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Nature. vs. Nurture. Which determines our behavior?. April Lin Psychology Pd. 7. What is the nature/nurture debate?.

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vs. Nurture

Which determines our behavior?

April Lin

Psychology Pd. 7

what is the nature nurture debate
What is the nature/nurture debate?

Throughout the history of psychology, people have pondered this question. What makes us who we are? Was it the genes we inherited from our parents? Was it how we were raised? Was it our environment?

This debate is one about free will and how much your genes actually determine about your life. The main question is if we are born to be who we are, destined by our genes to behave a certain way, or if it is environmental factors and experiences that shape who we become.

  • Supporters of the nature argument believe that:
    • We are all born with inborn characteristics
    • A person’s genes are what determine their full potential in life: skills, traits, intelligence, etc.
    • This potential does not change depending on environment
    • Personality is a result of the interaction of genes, and the environment is not a factor.
  • This theory is also called biological determinism
more on the nature argument
More on the Nature Argument
  • These individual characteristics can affect your behavior concerning:
    • Your temperament
    • Personality traits
    • Intelligence
    • Cognitive abilities
    • Orientation
    • Our physical traits, such as height, strength, appearance, and health
  • Includes genetic conditions that affect behavior
    • Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other disorders
adoption studies
Adoption Studies

Two unrelated children raised in the same home by the same parents, by adulthood were as different in terms of personality as two strangers. These studies showed almost no correspondence between shared family environment and personality.

identical twins
Identical Twins

Several studies with identical twins have shown that, despite being raised in different environments, they had many of the same traits, both in physical appearance, personality traits, and mental ability.

However, not all identical twins supported these statements.

  • Supporters of the nurture theory believe that:
    • People are born “blank slates”
      • Who we become is a result of our experiences and not necessarily our genes
      • Most of your behavior is learned
      • Your personality is a result of exposure to your environment, culture, and education
    • Environment plays a crucial role in development
what traits are governed by nurture
What traits are governed by nurture?
  • Intelligence
    • Genes determine I.Q., but education in childhood control how much it develops.
    • Children whose parents were educated and encouraged learning had higher I.Q.’s
    • Nurture is particularly important for the development of language in children
  • Physical traits
      • Nutrition is essential to growth and development
  • Other factors
    • Lifestyle, religion, and the language you speak are all results of nurture.
feral children
Feral Children

These children were each born with the genes and capability for language, socialinteraction, and emotions, but after being deprived of the socialization, stimulation, and physical protection human parents provide, feral children often die or are largely unable to display what we considernormal human behavior, such as using language and relating to the emotions of others. This suggests that these behaviors are learned and are not genetic.

my thoughts
My thoughts

I believe that nature plays a significant role in who we become in our lifetimes. We all are born with our own individual traits and strengths...


I believe that nurture has a greater impact on our behavior and who we are. While nature determines our physical and mental potentials, without nurture, they may never be fulfilled.

Through the example of feral children we can see that it is through social situations and experience that we acquire the ability to relate and communicate with others, as well as develop our own distinct personalities. I believe these things are what have a greater effect on behavior and personality than genes alone.


The debate of nature vs. nurture will most likely never be resolved. I believe the true answer lies somewhere in-between. We are shaped by both nature and nurture, by both our destiny and our environment.

If nature is our inborn potential, nurture determines how far we will take it.


“Nature versus Nurture.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. October 13 2006

Powell, Kimberly. “Nature vs. Nurture.” October 20 2006.

Cyckowski, Laura. “A New Spin on Nature vs. Nurture.” October 21 2006.

Ateel, Saqib Ali. “Nature vs. Nurture—Theories of Personality in the 21st Century.” October 22 2006.

the 5 second questionnaire
The 5 second questionnaire

Answer to get some jelly beans. Yumm.

1 the main point of the nature argument is that every individual has characteristics
1. The main point of the nature argument is that every individual has _____ characteristics

2. The nature theory is also called biological _____________.



3 give one study or example that supported the nature argument
3. Give one study or example that supported the nature argument.

4. The nurture theory is the belief that people are born “______ _____,” to be shaped by experience and the environment

Adoption studies, identical twins

Blank slates