Analyzing the Elements of the Nature-Nurture Debate

Analyzing the Elements of the Nature-Nurture Debate



Analyzing the Elements of the Nature-Nurture Debate

Part A

A.        The nature versus nurture debate involves the relative effect of a person’s inherent attributes or traits as opposed to environmental experiences, in establishing individual disparities within behavioral and physical characteristics. The aspect of nature mainly comprises the genes evident in every human individual. In this respect, researchers of the subject allege that personality and psychological development in general is largely dependent on the genetic predispositions (heredity) of the individual (Ridley, 2010). On the contrary, the aspect of nurture constitutes the experiences offered by the habitual environment encompassing the individual l(Ridley, 2010). Accordingly, it is arguable that psychological development among persons is largely influenced by the life experiences that he or she has faced, the form of instruction used to teach the person, and the setting in which the individual was raised.

1.         The controversy surrounding the nature-nurture debate mostly arises from determining which of the two actually contributes to the personal and psychological development of an individual. Sides supporting the nature facet claim that an individual’s thought processes, actions, and behaviors are influenced by the genes passed down from their parents (Dowling, 2011). In this respect, it may be possible to explain the reason behind the existence of natural talents in some people in comparison with others. Alternately, supporters of the nurture element allege that the environment in which a person is raised contributes significantly to their development as they advance towards adulthood parents (Dowling, 2011). For instance, siblings separated and raised in different settings may possess disparate behavioral patterns and ways of thoughts despite leaning towards similar genetic predispositions.

Part B

1.         Based on the controversy, several studies have been performed in order to affirm the theory behind the nature-nurture debate. In the first study, “Nature x Nurture: Genetic Vulnerabilities Interact with Physical Maltreatment to Promote Conduct Problems”, assesses the extent to which nature and nurture contribute to the recurrence of conduct problems among children who encounter physical maltreatment. The second study, “The Social Influences on the Realization of Genetic Potential for Intellectual Development”, carries out a research on the influence that both heredity and environment interaction poses an impact on the development of twins and siblings. According to Guo and Stearns (2002), it is actually possible to illustrate the interaction of genes and the environment based on the behavioral patterns illustrated by twins and siblings occupying a shared environment.

2.         One similarity between both studies is based on their attempt towards determining the gene-environment interaction. Jaffee et al. (2009) illustrates based on the assumption that both genes and environmental predispositions establish behavioral patterns. In the first study, children with parents who possess conduct disorders are more likely to develop conduct problems when raised in a physically abusive environment. Both confirmed hypotheses illustrate the extent to which nature cannot impose a developmental impact on an individual without the involvement of nurture and vice versa. Guo and Stearns (2002) also illustrate this similarity by proving the interaction of heredity and the environment in different behavioral patterns among persons with similar genetic predispositions. However, in disparity, the study by Jaffee et al. focuses on conduct disorders which is different from the latter’s study which simply looks at the non-utilization of DNA for performing twin-studies.

3.         The study by Jaffee et al. (2009) concludes that children with a lofty genetic risk are more susceptible towards the development of conduct disorders especially in physically abusive environments. Accordingly, the setting interacts together with the child’s genetic predispositions in order to develop issues related primarily to conduct. The opposite is also confirmed: children with a low genetic risk raised in physically abusive settings are less likely to develop conduct disorders and engage in adaptive functioning. Guo and Stearns (2002) conclude by asserting that the behavioral patterns of twins and siblings can be used to assessing gene-environment interaction. As such, both studies establish that nature and nurture interact in order to develop complex personal and psychological development.


Dowling, J. E. (2011). The great brain debate: Nature or nurture? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Guo, G., & Stearns, E. (2002). The social influences on the realization of genetic potential for intellectual development. Social Forces, 80, 881-910.

Jaffee, S. R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Dodge, K. A., Rutter, M., Taylor, A., & Tully, L. A. (2009). Nature x nurture: Genetic vulnerabilities interact with physical maltreatment to promote conduct problems. Developmental Psychopathology, 17(1), 67-84.

Ridley, M. (2010). Nature via nurture: Genes, experience, & what makes us human. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

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