Nature versus Nurture

Edited by Jamie (ScienceAid Editor), Taylor (ScienceAid Editor), Jen Moreau, Doug Collins and 4 others

In this article, we will be exploring the age-old nature versus nurture debate. What is more relevant; your genes or how you are brought up? This particular article will be concerned with intelligence.

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Evolution and Genetics

  1. 1
    Evolution
    .
    Just what is evolution? Evolution describes the process how various living organisms develop and diversify from their earlier forms throughout the Earth's history.
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  2. 2
    Natural Selection
    .
    This describes the progression of various living organisms based on their ability to adapt to their environment for survival. Those best at survival, will thrive, live longer and have more offspring - perpetuating the species. Their descendant will inherit this dominant gene and this particular line of the species will outlive the others. First conceived of by Charles Darwin, this theory has now become the basis for how evolution works.It is a gradual change in the species that happens over a very long period time.
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  3. 3
    Genetics
    .
    Now we move on to a quick look at genetics. As you know, we have genes which give us different characteristics and these genes are inherited from our parents. The actual genetic code is known as the genotype. However, you get one gene from each parent for everything, but obviously, only one of these can be expressed.
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  4. 4
    Phenotype
    .
    These are the physical traits you possess that can be observed; eye color, build, height, etc.
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  5. 5
    Genotype
    .
    This is the internal information contained in all living organisms that they've inherited genetically. It's like the blueprint of the organism. This blueprint is coded in every cell as the organism develops.
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Twin Studies

A twin study is one of the methods used for these kinds of studies. There are two types of twins:

Dizygotic (DZ)

These are fraternal twins who develop from two different eggs, each fertilized by its own sperm cell.

Monozygotic (MZ).

These are identical twins. They develop from one zygote, that splits, forming two embryos.They exactly the same DNA as each other, i.e. the genotypes are identical. The table below summarizes what the various findings would mean.

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In particular, it's useful to look at MZ twins (since their genetics are the same). Not only do the studies include twins that have been raised together, but they also study twins who've been raised apart. This was done by Shields (1962), and found the correlation difference between the intelligence of MZ growing up together was 0.83 and growing up apart was 0.51. This would signify that intelligence is more dependent on genetics than it is on the environment.

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A correlation shows how two things are related, but doesn't give a definite reason. Also, it is only recently that we can prove twins are identical, it could be that DZ twins that looked very similar were included because they were thought to be identical. And finally, there is the issue of what was considered "living separate" in the study. Some twins were included who were raised by different family members but lived near to each other, regularly saw each other and went to the same school.

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Adoption Studies

Adoption studies involve looking at someone who has been adopted and comparing their intelligence to their biological and adoptive parents. If the IQ was more like their biological parents who have DNA in common, then we can conclude intelligence was a result of nature. If, however, the IQ was more like to the adoptive parents who raised the child, then nurture would be more dominant.

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Now to evaluate issues with these studies:

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    The matching of parents
    .
    The authorities tend to find adoptive parents who are similar to the biological parents, so the transition is easier for the child. For example, matching up parental occupations.
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  2. 2
    Small samples
    .
    it is difficult to find people willing to come forward who also know their biological parents. This makes the results less representative of the general population.
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Selective Breeding

Selective breeding studies involve breeding intelligent parents to see if the offspring are as, or more intelligent. Needless to say that for ethical reasons, such studies cannot be carried out on humans, but in 1940, Tyron conducted a selective breeding study on rats.

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Aim Use selective breeding in rats to see how genetics influences intelligence.
Method A large number of rats were trained to run a maze. It was then recorded how many errors each made.

The best rats at the task were called "maze bright", and put together to breed, while the rats that were poor at the maze were called "maze dull" and they were also put together to breed.

Results The "maze bright"t rats improved their performance over generations of breeding, while the "maze dull" rats got worse.
Conclusion Intelligence is a heritable characteristic in rats.
Evaluation The positives of this type of study are that rats have a rapid life cycle so many generations will be produced in a relatively short time and that the vast majority of DNA in rats and humans are the same.

However, the big weakness is that it doesn't relate well to humans, since maze solving does not equate to human intelligence and that breeding within a family (as the rats did) is known to very often cause genetic problems that can severely impair intelligence.

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Conclusion

Both nature and nurture play an important role in human development, however, the environment may edge out genetics. So when it comes to nature versus nurture, nurture is slightly more important as a determining factor regarding intelligence.

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The idea used to describe this is the Rubber Band Hypothesis. It says that the potential (length of the band) is decided by genetics. However, the environment stretches this band, so that someone with a low potential could be stretched beyond someone with a high, because of environmental differences. However if someone with a high and someone with a lower genetic potential had the same environment, that person with the higher genetic potential would be able to 'stretch' their intelligence to a higher level.

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Questions and Answers

Is the study of Nature versus Nurture an interdisciplinary one? if yes what disciplines are involved?

How to justify the age long debate about Nature versus Nurture as an interdisciplinary study. I understand the debate on which has a higher influence. it does not show if its an interdisciplinary study. I have tried: Researching various discipline idea on the nature vs nurture debate. I think it was caused by: I believe it cuts across various disciplines but am just confused as to how to justify it

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The debate on Nature vs. Nurture has been settled time ago; neither of them alone can provide a final answer. There are so many factors that affect human beings development and behavior that studying them requires many disciplines to be fully understood.

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  1. 1
    First, there are physical determinants on our DNA that will shape us since our birth such as height, skin tone, eyes color and overall health
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    These factors have a strong effect on defining our personalities. Imagine being born with an athletic composition; it will most likely push you practicing sports activities. Or being born with an IQ higher than average might make you want to take advantage of those skills by studying science! These would be Nature effects on your personality; however, Nurture can change these decisions.
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  2. 2
    Then, everything and everyone that surrounds you while growing up have an impact on determining your likes and dislikes
    .
    So even if you were born with an athletic composition, if all your family members are doctors, it might be possible that you neglect your athlete skills to follow the family tradition instead. That is Nurture acting upon you.
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It would be impossible to take only one perspective, in fact studying the connections between individuals biology and social influences that impact their personalities usually takes different approaches such as neurobiology, sociology, psychiatry, and psychology.

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Yes! How does the "Big 5" relate to Nature versus Nurture?

I'm writing a paper on why I am who I am and I would like to implement this aspect, but I can find any research to support my theory that both nature and nurture play a role in personality.


You are right! They both have a very important role when molding an individual personality. "The big 5" personality traits, Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism are all developed through time, with a direct relation to nature and nurture. In this essay by Christian Kandler they explain how genes and environment shape personalities, however, through time it might be the environment which has the most impact on the continuity personality change.

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Referencing this Article

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APA (American Psychological Association)
Nature versus Nurture. (2018). In ScienceAid. Retrieved Aug 19, 2018, from https://scienceaid.net/psychology/approaches/naturenurture.html

MLA (Modern Language Association) "Nature versus Nurture." ScienceAid, scienceaid.net/psychology/approaches/naturenurture.html Accessed 19 Aug 2018.

Chicago / Turabian ScienceAid.net. "Nature versus Nurture." Accessed Aug 19, 2018. https://scienceaid.net/psychology/approaches/naturenurture.html.

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Categories : Approaches

Recent edits by: StephWrites, SmartyPants, comfy

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