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Nature and Nurture


Although some disciplines have put little emphasis on the relevance of the origin of individual’s personality, many people have come to understand the importance of understanding of the basic human nature. This has led to subsequent research on human personality in an effort to understand the nature of the human personality in general. Over the past, the issues of whether the human behavior is determined by the internal factors (nature) or external environment (nurture) has been faced with a lot of controversies. Some of the psychologists are more biased towards nature or biological determinism on one side. On the other side, some scholars are more inclined towards nurture or environmental determinism. In other words, the two sides have exactly opposite points of view about what determines the human behavior.

This has attracted the attention of many scholars in an attempt to solve the problem.  After a continued debate over these issues, some people from both sides have come to accommodate the views from each side, the fact which has led to marriage of these two sides in the discussion at hand. However, there still exist differences between these two groups. In both sides of the argument, intensive research has been conducted which has supported respective side of view. Some scholars have come up with results which have emphasized the importance of external environmental factors on human personality while others have come up with results which are more inclined towards the importance of biological factors on human personality.


Nature versus nature is one of the main issues which have been in the field of psychology for a very long time. Over the past, there have been two varying schools of thought which have attempted to explain the issue on the human personality. As already noted, one school has based its argument on the fact that the individuals’ feelings and thoughts are significantly determined by the experiences or the environment to which individuals were exposed to in childhood. On the other hand, the second school of thought bases its arguments on the fact that the human nurture is something which is inherited from the fore parents. In other words, this school argues that the personality which human beings display is determined by what they have inherited from the ancestors.

This implies that what individuals portray is just a reflection of the personality of their ancestors to some extent. This argument is referred to as deterministic psychology.  This is because it emphasizes on the fact that the human personality is determined by what they inherit from ancestors rather than what they acquire from the environment. According this school of thought therefore, it is very difficult to control human behavior. For instance, if someone was born with a certain unfavorable behavior, it will be difficult to influence such an individual to change. This view is based on the deterministic psychology side of view.

With time, different people came up with slightly differing arguments in their effort to understand human personality. In the modern psychology, many psychologists were on the arguments that the human personality is as a result of the human habits which were as a product of the experiences these individuals undergone as they grew (Brittany, 2009; par 3). This implies that if a child is nurtured in a family that is highly affected by domestic violence, then such children will end up becoming violent in the rest of their life. Similarly, if a child is brought up in a family where the parents are drunkards, then such children are more likely going to be drunkards.

On the other hand, if a child is brought up in church abiding family, then he/she will turn up to be religious and in most cases even oriented towards their parents religion. This is based on the nurture oriented school of thought. Contrary to this, the nature school of thought argues that a child will demonstrate characters which they biologically inherited from their parents or ancestors.

The School which explains the human personality in terms of nurture has close argument with the concept of the tabula rasa (Brittany, 2009; par 4). According to the tabula rasa concept, the human beings are born without any personality at birth.  This concept therefore discards completely the fact that biological inheritance has anything to do with the human personality. Instead, this concept attributes the human personality to the process through which individuals learn positive as well as the negative attitudes towards their environment.

Following a series of research which has been conducted in both sides of the argument, many people have come to understand that the human personality can be attributed to both nature (biological factors) as well as nurture (environmental factors). According to Fogiel (1980), the child’s culture interacts with the genetic endowment to determine what they will become in the future (38).  For instance, intelligence is biologically acquired trait which differs from one child to another. For instance, different people have different levels of intelligence which determines their ability to get ideas. However, how an individual portray this intelligence will significantly be determined by the external environment (Comer, 2010, p.57). For instance, although intelligence is an inborn aspect in an individual, the performance of a student will be determined by a number of factors.

These include the ability of the student to access quality education, ability to access books among other factors. One cannot prove their intelligence without first learning and accessing this learning. This is a good illustration of an interaction of innate aspects and environmental factors in developing an individual’s personality. The personality in this case has in one way or another been influenced by the external environment. In case of intelligence, the external environment is the major determinant of whether the potential is satisfied. From the previous studies, it has been seen that children in isolated who are denied environmental of simulation has received intellectual failure (Fogiel, 1980, p.42). This indicates that some internal aspects may not be successful in presence of external factors in determining an individuals’ personality.

In the current world, many people have attempted to explain human behaviour using the nature-nurture arguments. In the last few decades, there has been a heated debate over which sociobiologists have attempted to understand the causation as well as the origin of such behaviour.  One of these debates is about homosexuality. Over the past, homosexuality has been viewed as mental disorder (Johnson, 2003; par 5). However, after a comprehensive research on its cause, development and origin, studies has given unique results which led to scrapping off the problem from the list of disorders and diagnoses. The main issue here has been whether homosexuality is as a result of environmental exposure of whether it is something which is genetically or biologically inherited.

Each side of the argument about this issue has a scientific base and therefore can be proven scientifically. These conclusions were based on experiments conducted to explain human personality. For instance, a monkey and a child were reared in the same settings in order to see whether the environmental settings can determine their outcome. However, these two showed different outcomes. On the other hand, monozygotic twins were separated for twenty years to see whether they will have any connection in terms of behaviour. However, they developed very differently from each other (Johnson, 2003: par 1). From these experiments, we can conclude that neither of the arguments can be a hundred per cent responsible for the human personality.

Some studies have also indicated that sexuality is not a choice, it is something which emerges automatically especially during the adolescent age of an individual. Many social theorists have proposed that the way in which an individual is brought can significantly affect their sexual orientation. Several people have conducted intensive research in an effort to understand the whole issue of the human sexuality. For instance, a study by Swaab indicated that the part of hypothalamus of a homosexual’s brain was structurally different from a heterosexual brain (Johnson, par 6). Hypothalamus is that part of brain which is responsible for sexual drives. In the homosexuals, a certain part of the hypothalamus was relatively larger than that of heterosexuals. This experiment promotes the fact that homosexuality is biologically determined.


In Conclusion, this discussion has clearly shown that the innate influence and the acquired influences cannot be said to determine the human behavior independently. Rather, both external environment and the biological factors interact to determine the resultant of the human personality and behavior. The biological factor has some influence on the human behavior, which determines how an individual react to particular situations in the external environment (Maroni, 2001, p. 55).

The external environment also has a significant impact in molding the innate attributes. In other words, the human behavior is a resultant of both innate and external attributes. There is no single side (innate or external environment influence), which can be said to influence the human behavior independently.  Both of these factors are intertwined together in determining the human behavior. The study has also indicated that each personality attribute is either more determined by either biological or the environmental factors. However, both factors interact at the end to determine an individual’s personality.

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