In light of human growth and development, there have been highly controversial yet informative debates on nature versus nurture. Notably, the nature versus nurture debate pities empiricists and nativists. Superficially, empiricists believe that most or all human characteristics and behaviors usually result from learning and exposure. In contrast, nativists hold the thought and belief that most or all human behaviors and characteristics are a consequence of genetics or inheritance. The debates are eternal, and each day, each of the antagonizing groups comes up with new different views and perspectives about the relationship between nature and nurture. The paper discusses the debates between nature and nurture and their importance in understanding human growth and development regarding behaviors and characteristics.
Nature or nurture has plays a significant role in humans’ behavioral, characteristic, and personality development, especially during the early stages of growth and development. Galton (2018) asserts that nature refers to a genetic composition or influence of a person’s behavior, characteristics, or personality. Therefore, nature comprises the genes people are born with and other hereditary units and factors that influence the formation of personality and childhood to adulthood growth and development. On the other hand, nurture is the environmental influence and factors that shape or define what people are; the social relationships, childhood experiences, and even culture and customs by which people tend to live. In addition, the general composition of a person plays an integral role in determining their skin color, eye color, and hair color. Nurture primarily influences how people behave or relate to others in a particular environment. Therefore, the debates on nature and nurture are informative and helpful in understanding how people relate to their environment or nature and how the environment influences their perceptions, behaviors, and characteristics in turn.
Nature vs. Nurture in Human Development
The nature versus nurture debate dwells on the importance and contribution of environmental factors and genetics to human development. According to Young et al. (2018), nativists, who majority are philosophers such as Plato, believe that certain human factors or behaviors occur naturally independent of environmental factors and influences. In essence, nativists believe that all human characteristics and behaviors are subject to evolution. Every person is unique in their genetic composition and traits; however, parents can hand down the genetic traits to their children, informing the origin of natural characteristics that an individual may possess or exhibit. In affirming the influence of nurture or environment on human behavior and characteristics, Fulker & Eysenck (2019) note that everything that occurs in human life results from experience or exposure to external factors and not necessarily genetic conditioning. Such notions by empiricists stipulate that humans gain new traits, behaviors, or characteristics by learning from their environment. The debates on nature and nurture give different perspectives on factors influencing human development.
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The nature versus nurture debate is an extreme view shared by empiricists and nativists to explain or unravel the mystery surrounding human behavioral changes and development. Nurture influences human behavior, characteristics, and traits through learning and exposure to various external environmental factors such as violence, famine, and other adverse childhood experiences that may teach some harsh behaviors in children as they develop into adulthood. Similarly, the debate on nature versus nurture is essential in understanding the basic principles of biopsychology and social psychology. Biopsychology focuses on the role of nature in influencing human behaviors and characteristics, whereas social psychology studies the influence of external environmental factors on human behaviors and development. Neither nature nor nurture is more important than the other because they play a critical role in determining peoples’ behavior, traits, and characteristics and, to a greater extent, define who they are in the true sense.
Fulker, D. W., & Eysenck, H. J. (2019). Nature and nurture: Heredity. In The Structure & Measurement of Intelligence (pp. 102-132). Routledge.
Galton, F. (2018). English men of science: Their nature and nurture. Routledge. E-Book ISBN. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429020919
Young, A. I., Frigge, M. L., Gudbjartsson, D. F., Thorleifsson, G., Bjornsdottir, G., Sulem, P., & Kong, A. (2018). Relatedness disequilibrium regression estimates heritability without environmental bias. Nature genetics, 50(9), 1304-1310.