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Developmental Psychology: Our Story from Seed to Soil


Developmental Psychology: Our Story from Seed to Soil. Unit 6, Part 3 of 3 ' ... Yes, you may eventually train a Chihuahua to swim and retrieve maybe. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Developmental Psychology: Our Story from Seed to Soil

Developmental Psychology Our Story from Seed to
  • Unit 6, Part 3 of 3
  • Whose Fault Is It That I Am What I Am? (The
    Nature versus Nurture Debate)

  • Do our parents make us what we are? Well, hell,
    Im a well-adjusted psychopath, and I credit my
    mother. She said all these things mothers
    allegedly arent supposed to say.
  • "How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far
  • "Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too"
  • "Just leave all the lights on ... it makes the
    house look more cheery"
  • "Let me smell that shirt -- Yeah, it's good for
    another week"
  • "Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I'll be
    glad to feed and walk him every day"
  • "Well, if Rahul's mamma says it's OK, that's good
    enough for me."
  • "The curfew is just a general time to shoot for.
    It's not like I'm running a prison around here."

  • "I don't have a tissue with me ... just use your
  • "Don't bother wearing a jacket - the wind-chill
    is bound to improve"

Think About This Before We Begin
  • You must take personal responsibility. You
    cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or
    the wind, but you can change yourself. That is
    something you have charge of.
  • Jim Rohn
  • I am what I am what I am Popeye
    the Sailor Man

Unit Outline
  • Nature of Nature versus Nurture Debate
  • Blaming ones parents
  • Personality differences
  • Sex differences
  • Intelligence differences
  • Stephen Pinker on the Blank Slate

Nature of Nature vs. Nurture Debate
Please be dogged in your quest for knowledge!
Nature and Nurture
  • What shapes us as individual human beings? Our
    biological inheritance (nature) or how we are
    raised and our early childhood experiences
  • Are we Lockean blank slates that our parents
    write on?

Nature and Nurture
  • Nature and nurture operate together to produce
    observable characteristics.
  • The debate about which is more important tends to
    be irrational, emotional, and based on political
  • Leftists emphasizing environment
  • Rightists emphasizing heredity
  • Two useful metaphors
  • Hebbs area of rectangle
  • Iron rusting

Blaming Ones Parents
Blaming Ones Parents
  • We get our genes from them, but we cant blame
    them for breeding, can we?
  • We get our early environment from them, but we
    cant blame them for their situation in life, can
  • They have the potential to do great harm by
    mistreating us, but relatively few do so, for
    parents of all species are hardwired to care for
    their young.
  • So what do we get from them…

Blaming Ones Parents
  • Observational learning
  • We learn most of what we learn incidentally by
    observational learning.
  • Monkey see and emulate what monkey parent do
    monkey not pay attention to Do as I say, not as
    I do.
  • Examples reading, ethical behaviour, religious
    beliefs, etc.
  • But….

Blaming Ones Parents
  • Observational learning
  • We, in modern industrialized nations, spend very
    little time with our parents after the very first
    years of life.
  • We learn most of what we learn incidentally by
    observational learning from our peers i.e.,
    those our own age in classrooms and after school
  • Our peers are by definition as immature as we
    are, so not exactly useful guides to mature
  • An aside on home-schooling.

Blaming Ones Parents
  • Random factors
  • Our parents cannot control random events that can
    profoundly affect us.
  • Illness and accidents (e.g., artist friend and
    birth defect)
  • Really good or bad teachers or friends (e.g., Mr.
  • Events that trigger an inherent fascination
    (e.g., off to join the circus purchase of piano,
    a book read)

Blaming Ones Parents
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Maturity is marked by accepting ones situation
    and nature and taking responsibility for trying
    to change whatever in ones situation or nature
    one feels need changing.
  • And it includes not blaming others for ones
    situation or nature, for that serves no purpose
    and more often than not is just a pathetic excuse
    for not trying to change oneself.
  • We are shaped by the genes we inherit, the way
    our parents raise us, the random events that
    occur as we grow up, but dems da breaks, good or
  • We have to believe we have the will and power and
    responsibility to control the game of our lives,
    no matter what hand weve been dealt.

Personality Differences
Personality Differences
  • Why should we be different from dog breeds?
  • Yes, you may eventually train a Chihuahua to swim
    and retrievemaybe.
  • But how much training does a Labrador Retriever
  • There are genetic predispositions that can be
    bred forand are bred for.
  • Admitting individual differences, the fact
    remains that personality is largely genetic.
  • Ask any parent of more than one child!

Personality Differences
  • Golden Retriever The sun is shining, the day is
    young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and
    you're inside worrying about a stupid burned-out
    light bulb?
  • Border Collie Just one. And then I'll replace
    any wiring that's not up to code.
  • Dachshund You know I can't reach that stupid
  • Toy Poodle I'll just blow in the Border collie's
    ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes
    rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.
  • Rottweiler Make me!!
  • Shi-tzu Puh-leeze, dah-ling. Let the humans do
  • Lab Oh, me, me!!! Pleeeeeeze let me change the
    light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?
  • Malamute Let the Border collie do it. You can
    feed me while he's busy.
  • Cocker Spaniel Why change it? I can still pee on
    the carpet in the dark.

Personality Differences
  • Jack Russell Terrier I'll just pop it in while
    I'm bouncing off the ceiling.
  • Doberman Pinscher While it's dark, I'm going to
    sleep on the couch.
  • Mastiff Mastiffs are NOT afraid of the dark.
  • Irish Wolfhound Can somebody else do it? I was
    at the pub last night and I've got this
  • Pointer I see it, there it is, there it is,
    right there........
  • Greyhound It isn't moving. Who cares?
  • Old English Sheep Dog Light bulb? That thing I
    just ate was a light bulb?
  • Westie Dogs do not change light bulbs. People
    change light bulbs, I am not one of THEM. So the
    question is, how long will it be before I can
    expect my light?
  • Hound Dog I like it dark....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
  • Australian Shepherd First, I'll put all the
    light bulbs in a little circle...

Sex Differences
Sex Differences
  • Get real boys are different from girls by
  • Albeit not as different as once believed!
  • Again a call to parents real personal
    experiences is a remedy to ideology.
  • Everyone should have equal opportunity to realize
    their potential, something certainly not true for
    females of our species for most of history.
    (Women had damn good reason to be annoyed!)
  • But that doesnt mean that there arent
    differences in potential that is just bad
    science, even if considered politically incorrect
    and dangerous to say.

Sex Differences
  • Sex differences in academic skills
  • Extensive overlap in IQ scores of males and
  • Differences in means
  • Males higher on many nonverbal areas
  • Females higher on many verbal areas
  • Why overall average IQ the same? …
  • Answer its rigged!

Intelligence Differences
Intelligence Differences
  • The Bell Curve Controversy
  • We get our knickers in a knot about anyone saying
    what is simply common sense and empirical
    evidence folks are different.
  • And we misapply and misinterpret statistics.
  • And folks get really upset when unscientific
    concepts like race and IQ are mixed up with
    all this.

Intelligence Differences
  • The Bell Curve Controversy
  • IQ is a dubious concept. Something that will be
    discussed in a later unit. But for now note that
    it is a crude measure that correlates with
    potential for certain types of abstract
  • Race is an even more unscientific term. There is
    no such thing! However, there are groups of
    people with similar gene pools because they have
    lived together and mated.

Intelligence Differences
  • The Bell Curve Controversy
  • There are genetic markers for high IQ scores on
    chromosomes 4, 6, and 22.
  • Marker on chromosome 6 is carried by one-third of
    people with high IQ and one-sixth of people with
    average IQ.
  • These are not big differences, but they are
    statistically significant.
  • There are differences in average IQ in different
    samples from different gene pools, which should
    not be confused with the meaningless concept of
  • These are not big differences, but they are
    statistically significantif not socially

Intelligence Differences
  • The Bell Curve Controversy
  • Example of Ethnic (gene pool) differences
  • Compared with middle-class white norms…
  • Aboriginal students score 20 points lower on
    verbal scales, but 5 points higher on performance
  • African-American school children score 10 to 15
    points lower than white middle-class students
  • Asians score substantially higher than white
    North American students.
  • Not surprisingly these gaps narrow between groups
    in response to improved (or less nurturing)

Intelligence Differences
  • The Bell Curve Controversy 3 Things to Note
  • Extensive overlap in scores of all ethnic groups
    (selected gene pools) is far greater than between
    group differences, so social concern with
    scientific findings is largely politically
    motivated and often vicious and irrational.
  • All findings are based on using the culturally
    biased measure called IQ.
  • And again many studies refer to race which is
    not a scientific way of sorting members of our

Intelligence Differences
  • Bell Curve Controversy 3 More Things to Note
  • We are not all equally endowed with every
    traitgood or bad.
  • You may be smart with fixing things and stupid
    with doing math.
  • We all have limitations.
  • Not everyone can be a Wayne Gretsky or an Albert
    Einstein or a Rembrandt.
  • Some genetic gene pools may favour one or another
  • Hungarians seem to have a disproportionate number
    of brilliant mathematicians.
  • This doesnt mean that if you are not a native
    born Hungarian you cant be a brilliant

Intelligence Differences
  • Concept of Heritability
  • Much misunderstood!
  • Heritability of IQ (in so many ways a trivial
    measure) is the fraction of the variance in IQ in
    a population that is accounted for by genetic
  • Depends on variability (consistency) in the
    sample for other factors.
  • E.g., if the environment for two individuals is
    virtually identical, heritability number will
    obviously be higher but if the environment is
    radically different, the genetic factor will be
    less important.

Intelligence Differences
  • Concept of Heritability
  • Adoption studies
  • There is a stronger correlation between IQs of
    adopted children and biological parents than
    adoptive parents.
  • But of course environment also has an effect
    because if a child is placed in better
    environment, his or her IQ increases.

Intelligence Differences
  • IQ score correlations suggesting a strong genetic

Are We Blank Slates?
Nature and Nurture
  • Pinker The Blank Slate
  • (Quirks and Quarks audio clip)
  • http//

21 m
  • We are what we are because…
  • of our genetic inheritance
  • the experiences weve had
  • and our ability to make the most of both of the
  • We should acknowledge all of the above (the first
    two over which weve had little or no control),
    but accept responsibility for being what we are
    because of our success or failure in the last

Thats all folks!