Nature and Nurture

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The quote from the famous psychologist John B. Watson essentially sums up behaviourism. Behaviourism refers to the school of psychology founded by Watson, established on the fact that behaviours can be measured and observed (Watson, 1993). In behaviourism, there is a strong emphasis that the acquisition of learning, or permanent change in behaviour, is by external manifestation. Thus, any individual differences in behaviours observed was more likely due to experiences, and not by the working of genes. As the quote suggest, any individuals can be potentially trained to perform any tasks through the right conditioning. There are two major types of conditioning, classical and operant conditioning (Cacioppo & Freberg, 2012). Classical conditioning refers to a type of learning in which a previously neutral stimuli took on the ability to stimulate a conditioned response in an individual (Gormezano & Moore, 1966). To prove that environment was more impactful than genetics, Watson conducted an experiment on an infant, little Albert. Initially, Albert showed little fear towards rats. When Watson repeatedly exposed Albert to the rat accompanied by a loud noise, the latter began to develop fear towards not just the rat but also other furry animals. Watson successfully showed that the acquisition of a phobia can be explained by classical conditioning (Watson & Watson, 1921). Regardless of their genes, the associations of the right stimuli can result in the development of a new behaviour in any individual. Classical conditioning emphasises the importance of learning from the environment and supports nurture over nature. However, limiting the source of learning to only environment is a reductionist explanation of behaviour. When complex behavi... ... middle of paper ... ...m, M. S., Coursey, R. D., & Murphy, D. L. (1976). The biochemical high-risk paradigm: behavioral and familial correlates of low platelet monoamine oxidase activity. Science, 194(4262), 339-341. Cacioppo, J. T., & Freberg, L. A. (2012). Discovering Psychology: The Science of the Mind: The Science of Mind. Cengage Learning. Cacioppo, J. T., Tassinary, L. G., & Berntson, G. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of psychophysiology. Cambridge University Press. Gormezano, I., & Moore, J. W. (1966). Classical conditioning. Experimental methods and instrumentation in psychology, 385-420. Jessor, R. (1958). The problem of reductionism in psychology. Psychological Review, 65(3), 170. Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the Behaviorist Views it. Psychological review, 20(2), 158. Watson, J. B., & Watson, R. R. (1921). Studies in infant psychology. Scientific Monthly, 13(6), 493-515.

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