Nature versus Nurture

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Throughout history, people have been inquiring into the question of what defines their behavior, character, intelligence, skills, and aptitudes. There have always been two possible answers: nature or nurture.

No one can deny that both nature and nurture influence human life. However, some scientists think that nature is the key element which forms a personality while others support the idea of nurture’s primary importance. Overall, hereditary and environmental components are of equal significance.

The discussion of nature-nurture domination developed into an extensive debate at the beginning of the last century. The theory which claims nurture to be the most important factor for development was called behaviorism. John Watson was one of the psychologists who supported this idea in the early twentieth century. He believed that behavior was mainly influenced by learning and experience. He also considered it possible to bring up a person prone to performing well in a certain profession by means of control of their environment (Nevid 324). The opposite opinion was introduced by the theory of physicalism. Arnold Gessel was one of the followers of this theory. He emphasized the importance of biological components such as appearance, health, intelligence in a person’s life. Physicalism partly developed from Darwin’s theory of evolution (Nevid 325).

There are some spheres where nature’s role is more evident; for instance, nature determines human physical background such as height, skin color, etc. Even without experiments, one can easily notice that close members of one family share more common characteristics in their appearance than distant relatives. Scientists have also proven this observation. According to Carducci, “… sixty five percent of the observed differences in height ... were due to variation of genetic makeup (i.e. nature)” (321). The same research also demonstrates that even a type of temperament is connected to hereditary factors, though to much lower degree – twenty five percent (Carducci 321). IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is another aspect which is highly influenced by nature. According to Leahy’s research, “The nature of hereditary component in intelligence causes greater variation than does environment” (236).

On the other hand, there are aspects of life which are greatly determined by environment and upbringing. Psychologists who consider nurture to be crucial for development often address to behaviorism and social learning. They think that a baby is born like “tabula rasa”, which has not been written upon, and environment and life events determine its behavior. This theory states that in the majority of cases, children learn to behave from what they see. For example, children whose parents smoke with a great deal of probability will smoke themselves. Researchers have also proven that watching aggression on TV provokes aggression in children’s behavior (Miles and Browne 113). Nurture is also significant while speaking about forming character and temperament. It has already been mentioned that genetic factors influence this sphere only by twenty-five percent, so seventy-five should be attributed to environmental variation (Carducci 321). Carducci writes that the key element of nurture’s influence is “learning in response to the environmental condition” (320).

To conclude, one should always think which aspect of an individual is under discussion. Some characteristics are more determined by nature (e.g. height, hair color) while others depend on nurture (e.g. habits such as smoking). It has become clear that nature and nurture are interconnected, and we should ask how they interact rather than what is predominant (Carducci 320). In any case, these two components are equally essential for an individual’s life and I am going to write my coursework on this topic. A person’s character, behavior, and life in general cannot be molded due to only one of the factors. Only their combination may provide full-fledged development.