Nature vs. Nurture


The nature-nurture debate has been around for a long time, seeking to determine the behavior of a person. Every person in this world has his or her character traits that are different from others, although some bear a similarity especially in closely related people such as twins and between a father and son. The nature-nurture debate suggests that the character of a person is shaped by both naturally acquired traits through inheritance from parents while others are acquired from the surrounding that continue to influence one’s thinking all the time. The debate revolves around which has more influence in one’s personality, with scholars continuing to debate while providing strongly supported arguments that have been researched and proven to great extents. However, the fact remains that human personality is determined by factors of both nature and nurture (McLeod 2007).

Personal thoughts on Nature-Nurture debate

On the issue of nature vs. nurture, I have always held the view that when we are born, we know nothing. Environmental factors continue to influence our personality considering that we learn most things as we grow up. However, this is not to mean that we are not born without some innate intelligence or traits. As we grow up, the inherited traits also come up little by little, hence influencing the way we do things. However, nobody can explain why he or she carries his or her parents’ character since it comes naturally and nobody chooses which ones to take. On the other hand, a person can explain how a certain character that is not inherited, developed, or why they act that way, and why he or she refuses to take certain characters and chooses others. I also feel that inherited traits influence our nurtured traits such as being taught to work hard while there is an inner part inherited that creates some laziness. No matter how hard a person may try to kill these characters, it might be hard while nurtured traits can be stopped. Hence, I would assert that a person’s character could not just be defined by one of the two sides alone; rather it is a combination of both with the effects of nature being more permanent than those of nurture are. I also think that the environmental factors exist to facilitate the growth of inherited characters since we have to learn in order to realize we have talents in certain fields. Many people may have talents that they do not know about, probably inherited from their parents, yet they have not made use of them since they have been influenced by environmental factors. For instance, a person may not have much interest in a certain subject such as arts, yet he or she may have some innate talent. This could probably be out of environmental influences such as other people making them believe that science is a better subject to major in.

History of the nature-nurture debate

The nature-nurture debate has been around for quite a long time now. It has been traced back to as long as the 13th century in France. In 1874, Francis Galton used these terms to demonstrate the influence of genetics and environment in the development of a person. He defined nature as what man is born with, while nurture as all the factors that affect a person’s life including people. A 13th century manuscript was found, using the terms ‘nature’ and ‘noreture’, meaning nurture, to discuss what influences personality. Other philosophers such as Plato argued that human beings inherit their knowledge from their parents through heredity of genes. On the contrary, Aristotle argued against this fact stating that a person is born without any knowledge or with a blank mind, and everything they learn is influenced by the environment one lives in since birth. In the 1700s, the debate was contested through the exchange of letters between the two sides opposing each other. In the early 1900s, behaviorists emerged from Pavlov influencing more on the nurture side. It was not until 1928 that Watson made some studies and produced a work laying more emphasis of the influential nature of environment. Recently, the nature-nurture debate has used twins to demonstrate this phenomenon (Bryner, 2006).

Characteristics of nature-nurture issue

            The most essential characteristics of this issue are biological influences of personality and environmental influence of the same. The nature argument is characterized by biological factors that are hereditary from the parents which are not taught to a person but still emerge. On the other hand, nurture is characterized by experiences of a person, which cannot be developed without such experiences. For instance, if a person has never had an awful experience with another person, there may be no reason to hate him or her. Without such an experience, the nurtured behaviors cannot be there. In this issue, biology versus the environment has been the major issue in this debate. The nature factors determine what characters and skills people can develop such as being good in a particular field or inheriting artistic skills from the parent. However, some characters could be seen in the parents and the child, but still are not inherited, but are learned from them considering they are part of the environment in which we learn. This debate further tries to figure out which factor has more weight than the other does, with some asserting that genes illustrate the potential of an individual’s behavior, while the environment just acts to bring out these characters (McLeod 2007).

Concluding Remarks

For my final remarks, I would say that our behavior is influenced by both natural and nurtured factors that determine the personality of a person. No matter how much genetic inheritance one may inherit from the parents, other traits are bound to occur due to other factors that are environmental. Therefore, it is important to note that both environmental and biological factors influence behavior and development of a person with close interrelation. Much of the character inherited from parents has to be nurtured sometimes in order to develop. This can be proven by the fact that traits inherited from parents take time to show and could only be demonstrated after maturity when one has learned them. For instance, without learning mathematics, one may not realize their talent that could have originated in their parents. The personality of a person is determined by what he or she is made up of genetically in addition to the environmental factors encountered.



McLeod, S. (2007). Nature Nurture in Psychology. Retrieved from

Bryner, J. (2006). Nature vs. Nurture: Mysteries of Individuality Unraveled. Retrieved from

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