Human Beings: The Products of the Environment

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Introduction

Since childhood, human beings are always under the influence of a particular environment, whether at home with family, school, or work. A variety of developmental processes might help children become more aware of their environment and learn to control it. In a close synthesis, both nature (genes) and nurture (social and cultural environment) play a fundamental role in shaping one’s development and defining the survival prospects of oneself (Holliman & Critten, 2015). It is generally perceived that we are mere products of our environments, which might have a broader psychological context. Therefore, this research aims to critically assess this idea through psychological theories and studies to decipher how humans need to function in the wider social context of their environments.

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Developmental Science

The history of developmental psychology, together with a multilevel biopsychosocial dynamic systems approach, proposes new perspectives on human development and environmental impact. Human development is inherently linked to the mutual impact of nature and nurture, which forms the “transactional models of development” (Holliman & Critten, 2015, p. 46). The transactional model is based on the central developmental principle, wherein the environment “transacts” with the person to generate developmental outcomes. However, as environmental factors can influence individuals, people can also influence their environment. Together with genetic factors, the environment can significantly influence infant attachment, shaping a child’s ability to interact socially in the future. Additionally, children can experience both positive and negative environmental changes throughout their lifespan, which can either enhance or compromise attachment security. Such complex instability of environmental impact on attachment patterns directly defines the future social relationship behavior and opportunities in life. If the person is surrounded by a consistent environment, he or she has the ability to create a positive path of attachment and build strong relationships in different social groups.

Moral Development

The synergy between human genes and the environment also defines the social and moral judgment of individuals. Epigenetics is the study that examines how the environment can manage the way specific genes work throughout the lifetime of oneself (Ibbotson, 2015). The environment causes specific genes to become more active, while others might be deactivated. Such an environmental phenomenon has produced different types of bodies and behaviors that humans have. The fundamental differences in the human psychological and behavioral establishment are generated by “molecular chance processes or minor variations in the environments” (Ibbotson, 2015, p. 102). Consequently, such disparities are inevitable within different cultural environments that provoke contrasting approaches in moral development. In addition, human evolution through natural selection catalyzed developing unique moral sense based on particular moral foundations. These foundations have the power to anticipate personal political ideologies that are reflected later in the individual’s life. Thus, the environment shapes people’s moral considerations, which impact their moral sense and their development as individuals.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive science delineates a strong correlation between the environment and human visual perception of the world. To be more specific, perception implies the interaction between an individual’s actions, personal interpretations of the observed things, and the light information structured by the environment itself (Davies, 2015). The author explains that two principal approaches can theoretically explain the visual perception of oneself: bottom-up processing and top-down processing. Environment plays a vital role in the first approach as information from the environment promoted by humans’ actions is the fundamental data-driven perspective. Environment, therefore, directly impacts our perceptual experience and shapes our vision, knowledge, and unique ways of perceiving the world around us.

As human beings interact with the external environment throughout the lifespan, they gather the information needed for their perception development. Gibson’s theory of perception emphasizes the correlation that people have with their environment from the evolutionary perspective so that humans could learn to extract essential information from the world (Davies, 2015). The ecological theory of perception formulates Gibson’s idea that animals’ perception of the world is shaped by the environment. Moreover, given the dynamic changes in the world, the transformational invariants define the connection between human actions and resulting changes in their perception experience. Understanding these invariants provokes meaningful knowledge that one can have about the environment. This way, individuals define themselves through their perceptions closely intertwined with such principle of invariants in the environment in which they live.

Neuropsychology

Concerning that humans extract an immense amount of critical information from their environments, psychologists note that they must learn to develop selective attention to decipher the relevant and irrelevant information. Understanding the relevant information implies that the person knows what information is necessary to attain certain goals in life. The core of achieving goals and building the path for success defines and differs each human being. In addition, the environment is naturally dynamic and ever-changing, which is why it is crucial to consider the exogenous and endogenous factors (Briggs & Davies, 2015). In particular, exogenous factors are responsible for external events in the environment that can automatically draw one’s attention. However, (Briggs & Hole, 2015) believe that people are not highly sensitive to the changes in the environment due to executive control and attention. As such, human beings can control the cognitive resources to regulate the information that is being processed from the external environment.

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Visual Attention

Furthermore, individuals can also develop the focus on specific aspects of the environment, including objects, which demonstrates the peculiar limitations in the sensory and attentional systems. Such objects can be viewed in the context of a rich environment, producing the overall act of perception and humans’ ability to act upon the environment. Another important psychological aspect linking a human’s development and life to his or her environment is situational awareness. This concept refers to an individual’s understanding and perception of his/her environment and position within such environment in the present and near future (Briggs & Hole, 2015). For instance, when the person is driving a car, one requires this information from the environment to incorporate it with the previous knowledge and experience. The driver must analyze the situation now and ahead of the driving situation.

Conclusion

Human beings are engaged in the ongoing interaction with their environment that helps them define who they are. The heightened sensitivity to the critical aspects of the environment has reasonably evolved with humans’ development in this setting. Individuals’ basic needs are deeply rooted in the surrounding environment, shaping individual differences. Humans are exposed to the direct impact of information that they obtain from the environment and make their choices based on this information. Most importantly, people are prone to develop their unique moral imperatives and associated behavior that historically and evolutionary derive from their genes and environment. Therefore, people can be rightfully perceived as mere products of their environment.

References

Briggs, G., & Davies, S. J. (2015). Is seeing believing? Visual perception and attention for dynamic scenes. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology: From cognitive to biological (pp. 107–155). Open University Press.

Briggs, G., & Hole, G. (2015). Can I do two things at once? Attention and dual tasking ability. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive, volume 2 (pp. 59–101). The Open University.

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Davies, S. J. (2015). Do you see what I see? The fundamentals of visual perception. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology: From cognitive to biological (pp. 5–52). Open University Press.

Holliman, A., & Critten, S. (2015). What is the point of childhood? Early experiences and social relationships. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From biological to developmental (pp. 43–85). Open University Press.

Ibbotson, P. (2015). How do we know what is right and wrong? Theories of moral development. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From biological to developmental (pp. 95–132). Open University Press.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Human Beings: The Products of the Environment'. 12 July.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Human Beings: The Products of the Environment." July 12, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/human-beings-the-products-of-the-environment/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Human Beings: The Products of the Environment." July 12, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/human-beings-the-products-of-the-environment/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Human Beings: The Products of the Environment." July 12, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/human-beings-the-products-of-the-environment/.