Humanistic Approaches to Positive Growth and Self-Acceptance

Nature Versus Nurture


Do our traits and behaviors result from heredity (nature) or the environment (nurture)?

nature vs nurt

The scientific study of biological, cognitive, social, and personality development throughout the life span

The Nature-Nurture Debate:

Nature refers to the influence of genes which we inherit

Nurture refers to environmental influences, such as:

  health and diet of the embryo’s mother

–  family

–  school

–   community

–   society

Raising the issue of:

  • Environmental causes of behavior (the influence of parents, siblings, friends, schooling, nutrition and other experiences)
  • Hereditary causes of behavior (those based on the genetic makeup of an individual that influence growth and development throughout life).

A major issue in developmental psychology is the nature-versus-nurture question

Psychologists today agree that both nature and nurture interact to produce specific developmental EQUALpatterns and outcomes. The question has evolved into how and to what degree do environment and heredity both produce their results?

Genetics = Nature

  • Developmental psychologists agree that genetic factors not only provide the potential for particular behaviors or traits to emerge, but also place limitations on the emergence of such behavior or traits:
  • Heredity defines people’s general level of intelligence, setting an upper limit that people cannot exceed.
  • Heredity also places limits on physical abilities.

Environment = Nurture

  • Developmental psychologists  agree that in most instances environmental factors play a critical role in enabling people to reach the potential capabilities that their background makes possible.
  • Heredity defines people’s general level of intelligence, setting an upper limit that people cannot exceed.
  • Heredity also places limits on physical abilities.


Behavioral GeneticsNATURE

  • While a few psychologists believe that development is only nature or only nurture, most subscribe to the more realistic view that it is an interaction of nature (heredity) and nurture (environment) that brings about our development.

If Albert Einstein had received no intellectual stimulation as a child and had not been sent to school, it is unlikely that he would have reached his genetic potential???


Bernstein, D.A. & Nash, P.W. (2008). Essentials of psychology (4th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

McGraw-Hill.McGraw Hill Higher Education (2013), The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.

Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

10 thoughts on “Nature Versus Nurture

  1. Read and mostly understood. I agree with the majority of psychologists that development consists of both nature and nurture since you cannot have one without the other. For instance, without nurture, there will be nothing to influence or shape his/her views and behavior.


  2. Read and somewhat understood. I like how Cognitive Psychology is in the middle of Nurture vs Nature. I don’t think Science or Psychology has answered that question yet until then i’m forced to believe behavior has to do with both , also Robert Sapolsky seemed towards the nature side of it and a little biased.

    Liked by 1 person

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