on the body cells by influencing on the proteins leading to the chemical components of our biology.
  • The actions and development of any individual are explained by their genetic composition and the environment in which they exist.

Paragraph 3:

The maturation theory is an excellent example of child development.

  • In this theory, the argument is development is comprised of genetically determined series of events that unfold automatically.
  • The ability of a child to speak in a specific language is assumed to be as a result of their genetic makeup.

Paragraph 4:

Undoubtedly, development is highly dependent on an individual’s genetic make-up.

  • However, genes cannot function without significant influence by the environment.
  • A more interesting example is that of feral children who are kept away from human contact from the time they are born.
  • Due to the isolation, such children lack parental care, love and cannot pick any human language.

Paragraph 5:

Individuals may not have inherited such concrete behavioral traits as the political party they support, the religion they practice, and the language they speak because these traits are largely provided by one’s environment.

  • However, they inherited the traits upon which their underlying talents and temperaments are based.
  • For instance, one may have inherited from their parents how to be religious, how to become conservative or liberal, and how to become proficient with language.

Paragraph 6:

It is challenging to isolate nature and nurture in the developmental process of a human being, and this can be explained using several other examples.

  • In the case of academic success, one might wonder if people succeed because they are genetically modified to succeed, or it is out of the environment they exist.
  • Also, one might consider the case of an abusive husband where the question is whether one is born with abusive tendencies or they learned the behavior by observing the behavior of others during their development phase.

Paragraph 7:

There are traits and physical characteristics that can entirely be blamed on genetic composition.

  • For instance, biological composition influences an individual’s hair color, eye color and genetic diseases such as diabetes.
  • However, other examples such as life expectancy profoundly affect biological makeup, lifestyle and environmental factors.

Conclusion

The nature versus nurture debate is still on despite being initiated many years ago. Different branches of psychology tend to focus more on one side more than the other, but the truth is both cannot be explained in isolation. It is true that some behaviors and traits are in born, but the environment also plays a significant role in influencing such behaviors.

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