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Nature or Nurture

Updated on July 10, 2013

Nature or Nurture

Scientists are debating gender stereotyping or in other words boys playing with boys toys, i.e. cars, helicopters, trucks, etc and girls playing with dolls and all things girly. Is this Nature or Nurture? Do adults influence the way that children play with toys or do they play with their chosen toy by instinct?

At an experiment carried out in Cambridge, volunteers were each given a child and a selection of toys for the toddlers to play with. The ones under the spotlight were not the children but unknown to them, the adults were the guinea pigs. The children had been disguised, the boys dressed as girls and the girls dressed as boys. A male volunteer tried to get the child that he thought was a little boy to play with a car or a helicopter without much success and a lady volunteer tried to get the girl she thought she was playing with to play with dolls. The disguised boy showed her what he thought of a doll by throwing it on the floor.

It was concluded that men will give boys mechanical toys to play with and women will give girls fluffy toys and dolls to play with. Does this prove that children are influenced in their choice by adults? Maybe so, but it was further decided that boys had the thin end of the wedge as they were actively discouraged from playing with dolls, but girls were not discouraged from playing with mechanical toys as well as dolls and fluffy things.


Dr. Melissa Hinds decided that she wanted to find a group of children who hadn't been influenced and do the same experiments with them. She couldn't find such a group.So she thought she would conduct the experiment with a group who could not possibly have been influenced by humans. She knew she had to get back to nature and see if the monkeys at a wild life park would behave in the same way, the males playing with cars etc and the females playing with dolls. The monkeys' keeper distributed toys around the trees where the monkeys were located and it wasn't long before the curious monkeys came down to investigate. Incredibly male monkeys chose the toys for boys and the females chose the girly toys. One male was seen to be spinning the wheels of a car and knocking it about while a female chose to play with a doll. As the experiment progressed it was apparent that the Nature side of things was taking over as males did in fact play with boys toys and females played with girls toys. To reinforce the argument one female was seen to go across to the open bag of toys, rummage around and pick out a pink fluffy doll which she then scampered up a tree with, clutching it to her breast.

They concluded that the males went for the toys with moving parts, curious to see them working, like the male spinning the car wheels, and the feminine side of the females coming into force by choosing the dolls. In other words, nature was the deciding factor.

However experiments continue along these lines but for the moment the results are not conclusive, and the answer is that it is 50/50. between Nature and Nurture.

Psychologists view

The nature versus nurture debates concern the importance of an individual's innate qualities i.e. nature or nativism versus personal experiences. Nurture, or behaviourism is the determining of individual differences in physical and behavioural traits.

One view is that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioural traits from nurture, which they call a blank slate. This was once considered to be an appropriate part of development in a person.

Some psychologists believe that, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are 'native' to the brain at birth. Others say that it is the brain that has inborn capabilities of learning from the environment surrounding it.

The debate continues

It's advertised for both boys and girls.Is the video fair to both boys and girls?


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