Key elements of the nature-nurture controversy essays example

The old age debate on nature versus nurture is still enjoying heated debate in the field of psychology. The controversy is on where human beings acquire their traits, could it be the environment or the inborn characteristics? There are those who believe that the human behavior influenced by the “ nature” while others believe that it is the “ nurture” that dictates traits (Buss, 2012). Nature in this debate is the total of what human beings come to the world with, whereas nurture is the influence that the one gets after birth. The behavior of man is said to be because of the genetically make up (Bouchard, 2013). The behavior of individual that results from nurture is as a tabula rasa also known as a blank slate. Many people believe that, how people behave is because of the influence of the environment or because of the genes that one has when born. Question of which one contributes the most is the real source of controversy (Buss, 2012). Some people believe that nature has higher effect to the human traits whereas; others believe that it is the nurture, which contributes the most to how people behave. When explaining the IQ, nature tends to be more important than nurture as twins raised separately, tend to have similarity in their behavior, which shows that the genes tend to relate; hence, nature has the effect on how people behave. Influence that the environment has on people is nurture. People tend to have it after conception. Individuals raised together tend to have a similar trait in their younger age, when they become adults; they tend to have very different traits. This can explain the influence of environment on the behavior of human beings. There are so many disconnects in nature- nurture, and people tend to think on what composition of influence is nature or nurture in the individual’s behavior (Buss, 2012).
In nature concept, the main subject is the influence of the genes on the behavior of people. When studying IQ, the family influence seems to be taking up to a quarter on the child variance with the family. Full siblings show a correlation in their Intelligence Quotient. Identical twins have also been seen to posse’s similar character even when they live separately (Bouchard, 2013). Even though adoptive siblings tend to lose IQ’s correlation, this correlation is there in their younger age. It, therefore, shows that choosing from nature-nurture in explaining IQ; nature becomes more important than nurture component. The same case is true when a study conducted on the personality traits (Bouchard, 2013). Nativist is the name used to refer to the extremist in the hereditary component. They also believe that, the differences seen among the adult siblings are just but because of the unique genetics. As people mature, the biological changes appear indicating that there are inherent features in human beings responsible to how they behave.
Environmentalists also have their theory on what influences the behavior of people. Empiricists are those who have strong believe that the environment has the greatest impact on how people behave. They have an assumption that when given birth to, mind is a tabula rasa meaning it is blank (Buss, 2012). The blank brain filled bit by bit through experience acquired through environment. Through learning, human beings became different in their behavior. Empiricists argue that things such language are mere imitations of a sound. The behavior and civilization has a direct influence on the behavior. Children who live in ghetto areas tend to perform poorly in the exam than those who live in the urban center (Dusheck, 2010). This shows the impact of the environment on the human behavior. A few years back, people stopped asking how much nature or nurture contributes to individual behavior. This is because, not all the variables needed to find out this translate to numerical figures. They are quantitative and qualitative.
The nurture-nature controversy has a number of similarities and differences. Similarity of these studies is that they all tend to focus on behavior of the human beings. They all tend to explain why people behave as they do. They agree that there is something behind the human behavior. The other similarity is that they relate their findings on how people behave as they do.
Some differences do exist on the two studies. When nature refers to innate characteristics, nurture refers to individual’s experience. The study of nature is nativism whereas the study of nurture is empiricism. Another difference is that nature is the gene while nature is the childhood (Dusheck, 2010). The nature is all about traits whereas nurture is about the environment. Nature believes that the behavior influenced internally whereas, in nurture, the behavior is externally. Nature refers to passed characteristics to generations whereas nurture concerns with genetically acquired characteristics. The above shown differences and similarity forms the basis of debate when carrying out this study. The two sides use various bases to explain what influences the behavior. Proponents of each of these studies try to defend their stand, and the critics try to ignore the findings from various sides (Dusheck, 2010). After reading these, one can deduce the final decision on why people actually behave as they do.
Every side of the study has what to hold on when trying to explain the causes of human behavior. Under the study of nature, the study shows that people behave as they do because of the innate characteristics that can be traced to the genes (Bouchard, 2013). The fact that identical twins can grow in a separate environment and exhibit similar behave is a justification that nature is the controller of the human behavior (Buss, 2012). Argument that, grown up siblings does not inhibit similar character is a simple show of inner biological factors, which are innate in people resulting to the difference. The study of IQ of siblings shows positive correlations. Identical twins show a positive correlation in terms of IQ tests. Coupled with another physical similarity of the siblings, nature believed to be the true determiner of the human behavior. On the other hand, those who propose nurture believe that the true indicator of the behavior of an individual is the environment from where they live (Bouchard, 2013). Adoptive siblings show similarity while young, but when they grow up, they show no similar characteristics. This shows that, the environment when they were together dictated their behavior and when they part ways to another environment, they adapt to that particular environment (Dusheck, 2010). They agree that people are born with a clear brain that the environment feed as they grow up. Things like learning languages happen through imitation of the very language within the environment. Considering pupils who learn in a ghetto area and pupils that go to school in urban centers, those in urban centers tend to perform much better than those in the ghetto do (Dusheck, 2010). This is because the environment in the ghetto is not as conducive as in the urban center. It can be concluded that the environment affects the behavior of individuals.


Buss, D, (2012). The New Science of Mind: Evolutionary Psychology. New York: Prentice Hall
Bouchard, T. (2013). Environmental Influence and Genetic. Durham: Duke University Press.
Dusheck, J. (2010). Interpretation of Genes. New York: Worth Published.
Plomin, R. & Spinath, F. (2009). “ Intelligence: Genetics and Genes”, Journal of Social Psychology, 86, pp. 223-229.