Nature versus Nurture

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Before psychology and sociology have dealt on the behaviour of man, the dominant view concerning human behaviour was centered on the theory proposed by Charles Darwin. He explains that, human nature and human behaviour are all natural.

By this, Darwin proposed that humans acted out of natural tendencies or instincts which are dictated by nature through “genetic make up” as later discovered by Gregor Mendel.However, this kind of thinking was later on rejected through the knowledge of the role of “nurture” which is a shaping a persons behaviour or attitudes and perspectives through cultural context. This idea was first instituted by John Watson in his “behaviourism”. Later on, social scientist began to claim the importance of learned social behaviour. On the part of Freud, he developed the theory of psychoanalysis which relates biological factors with personality and behaviour.He claimed that humans have basic needs that are prompted by drives and urges, however, humans are also influenced by society.

A three dimensional personality results from this, that which is consist of the id-which is basically biological needs and satisfaction, the conscious ego-the pleasure dimension and the superego-the cultural influence to the individual, which includes, morality. Piaget on the other hand develops a cognitive theory, in which he created stages of how persons know things.The first is through sensorimotor stage which consist of sensory perception, followed by the pre-operational, wherein language are learned through cultural contact, thirdly, the concrete operational wherein the person already learned to use logic and relationships and finally the formal operational, characterized by the ability to think hypothetically. Kohlberg have outlined his ideas with Piaget, however, he is more concerned with moral development.According to him, the first stage is comprised of pain and pleasure which is termed as preconventional stage; it would then be followed by conventional stage in which there is already recognition of right and wrong.

The final stage is the post conventional stage in which there is a possibility to critique or find fault within the normal cultural thinking. Carol Gilligan, work with and improved Kohlberg ideas by incorporating gender with moral development.According to her, males and females creates moral judgments using different perspective; males uses justice perspective which is deeply connected to societal rules and bias, while women uses “care and responsibility” perspective which is attached to personal damage and harm. Mead recognizes the impact of societal bias to the perspective of the “self” of each individual, promoting the concept of a “looking glass” in which the person is conscious about how others perceived the person.The concept of a subjective self and an objective “me” suggest that a person sees himself as both independent and dependent to the society in which he belong. Lastly, Erikson believes that personality develops throughout a persons’ lifetime.

These theories have similarly argued about the relevance of both nature and nurture in the development of the persons. These theories differ with their interpretation of what are the factors in society that affects the individual person.

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