Can Dogs Shed Some Light on Nature vs. Nurture?

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Can dogs really tell us something about nature vs. nurture? The researchers on the Nova documentary believe they can, so they pay particular attention to two studies. One study looked the ability of nurture to affect the behavior of wolves. For this study the scientists took wolf cubs home and raised them as we would dogs, but instead of the wolves growing up to be our loyal best friends, they still exhibited aggressive behavior. It got so bad that the wolves had to be removed from the homes and brought to a nearby zoo.
The second study observed the genetics behind behavior. In this study foxes were breed to be tame. To do this the scientists breed foxes, and then after, based observing the foxes, they separated them into two categories, tame and aggressive. The scientists then breed the tame foxes with each other. Eventually, the all the foxes that were born to the tame group were tame and the same was true of the aggressive group, except they were aggressive. Along with tameness, the fox's phenotypes changed. Their tales became shorter, and their coat became lighter. Since it is very difficult for people to perform nature and nurture studies on humans these animal studies provide great insights into the debate.

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Can Dogs Shed Some Light on Nature vs. Nurture? - Section 25 Psych 1001 Read More


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Interesting study on the fox and the change in the phenotype; seems like a good causation vs. correlation question.

Weighing the information given, and presuming its completeness, I believe the assignation of causation is clear. Also, I can't help but amusedly observe that Man had been breeding animals for desired traits for at least 5000 years before the trailblazers in the NOVA episode decided to investigate.

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This page contains a single entry by mill3984 published on October 9, 2011 4:33 PM.

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If "we can't keep guns from terrorists", it's because liberal columnists suck at science (and arithmetic) is the next entry in this blog.

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