Nature Vs Nurture Debate Essay

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The nature versus nurture argument is one of the oldest debates amongst psychologists. The debate concerns whether certain aspects of your personality are inherited or if you learn them from your surroundings.
It has long been acknowledged that our hair, skin colour and certain diseases are governed by our genes. Other physical attributes if not determined, seem to be strongly linked to the genetic makeup of our parents. Height, weight and life expectancy are all correlated between related individuals. This has led many to speculate as to whether personality traits can also be inherited. People have speculated if psychological characteristics such as behavioural tendencies, personality attributes and mental capability was ‘wired in’ before
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Although the theory of evolution caused a stir on its own, what was most important to the Nature versus Nurture debate was the idea of our species changing over time. The idea of Natural Selection also contributed tot he debate.
The phrase ‘Nature versus Nurture’ was coined by English Polymath, Francis Galton in his 1874 publication of English Men in Science: Their Nature and Nurture. Galton was Darwin’s cousin and he said in his biography that ‘The publication in 1859 of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally.’ At the point of publication Galton had been a medical student, a naturalist, anthropologist and an explorer but from 1865 onwards Galton dedicated his life to the study of Eugenics. In 1869 Galton published his own controversial work Hereditary Genius. This work has been cited by some to be the starting point of the Nature versus Nurture debate. In some of the opening pages of the book Galton states it’s purpose: I propose to show in this book that a man’s natural abilities are derived by inheritance, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations. Hereditary Genius p.
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