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Nature/nurture and personality development - Essay Example

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Nature/nurture and personality development

Soon afterwards, the writer developed an irrational fear of heights.
Evidence indicates that specific phobias are actually multiply determined (eg, Thomas, King, & Muris, 2002), however, there is strong evidence for an observational learning component. A study by Gerull and Rapee (2002) examined the influence of parental modelling on the acquisition of fear and avoidance responses in young children, and found that responses were greater (particularly for girls) following negative reactions from their mothers.
While there is considerable evidence for a biological component in addictive behaviours such as smoking (eg, Hammersley, 1999), a study by Slomkowski, Rende, Novak, Lloyd-Richardson, and Niaura (2005) provided evidence for social factors in the aetiology of smoking behaviour. Slomkowski et al examined social connectedness between sibling pairs and its effects upon smoking in adolescence. They found that specific relationship dynamics (ie, social connectedness) underlie transmission of risk of smoking within sibships and concluded that social, rather than genetic processes, are responsible.
At around age 13 again, the writer found herself in an unattended sweet shop with a friend. The friend suggested stealing some sweets but the writer felt very strongly that this was wrong and persuaded her friend against it.

While sociobiologists (eg, Clamp 2001) may view morality as innate, all the other major theorists assume that morality is acquired as part of the wider process of socialisation (Gross, 2005). Recent evidence for this view was provided by White and Matawie (2004) who examined the extent to which parents' moral thought and family processes are involved in the acquisition of adolescent morality. They found that perceived family cohesion, adaptability, and communication significantly predicted certain aspects of adolescent morality, although the extent of this varied according to each

parent's moral view, the strength of family processes, and the content of the particular moral thought.

Part B

Freud's theory of psychosexual development, part of his wider psychoanalytic theory (Freud, 1938), is an interactionist theory that views personality development as an interaction between biological maturation (nature) and experience with the social world (nurture).

Freud believed that the personality has 3 components: the id (instinctual component that is present at birth), ego (socialised/executive component), and superego (moral/judicial component).

Freud's theory would explain the writer's phobia of heights as the surface or conscious expression of unconscious, unacceptable id impulses that have been displaced onto an external situation that can be avoided.

According to Freud, we are born with a sex instinct, the character of which changes over time, as determined by maturation. He believed that personality develops through a number of psychosexual stages during which the energy of the sex instinct (libido) is focused upon a particular part of the body (erogenous zone) for its gratification. The psychosexual stag ...Show more


Theories of personality development (and psychological theories in general) make implicit assumptions about the relative contributions of nature and nurture. By considering our own personality development throughout childhood and adolescence, we can identify the influences of these two factors…
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Nature/nurture and personality development essay example
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