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Although human behavior can obviously be shaped to a decree, I do not completely agree with Watson’s famous statement: “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specific world to bring them up in, and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select” (Hothersall, 2004).
I do not agree with the Watsonian idea that children are ‘blank slates’ (Tabula Rasa) (Green, 2009), because humans are more complex organisms than just mere automatons that can be programmed as if we were computers without genetics and other factors that affect personality. Although we now know that the environment we are raised in affects our development to a decree, it does not mean environment or shaping is all that there is to development of human traits, as Watson claimed.
Based on the twin studies (such as the Minnesota twin study), identical twins share same genetic traits, and adopted twins share traits with their genetic parents more than the adoptive parents (Myers and DeWall, 2014). However, environment affects certain traits up to about 10% or more, if such twins are reared apart (Myers and DeWall, 2014). Fraternal twins, who share the same environment, but are not genetically identical have even more differences in traits similar to siblings reared in the same environment (Myers and DeWall, 2014). In any case, it is not possible to create a perfectly similar environment for any two individuals, even if they are identical twins. Thus, traits such as intelligence or the big five traits tend to differ to a decree, even if identical twins are involved, and especially if they are reared in separate environments. However, genetics matters more than the environment in general (Grison, 2016).
In sum, even though behavior can be shaped to a decree and people can be conditioned, Watson’s idea that anyone can be conditioned to become anything at all is not very realistic due to the complexity of human condition and the very evident individual trait differences due to genetics in addition to the environment.
Please respond to the above question with 150-250 words. No references are required but you can still use if you would like.