Nature vs Nurture – Which is the Winner?

‘’In the real world, there is no nature vs nurture argument, only an infinitely complex and moment-by-moment interaction between genetics and environmental effects.”
(Gabor Mate)

Have you ever thought why you are the way you are? Does our genetics influence our personality? Or our personality depends upon the environment and the way we are raised? In this article, we are going to discuss the impact of nature and nurture on personality. Additionally, we aim to find out what determines our personality and traits.

Nature vs Nurture Debate:

Nature vs nurture debate is the oldest. It has cultural, philosophic, and scientific aspects associated with it. Moreover, nature vs nurture debate is contested in the history of psychology. Nature-nurture studies provide complete pieces of evidence about where these traits come from? But still, there are many unclear questions. One of the prominent one is whether our persona and behavior are majorly due to nature or nurture.

What is Nature?

According to psychology, nature is the genetic arrangement of personality traits. It includes all the hereditary factors that describe us. These factors range from physical appearance to personality traits. According to it, genetics determines our personality. It also explains our abilities and behaviors. Thus, generally it is responsible for making up our personality.

About Nurture:

Life experiences shape the personality traits that are termed as nurture. The examples are the childhood incidents, memories, culture, surroundings. And even the social connections. All of us have been nurtured to behave in a specific way.

Nature VS. Nurture Theory:

The origin of the gene versus environmental influence debate has no specific mark in history. In 1869, Sir Francis Galton was the first scientist to use nature vs nurture theory. This conventional theory considers two factors responsible for the differences in humans. These factors include:

  • Genetic makeup
  • Environment

Famous philosophers Descartes and Plato gave their idea about nature. According to them, certain characters in humans are inborn. They don’t have any influence from the environment. But these characters are just natural. They believe that genetic traits create the basic difference. And as a result of this difference, every individual is a unique one. We can very well see that in us and people surrounding us.

On the contrary, John Locke proposed the concept of “tabula rasa”. According to this theory, human mind begins life as a blank slate. This concept explains the complete personality of an individual. And it also justifies the sole dependence of humans on the experiences of life.

Empiricists believed that almost every behavior and character is the result of learning. “Behaviorism” is the perfect example of empiricism. However, theorists such as John B. Watson took another position. He said that genetic background is not a matter of concern. It is because people could do anything by practicing. The genetic character they possess was not important according to this belief.

Nature vs Nurture Debate:

This debate revolves around the genetic inheritance and environmental factors at the development of humans. The nature vs nurture debate has two different point of views for explanation.

One of the point of views discusses: “The individual differences regarding intelligence, behavior, sexuality, and personality characters determined by nature’’.

And on the other hand: ”It is believed that these traits are sharpened by nurture”. It can be said that nature is innate while nurture is to be learned. People who believe in being strictly hereditary beings have desires and hope for change. While the group of people who feel the environment as a big influencer on change can change easily.

Continuation of debate of nature vs. nurture:

Some points are very clear and have solid evidence. For example hair color, hair texture and skin tone are hereditary characters. Additionally, all of these characters are permanent too. But for the behavior and intelligence, nothing is clear. So, that proves the point that nature and nurture both are at play in a particular individual.

Nature vs. Nurture Examples:

Certain examples of nature versus nurture debate need more clarification. These factors include as personality, brain plasticity, occupation, homosexuality, etc.

Personality:

All of us want to know about personality development traits. That is why it is often part of nature vs. nurture debate. Personality is a frequent common example of a hereditary trait. A child’s appearance and behavior influenced by the qualities of their biological parents.

The effect of nurture also plays its role. It happens that children develop certain tendencies towards some specific behaviors. Such as shyness or boldness, aggression or peace lover, and caring or selfish. Those are not completely explainable. It is because the biological parents neither demonstrate the same traits.

Occupation:

The performance of an individual in a certain occupation is another subject of nature Vs nurture debate. If a child follows the footsteps of parents in a particular occupation some people suggest it as a natural inclination. But others give credit to the nurturing. But it could have been the product of the learning behavior.

Why most women choose careers like nursing, teaching, and social worker? Is it because of their genes, biology, or hormones? Or it is because they are nurtured in certain career paths by their environment?

Homosexuality:

Today Nature vs nurture debate is highly concerned about homosexuality. Recent researches indicate that gender and sexuality are not binary choices. The lay in the undefined spectrum.

Scientists don’t know the reasons behind the LGBT orientations. There is no finding that decides factor or factors that determine sexual adjustments.

It is a popular belief that nature and nurture play a complex role in homosexuality. It is observed across cultures around the world that 10% of the population is gay. If the nurture is responsible for homosexuality, the percentage of the gay population should vary across different cultures and societies.

Plasticity of Brain:

For quite a while it was believed that the brain is a set and stable object. Fred H.Gage in 1998 proved that brain changes according to environmental situations. The brain not only creates new cells. But it strengthens the existing neural connections and also creates a “use it or lose it” effect.
Once more in nature vs. nurture debate, it is proven that we are split. Nurture decides how the brain adapts and nature supports it how successfully the brain does the adaptation.

Nature Vs Nurture & Twins:

A deep study reveals that the separately raised twins also have common traits. They may share many regular and common self traits. These results lead to the integrity of the nature side of the debate. But small sample size restricts the generalization of results.

Nurture is not limited to the care parents give to their children. It is now expended to many of the environmental factors. These factors include prenatal or parental behaviors. They also comprise childhood memories and experiences. Media, social conditions, and economic status also included in it. Even marketing techniques work as environmental factors. These environmental factors start to influence the nature of development even before it begins. Some abundant variations can also track back to these environmental influences. And these variations influence parental development.

Wish to answer the deep philosophical questions is the main point of concern for Nature vs Nurture debate. These typical questions are about determinism and free will. The nature side emphasizes that we behave in a way in which we naturally inclined. While the nurture side implies that we should behave in a way not determined by ourselves. But our environment decides it.

Is Human Intelligence Based On Nature Or Nurture?

As with other human traits, intelligence is the result of the combination of nature vs nurture. The gene has a great influence on the biochemistry and size of the brain. The cognition aspects justify the heredity of intelligence.
So, it can be considered that nature and nurture collectively shape human intelligence. But there are still some unclear points. The range to which nature and nurture affect human intellect is still debatable.

Nature And Nurture Affect Mental Health:

Now it is clear that nature means the influence of your genetics on your personality. Nurture refers to you as a “blank slate”. And your upbringing and experiences of life shape you the way you are. Nature and nurture both influence you and your mental health. Nature and nurture work in a complex way and influence both mental health and substance abuse. Gene has its influence on the environment we live in. Similarly, the environment we live in can also change the level of expression of certain genes.

Nature and Mental Health:

Genetics and disproportion are the main causes of certain mental illnesses. These illnesses include depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Bipolar psychological disease is also the result of genetics. Indeed, these mental illnesses are not completely genetic products. According to some researches, smoking persists in families. Maybe there is a specific gene influence how smoking affects the body.

Nurture and Mental Health:

Some genetic factors indeed cause a predisposition for certain illnesses. The nature part contributes to the probability of the development of illness. Nurture suppresses the developmental options of certain influences. The positive behavior directs the illness productively. It tries to stop the conditions to reappear or appear with less extremity.

Nature vs. Nurture in Mental Therapies:

Nature and nurture are effective treatments for some mental illnesses and problems. In the field of mental health, some remedies are nature-based whereas the others established by nurture. Nature-based therapy deals with mental issues. These issues are of the genetic or biological level.

But these trends are no longer same. The collective approach of nature and nurture philosophy is at work. Most of the mental therapies follow nature and nurture. And you’ll be amazed that the results are more fruitful and beneficial. One of the best examples that you can have is the cognitive psychology-based therapies.

These therapies address the effects of nature and nurture. Mind doctors use medications to treat special mental illnesses. These illnesses primarily base on nature.

These responses dependent on therapies are working effectively. These show results for the treatment of traumas and other behavioral issues.

Nature vs Nurture And Epigenetics:

Epigenetics is a new branch of genetics that explains nature versus nurture debate. “Epi” means above, so the epigenetics refers to the environmental factors. These factors cause a change in the cell and genetic code.

Science of epigenetics explains the influence of the environment on genetic expressions. It is no longer about what the gene possesses. But now it is about the doings of a gene that are more important. And all of this depends upon the ever-changing environment where the genes exist. Exposure to the toxin, nutrients, and stress decides the expressions of genes. Nature vs. nurture is a static conception. While epigenetic explains the continuous interaction of genes and the environment. This interaction produces lifetime characteristics.

Interaction of nature vs. nurture:

Today, it has been proven that nature and nurture are inseparable. Most of the developmental psychologists use a biopsychosocial model. According to this model human development is a result of the following factors:

  • Biological
  • Psychological
  • Social factors

But still the question is: How the gene and environment work together?

The input of environmental factors affects the illustration of the gene. Gene and environment work in cooperation. This whole phenomenon is termed as gene-environment interaction.

We observe some strong behavioral traits in our society. Even culture highlights some of the specific traits. The environment places these traits. Such as practicing a religion, speaking a particular language and supporting a political party.

However, being a language expert is not heritable. Being more or less religious is not in our genes. Additionally, being liberal or conservative is not heritable. In some situations, it can be partially heritable. These all examples reflect the underlying temperaments as well as personal talents. Thus, keeping the role of nurture intact.

Conclusion:

Nature and nurture are two sides of the same coin. So, it is impossible to separate nature and nurture. Researchers agree that the link between genes and behavior cannot be the same. Gene may raise the probability of a person behaving in a particular way. But it is not a predetermined behavior always. It is determined by the gene as well as the lifestyle, and influential events of life. As Bruce Lipton says, “Genes load the gun but the environment pulls the trigger.”

So, it is better to replace “nature versus nurture” with “nature and nurture”. We all have the impact of nature and nurture both rather than any of them specifically.

With all this discussion, what is your opinion on the existence of an individual in a certain way? Do you support “nature versus nurture” or “nature and nurture”? Please let us know about your opinion in the comment section below.

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