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Nature and nurture

Nature and nurture

This is a long running debate, which is interested in whether we are like the way we are because of nature (inherited and genetic) or nurture (experiences and influences after conception).

The nature-nurture debate can be seen as another example of determinism.

A nature-nurture debate is concerned with what causes something to develop. On one side, nativists see development as arising from innate factors - from inherited characteristics. On the other side, empiricists see development occurring because of experience and learning.

The debate is also closely linked with reductionism because extreme nativist or empiricist arguments are by definition reductionist. By saying that some aspect of behaviour is caused by solely by genes, or solely by experience could be seen as a reductionist argument.

There are many nature-nurture debates in psychological theory and a number of which are raised during this course. Although very interesting these debates tend to be historical rather than current. Nowadays, most psychologists see the development of behaviour differently. They see biological predispositions as guiding development in certain directions, but experience as influencing how that development manifests itself. The two sources are seen as interconnected, not as opposing alternatives, and it is the way that they interact which is the focus of interest.