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Nature vs nurture: which is more important? Show more Show less

The debate of whether genetic nature or the environmental aspects of nurturing pulls more weight in human development is a long-standing aspect of the arena of psychology. Which aspect carries more weight: genetics or upbringing?

Nurture is more important than nature Show more Show less

Nurturing determines who you will become through experience.
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Our traits are learned

Albert Bandura used Bobo dolls to prove that aggression is a learned action.
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The Argument

In order to prove that aggression is a learned trait, Albert Bandura broke children aged 3-6 into six groups: male aggressive, female aggressive, male non-aggressive, female non-aggressive, male control, and female control. Each aggressive and non-aggressive group had one adult role model. These groups were further split so that in half of the groups, the role model was an adult of the same sex as the children. The other half had a role model of the opposite sex. In the control groups, there was not a role model present.[1] The children were encouraged to observe instead of interact by being presented with activities (i.e. stickers and coloring pages) they enjoyed at a table across the room from the Bobo doll. The role model would then enter and either (aggressive) attack the doll physically and verbally or (non-aggressive) completely ignore the doll and play with a different toy near the doll. The children were then taken to a new room, where their anger was incited by allowing them to play with toys unrelated to those in the first room, only to have them taken away every few minutes and told to play with something else. Once the second room was no longer appealing, the children were allowed to go to a third room for free play. This room had both aggressive and non-aggressive toys, such as a Bobo doll and a tea set. The children in the aggressive groups took their frustrations out on the Bobo doll, while the children in the non-aggressive groups decided to play with other things. However, the children who observed men being aggressive were more likely to hit and punch the doll. Meanwhile, the children who observed women being aggressive were more likely to verbally assault the doll. Furthermore, male children were more likely to imitate male models, where female children did not show a strong preference for female models. These children were shown how to be aggressive toward a blowup clown doll and imitated the aggression they were shown. This goes to show that aggression is a learned trait, and displays the importance of Nurture over Nature.

Counter arguments

No one physically made the children attack the Bobo doll. If anything, this experiment shows that Sigmund Freud's theory of aggression rings true. Freud's theory of Eros (life) and Thanatos (death) is that we are genetically wired with a set life instinct and a set death instinct. [2] While the life instinct drives our want to make connections, our death instinct is what drives our destructive tendencies. These destructive tendencies include aggression and negativity. Freud would argue that the children in the aggressive groups had a predisposition to aggression, thereby learning it through passive observation. When the model was being aggressive toward the Bobo doll, the children were not made to actively be aggressive as well. Therefore, their latent want to be aggressive was awakened by being shown it was acceptable to be aggressive toward the doll. This shows that Nurture does not have any hold where Nature was not already present.



[P1] Things such as aggression are learned behaviors. [P2] Learned behaviors are things that we are shown by our role models. [P3] Learning from role models is proof that Nurture determines who we will become.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The experiment does not prove that aggression is learned.


Further Reading


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 16:43 UTC