In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Environment 2. Types of Environment (Social Heredity) 3. Experiments on Environment.
Meaning of Environment:
Environment includes all the forces that act upon the individual from without. The environmental influences begin even from the time of conception, in the mother’s womb. During the pre-natal period, the nutrition received by the embryo has influence upon its development. In the post-natal period, the environment is of two types – physical and the social.
The physical environment includes, the place of residence, the climate of the place, the natural scenery, the food available, all other geographical, factors. Under the social environment, we include the influence of home, neighbourhood, school, church and the social surroundings.
Types of Environment (Social Heredity):
We know that at length the biological and experimental evidence regarding the nature and importance of heredity. Now let us understand environment and its types.
Environment is neither:
(ii) Mental, or
1. Physical Environment:
Physical environment includes all the geographical features that have an affect on the individual. Food, temperature, climate, resources for comfortable living, the natural belief features – are all included in it. Even in the pre-natal period the human embryo is surrounded by the physical environment of the womb, where it gets food and nourishment.
2. Mental Environment:
This means the atmosphere essential and helpful for the mental development of a person. This will include, the intellectual atmosphere at the home, the atmosphere at school, the libraries, the recreation rooms, laboratories etc. The child learns new experiences unconsciously in the mental environment.
3. Social Environment:
This includes the social associations that the child has from the very beginning. It further includes the cultural atmosphere of the society with its ingredients as religion, folk-lore, literature, art, music, social conventions and political organisation. Every individual inherits the cultural traits from the social environment. The term ‘social heredity’ is thus significant, as it emphasise the act of transmission of social and cultural patterns to each new generation. Education is off-course transmission of culture or of social heredity.
Definitions of Environment:
1. J.S. Ross:
“Environment is an external force which influences us.”
2. P. Gisburet:
“Environment is anything immediately surrounding an object and exerting a direct influence on it.”
3. Anne Anastasi:
“The environment is everything that affects the individual except his genes.”
4. Boring, Langfeld and Weld:
“A person’s environment consists of the sum total of the stimulation which he receives from his conception until his death.”
5. Douglas and Holland:
“The term environment is used to describe, in the aggregate all the external forces, influences, and conditions, which affect the life, nature, behaviour, and the growth, development and maturation of living organisms.”
6. R.S. Woodworth and D.G. Marques:
“Environment covers all the outside factors that have acted on the individual since he began life.”
Experiments on Environment:
Various studies have been made as regards the influence of environment upon the individual.
1. Zoologists have discovered the effect of environment upon the structure of animals. The tearing teeth of lion and the grinding teeth of horse are adapted to the food they eat. Many birds, insects and animals are green as they live in green environment. Desert animals are sandy in colour (e.g., camel). Animals have made adjustment to seasons. In the far north a seasonal molt gives many birds and mammals with winter coats.
2. Lamarck has explained the adaptation of individual to the environment. Drawin has given his own theory of ‘survival of the fittest’.
3. Studies on the influence of mental and social environment on children have been made by some psychologists.
Woodworth gives instances of raising the I.Q. of children by improving the environment. Children sent to progressive schools displayed an increase in I.Q. by 3 to 6 points. It has been found that good nursery schools have been stimulating the intellectual growth of children. In a controlled experiment of comparison between nursery and or phanage environment, a difference of 5 points in I.Q. was found. Children got from mean homes, but reared in foster homes also displayed an improvement.