Virtually, no aspect of child development is due exclusevily to either nature or nuture.
The question used to be wether nurture, our environmental influences affected
development or if nature, our innate abilities were solely responisbe. Now, the question is
how do nature and nurture interact over time to affect development. Development is
shaped by the interaction of both our innate abilities as well as other environmental
factors. A major goal of child development is to understand how heredity and
environment jointly determine the way a child will develop. Nature is highly influenced
by our hereditary and genetic background. Nurture is influenced by learning, observation,
influences from caregivers, institutions and other environmental factors. Together, nature
and nurture work towards the motor, language, cognitive and social-emotional
development of infants into early adulthood and onwards.
Motor development refers to the development of a childs bones and muscles and their
ability to move around and manipulate their own environment. Motor development can
be broken down into two major sections: gross motor development (sitting and walking)
and fine motor development reaching and grasping for example take time but can be
The Infant Developmental Milestones project is a longitudinal study which track at which
ages motor achievements are reched. In Canada, mosr babies can sit without support by
six or seven months.
Differences in development can be caused by cultural (mothers in mali ex) or individual
differences. Only concern if huge delays.
Influenced by neural development
According to dynamical systems theory new motor skills emerge as infants recognize
their current capabilities
Study of blind vs sighted children.
Learn from experience and interaction of environment
Language development is responsible for the ability to understand and reproduce speech
in order to communicate. Nature and nurture take two different stands when it comes to
how language and grammar is acquired. Nurture theorists argue that language is learned
through an innate processing system in our brains called the Language Acquisition device
(LAD). Nature theorists argue that language is learned through constant reinforcement
and interaction. Language development and acquisition begins as early as birth and is
dependent on both innate ideas derived from heritability and genes as well as the
interaction of the environment. Babies are able to distinguish differences in sound, speech
and phonemens. In one study, a rubber nipple is connected to a computer so that the
babies sucking will cause the computer to play a phonetic sound out of a loud speaker.
The rhythim of the babies sucking changes the phonetic sound played from the speaker.
Soon, the babies learn the relation between the sucking and the sound being played and
change the speed of the sucking to produce the phonemen sound they preffer.
The Language Acquisiton Device (LAD) is a theory suggested by Chomsky who
states that children have an innate processing device that allows them to develop
language skills, even to languages that may be unfamiliar to them. This is a reflection of
the belief of a Universal Language. LAD along side Universal Language suggest that
linguistic abilities manifest itself without being taught. This theory can be tested through
early speech perception studies. A speech perception study will test a childs ability to
distinguish differences in sound and speech. A baby will be played a sound and will learn
to turn his head whenever a difference in sound or speech is perceived. A correct head
turn is rewarded with an exciting visual display as well as praise. This study showed that
by 6-8 months a child could discrimante against so many vowels and consonants that they
had never heard of. The childs ability to distinguish speech reinforces Chomsky’s theory
of a LAD. It supports the idea that we are born with an innate language processing skill
which continues to develop as the child grows and learns new words and grammar.