Evaluate the Relative Contribution of Nature and Nurture to Human Psychological Functioning

1658 Words Aug 10th, 2010 7 Pages
Evaluate the relative contribution of nature and nurture to human psychological functioning. Illustrate you answer with reference to material from at least two chapters from book 2.

The debate concerning the contribution of nature and nurture to human psychological functioning is one of the longest running and most controversial within psychology. The question is what elements of human behaviour can be explained in terms of physical being and what can be explained in terms of social environment. Although this debate is relevant to many topics within psychology this essay will focus on two: language and sex and gender.

Firstly it must be made clear what is meant by nature and nurture. Nature refers to the characteristics and abilities
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Therefore the females not only choose for healthy males but ones who will make a parental investment in the child and thus making him less likely to have the resources for another child. Evolutionists argue that these basic differences in behaviour of our ancestors result in some behavioural predisposition between the two sexes today. In 1989 a study carried out on an American campus by Clarke and Hatfield (Hollway et al. 2002, p134) found that after being approach by an attractive stranger, engaged in conversation, and invited to either go on a date, go back to an apartment, or have sex, 69% of men compared to 6% agreed to go to an apartment and 75% of men consented to sex whereas no women did. This supports the previous argument that male/female sexual behaviour is different and to some extent rooted in our ancestors. Although it must be stated that the stranger situation was hypothetical and maybe the students would have behaved differently in a real life situation. Also the males may have said they would have slept with the stranger because of social pressure. A criticism of the nativist approach is that it could be used as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour and doesn’t allow for free will; also sexual behaviour may be altered due to historical or cultural influences.

In the social world there is an expectation from society for appropriate gender behaviour. Social constructionist argue that the

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