Netflix Twelve Part Series    ‘Babies’ Episode:#11 Nature and Nurture

Resolving the debate of nature vs nurture three scientists show how genetics and environment work together as infants discover who they are.

The long-term debate over which is more important in child development, nature vs nurture is very interesting.  In this episode scientist weigh in on both sides of the argument.  

Philippe Rochat, Professor of Psychology, Emory Infant and Child Lab, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. USA

What is going on in the minds of infants?  What will guide them.  How do they become aware of their own thoughts and inclinations? The Mirror Mark Test ~ the child touches himself in the mirror, seeing it as himself.  Before 18 mos. does the child have any self awareness? Babies look into a mirror in a box as their own reflection.  Then they look at a person mimicking them?  Baby smiles more at the other than self.

Robert Plomin. Professor, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychological & Neuroscience,  King’s College, London, UK. Professor Plomin participated in the famous twins research studying 15,000 sets of twins followed 25 years to understand the biological impact of many things.

1994 – 2019.   The Twins Early Developmental Study. Nature. (Genetics). Vs Nurture (Environment)

15,000 pairs of twins.  Computerized birth records became available in 1993. 55M bits of information.  Tested every year for 25 years.   Personality tests.  Data from parents, the twins, their teachers     Tested for:  temperament traits. Early appearing personality traits:  fearfulness & anger, activity level, sociability & shyness, & impulsivity – attention span. All traits studied: verified genetic similarities in traits especially in identical twins. This study provided information on the most sets of twins ever researched.  The breakthrough was the year before the study began birth records were digitalized.  This allowed massive retravel of records never possible prior to this time.

Maria A Gartestein, Professor of the Gartestein Temperament Lab, Washington State University. Washington, USA

Studied temperament as a basic building block of personality. Does temperament develop over time?  2017. Began with babies 4 mos of age..  How much positive expression between moms and babies, warmth, interaction between them,  Babies returned at 6 months.  Reevaluated every two months during the first year.

The experiment: Show strange dramatic unusual masks to babies, record their reactions.  Looking for eyes enlarging, brows moving, crying.  Moms are next them to help if needed.   Began at 4 months of age.  Largest changes at 8, 10, & 12 months.  

Findings:  After 8 mos. babies became more aware, resulting in stronger reactions. Moms who were more sensitive to their babies, connection, etc. had babies who were less fearful and reactive.

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