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.