Intelligence - Nature vs Nurture

1982 words 8 pages
This essay is going to discuss the role of intelligence in human beings examining both internal and external factors. Intelligence and whether it is innate or develops as one evolves, is one of humanity’s greatest debates. In everyday life one has to make decisions, solve problems and make sense of the world and what is happening in it. From an external point of view the intelligence of a human being develops through a constructive, cognitive process. Since the 1950s, cognitive developmental researches agree on the now nearly universal consensus that intellectual skills are the by-products of self-governed activity in relation to the world (Bruner, 1990; Gardner, 1985). Considering this, it is difficult to understand that scientists …show more content…

This is often seen in bilingual children. Nutrition is another factor in the environment that can affect one’s intelligence. Malnutrition can lead to intellectual developmental deficits (Birch, 1970). The development of a foetus has also been shown to have an effect on intelligence. While this can be argued to be biologic, in fact, it is environmental. The conditions in which the foetus develops, such as drug use or poor nutrition by the mother, can be shown to have a direct effect on intelligence (Caputo & Mandell, 1970).
Examining intelligence from a behavioural perspective is also important. Watson and Raynor who believed in classical conditioning found that learned associations between external stimulation and the response of the individual form the basis of intelligence. Pavlov was another learning theorist who studied classical conditioning. He demonstrated in an experiment he conducted with dogs and their salivation that learning reflexes are acquired. This discovery came to be called the ‘conditioned reflex’. He found that if behaviour is reinforced with regularity it becomes habitual and therefore part of the personality (Weitan et al, 2010) and this therefore can have an effect on intelligence. Skinner’s operant conditioning is based on the fact that organisms tend to repeat responses that are followed by favourable consequences and not to repeat those followed by unfavourable consequences ( Weitan et al, 2010). This is called


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