Nurture Is More Important than Nature: Persuasive Essay

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Aristotle states that man is by nature a political animal, meaning that humans, by socialization, develop into themselves through living in a society governed by laws and customs while interacting with people within. Socialization is a process where individuals acquire knowledge, language, social skills and values through integrating with society. Mind is a tabula rasa, according to Locke. Hence, it is impossible for one to be born knowledgeable, mature or independent. Socialization continues across the life span, and individuals gain insights and experiences through interacting with different social institutions and issues, which explicitly influence their growth and development, as well as their perception of life. Every individual also has to enact different roles, such as a student, a sibling, or a Christian, and so they develop appropriate attitudes and behaviours to satisfy the roles. Sex-typed characteristics, for instance, are attributed to identification processes rather than biology. It is a normative, rather than empirical, fact that blue symbolizes males, while pink symbolizes females. Before having the ability to critically observe the sex-appropriateness of responses displayed by adults, many infants have already been influenced by active parental training on acquiring sex-appropriate behaviours. For example, children are always given baby dolls and stuffed toys by their parents if they are girls, toy cars and toy bricks if they are boys. Later in life, under the influence of social perceptions, males are tainted to be brave and strong, while females are tainted to be emotional and obedient. It is evident that individuals acquire the complex repertories of social behaviours through observation of response patterns demonstrated by different socialization agents, such as family and school (Bandura,1969). For example, a student learns not to cheat after witnessing his classmate being punished for copying others’ work. According to Bandura’s social learning theory, children develop their behaviour through modelling processes, where they emulate their models’ (eg. parents and teachers) practices under different conditions to achieve similar outcomes. Sears et al. (1965) state that modelling is essential for identificatory processes, where adult-like behaviours and sex-role personalities are inferred through parent-child interactions and behavioural observations. Hence, nurture is more important in constructing individuals’ lives.

Naturists believe that individuals genetically inherit physical traits from parents, including personality. It is an undeniable fact that some characteristics of individuals are determined by genes, for example, results of twin resemblance experiments indicated that heredity plays a large part in individuals’ intelligence (Hicks, 2013; Hogben, 1933). Nave (2011) suggests that personality resides within us. It is a part of our biology and determines our future behaviour. It is even proved that children who are highly adaptable to new situations would grow up to behave cheerfully, speak fluently, and show interest in intellectual matters. While those who have low adaptability would grow up having low self-esteem and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style (Hampson & Goldberg, 2006). However, personality, which plays a great role in constructing one’s life, is mostly influenced by explicit intervention. Environmental factors are so powerful that they can easily intervene or even reverse the ‘faith’ of the development of personality. Take racism as an example, an African American child can born to be cheerful and clever. The child is highly likely to be a socially outgoing and open-minded intellect, according to Nave’s theory. When he starts interacting with society, say going to school, he is being discriminated against and isolated because of his skin colour. His ideas and opinions are not being respected and supported. His unhappy childhood experiences, not to mention the racism he will face in the future, may pose significant mental and physical health consequences to him. Hence, the effect of explicit factors outweighs that of biological inheritance.

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Language learning is another huge topic in the heated debate of nature versus nurture. Noam Chomsky (1967) advocates the doctrine that humans are innate with sets of universal grammar and phonetics, therefore, among all creatures on Earth, only human species can learn speech and reading structurally. Chomsky believes that language is domain-specific and informationally encapsulated, whereas reinforcement learning, the process of trial and error, is unnecessary to acquire language. In contrast, B.F. Skinner argues that language, like any other human behaviour, requires explicit input, reinforcement, and shaping (Kuhl, 2000). Eimas (1985) provided evidence that infants have an innate capacity for categorical perception which allows them to parse the fundamental features of the language, such as responding to phonetic contrasts, disputing Chomsky’s theory that phonetic units are innate, but proving that domain-specific mechanisms do exist in responsible for infants’ segregation of phonetic units. Despite being born with editorial detectors that help discriminate phonics, postnatal exposure is more significant in language learning. Eimas’ (1985) another finding is that Japanese speakers fail to distinguish between phonics ‘r’ and ‘l’, while English speakers do not have this problem, indicating that acoustic differences detected by the auditory processing mechanism strongly influence the selection of phonetic units used in language construction of individuals, proving the power of linguistic environment on perception of speech over genetics.

It is worth noting that nature and nurture coexist, while this essay suggests that nurture, compared to nature, more significantly contributes to the development of one’s life. Moore suggests that when combining good genes with a bad environment (or vice versa), the outcome is either slightly good because explicit factors are more significant, or slightly bad because human development is determined at birth (Bjorklund, 2003). If we only take the good genes into account and ignore the discouraging environment, it is highly possible for us to ascertain that the outcome would be good as the influence of the negative factors is being overlooked. Hence, it is important to acknowledge both genetic and environmental factors when investigating the properties of nature and nurture.

To conclude, this essay discussed that external factors are essential to one’s growth and development, while genes are not the ultimate factor that influences individuals’ acquirement of knowledge and behaviour. The array of studies has provided confirmatory evidence that the suggestion of nurture over nature is being supported.

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