History of Nature and Nurture

1876 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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