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The Nature-Nurture Controversy Essay

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Updated: Jan 9th, 2019

Nature is an attribute that a person is born with whereas nurture is the influence of environment where a person lives. When a child is born, he has neither ideas nor likings, but as he grows up, he begins to develop personal traits. Nature and nurture has big effect on humans because they control their development because nature is hereditary and nurture is environmental. This paper focuses on nature-nurture controversy.

According to Wood et al (2010), nature determines our characters and looks because these traits rely on the notion of inborn biology. Many people believe that as a child grows, he obtains either good or bad traits from the parents, but this may be due to the inherited genes in a family. Although newborns do not have personality traits, he later inherits them as he grows. The baby’s traits are most likely influenced by biology rather than acquiring them from other siblings.

Nature is a genetic gift that provides us with physical characteristics such as body structure and hair or eye color. Nature does not decide on the kind of emotions a human is likely to experience through the development process. In general, genes give a person characteristics and attributes, but the environment or nurture determines whether these traits are inherited.

Similarly, nurture is the cause of our behaviors and attributes. Although the genes gives humans a personality, the environment to which they live in has the influence to alter these traits into opposite. The way children grow up and in a certain environment can alter how they turn out to be (Tischler, 2007).

Different societies have either high or low expectations on their children’s performance in school: for example, in Asian families. They automatically expect their children to do well in school and this high expectation from parents may lead to good performance due to environmental influences.

Other societies place their children on lower standards, and their environment may influence them to believe that they are not able to excel. Despite having these standards, family surroundings can also influence the way a child grows. The environmental aspect is important because the family where a child comes from is very important.

Plomin and Spinath (2004) argue that children who grow in family unit with both parents are better than those who grow in a family environment of one parent. Nature is a genetic gift whereas nurture is the traits humans get in their lifetime. Hence, both nature and nurture are important in human development because they influence development of traits.

In this regard, studies on nature-nurture have been done, and two of these studied include the tomato and the adoption studies. The study on the tomatoes was carried out to compare how much environment and genes affect the child’s growth. Researchers categorized different types of seeds into groups and grown them in different environments.

One group of seeds was grown on good soil with plenty of water and sunlight and extra care while the other was grown on bad soil with no care. It was later discovered that those that grew on good soil were better than those on bad soil were. It is clear that the influence the first seeds received determined how they grew in that environment.

The environment to which they grew in also influenced those that grew on bad soil. However, those with the same genes had the same characteristics while growing, but their size and quality was different. It is clear that also in humans; the type of environment we live can determine our personality traits (Tischler, 2007).

The adoption study was on schizophrenia – a mental disorder. The study was done on adopted children whose mothers suffered from this condition as well as the adopted children whose parents did not suffer from the illness. The studies were carried out between different adopted children as well as parents.

The results indicated that those children whose parents suffered from the mental condition also suffered themselves. Therefore, it is clear that the children carried their genes although their behaviors were the same as those of their adoptive parents (Plomin & Spinath, 2004).

In essence, both studies are trying to research on the effects of environmental changes on human development. In the case of seeds, we have seen that they still carry their genetic make up, but grown on different environments; they become different because of the influences within that environment.

As in the case of adoption studies, the adopted children inherit their genes and they are difficult to change, despite the fact that their biological parents have not raised them. However, the children’s behaviors reflect the environment they come from. In both cases, both the environment and the genes greatly influence the growth.

In conclusion, it is evident that both nature and nurture dominates in different cases of growth development. For example, in the case of adoption, the nature is dominant whereas in tomato studies, the environment or the nurture is more influential than the nature.

Tischler (2007) says that it is not easy to determine which of the two factors greatly contributes to human development. It seems that the response to this question will always be rationalized solely on each case. Therefore, biological genes, growth, the household, and parent’s treatment shape humans.

References

Plomin, R. & Spinath, F.M. (2004). Intelligence: Genetics, Genes, and Genomics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86 (1), 112–129.

Tischler, H. L. (2007). Introduction to Sociology (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning.

Wood, S. E., Wood, E. G. & Boyd, D. (2010). The World of Psychology (7th ed.). NY: Pearson.

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