Nature vs Nurture
What makes us operate in life the way we do? Are we genetically predisposed to have
certain behavioral traits — or are we a product of the various experiences we have throughout
life. The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest and most controversial debates in
psychology. It’s popularity and relevance comes from our innate desire to become better as a
society, through having a deeper understanding of what makes us human. The contradiction of
these two concepts has produced a vast amount of information throughout history based on the
differences between nature and nurture.
In the context of this debate, nature refers to our genetics and certain hereditary factors
that makes us who we are— such as our appearance, epigenetics, and personality characteristics .
While on the other hand, nurture refers to the environmental factors that influence us. These
factors can include culture, childhood experiences, and certain social relationships. These
concepts are greatly reflected in modern psychology. For example, biological psychology
focuses solely on the theory that we are a product of our genetics and physiology. It is a unique
approach to psychology because it examines thoughts, behaviours, and feelings from a biological
point of view. Nurture is synonymous with the approach of behaviourism which explores the role
of environmental factors in influencing behaviours. In this approach it is believed that when were
born, our mind is a blank slate, or in other words ‘tabula rasa’.
This debate was thought of before the discoveries of psychology. It goes back to the days
of ancient philosophy. In philosophy this was referred to as nativism versus empiricism; these
concepts are one in the same but philosophers had a slightly more extreme view. Nativism is the
thesis that humans possess knowledge innately at birth. As opposed to empiricism which states
that human knowledge is derived from sense experience. The first pioneer of the nature versus
nurture debate is credited to the psychologist Sir Francis Galton; who was a Victorian era
psychologist who was one of the early researchers of eugenics. Sir Francis Galton paved the way
for many psychologists like John locke and Jean Rousseau who furthered the idea that people
were born as blank slates and that their individual differences were based on early childhood
This debate appears in modern sociology and psychological research. For example,
people sometimes use the nature or nurture debate to explain sexual preferences. I’ve personally
experienced that many times in...