Assignment: Environmental Interactions

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Assignment: Environmental Interactions

Assignment: Environmental Interactions


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Assignment: Heredity-Environment Interactions

Contemporary psychologists argue less about the nature versus nurture debate than their predecessors did, and instead concentrate on how people develop based on heredity-environment interaction. While genes are influenced by the environment, genes also contribute to shaping the environment. Our genetic endowment both limits and capacitates us, while environmental and social contexts exert a powerful influence over us.

Range of reaction is a concept that explains that our ranges of possible developmental outcomes are established by our genetic makeup. Enriched environments enable us to achieve higher outcomes within the range, while unsupportive or unstimulating environments generally result in lower outcomes within the range.

Individual Differences, Heredity and Environment

The central question that developmental psychologists ask is why people develop so differently. Behavior geneticists use statistics to calculate heritability factors to estimate what percentage heredity contributes to a certain developmental outcome. Remember however, that exposure to environmental influences and development stages must be considered.

Family Studies

For this reason, many studies involve family members because of their biological relatedness and shared environments. Adopted children may be compared with their adoptive and biological parents, and siblings and identical and fraternal twins may be compared. For example, studies have found that intelligence and spatial and verbal abilities have a positive correlation with genetic relatedness, while memory and creativity have no correlation with genetic relatedness (McCartney, Harris, & Bernieri, 1990; Plomin, 1990).


Studies have also found that children from the same families have widely varying temperaments, while children from the same cultures have similar tendencies (Kagan, 1994; Thomas & Chess,1986). Furthermore, difficult babies who have stressed mothers have been found to experience more developmental problems, whereas difficult babies with calm, supportive parents do not usually experience these problems (Rothbart & Bates, 2006). Goodness of fit between the child’s temperament and environment refers to how parents and socializing agents accept and adapt to each child, and is thus critical in child development.

How much of temperament is genetic versus environment?

Prenatal Development

There are three stages of prenatal development that occur in the 38 weeks of pregnancy: the zygote, the embryo and the fetus.

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