The interest in nurture has focused on the importance of socialization, how you become a human being in society, you are socialized into it, into the norms and rules of interaction. Many attitudes and personal traits a person develops is created through observation. A great example of this is the Bobo Doll Experiment, led by Albert Bandura, tested Bandura’s social learning theory, which tests that aggression occurs through observation and interactions with the people around you (Lansford). Aggression sits at the base of many social issues such as simply violence or war. The participants used for this experiment included thirty-six girls and thirty-six boys, all within the ages of three to six. They divided the groups into eight experimental groups with one control group; the children watched as an adult entered the room, in the aggressive situation the adult would violently attack the doll, after simply ten minutes of observing the children were taken to another room that contained items such as mallets, darts, and the Bobo doll, as well as simply children’s toys. Each child was given twenty minutes to play in the room. The conclusion to this experiment was that the children who were exposed to violence seemed to imitate the behavior they had seen. “Are we a product of our genes or are we a product of our experience…” (Perry). What happens to a child that has been abandoned by all who are charged with protecting them, left to fend for themselves in the wild, never knowing love or social interaction (Perry). The word ‘feral’ means wild or undomesticated, it brings to mind the myth of characters such as Tarzan who lived among animals. For centuries, feral children have posed questions that go to the very heart of what it means to be human. Part of being human is being brought up by them, if you are not brought up by humans, are you completely human? One of the most extraordinary cases has come to light in the Ukraine, Oxana Malaya, a girl whose parents were alcoholics; one night, too drunk to care, they left her outside; looking for warmth, Oxana crawled into a kennel next to a dog, who most likely is the reason she survived. While the dog helped her stay alive, her time in the kennel also had terrible consequences; for the next five years, she would spend her life living as a dog. Children can copy the habits of the creatures around them, if those creatures are human, the child in turn acts like a human, but, in Oxana’s case she was surrounded by dogs.
Privation is defined as never having formed an attachment with a caregiver, people who have suffered from privation often develop social as well as emotional issues as they age. Genie Wilder was a child who was deprived of human interaction, locked in a cellar, and isolated from everyone, this lead to her becoming feral. Genie was locked away from birth to the age of seven, only given food by her parents, yet her parents would not allow her to form an attachment to them; as a result of this, when she was discovered and taken from her parents’ home, Genie was studied by many psychologists, as they studied her they noted that she behaved almost primitively; she could not walk very well, and she felt many things tactically with her face. They are drawing a lot of connotations to animalistic primitive references, Genie was not taught any of the means of human behavior, which we recognize today as social norms. Wilder was also not taught human language, leading her to not be able to speak, communicating in grunts. Genie was outside of the critical period, which is three years, she could not form attachments whatsoever.
Our overall environment consists of everything around us, from the physical things that we interact with to the air that we breathe and the people that we spend our time with. Because of this, it is one of the most influential factors in both developing and affecting a person’s overall mental health (Schmidt), with this in mind, consider what your life would be like if you were confined to just one room, or how you would experience things if your air was constantly full of paint fumes. How do you think this would affect your mental health? Having to deal with noisy, crowded environments can have a huge impact on someone’s overall mental state, it’s been proven that those who deal with these types of environments tend to have higher rates of fatigue, more easily annoyed, and generally less patient. Similarly, living in crowded spaces has been found to have an adverse effect on people’s general moods and can lead to stress-related illnesses.
Socialization is a life-long process where we learn about social expectations and how to interact with others, everything we consider ‘normal’ is actually learned through socialization. This is where we as humans learn to walk, talk, and feed ourselves; it’s all through socialization, and we also learn the behavioral norms to help us fit in. Some of the most important agents of socialization, or what is used to transmit culture; agents include people, organizations and institutions that assist us in learning our social world. Family is considered the most important agent, when you are born you are completely dependent on others to survive, your parents play the important role of teaching you how to care for yourself, they also teach you how close relationships work; along with this comes teaching you their own values, beliefs, and norms. Schools are also another important agent of socialization, in addition to teaching the basic subjects, schools also teach life skills. This makes it so students do not just learn from their academic curriculum, but they also learn social skills from interactions with their teachers and peers. For example, we learn the importance of obeying authority, and that to be successful we must learn to be quiet, to wait, and to even act interested when we are not interested at all.
This is all part of what is called the hidden curriculum, which is simply standard behaviors, and are what is deemed acceptable, subtly taught by teachers. Peers help us develop our social behavior, peer pressure is an example of how other people influence us, peers especially in our teenage years also influence what movies we watch, or even the type of music we listen to. Mass media includes things like television, the internet, radio, movies, and books. When children are young they learn things through mass media. Today children are exposed to tons of content that is intended for more mature audiences yet is so readily available for anyone. Sometimes mass media even enforces gender and other stereotypes.