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Nature VS. Nurture: Tandem Tango

Nature vs. Nurture: Tandem Tango

One of psychology’s biggest questions, to which an answer remains elusive, is, “what plays a greater factor in human development: nature or nurture?” Many experiments, studies, and discussions have attempted in vain to determine whether biology or environment can be attributed to the way a person has developed. This paper will contain a brief history, the most essential characteristics of the nature versus nurture issue, as well as my own thoughts on the controversy.



History
Where It All Began

The debate of nature versus nurture is an enduring controversy that has survived through the ages. “The Greek philosopher Plato assumed that we inherit character and intelligence and that certain ideas are inborn”. During the 1600s, European philosophers took up the argument once more; René Descartes shared the same view as Plato. English Philosopher John Locke proposed his tabula rasa theory, “[…] which states that people learn and acquire ideas from external forces, or the environment”. The debate was solidified when Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species sparked greater controversy. Francis Galton invented the phrase “nature versus nurture”, and was influenced by his cousin’s ? Darwin ? On the Origin of Species book. Galton published Hereditary Genius in 1869. “This work by some has been named as the starting point of the "Nature versus Nurture" controversy”.

Where It Is Now

Compared to past times, when opinions were largely based on religious or philosophical beliefs, many experiments, studies, and discussions have approached the nature versus nurture argument with a more scientific approach. Despite the hundreds of years that this controversy has seen, a solid and proven answer has yet to be presented.

Essential Characteristics

To better comprehend the nature versus nurture debate, we should look at the essential characteristics that make up this controversy. Biology, what people are born with, is the nature side of the argument. The environment that humans are surrounded by and/or raised in is the nurture side.

Biology

Humans are unique and highly-intricate creatures, and DNA is what makes individuals who they are; it is the code for our physical being. Physical features, personality, and even intelligence are all decided by our unique DNA. Those that say nature has the largest hand in human development believe that who we are is decided by who our parents are; we are products of our predecessors. Each and every person was created by God, and He endows uniqueness to each individual. As Psalm 139:13 says, “For you have created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
“The DNA sets a range of possible characteristics (sometimes called your genetic tendency), and your activities determine what portion of that range actually manifests itself in your body” . While our DNA provides us with genetic tendencies, it is our environment that molds us. This brings us to the nurture side of the controversy.

Environment
Our environment, or our experiences in an environment, are said to develop us. Those that side with the nurture angle of the nature versus nurture debate believe that the environment that humans are in, or were raised in, molds them into who they are. The environment in which a person is surrounded by or raised in has a tremendous impact. “If a person is exposed to certain environmental factors while in the womb, or during critical phases in childhood, there can be irreversible catastrophic consequences”.
If a father has aggressiveness in his genes he may pass aggressive tendencies on to his children. However, if his child is raised in a healthy, positive environment where the aggressive genes are not provoked, the child may not manifest the inherited aggression. On the contrary, if a mother passes on her very peaceable traits and genes on to her child, and the child is raised in a hostile environment, s/he may be provoked to display aggression. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I believe that the way children are raised up through adolescence will have a lasting impact on them and will shape their life, and how they live it, forever.

My Thoughts

In the nature versus nurture argument, I do not believe that one can simply choose a decisive winner of the controversy. There is no doubt that both contribute to who an individual is. Nature, our biology, certainly decides a lot of who we are, but I believe that nurture has more of a deciding factor in how humans develop. It is of my opinion that nature prepares a person for what nurture will ultimately finish.

Concluding Thoughts

While the longstanding controversy has no conclusive winner, we should look at these seemingly opposing views as working in tandem with each other. “What’s also interesting is that the genes themselves allow the brain to learn. Without the genes, we wouldn’t be able to adapt to situations, or to allow our environment to affect us”.



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