In your book’s introductory chapter on lifespan development, you learned a lot about the various theories that are used to explain development through the lifespan. Each of these theories addresses an age-old question regarding development: Is it nature (genetics) or nurture (environment) that makes us who we are? Some of the theories view development as something that is purely genetic; we are born who we are and there is nothing that can change it. Others view development as purely environmental; we are who we are because of our experiences. Still others view development as a result of both genetic and environmental influences.
Each theory also differs in its focus: some focus only on infancy, others on childhood, and still others theorize about the entire lifespan. In this activity you will match the different theories and views to their theorist.
Drag and drop the theorist associated with each theory. Not every theory has a theorist associated with it. You may not change your answers after they have been placed.
Regarding the age-old question of nature versus nurture, developmentalists now understand that nature and nurture are not independent of one another. Our genetic tendencies shape our wider-world experiences. Evocative forces refer to the fact that our inborn talents and temperamental tendencies produce certain responses from the world. Human relationships are bidirectional. Who we are as people causes other people to react to us in specific ways, driving our development for the good and the bad. Active forces refer to the fact that we actively select our environments based on our genetic tendencies. Because we choose activities to fit our biologically based interests and skills, what start out as minor differences between people in early childhood end up as huge gaps in talents and traits in adulthood (Scarr, 1997). Also, how genetic traits are expressed is dependent on environmental forces (Flynn, 2007; Pinker, 2011). Therefore, in order to promote our optimal potential we need the best person-environment fit.
People use theories almost daily in an attempt to understand human life and behavior. Theories attempt to explain what causes us to act as we do. They may allow us to predict the future. Ideally, they give us information about how to improve the quality of life.
What theory do you find most consistent with your views?
Flynn, J. R. (2007). What is intelligence? Beyond the Flynn effect. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. New York: Viking.
Scarr, S. (1997). Behavior-genetic and socialization theories of intelligence: Truce and reconciliation. In R. J. Sternberg & E. Grigorenko (Eds.), Intelligence, heredity, and environment (pp. 3–41). New York: Cambridge University Press.