Nature or Nurture

2Allowing nature to nurture our well-being

The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology.   The debate centres on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development.

Some philosophers such as Plato and Descartes suggested that certain things are inborn, or that they simply occur naturally regardless of environmental influences.

NatureNurture
What is it?In the “nature verses nurture” debate, nurture refers to personal experiences (for example). empiricism or behaviourism).In the “nature verses nurture” debate, nurture refers to personal experiences (for example). empiricism or behaviourism).
Example:Nature is your genes. The physical and personality traits determined by your genes stay the same irrespective of where you were born and raised.Nurture refers to your childhood, or how you were brought up. Someone could be born with genes to give them a normal height, but be malnourished in childhood, resulting in stunted growth and a failure to develop as expected.
Factors:Biological and family factorsSocial and environmental factors

In the study of development, nature refers to the inherited (genetic) characteristics and tendencies that influence development. Some inherited characteristics appear in virtually everyone. For instance, almost all children have the capacity to learn to walk, understand language, imitate others, use simple tools, and draw inferences about how other people view the world. Thus all children have a set of universal human genes that, when coupled with a reasonable environment, permit them to develop as reasonably capable members of the human species.

Other kinds of genes create differences among people. Children’s stature, eye colour, and facial appearance are largely determined by genes. Children’s temperament, their characteristic ways of responding to emotional events, novel stimuli, and their own impulses seems to be in part affected by their individual genetic makeup. Similarly, being slow or quick to learn from instruction and everyday experiences has some genetic basis.

Inherited characteristics and tendencies are not always evident at birth. Many physical features emerge gradually through the process of maturation, the genetically guided changes that occur over the course of development. Environmental support, such as food, reasonably safe and toxin-free surroundings, and responsive care from others, is necessary for maturation to take place; nature never works alone.

Thus, nature’s partner is nurture, the environmental conditions that influence development. Children’s experiences in the environment affect all aspects of their being, from the health of their bodies to the curiosity of their minds. Nurture affects children’s development through multiple channels:

• physically through nutrition, activity, and stress;
• intellectually through informal experiences and formal Instruction; and
• socially through adult role models and peer relationships.

With good environmental support, children thrive. Unfortunately, the conditions of nurture are not always nurturing. For example, children who grow up in an abusive family must look outside the family for stable, affectionate care.

When you nurture your children, you show them that you love and accept them. This helps them grow and develop. It also makes parents feel good, too.
You can nurture your child with smiles, hugs and kisses, words of encouragement, a back rub, making a favourite meal or just listening to them talk about his or her day. All of these behaviours are ways you show children love.

© 2013 – 2015, Content: Dr Vasilios Silivistris – Artwork: Ian Francis. All rights reserved.

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