Nature Vs. Nurture Essay

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There has always been debate about whether the various progressions in development during the first three years of life are the result of experiences in the environment (nurture) or whether they occur somewhat independently of experience and more so as a result of genetics (nature). Today, it is accepted that both nature and nurture play a role in the development of a human being. My views of nature and nurture have not changed significantly after studying infancy development. I am a psychology major and after taking numerous psychology courses, the general consensus is that nature and nurture play a role in the various aspects of human development. When ...view middle of the document...

One of the ways in which this relationship has been explored in recent years is through the emerging field of�evolutionary developmental psychology (Schlinger, 2008).

One area where this innateness debate has been prominently portrayed is in research on�language acquisition. A major question in this area is whether or not certain properties of human language are specified genetically or can be acquired through�learning. The empiricist position on the issue of language acquisition suggests that the language input provides the necessary information required for learning the structure of language and that infants acquire language through a process of�statistical learning. From this perspective, language can be acquired via general learning methods that also apply to other aspects of development, such as�perceptual learning. The nativist position argues that the input from language is too poor for infants and children to acquire the structure of language. Linguist�Noam Chomsky�asserts that, evidenced by the lack of sufficient information in the language input, there is a�universal grammar�that applies to all human languages and is pre-specified. This has led to the idea that there is a special cognitive�module�suited for learning language, often called the�language acquisition device. Chomsky's critique of the behaviorist model of language acquisition is regarded by many as a key turning point in the decline in the prominence of the theory of behaviorism generally.�But Skinner's conception of "Verbal Behavior" has not died, probably because it has generated successful practical applications (Schlinger, 2008).

Earlier in this century, the pendulum had swung fully to the environmental side. In a famous series of studies in the 1940s, psychiatrist Rene Spitz compared two groups of disadvantaged babies: one group was raised in what was then considered a perfectly adequate foundling home, and another group was comprised of infants whose mothers were in prison and who were being reared in a nearby nursery. Although both institutions were seemingly similar-both were clean and provided the babies with adequate food, clothing, and medical care-they differed enormously in the amount of nurturing and stimulation each provided. Babies in the prison nursery were fed, nursed, and cared for by their own mothers, who lavished enormous attention and affection on them. These children developed normally, in spite of the institutional setting and the fact that the number of hours of contact with their mothers was limited. Babies in the foundling home, by contrast, had very little stimulation; there was only one nurse for every eight infants, and except for brief feedings and diaper changes, each baby was kept isolated in his or her crib, its sides draped with sheets to prevent the spread of infection. With nothing to look at or play with and, worst of all, a bare minimum of human contact and affection, these babies suffered devastatingly. An...

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