History of Nature and Nurture

1870 words 8 pages
Nature vs. nurture has been discussed by philosophers in the past and by scientists most recently. Philosophers such as Plato argued that all knowledge was inherited through your parent and when you were told something you didn't learn it you were just reminded of it. Aristotle however argued that all humans were born with a blank slate and built on it with influence from there environment. In the 1700's the empiricists and the internalists took over the argument. They fought through letters explaining there point of views and denouncing the others. This leads to Pavlov coming up with the idea of behaviorism in the early 1900‘s. Behaviorism became the new wave of Psychology and influenced a lean towards the nurture side. It was
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17). Even Leibniz and Locke stated that the philosophies
sometimes were only different by the choices of words they used to describe
their theories. Leibniz once wrote that fundamentally their views were the same
about the nature vs. nurture question (Cowie, 1999).

Over the next couple hundred years, popularity was split between nature and
nurture. However, in the early 1900s Ivan Pavlov accidentally discovered what
eventually became labeled as behaviorism. Behaviorists believed that the
environment was the greatest factor in shaping behavior. The theory quickly
gained notoriety in psychology and swayed popularity to the nurture side. One of
the leaders in behavioral research was John Watson, who is most recognized for
his work in conditioning "Little Albert." In 1928, Watson published a book that
included his idea that infants were like clay. Watson stated that he could make
an infant anything he desired by manipulating the environment (Barnet, 1998).
Watson wrote, "Give me a dozen healthy infants...and my own special world to
bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one...and train him to become
any type of specialist..."(Amsel, 1989, p. 24).

In the 1960s, Skinner also became well known for his research in behaviorism.
Most of his work dealt with behavior modification with animals (Amsel, 1989).


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