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What is innate, what is brought up? The plant-environment controversy from an educational-psychological point of view
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1. Concepts of the plant-environment controversy
1.2. Congenital and genetic developmental defects
1.3. Pre-, peri- and postnatal consequences of damage
1.5. Genotype and phenotype
2. Positions of the Nature-Nurture Controversy
2.1. Plant-environment models
2.1.1. Dualistic theories
2.1.2. Interaction theories
2.2. The twin research method
2.3. Different methods of twin research
2.3.1. The most common twin method
2.3.2. The second twin method
2.4. Criticism and weaknesses of twin research
2.5. Examples of twin research
2.6. The method of race comparison
3. The system-environment problem from an educational-psychological point of view
4. About the interaction of maturation and learning
4.1. DENNIS observations among the Hopi Indians
4.2. GESELL's twin study
4.3. Maturation and learning as determinants of development
In my housework I would like to pursue the much debated and recurring question of how genetic makeup and the influence of the environment affect people. Is the person already a "finished" person with all his wishes, ideas, preferences, opinions or does he develop his individual character during his complex life, depending on the environment he is in, which is shaped by so many coincidences is?
I could imagine that a person who was born and raised in Africa is completely different from the same person who would have grown up in Europe.
The following pages are intended to provide an insight into this plant-environment controversy.
The first chapter gives an overview of the crucial basic key terms that are inevitable in behavioral genetics.
The second chapter describes the extreme change in the positions of the plant-environment controversy over time. With the help of various scientists and psychologists who dealt scientifically with the basic question of the degree of influence of plant and environmental factors on development, the controversial positions of the plant-environment problem are presented and explained. Methods that served and still serve the plant-environment controversy are described with all their goals, theories and weaknesses, e.g. twin research or race comparison.
In the last chapter of my term paper, I present the system-environmental problem from the pedagogical-psychological point of view.
Since I am studying special education, I found it interesting to shed light on this topic from this angle as well.
1.1 Concepts of the plant-environment controversy
The investment and environmental controversy is one of the oldest in the world. Renowned researchers refer to this discourse in technical terms as the Nature-Nurture Controversy. This pair of terms was not first invented in modern psychology. For some time now, philosophers have been concerned with the question of whether man is born good or bad. Shakespeare put it in a nutshell: "A devil, a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick"1, the poet has the magician Prospero say in his work "The Storm" about the wicked Caliban, which means "a born devil whose nature cannot be changed by upbringing."
In the past and also now, questions have been asked as to whether humans come into the world as a blank slate or whether their fate is fixed in their genes, whether their genes shape their character or whether they are shaped by their environment.
In order to avoid misunderstandings, what is meant by plant and environment should be briefly defined at this point.
With the term "Environment" (Engl. nurture) are all non-hereditary factors. These extend from the intra- and intercellular to the external environment. Some examples regarding the external environment are mentioned here: psychosocial factors (e.g. fear), as well as different living conditions (e.g. poor family).
The period of environmental factors extends from conception to the death of a person.
The term “environment” is also equated with experience. One should be careful with this equation, however, because experience is not a very reliable source because it does not represent uniform dimensions. Some experiences or types of experience concern a single individual, others exist in the environment as an omnipresent constant to which every person is exposed.
Under "Investment" (English. nature) is understood to mean all physical and psychological characteristics that are usually considered hereditary and passed on from generation to generation through DNA differences. However, not all genetic influences on development are inherited.
A distinction is made between congenital disorders that are genetic and those that are not genetic.
A congenital disorder can mean a change in morphogenesis, i.e. a development of the external form of the living being, e.g. the infant has no eyes, or it is a change in the metabolism that is not immediately apparent.
1.2 Congenital and genetic developmental defects
There are four categories of morphological developmental defects.
The plant is completely healthy, the development of the fruit during pregnancy is regular, the birth of the child proceeds without complications. The child is completely healthy.
Primary malformation means that the system is not designed as it should be, it is environmentally stable and at the same time cannot be changed by external influences. An example of the primary malformation would be a malformed finger.
2. Secondary malformation (disruption)
In the case of the secondary malformation, the system is completely healthy. Up to a certain point of pregnancy the pregnancy proceeds normally, but for a certain or also uncertain reason there is a developmental change in the fruit during the course of pregnancy. From this point on, the development changes. The cause of a disruption could be an infectious disease of the mother during pregnancy (e.g. rubella).
With this type of development defect, the system is completely healthy. The deformation occurs e.g. towards the end of pregnancy due to insufficient amniotic fluid. This results in a flattening of the back of the head with long-term one-sided storage.
In dysplasia, the disposition is different in the sense of a genetic disorder. Due to the congenital defect, the fruit continues to develop during pregnancy. An example would be hemangioma, a benign new formation of blood vessels.
1.3 Pre-, peri- and postnatal consequences of damage
Pre-, peri- and postnatal damage or chromosomal abnormalities (Down syndrome) can occur during pregnancy.
a). Prenatal damage consequences
Prenatal causes of damage are the damage to the fruit in the period from the 4th to 12th Week or even before.
Risk factors are:
- The mother's poor social status and inadequate medical prenatal care,
- very young or old mothers (under 18 or over 35 years of age),
- infectious diseases during pregnancy,
- other maternal diseases, especially diabetes,
- the use of medication, drugs, nicotine, alcohol.
An example of the causes of prenatal damage would be alcohol embryopathy, in which the fruit undergoes morphological changes.
b). Perinatal causes of damage
They arise around birth. The child is exposed to considerable stress before and during the birth. Complications and consequences in general are summarized under the term “birth trauma”.
Figure not included in this excerpt
The path from genes to behavior has been attracting keen interest since the 1960s under the name behavioral genetics. Many obstacles have been put in the way of research because the relationship between genes and behavior is always indirect.
Genes are chemical substances that have the potential to develop behavioral characteristics through various intermediate stages.
But basically there is no direct gene effect on behavior. There is no gene for aggression, alcoholism, or intelligence.
The gene effect can be clearly illustrated using the example of phenylketonuria. In this genetic defect, the faulty gene prevents a specific enzyme that breaks down phenylalanine from being produced. Phenylalanine is not converted to tyrosine as is usually the case, which leads to a dopamine deficiency. As a result, the brain is damaged, irritability, overactivity and mental impairment occur. Timely diet can largely prevent disability.
It is important to realize that the relationships between genetics and behavior, as well as the effects of the environment, are very complex. The genetic influence is also difficult to determine because most human traits are polygenic, i.e. caused by several genes.
One very often speaks of a computer program when talking about genetic information. OYAMA (1989) warns against using a program metaphor in relation to genetic information because it could lead to misleading implications. Nor does it contribute to an understanding of development processes. It is not characteristics that are inherited, but genes that have polygenic effects. OYAMA claims that the program metaphor leads to the idea that the genetic information must produce a corresponding trait.
The path from genotype to phenotype offers many starting points for weakening and reinforcing factors, so that a wide range of possibilities can arise.
1.5 The genotype and the phenotype
In order to avoid misunderstandings at this point, the terms phenotype and genotype are defined.
Under genotype one understands the individual genetic makeup of an organism, the totality of the alleles in each of its cells. An individual's genotype remains unchanged throughout life.
Under the term of Phenotype one understands the observable character traits of an organism, which in addition to appearance also include behavior and personality traits. In contrast to the genotype, the phenotype is subject to lifelong changes. The changes result from the interaction of the genotype and the environment, which are subject to different limits.
Other considerations based on the definitions are as follows.
The same genotype can lead to different phenotypes under different environmental conditions.
In contrast to this statement, the same phenotype can be based on different genotypes.
The genotype does not determine a phenotype, but only restricts the possible reactions to certain environmental conditions from which the phenotype results.
Conclusion: Phenotypic characteristics do not allow any direct conclusions to be drawn about genetic predisposition. Mietzel (1995) provides an example of the theoretical explanations that genes do not determine the phenotype, but only determine the scope within which the environmental influences act.
It describes how the two factors plant and environment determine the development. In the case of a chromosome abnormality, using the example of Down's syndrome, the proportion of a hereditary factor on the reduction of intellectual performance is relatively high. However, the laws of interaction are at work here: a favorable environment can still weaken the symptoms. 30 years ago, children and adolescents with Down syndrome were considered to be nursing care cases without funding opportunities. The life expectancy was only about 12 years, which they spent in institutions. Today, children and young people with Down syndrome attend special schools and often learn to read. LERNER and HULTSCH (1983) found that children with Down syndrome can be given self-confidence and their intellectual performance can be increased to such an extent that they can take on simple professional activities. The life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has increased to over 30 years.
This example proves that a “favorable environment” can reduce the symptoms.
2. Positions of the Nature-Nurture Controversy
After Shakespeare used the pair of terms nature-nurture in his late work "The Storm", it was later used by biologists Francis Galton2 picked up. He gave the pair of terms a new meaning, "nature versus nurture." The word "versus", which is implicit in the hyphen, has now given way to an "and", since neither genetic nor environmental factors could provide satisfactory explanations in and of themselves. Since then, this term has been a pivotal point in developmental psychology. Galton was the first to turn his attention to twins to study the interplay of heritage and environment. In his work "The History of Twins [...]" 1876 he argued: "There is no evasion from the knowledge that the plant is most superior to the environment when the environmental conditions do not exceed certain limits"3 Based on his observations, Galton claimed that mankind must be perfected. In this way Galton became the founder of behavioral genetics and at the same time a representative of eugenics. In this sense, he was the first to show how dangerous and easily misused this research can be.
1 William Shakespeare. Volume 3. The Storm. In the translation by Erich Fried. Edited by Friedmar Apel. Berlin 1995, p. 610.
2 Francis Galton: British natural scientist and biologist, * 1822, 1911, founded eugenics, established a series of inheritance laws and introduced the examination of fingerprints
3 Quoted from Friedrich, Walter / Kabat vel Job, Otmar. International twin research, p. 13
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