Nature versus Nurture-Biology and Social


Wafeeq Sabir, Ph.D

The nature versus nurture debate has been an issue within the field of human development since the inception of psychological studies (Santrock, 2000). Nature refers to the biological characteristics that create one’s genetic make-up. Nurture refers to the social conditions or environment that establishes one’s development (Henslin, 2002). Supporters of the nature theory believe that one’s biological inheritance is more dominant of the two, while supporters of the nurture theory suggest that environmental experiences are more dominant. I support both theories.

The nature versus nurture argument has been analyzed through the study of identical twins. Identical twins are biologically the same. They both share the same blood type, physical appearance, and DNA. The only physiological distinction is a difference in fingerprints. Twins reared in the same environment or household share the same attitudes, temperaments, and intelligence. Research of twins suggest that twins reared in separate environments and exposed to different social ideologies demonstrated nonsimilar attitudes, temperaments, and intelligence levels (Henslin, 2002). My experiences with identical twins support both theories.

I attended high school with identical twin females. They attended the same classes, enjoyed the same sporting events, and were closely ranked during time of graduation. Interestingly, at our 20-year reunion, both were cigarette smokers, shared the same occupations, and married within two months of one another. In this case, I believe that their desires and aptitudes to hold similar occupations were determined by their genetic connection. It is possible that the training received to do the same job became limited by physical or mental limitations that were due to genetic connections. However, their desire to become smokers was determined by social influences.

In analyzing the nature versus nurture argument further, the developmental process for plants and trees correlates with human development. A tree has a biological composition that allows it to become a tree. It is raised in an environment that is shared by other trees. As natural development begins, its survival is dependant upon the nourishment received from the fertility of the soil, and the exposure it receives from the sun, water, and overall social environment. Nature allows it to become a member of the ecological system, but the environment allows it to become a contributing member of society. It may become paper for textbooks, wood for fireplaces, and shelter for birds, insects, and small animals. Without the proper environmental influences, it may seize to exist or fail to reach its full potential. Human development is very similar. Biology will not go against its nature but biology can be destroyed or altered by the social condition it is placed in. The concept of nature and nurture should compliment not divide the understanding of human development.


Henslin, James M. (2002). Essentials to sociology: A down-to-earth approach. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Santrock, John W. (2000). Children (6th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.


Kellie Shaw said...

I also am a firm believer in the 50/50 argument of nurture vs. nature. I believe that we are born with certain tendencies and characteristics but they can be fostered through your environment. For instance, my husband is a lego/gaming fanatic and my 4 year old is now obsessed. I believe he is naturally drawn to those things but the fact that his father encourages them causes him to want to do them even more.

Shannon Hoopman said...

I also support both theories of the nature v. nurture debate, but I lean more towards nurture. For example, my brother and I grew up together until I moved out when I was 12. We were just alike as children being raised in the same house. When I left I was able to move to a more stable environment. The different environment enabled me to see things differently. To this day we are still very opposite even after he moved because he had lived in the same environment for so long. He is just like both my parents, unlike me. I am not like anyone in my family. I have different morals, values and beliefs.

Mirta Galvan said...

I also used to suck my thumb when I was little but what my parents did to make me stop was they put a nasty tasting liquid on my thumb. Which made made stop sucking on my thumb when I was little. What I think your colleague should do is to try something my parents did to me. It may not 100% work but it doesn't hurt to try it.

Dayone said...

I believe Nuture is the more dominant influence. I think a child's environment and parental guidance has the greatest affect on his or her future. I think identical twins are the exception to the rule.

Val Davila said...

I like the arguements on nature vs. nurture! I know some sets of identical twins (both male and female) and also know twins. In retrospect, one set always did the same things (dressed, walked, talked,and studied) and the other set did not. The similarities were still present in both sets, however, in the set that was taught to seek out their individual selves, they excelled! No other resemblances remain except their physical apperances! I enjoyed your blog!

Lisa B said...

The nature versus nurture is quite the balancing act. I agree that both contribute to an individual, but i think that the best way to look at this is through generations instead of twins. The way society is now, children are raised with heavy exposure to various parts of society, and raised partially by the school system. It would be more valuable research to see if someone from a generation further back that was not exposed to the same media was drawn to the same habits, etc. as one child that was exposed to all modern aspects of society. For example, my parents never smoked ciggarettes my entire life, but everyone cool in movies did. So i did. Also peer groups at school. So nurture has to be more than just home environment, you have to consider the environment of the country and culture they are exposed to on a daily basis.
Social Psychology
MW 530PM

Daniela G. said...

Nurture and Nature are very close together, too close that we cannot really distinguish the difference. Nature behavior may change as you grow and the possibility to be presented to life events, problems and situations that the Nurture side within us will know how to deal or solve each event as we learn the right from wrong as we grow.

Katya F said...

We are all born with our unique personalities. A child could be shy and easily stressed but a parent can nurture and help a child to break out of their shell and enjoy life. That doesn't mean that their personality will change. There are triggers that will cause a child to move back into the personality that they were born with. I agree that nature and nurture work together.

Donna Davis said...

I found this one interesting because while I was living in Corpus Christi,I knew a couple that had twins and one had died while still in the womb. At times they would hear the living twin talking to someone,and when questioned her reply was she was talking to her sister. So I do believe that connection stays with them in death as in life.