Nature versus Nurture: Foster Homes and Orphanages

Essay by deetwinUniversity, Master'sA, July 2010

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Nature versus Nurture: Foster Homes and Orphanages

Psych 500

July 5, 2010

For decades, nature versus nurture debate has been an ongoing argument among experts studying life span development. Those who believe that nature is the determining factor of development argue that genes determine an individual's personality, attitudes, and behavior. The other side of the debate among experts is that nurture or experiences and environment have the most influence on development. Santrock states, "nature refers to an organism's biological inheritance, nurture to its environmental experiences" (Santrock, 2007, p. 17). This paper will take the debate a little further by examining whether nature or nurture has more of an influence on children raised in foster homes or orphanages.

Although there is documentation by many experts that children in foster care and institutionalized typically have a have IQs lower than those of children who have never been institutionalized, a new study demonstrates that cognitive impairment may be reversed for institutionalized children. A study conducted by Charles A. Nelson, research director of the Developmental Medicine Center at Children's Hospital Boston and professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School focused on children placed in a Romanian orphanage at birth and then placed in foster homes. The study related how cognitive impairment can be reversed when children were placed in foster homes before the age of two. This is the first study ever conducted about "whether foster care can heal the cognitive, emotional and behavioral wounds of severe early childhood deprivation" (Ghera, Marshall, Fox, Zeanah, Nelson, & Smyke, 2009). Though more studies of this type need to be conducted, this study could demonstrate that nurturing by foster parents can overcome some developmental problems experienced by young children in their early years.

There have also been many recent cases in the news about children adopted from...