The Influence of Nature vs. Nurture

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Nature is innate, it is inborn. It is what a person is without necessarily having to choose. Nature is ingrained in everybodys genetic composition. It is hereditary and hence influenced only by biological factors. On the hand nurture is how a person is influenced by the surrounding environment and how he or she has been raised up. The Biological community has been debating for years and decades on what plays a greater role in a persons life. Is it nature or is it nurture? The answer differs from person to person as everybody develops a distinct personality from birth and all through life where both nature and nurture contribute to influence the personality and distinct behaviours such as developing hobbies (Plomin & Bergeman 1991). This paper will address the issue of the role of nature versus the role of nurture in personality and behavioural development.

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Nature is determined by hereditary traits and hence uses scientific explanations. Focusing on learning and memory nature has certain influences different from person to person. Learning is the acquisition of knowledge and the rate of acquisition. Memory is recalling what you have learnt e.g. applying knowledge in construction to build a set of stairs in ones house. Nature influences such processes for example genetic make-up and composition determines a persons Intelligence Quotient (IQ) to some extent (Nissen & Bullemer 1987). The genes responsible for a persons intelligence decides on his or her rate of learning and memory recall. Ones parents fundamentally decide their intelligence factor and hence learning and memory capabilities.

Nurtures influence on nurture and memory is less scientific but more proven. How a person is raised is a very fundamental factor that contributes to their core personality. A persons behaviour choice, disapproval for certain behaviours and attempt to acquire others is more influenced by nurture. From birth a new-born is raised by in such a way that they are instilled with societal values and practices. A person is encouraged to learn practices and behaviours which are acceptable in society by oral action, others experience and personal observation among other learning techniques. For example take Peter a five year old who has seen first-hand the effects of alcohol-abuse from his absent dead beat father who constantly beats up his mother and him whenever he comes home. There is a high chance that Peter will not abuse alcohol when he grows up. Peter will most likely remember the negative effects of alcohol abuse from his fathers experience and he will strive to abstain.

Research done in the 1960s into violent behaviour discovered new insights in the role of nature in aggression (Jacobs et al, 1965). Jacobs and his team discovered that majority of the imprisoned human males had the XYY chromosome instead of the normal XY chromosomes, explaining their violent inclinations. The general explanation for the increased aggression at that time was the extra Y chromosome. Subsequent genetic studies in the years and decades since have discovered that such abnormalities in gene compositions were present and not necessarily rare. Studies since have proved that explanation for aggression using the extra chromosome in XYY personalities is inconclusive. There are XYY personalities who exercise control and restraint over their violent tendencies. These people have seen psychologists or have been taught controls techniques and mechanisms in the course of their growing up. The XYY personality although being an occurrence explained by nature for violence and aggression can be controlled by nurture.

In terms of nature hormones also play a crucial role in aggression tendencies. The biological production of aggression-inducing hormones is explained by nature but the circumstance under which they are produced is in most cases influenced by nurture. Take for example the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone is the reason why men are more aggressive than women. Men between the ages of fifteen to twenty five produce the highest levels of testosterone and it is no coincidence that these group is the most aggressive among men. However the production of testosterone-fuelled violence depends on the situation for example a man is more likely to produce adrenalin and testosterone in a pub drinking than at home watching television. Nurture in terms of spending time can act as a decider for the production of testosterone and adrenalin. As for women studies have proven that the menstrual cycle decide a womans feelings for irritability and hostility which as a result might increase their likelihood of being aggressive. Low levels of the neuro-transmitter serotonin have been found to increase likelihoods of aggression and violence. Serotonin acts to counter adrenalin and other blood-pumping hormones.

There have been studies concerning nature versus nurture and their singular influences on personality and behaviours. Both play critical roles although as has been seen above they tend to oppose each other. Nevertheless both nature and nurture complement each other. A persons nature is innate and is decided upon biological factors such as gene composition and mental capacity and intelligence. Nurture is explained by environmental factors such as parenting technique used and exposure to certain lifestyles. The nature versus nurture debate has been ongoing for many years and decades but the general consensus is that both influence the personality and behaviours of a person in their own important ways.


Nissen, M. J., & Bullemer, P. (1987). Attentional requirements of learning: Evidence from performance measures. Cognitive psychology, 19(1), 1-32.

Jacobs, P. A., Brunton, M., Melville, M. M., Brittain, R. P., & McClemont, W. F. (1965). Aggressive behaviour, mental sub-normality and the XYY male.

Plomin, R., & Bergeman, C. S. (1991). Nature and nurture. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 14(03), 414-427.

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