The Influence of Nurture upon Native Differences

The Influence of Nurture upon Native Differences

The Influence of Nurture upon Native Differences

The Influence of Nurture upon Native Differences

Excerpt

Some years ago I felt that it would be a rather simple matter to determine experimentally the relative influences of heredity and environment upon mental performance. This appeared to involve merely a collection of ample data of a sort easily obtainable, and the analysis of such data by prosaic methods. As a beginning it seemed well to examine tentatively all the statistical steps which would arise in the undertaking. The attempt to do so proved disheartening because of the number of difficulties which it revealed. These were both logical and mathematical. To meet the mathematical difficulties certain new measures have been derived. They have been described in full in the December, 1925, issue of the Journal of the American Statistical Association and are used here for the first time in an experimental study. To meet the logical difficulties a number of explicit functional definitions are herein given.

Since the final issues of the study deal with heredity and environment it has been necessary to arrive at certain quantitative measures of these two factors, and at this point a great shortcoming(?) of the statistical method revealed itself. Whereas I had for years engaged in vigorous argument with colleagues as to the parts played in mental life by nature and nurture, I found (I might as well admit it now) that I had never to myself clearly defined either term and, still more surprising, that I could not find in the literature any precise functional definitions. The demand that these and other related concepts be precisely defined in behavioristic terms is a cruel infringement upon freedom of debate and for the moment seems to threaten . . .

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