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Intelligence: Nature vs. Nurture
Intelligence is a very common subject in psychology but as common as it is, there is no complete way of defining intelligence in it’s constitute. Some psychologists have suggested that intelligence is an ability that is general as well as single. Others have come to believe that intelligence is made up of different skills, aptitudes as well as talents. There are many theories that have been in existence as from the early 1900s in their attempt to define intelligence or to look at what really constitutes intelligence.
General Intelligence by Charles Spearman
Charles Spearman was a British psychologist who lived from 1863 to 1945. He introduced the general intelligence concept or the g factor to the psychology body of knowledge (Currie, 1995). He made use of a technique referred to as factor analysis to examine some mental aptitude tests. His results showed him that the scores he got on the mental aptitude tests were surprisingly so similar. If a person performs well in one cognitive test, he or she also performs well on other tests administered and this was the trend. Those who had bad scores in the cognitive tests also had bad scores on the other tests that were administered. His conclusion after numerous tests and research was that intelligence is general cognitive ability that could be measured and numerically expressed (Moore, 2003)
The Primary Abilities by Louis L. Thurstone
“Intelligence, considered as a mental trait, is the capacity to make impulses focal at their early, unfinished stage of formation. Intelligence is therefore the capacity for abstraction which is an inhibitory process” (Thurstone, 1924). The psychologist Louis L. Thurstone (1887-1955) came up with a different theory on intelligence whose main focus was the primary mental abilities. This challenged Spearman’s theory then existing theory whose main focus was the g factor. He did not take intelligence to be a single entity whose ability is general but rather decided to focus on seven different “primary mental abilities” (Gazzaniga, 1994). The primary mental abilities on which this theory focused on include:
– When a person can reason something out then the person is said to be intelligent. This is why human beings are referred to as intelligent beings even in biology. In ITC the machines that can do a job that a human being should do in terms of sensing and adjusting to the environment in which it exists is referred to as an intelligent machine.
• Associative memory:
– Humans tend to remember things by associating the thing to another that they know very well. This is seen as intelligence according to Thurstone’s theory.
• Verbal comprehension:
– The way a person articulates any language is a very important measure of intelligence.
• Numerical ability:
– The ability to manipulate numbers also plays a key role in establishing a human being’s intelligence.
• Spatial visualization:
– This is the ability of the human mind to play around with 2-dimensional as well as 3-dimensional figures. This was measured using simple cognitive tests.
• Perpetual speed:
– This factor was also identified by Thurstone to contribute to intelligence. There is a lot of debate as to whether perpetual speed contributes to intelligence. Some psychologists have come to disagree with the idea that perpetual speed contributes to intelligence.
• Word Fluency:
– The ease with which a person has to communicate using words also measures a person’s intelligence.
Thurstone is also responsible for the development of a statistical technique referred to as the multiple-factor analysis. He has made major contributions to psychology that has formed a base for other psychologist to add on to the existing knowledge that psychology has so far accumulated. Thurstone’s argument regarding the theory by Spearman was that the g-factor was a mathematical result of the procedures of a mathematical nature used to study it. His tests show that people with different IQ scores had different profiles when it came to the primary abilities. His tests however revealed the g factor when he administered the same tests to a group of heterogeneous children. He finally reorganized his theory to include the g factor as well as the seven primary abilities. This was a very important base for future psychologists who came up with theories.
Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner
(Gardner, 1993) asserted that “To my mind, a human intellectual competence must entail a set of skills of problem solving – enabling the individual to resolve genuine problems or difficulties that he or she encounters and, when appropriate, to create an effective product – and must also entail the potential for finding or creating problems – and thereby laying the groundwork for the acquisition of new knowledge.” The theory of multiple intelligences is the name of the theory by Gardner (Novartis Foundation, 2001). After running tests not only on normal adults and children but also gifted people, people who have had brain damage, virtuosos and experts as well as people from different cultures, he proposed that just because a human being has the ability to tackle tests and also answer numerical questions may not be a full description or measure of intelligence (Stenberg & Grigorenko, 1997). He said that the earlier theories ignored very major intelligences that are used in daily life and are thus very important such as social intelligence. The theory of multiple intelligences propose eight intelligences each of which are distinct and are based on the abilities as well as the skills which are valued with the different cultures of the world. They include:
• Intra personal Intelligence:
– These people understand their goals as well as interests. They tend to be loners and are in tune with what they feel inside. These are the people with wisdom, motivation, intuition as well as opinions, confidence and strong will. The tools to be used for this group include diaries, privacy, creative materials, books as well as time. These are the most independent learners of all the intelligences listed.
• Visual-spatial Intelligence:
– These are people who are always in the present and very aware of their surroundings. They also think in terms of the physical space. They like to read maps, draw, and daydream as well as do jigsaw puzzles. The grasp things easily when taught through the use of drawings, physical imagery as well as verbal lessons therefore the learning tools here include video, multimedia, models, television, graphics, photographs, 3-d modeling (Epstein, 1998).
• Naturalistic Intelligence:
– This kind of intelligence was thought of last by Howard Gardner. Human beings use this kind of intelligence to draw upon the environment and then the mind plays around with what is seeing in the environment. It “combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value” (Gardner Howard, 1993)
• Verbal-linguistic Intelligence:
– These people know how to use words in an effective manner and even think in words. They are the sort that always likes to read, write stories or poetry as well as playing games that involve words such as scrabble. The make use of mysteries, logical games as well as investigations to learn. These get the concepts first then get into the details of the concepts.
• Interpersonal Intelligence:
– This group of individuals understands and always reacts with others in their environment. They learn by interaction. These are the street smarts we have around and they are also full of empathy for others and do have a load of friends. They are taught through seminars or anything that will involve group activities. The tools used include the telephone, video conferencing, E-mail as well as computer conferencing and writing.
• Musical Intelligence:
– These are sensitive to sound as well as rhythm. Music is their first love but they are also sensitive to the sounds made by birds or those in their environment. These can study with music playing and they can be taught by turning the contents of a lesson into lyrics. The tools here are therefore anything that can help produce music.
• Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence:
– They make use of the body a lot such as dancers or surgeons. They are aware of their body movement and they like touching, movement and making things. They can be taught using hands on techniques and the tools to be used here are real objects to be used in real life (Cianciolo and Sternberg, 2004).
• Logical-mathematical Intelligence:
– These are good at reasoning and calculating. They think in a conceptual manner and they would always experiment or be solving puzzles.
The theory by Gardner has greatly challenged educators. Educators know understand that individuals have different kinds of intelligence and given the nature of the instructions or unit being taught then proper means of teaching should be adopted so as to ensure that the learning process is as smooth as possible. This ensures that students understand and not just master something they do not really understand.
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence by Robert Sternberg
This theory was developed so as to give a more detailed description of competence intellectually than the theories herein mentioned. This theory was developed by Robert Sternberg who proposed that three fundamental aspects of intelligence exist; Creative, Practical and Analytic (Bartholomew, 2004). He maintained that Creative intelligence is absolutely necessary for the tackling of nearly strange tasks or when a human being needs to automate a task. Practical intelligence has been seen to be needed when a human being is to adapt to an environment in the best possible way while analytic intelligence referred to the processes that go in the mind so as to express intelligence. According to Sternberg, general intelligence is part of analytic intelligence and it is the combination of the three fundamental aspects that one can have full insight into intelligence (Cohen, 1999).
Recently, the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence was renamed Theory of Successful Intelligence by Sternberg. The individual is termed intelligent if he or she has attained his or her success in life by the same person’s standards. The success a person achieves in life can be attained by making use of the creative, analytic and practical intelligence. These three in combination are given the name processing skills. Stein and Book (2006) argues that success is achieved by adapting to the environment in which one exists then shaping of the same environment as well as selecting the kind of environment the individual would want. This is done by making use of one’s strengths and putting in effort so as to correct one’s weaknesses. This theory is still a contentious issue among psychological scholars and hence we do expect other theories to come up.
Intelligence: Nature vs. Nurture
If we say intelligence is nature it means that human beings are born with it but if we were to say it is nurtured then it means that one can be born not intelligent but develops the intelligence over time. According to Spearman, intelligence is natural in that you either have the g-factor or not (Anderson, 1999). There is no part that he suggests improvement. He even goes ahead to say that those who passed continued to pass and those who failed, continued to fail. In other words, he was saying that you either have it or you simply do not have it. In classes as well as industries, we have seen people improve in class and also people improve in the way they relate with others.
Keeping the previous paragraph in mind, it means that intelligence can also be nurtured as long as the individual is willing. The second theory was by Thurstone and according to him; there were many factors that constituted intelligence. In his tests he concluded that children tended to be either born intelligent or not as he failed to see the primary features he had in his theory. This was a shift in thought that one can be born as intelligent or not but as a child grows, they begin to learn and nurture intelligence so according to him, he does acknowledge that one is either born with it or not but as the person grows, he or she, will develop some primary features which will now determine whether the person is intelligent or not.
The next theory discussed in this paper is the theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Garner. According to his theory he does acknowledge that everyone is intelligent in their own way as there are different kinds of intelligence (Goleman, 2006). It is then nurtures using appropriate tools that match the type of intelligence the individual exhibits. For example, if a person shows interpersonal intelligence then the best tool to teach such a person is the use of group activities. Always ensuring that such a person is at a place where he or she can interact is important because the kind of intelligence harbored in such a person dictates the use of people as his or her best friend is people.
According to Sternberg in the Theory of Successful Intelligence, he does agree that a part of the intelligence in a human being is general, meaning natural or inborn. Quite a big chunk is developed by the person and this is dependent on the success levels the individual would want to reach. Intelligence is measured by the success a person has achieved in life but then success in the same individual’s eyes. This means that everybody has different levels of intelligence as what one individual would term as intelligent, another would not. According to Armstrong (1999), this means that intelligence is natural but it depends on how everyone uses it or nurtures it so as to be intelligent sully in terms of analyzing, creating and practicalities.
Depending on what base you are talking about intelligence, it may fall under natural or being inborn but if we are to look at it from a success point of view then we can easily say it is nurtured. Therefore, whether intelligence is nature or nurture is a matter of the point of view as well as the individual. This still remains a contentious issue in the psychology world but there is hope that other theories will come up to better explain intelligence.
The definition of intelligence has not been well established and is still the reason psychologists are still fighting among other issues. It is therefore difficult to conclude as to whether intelligence is inborn or nurtured once a human being gets to earth. One thing is clear though, every person has their own kind of intelligence which is worth exploring. This is inborn. After a person has realized their natural intelligence, then they can nurture it.
Anderson, M. (1999). The Development of Intelligence (Studies in Developmental Psychology).
Berlin: Psychology Press.
Armstrong, T. (1999). 7 (Seven) Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences.
Bartholomew, D.J. (2004). Measuring Intelligence: Facts and Fallacies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cianciolo, A.T., & Sternberg R.J. (2004). Intelligence: A Brief History (Blackwell Brief Histories of Psychology). Los Angeles: Wiley-Blackwell.
Cohen, D.B. (1999). Stranger in the Nest: Do Parents Really Shape Their Child’s Personality,
Intelligence, or Character? Michigan: J. Wiley & Sons.
Currie, J. (1995). Nature vs. nurture?: The bell curve and children’s cognitive achievement
(Labor and Population Program working paper series), Columbia University, New York: John Wiley.
Epstein, S. (1998). Constructive Thinking: The Key to Emotional Intelligence. London: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Gardner, H. (1993.) Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Gazzaniga, M. (1994). Nature’s mind: Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality,Language, And Intelligence. Michigan: BasicBooks.
Goleman, D. (2006). Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Sydney: Hutchinson.
Moore, D.S. (2003). The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of “Nature vs. Nurture.” Atlanta: CRC Press.
Novartis Foundation. (2001). The Nature of Intelligence No. 233. New York: Wiley John and Sons
Stein, S.J. & Book, H. (2006). The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your
Success. (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Stenberg, R.J. PhD & Grigorenko, E. (1997). Intelligence, Heredity and Environment.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Thurstone, L.L. (1973). The Nature of Intelligence. London: Routledge.
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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013
How to Write an Essay on Nature vs Nurture
The Never-Ending Debate over What’s More Important – Nature or Nurture
There has been a hotly debated subject over the course of history that implied to important elements: nature and nurture. People have been trying to determine which one of them is most important in influencing one’s actions and behavior. The first person to coin this phrase was an English polymath called Francis Galton and this happened in 1869. Even so, people have been debating this for centuries or even thousands of years before this happened.
There are three main categories of people who debate over this aspect: the ones that believe nature is the most influential element over human’s behavior, the ones that believe nurture is the main character of this play and the ones that believe the result is a combination of both nature and nurture and that both of them have contributed to some extent to the actions and behavior of the individual.
The nature sided people are of the opinion that one’s traits and personality are determined by their DNA, while the nurture sided group thinks that people are born with some sort of a “blank slate” and that it’s the experiences and interactions that an individual has over the course of life that shape their personality and help them acquire different attributes.
This age-old debate between the two concepts will never cease to exist, or at least not in the near future. What’s different now than it was several decades ago for instance, is that people today have a much clearer and better understanding as far as genomes and genes are concerned, and this has paved the way towards exploring new territories of this archaic topic.
Regardless of the side people opt for, it’s generally agreed that both nurture and nature have contributed a lot to the whole picture of humanity and of the traits that best define humans. The purpose of this essay is to go more into details with respect to both nature and nurture and to offer a “middle of the road” interpretation (if possible) regarding this eternal debate, including some modern perspectives on this as well.
The first time this debate between nature and nurture was brought into the light happened in ancient Greek, when philosophers of those times spent a great deal of time examining how nurture and nature develop in children and influence them. The moment this debate was raised again, this time much closer to our era, developmental researchers became highly interested into exploring these elements even further. The difference now was that they had the possibility to use empirical research, which offered them context through the application of theories. It was that moment when they started to test various hypotheses and to choose one side over the other. Thus, some of them turned to the nature side and were called Nativists, while some turned to the nurture side and were called Empiricists. Nativists are convinced that one’s personality and intelligence are determined by that individual’s origins and genetic make-up, whereas, on the other hand, Empiricists believe that these aspects of human development are acquired as the individual advances through life.
Probably the most popular Empiricist of all times is John Lock, who made “tabula rasa” one of the most popular Latin phrases. In translation, this means “black slate” and it expresses the idea that the mind of a new-born is similar to a blank slate and that the interactions and experiences that child faces throughout time are the ones that form their personality.
When they examine the development process of a child, Empiricists focus on learning more about the environment in which that child grew up, the types of people they interacted with, as well as whether or not they experienced any traumatic events. The researchers’ conclusions in this case are based on the past of that child.
Nativists however, have proved their beliefs are relevant in many situations until now and one very good example they referred to is the Language Acquisition Device stated by Chomsky in 1965. Chomsky was of the opinion that people have the innate ability and skills to both reproduce and understand a language thanks to the mental capacity that each and one of us possess and to the specific vocal mechanisms. Furthermore, some common human personality aspects, as it is the case of fight, anger or even language, are interpreted by Nativists as developments that are nature-driven. Chomsky, as well as others who shared his opinions, provided numerous strong evidences over the years to support their theories related to the influence that genes have over the behavior of individuals as they develop.
The nature-sided perspective
If we are to examine this archaic debate from the nature perspective, it can be stated that language is the best example that can drive people towards taking this side over the other. Chomsky was of the opinion that all individuals are gifted with the ability to develop language from before they are born and he shared this opinion many times. It’s true that nurture has its implications and roles in language acquisition in children, through the fact that they are able to form and imitate habits, what makes researchers lean more towards choosing the nature-sided perspective is that children are predisposed to acquiring speech in language and competencies. Chomsky states that children are capable of mapping language and that human languages are based on a set of grammatical and phonological rules.
Even though modern technology has taken down several times the nativist perspective, new research into the field of genetics has influenced many people to change sides once again and to return to the nature perspective of the topic. In the past few years, genetics researchers have tried to understand the way in which a criminal mind works and what exactly lies at the root of mental illness. Thus, experts started to associate nature with the concept of inheritance – the fact that individuals inherit various predispositions from their parents, which can influence their behavior and the way they develop. People can inherit aggressiveness, depression, alcoholic or drug addiction and so on. There are even studies that show that some genetic effects can overlap entirely. People assessed in these studies for their behavior proved that their problems can be associated with the problems their parents or grandparents had and related back to genetic predisposition.
The idea that people inherit various aspects of their behavior and personality makes Nativists’ concepts and beliefs more plausible and proves the possibility that some information is pre-determined. Even though genetics cannot be considered responsible for the complete influence over one’s behavior or personality, it is responsible for some of it. One very good example in this sense is schizophrenia. Even though they have performed numerous studies yet, researchers didn’t find an answer for the actual number of genes that one inherits and that determines the development of schizophrenia, but they refer to it as an inherited mental disorder. In most cases of people who suffer from schizophrenia, it was found out that they had another family member that either had it before them or developed it at some point.
The thing about schizophrenia is that it’s not sure when it begins to manifest, as it can happen either very late in life or very early in life. In the case of people who suffer from very late-onset schizophrenia, who are less than 1% of the world’s population, they claimed they experienced both visual and auditory hallucinations. In most cases, the cause for the appearance of this mental disorder was found in the family history. It’s true that a genetic link for people developing this disorder hasn’t yet been established, but studies have shown that those who had this disorder in their family history are more prone to develop it themselves at some point in life compared to those who didn’t have it in their family history and whose chances to develop it are significantly lower. This is why this example is used as a strong argument in the nature perspective.
Saying that schizophrenia can be inherited doesn’t necessarily imply that an individual will also develop this mental disorder as well. Even so, from a genetic perspective, there is a predisposition that influences the brain and that makes it more vulnerable to factors of stress, which can eventually determine the formation of schizophrenia.
The same goes for alcoholism for example. Not every person who had an example of alcoholic relative in their family will turn out to be an alcoholic himself or herself, but the truth is these people are more prone to develop this type of addiction compared to people who didn’t have such examples in their family history. This is in fact what makes some people take the side of the nature perspective.
The nurture-sided perspective
Continuing the idea started above and referring to schizophrenia, one argument that takes down the nature perspective is related to the environmental stressors, which have a great influence over the development of this mental disorder.
Empiricists are of the opinion that the most crucial role in the developmental process of a child is played by the environment. In the early stages of life, the child experiences a “tabula rasa” (or more commonly known in English as “blank slate”) mentality, which involves the idea that the thought processes of that person weren’t influenced by anything yet. In time, things start to change and the diverse interactions and experiences one faces on a daily basis start to influence that individual’s behavior. Empiricists are convinced that individuals are not endowed with information at birth and that all knowledge comes later on through the five senses, whereas the associations one learns influence the way their brain develops, thus determining the individual’s later behavior and personality.
To support their statements, Empiricists give as an example the case of two siblings that share the same father and mother, but that grow up in completely different households. Both children are prone to suffering from depression due to their genetics, but only one of the two is exposed to verbal and physical abuse. As time goes by, scientists have discovered that only the sibling that was exposed to abuse eventually developed depression, whereas the other who was kept apart from such experiences and was raised in a stable and loving home didn’t suffer from depression, but was happy and active instead. Both of them share a brain vulnerability towards depression, but only one of them develops it and the main cause is the environment in which that child grew up. Thus, Empiricists want to prove that individuals don’t inherit behavior or personality, but develop them instead in accordance to the experiences and interactions he or she is exposed to.
John Watson was one of the strongest proponent as far as environmental learning is concerned. He was of the opinion that infants, whom he chose randomly, could be trained to become any sort of expert in a certain domain. He believed that race or talents of a child had no influence over the development process of a child, because it’s the environment that gets to dictate the way a child develops. Watson claimed that learned associations eventually result in emotional reactions.
Even though Watson might be right to some extent, it’s recommended to take a look into what recent studies and research have proved in the past few decades. Various new theories have emerged and most of them are meant to explain the way humans learn. For instance, there’s a social learning theory that emphasizes that all cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences contribute to the forming of human behavior. Bandura’s work stressed the idea of observing other people’s attitudes, behaviors, as well as emotional reactions and modeling them. Thus, human behavior is mostly based on observing and modeling actions. For instance, one observes the way another person fishes and then is capable of reproducing the same action, even though that person didn’t know how to fish before that.
The foundation of nurture perspective is represented by learned behavior. Parents who teach their children to act in a specific way or to do something, will notice their children acting accordingly later on. One very good example to support this statement can be writing using the right hand. There are children that may be born left-handed, but the moment parents start to teach them to write, they are taught to use only their right hand when writing. As a result, their learned behavior influenced their existing trait (that of writing with the left hand) and replaced it (by learning to write using the right hand). Thus, the right hand becomes now the child’s dominant hand, which will ultimately influence other aspects of his or her life later on. Of course, there are many other examples that support the idea of learned behavior instead of inherited behavior.
The truth is there isn’t enough evidence to support the idea that hereditary elements have no impact over an individual’s development process. It’s hard to say that the environment solely can have any influence over the human development, because there aren’t enough studies to support this. This is the reason why the latest research combines the two elements, nurture and nature and finds both of them influential in the human development.
The middle of the road
There is one essential study that proves the theory that both nature and nurture have their influence over the human development and that study is called the “Twin Study” and it was developed over the course of five decades. It was published in May 2015 in one very popular journal called “Nature Genetics” and comprises over 2,700 studies that were conduced within the past five decades. Also, it researched more than 14 million sets of twins, focusing especially on their personality traits. The results of this study were more than remarkable. It was found out that almost 50% of the human development is influenced by heritability. This means that the rest of it up to 100% is represented by nurture. Even so, it’s worth mentioning that not all cases were 50/50. In the case of those suffering from bipolar disorder for example, the percentage was 70% for nature and only 30% for nurture.
Nevertheless, this study has emphasized the murky line that lies between the two elements – nature and nurture. The one-sided explanation eventually turns into a much more complex and multifaceted process of development structure and exploration causes. It appears that both genetics and the environment work together in the process of human development and this actually makes sense taking into account the spectrum that can be observed in all of life. This is the reason why people need a mixture of influential factors in order to develop normally.
Epigenetics suggests that factors such as the environment impact the phenotypes and changes them, while the genotypes remain the same. One very good example in this case is people from the US who suffer from obesity. This disease increases chances for those people to eventually develop certain cancers. Obesity can also lead to diabetes and in such cases, even those people who didn’t have cases of diabetes in their family history are starting to see occurrence of it and eventually it will become part of the family history.
Diabetes and obesity are two of the most important topics of interests when it comes to epigenetics. Some studies claim that certain aspects of nutrition have an important role in the development of diabetes, which automatically affect the genes, which ultimately lead to predisposition development.
Both the environment and the genes can affect gene expression. With the aid of environmental feedback, gene expression is in fact the regulated interface of the epigenome. Thus, to put it simply, most changes occur the moment specific directions that are present in the blueprints are unable to execute accordingly due to certain components that are missing, as it is the case of carbohydrates for instance, proteins or any other similar components. In such situations, the environment has the power to affect the individual’s genes and development process and it is then reflected in that person’s immune system.
Worth mentioning is that the appearance of new and more complex viruses and pathogens, the individual’s immune system is continuously shifting. One very good example to illustrate this aspect is the moment Europeans arrived in America. They were then exposed to a series of various pathogens the moment they made their first step in America. The natives on the other hand, were not, at least not until that moment, which was the main reason why so many native Americans end up dead due to this exposure. This is a great example that illustrates how nurture and nature go together.
Epigenetics is a new area of study, but it begins to provide answers to many questions that had no answer until now. It is believed that in the near future it will provide a much better understanding of the two most influential elements in relation to human development – nurture and nature.
In the end, it can be said that the debate between nature and nurture with respect to which one of the two has the most impact over human development is deeply rooted din ancient Greek culture. Philosophers of those times, as well as scientists from nowadays, are still trying to reach a conclusion to this never-ending debate, but there are still many questions that need an answer until the final idea will be formulated.
Ancient Greek philosophers were merely preoccupied to learn the development process in children and understand better what are the factors that make a child to act and behave in a specific way. This study was carried on for centuries, and many scientists and philosophers along contributed to it, including people like Chomsky or Watson, each of them choosing the side they resonated the most with.
According to the Nativist perspective, potentiality and knowledge are innate aspects of every human being. According to some studies, this is true to a certain extent, in the sense that it was proven than people are brought to this world carrying certain predispositions, such as mental disorders, or addiction to alcohol, drugs and so on.
The empiricist perspective on the other hand, claims that the environment is the main influential factor in human development. The best example that supports this idea is the case of the twins who grew up in different environments and were exposed to different lifestyle choices.
Even so, neither nature, nor nurture are capable of explaining the reality of the individual’s development process as it was seen in the Twin Study which lasted no less than five decades. The most plausible theory of this debate is that both nature and nurture have a 50% contribution each to human development, especially when seeing this through the study of epigenetics. It’s still too early to state whether or not epigenetics will provide us the most awaited answer of all times with respect to human development, but up until the present day, it has helped scientists a lot in understanding how important genes are in development, as well as how the environment can influence human development. There is still much more to discover in this direction and probably, it will take a bit more time before we have a clear and relevant answer to this age old question.
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