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Environment Is the Way We Are: Nurture's Side

Essay by   •  November 21, 2010  •  Essay  •  597 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,110 Views

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Traced back to the seventeenth century, John Locke concocted the term tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which experience and education can write any future (Watson 373). It is a term that has been passed down for many years, explaining and emphasizing, that personality is not inherited. In quarrel, the "nurture" school accuses the "nature" school of "genetic determinism": of supposing that our genes effectively prescribe our lives and thoughts, so that we have no free will and hence no responsibility and are stuck with whatever shortcomings (of intellect, physique, or probity) that fickle nature has handed out to us (Tudge). With that being said, such an assumption can be rebutted by saying that the environment, education, and culture makes up behavior. Unlike the nature perspective, the nurture perspective argues that we watch what is going on in our surroundings from the moment of exit out of the womb to help shape our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

On the contrary to the studies done on twins, adoption studies are important to look at because they provide one of the few methods available for separating the effects of environment and heredity in intellectual development. Adoption studies somewhat show that a person's environment plays an important role in mental ability. When adopted children are more like their biological parents and siblings, it can be accounted for by the influence of heredity. On the other hand, when there is a resemblance amongst the adoptive families more, we see a greater environmental influence. Adopted children have an environment growing up that provides them with similar aptitudes for learning and for retaining information.

This can be illustrated by the results of a transracial adoption study by Scarr and Weinberg. Black children born primarily of parents from lower-income homes were adopted by White, primarily upper-middle-class parents. The average IQ of the adopted children who were placed in the middle-income homes as infants was found to be 110, 20 points higher than the average IQ of comparable children being reared in the local Black community and similar to the estimated IQs of their adopted parents (Bjorklund 81). This demonstrates that the adopted children that had been placed in intellectually stimulating homes, along with stimulation from adoptive parents was responsible for their relatively high IQs in comparison with those of their biological

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