Controversy On The Nature And Nurture Debate Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Environment, Twins, Nature, Genetics, Nurture, Study, Psychology, Education

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/13

Controversy in the Nature-Nurture Debate

How much of the elements of genes and environment affect who we are? For over a hundred years, the influence of hereditary and environmental components in shaping ones’ personality has come under scrutiny by scholars around the world. Several researches are carried in pursuit for a valid insight of nature and nurture and its effect on human behavior. While most scholars today recognized the effect of both genes (nature) and the environment (nurture) in shaping ones’ personality, the debate rotates on how much of it affect ones’ intelligence and behavior.
In the nature-nurture study, nature is referred to as the hereditary or genetic influences. It focuses on the concept that the human behavior or personality can be explained by genetic and hormonal factors claiming that a person’s chromosomal make-up largely affects his personality. On the other hand, nurture is the influences that one experiences from the environment right after conception. Advocates of the nature concept believed that the development of one’s behavior is a conditioning factor, citing that behaviors are shaped by the environment. Earlier psychologists have argued that heredity and environment are two separate factors and that only one of each affects human behavior. Modern psychologists, however, has recognized that human development is a combination of both hereditary and environmental factors. The recent controversy behind the nature and nurture debate lies on the question of how far are human intelligence, behavior and other characteristics are inborn (nature) and how much of it is gained through learning (nurture). For example, a person’s genetic make-up determines his intellectual potential, but it is the nurturing or environment that defines how much of his potential can be achieved. Psychologists today are one with the concept that genes and the environment continually interact; but the question is: are a person’s personality and intelligence influenced more by his genes or by his experience? (Myers)
In a study on the effect of nature and nurture to human phenotypes, researchers from King College of London studied the geocoded data from over 6700 families in the U. K. to illustrate that heritable and environmental factors geographically differ in its effect. The subjects of the study are done by contacting parents of all twins who were born from 1994 to 1996 throughout England and Wales. The subjects participated in the investigation of geographical location, heredity and experience and their categorical influence on behavior and intellect. The researchers opted to observe variations traits among twins because of the “advantage of taking into account all DNA variation throughout the genome and the population, simply by using what we know about genetic relatedness within twin pairs of different zygosity” (Davis et al). The study aims to interpret geographical variation as it relates to genetics and environmental factors.
Another research on the concept of nature and nurture on identical twins was shown in an article by Howard Gruber, as published in The New York Times. The focus of his article was on researches that made use of identical twins owing to the same hereditary elements of the subjects. Note that similarities between twins that are raised together may be attributed to their identical heredity and environment (Gruber, 1981). On the other hand, twins that are brought up separately may show dissimilarities that can be linked to the different environment, and their similarities can then be associated to their genetic make-up. The concept stated above was disputed by Susan Farber who made use of 95 sets of identical twins who were raised separately. She made use of different criteria in her research such as incidence of meeting between the twins, their age or period of separation and even the awareness of the existence of a twin. In order to come up with a meaningful result, Farber developed a mathematical index which she used to calculate degree of separation and how its proportion as it relates to the correlations of I.Q. scores of twins that are raised separately.
The two studies discussed above made use of twins in the process of the research, this is due to the advantage of allowing scholars to study the number of influence of different environment to an individual of the same genetic constitution. The research conducted by scholars at King College of London, however, included both fraternal and identical twins. More ever, the objective of the study aims to disclose that cognition and behavior vary depending on the geographical location. In contrast, the research of Susan Farber studied only sets of identical twins and made use of mathematical equation she devised in interpreting the correlation of environment to the genetic make-up of the twins.
The study conducted by Davis and his company asserts that geographical variation has more effect on the set of a person’s behavior and cognition as a result of the interactions of both hereditary and environmental elements. “One of the great strengths of the twin method is that it tells us at least as much about the environment as it does about genetics” (Davis, et al). The existence of a noticeable hereditary factor could reveal the presence of an environment that shows significant genetic difference (Davis, et al). Dr. Farber, on the other and, concluded that there is a disparity on the I.Q of twins who are raised separately, adding that there is an inverse relationship between the period of separation and disparity of I.Q test results. Farber’s research also revealed that twins that grew up together often differ in personality and temperament than twins raised together. This observation may be due to the need of the twins who are reared together to express their own individuality (Gruber). The two studies have their own evidences, and it is hoped that further studies will be conducted to answer the question of “how much of the hereditary and environmental factors affect ones personality?”


Gruber, H., (1981). Nature Versus Nurture: A Natural Experiment. Retrieved from
Myers, D. (2004). Psychology (7th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers
Davis, O., Haworth C., Lewis, C., Plomin R., Visual Analysis of Geocoded Twin Data Puts Nature and Nurture on the Map. Retrieved from

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