Nature Vs Nurture (Issues and Debates Model Answers) (Paper 3 Model Answers)

Which of the following terms best represents the view that biology and environment work together to determine behaviour? ( 1 mark) 

Shade one box only.

Model Answer

D – Interactionism

 

Discuss the nature-nurture debate in psychology.

(Total 16 marks)

Model Answer

The nature vs nurture debate in psychology revolves around the question of whether heredity or environment plays a more significant role in determining human behavior. This long-standing controversy has been the subject of much research and discussion in the field.

The nature view, also known as the nativist perspective, asserts that heredity is the primary determinant of behaviour. Proponents of this view argue that certain characteristics, traits, and abilities are genetically predetermined and innate. They believe that individuals are born with a set of predetermined qualities that shape their behaviour throughout life.

On the other hand, the nurture view, rooted in empiricist theory, emphasises the influence of the environment and experience on human behavior. Advocates of this perspective argue that knowledge and abilities are acquired through learning and exposure to the environment. This view is often associated with John Locke's concept of the mind as a "tabula rasa," or blank slate, on which experiences are imprinted.

The nature side of the debate draws support from research in genetics and biological factors. It highlights the role of genes, brain structure, and physiological processes in shaping behaviour. For example, studies on twin and adoption research suggest that certain behaviors and traits have a strong genetic basis.

Conversely, the nurture side of the debate emphasises the impact of environmental factors, such as parenting, socialisation, cultural influences, and life experiences. It argues that individuals' behaviour and development are shaped by their interactions with the environment, including their family, peers, and society.

It is important to note that the nature vs nurture debate has evolved over time, with a growing recognition of interactionism. Interactionism posits that both nature and nurture interact and influence each other in shaping behaviour. This perspective recognises that genetic predispositions may interact with environmental factors to produce specific outcomes. For instance, a person with a genetic predisposition for aggression may exhibit aggressive behavior only in an environment that fosters it.

Accepting nature as the primary driver of behaviour can have significant implications for understanding human behavior. If we lean towards the nature view, which emphasises the role of heredity, it suggests that individuals are born with certain innate characteristics and traits that largely determine their behavior. This perspective has implications for areas such as intelligence, personality, and mental health.- For instance, if we believe that intelligence is primarily determined by genetics, it may lead to the assumption that individuals have fixed intellectual abilities that cannot be significantly influenced by the environment. This can have consequences for education, as it may result in a fixed mindset approach, where individuals are labelled based on their perceived innate intelligence rather than focusing on their potential for growth and development.

Furthermore, accepting nature as the primary driver of behavior can have ethical implications. If we believe that individuals have predetermined predispositions to certain behaviors or conditions, it may lead to stigmatisation and discrimination. For example, if someone believes that criminal behavior is solely determined by genetics, it may result in a lack of empathy and understanding towards individuals who have a higher genetic risk for criminality.

The alternative interactionist view, which recognises the interaction between nature and nurture, provides a more nuanced understanding of human behavior. This perspective acknowledges that both genetic predispositions and environmental factors work together to shape behavior, rather than attributing behavior solely to one side of the nature vs nurture debate.

By considering the interactionist view, we can appreciate the complexity of human behavior and recognise that genetic predispositions can manifest differently in various environmental contexts. For example, an individual with a genetic predisposition for aggression may exhibit different levels of aggression depending on their upbringing, social influences, and cultural norms.

This view also highlights the importance of interventions and environmental modifications. If we acknowledge that environmental factors can shape behavior, it opens up possibilities for targeted interventions and changes in the environment to promote positive outcomes. For instance, in the case of developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, interventions focused on providing supportive environments and specialised therapies can significantly enhance an individual's functioning and quality of life.

Furthermore, the interactionist view encourages a holistic approach to understanding behavior, taking into account multiple factors that influence individuals. It recognises the dynamic and reciprocal relationship between nature and nurture, where genetic predispositions can influence the environments individuals seek out and the experiences they encounter.

 

What is meant by the ‘nature-nurture debate’ in psychology? ( 2 marks) 

Model Answer

The 'nature-nurture debate' in psychology refers to the ongoing discussion and examination of the extent to which behavior is influenced by two primary factors: nature (including genetics, innate qualities, and biological factors) and nurture (such as the environment, experiences, and social influences). This debate focuses on determining the relative contributions of these two influences in shaping human behavior and development. It explores whether behaviour is primarily driven by innate factors or if it is predominantly shaped by external influences and experiences.

 

Read the item and then answer the questions that follow.

Researchers used a test to measure the mathematical reasoning ability of pairs of identical and non-identical twins. If both members of a pair had a similar score on the test, they were said to be ‘concordant’. This type of study is known as a concordance study.

Outcome of the research with the concordance rates expressed as a percentage

 

(a)     Briefly explain the outcome of the study in relation to the nature-nurture debate. (2 marks) 

 

Model Answer

The outcome of the study provides support for the nature side of the nature-nurture debate regarding mathematical reasoning ability. The higher concordance rate of 58% among identical twins, who share 100% of their genes, suggests a strong genetic influence on this cognitive ability. This finding aligns with the notion that genetic factors play a significant role in determining mathematical aptitude.

 

(b)     Some ways of establishing validity involve the use of a statistical test.

Outline how these researchers could have used a statistical test to establish concurrent validity of the mathematical reasoning ability test. ( 4 marks) 

Model Answer

Concurrent validity refers to the process of establishing the relationship between the results of a math test and the results of an established math reasoning test for the same group of individuals. In order to determine this relationship, statistical tests such as Spearman's rho or Pearson's r can be used to calculate the correlation between the scores obtained from both tests.

To assess concurrent validity, it is expected that a valid math ability test should show a significant positive correlation with the established math reasoning test. This means that if the math ability test accurately measures mathematical skills, there should be a notable positive association between the scores of the two tests. The significance level for this correlation is typically set at 0.05, indicating that the likelihood of the observed relationship occurring by chance alone is less than 5%.

 

Discuss the nature-nurture debate in psychology. Refer to at least two topics you have studied in your answer.

(Total 16 marks)

Model Answer

The nature-nurture debate in psychology focuses on the relative contributions of genetic factors (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) in shaping human behavior and development. This long-standing debate has been explored in various areas of psychology, including behaviourism and the biological approach.

Behaviourism, as a psychological perspective, emphasises the role of the environment and learning experiences in determining behaviour. Behaviourists argue that behavior is primarily a result of conditioning, where individuals acquire behaviours through reinforcement and punishment. This perspective aligns more closely with the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate, as it suggests that behaviour is predominantly shaped by external factors rather than innate tendencies.

For example, in the context of language acquisition, behaviorists such as B.F. Skinner proposed that language is learned through a process of operant conditioning, where individuals acquire and reinforce language skills through interactions and feedback from their environment. This perspective suggests that language development is primarily influenced by the nurturing environment and experiences individuals encounter.

On the other hand, the biological approach in psychology focuses on the role of biological factors, such as genetics, brain structure, and physiological processes, in influencing behavior. This perspective highlights the contributions of nature in shaping behaviour and places an emphasis on innate qualities and biological predispositions.

For instance, in the study of aggression, researchers within the biological approach investigate genetic factors, neurotransmitter imbalances, and brain abnormalities that may contribute to aggressive behavior. They argue that certain individuals may have a genetic predisposition towards aggression, which interacts with environmental factors to determine the manifestation of this behaviour.

Albert Bandura's Bobo doll study is a seminal research example that provides strong evidence for the influence of nurture in shaping behavior through social learning. The findings of the study demonstrated that children who witnessed aggressive models were more likely to imitate the aggressive behaviours they observed. This suggests that children learn and acquire behaviours through observation and social modelling. The study emphasised the role of environmental influences and socialisation experiences in shaping behavior, providing support for the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate.

However, it can be argued that when considering the nature-nurture debate in psychology, it is crucial to adopt an interactionist approach that recognises the interplay between genetic factors (nature) and environmental influences (nurture). Instead of viewing nature and nurture as opposing forces, an interactionist perspective emphasises their mutual interaction in shaping human behavior and development.

Research has shown that genetic predispositions interact with environmental factors to produce specific outcomes. For example, studies on gene-environment interactions have demonstrated that individuals with a genetic predisposition for aggression may display higher levels of aggression when exposed to adverse environmental conditions, such as violence in the family or neighborhood. This highlights the importance of considering both nature and nurture factors together, as their combined effects provide a more comprehensive understanding of behaviour.

 

‘Nature and nurture interact; both are vital to understanding and explaining human behaviour.’

Referring to this statement, discuss the nature-nurture debate in psychology.

(Total 16 marks)

Model Answer

The statement "Nature and nurture interact; both are vital to understanding and explaining human behavior" highlights the need to adopt an interactionist perspective when discussing the nature-nurture debate in psychology. This perspective recognises that both genetic factors (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) interact and contribute to shaping human behavior. By considering the interplay between nature and nurture, a more comprehensive understanding of human behaviour can be achieved.

Nature, referring to genetic factors, plays a fundamental role in influencing human behavior. Genetic predispositions can contribute to a wide range of traits and behaviors, including intelligence, personality traits, and mental health. For example, research using twin studies has consistently shown higher concordance rates among identical twins compared to fraternal twins for various traits, indicating a genetic influence. These findings suggest that genetic factors contribute to individual differences in behaviour and provide evidence supporting the significance of nature.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that genetic factors alone do not fully determine behavior. Environmental influences, or nurture, also play a crucial role in shaping behavior. Environmental factors, such as family dynamics, cultural norms, educational experiences, and social interactions, can significantly impact an individual's development and behaviour. For instance, studies have shown that cultural values and social norms influence behaviours such as conformity, aggression, and prosocial behavior. This demonstrates the importance of environmental influences in shaping human behaviour.

Albert Bandura's Bobo doll study has played a significant role in the nature-nurture debate in psychology. The study showcased the influence of nurture by demonstrating how social learning and environmental factors shape behavior. Children who observed aggressive models were more likely to imitate the aggressive behaviours they witnessed, highlighting the impact of socialisation experiences on behaviour acquisition. This supports the importance of environmental influences in shaping human behavior and provides evidence against the notion of behavior being solely determined by genetic factors.

Practical applications further contribute to the evaluation of the nature-nurture debate in psychology. Interventions and therapies targeting behaviour change provide evidence for the influence of nurture on behavior. Behavioural therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), emphasise the role of environmental factors and learning processes in shaping behaviour. These interventions focus on modifying environmental cues, reinforcing desired behaviors, and promoting new learning experiences to facilitate behaviour change. The effectiveness of such interventions supports the idea that behaviour can be modified and shaped through environmental influences.

Moreover, the field of educational psychology offers practical applications that underscore the importance of both nature and nurture. Individualised instruction and differentiated learning strategies recognise that students have diverse genetic predispositions and respond differently to environmental stimuli. By tailoring instructional methods to accommodate individual learning styles and preferences, educators acknowledge the interplay between genetic factors and environmental influences in optimising student learning outcomes.

 

TAKE A LOOK AT THE REST OF THE ISSUES AND DEBATES MODEL ANSWERS FOR PAPER 3 HERE. 

Studying the Relationships unit? Check out these model answers here.

 

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