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Nature vs Nurture, Which one is it?

Updated on August 11, 2009

The Great Debate of Nature vs Nurture

Yes I had to bring up the controversial debate of Nature vs. Nurture. Even after years of child psychology and early childhood development course I am still on the fence about it. I have always believed that our environment and our relationships as a child have to play an important role in the personalities, and behaviors we develop but on the other hand I have had many relationships with people that prove this theory to be false. How do we explain a child that comes from a poor, broken home, with exposure to drugs and alcohol that ends up becoming the valedictorian of their graduating class? This has always perplexed me. Even I had a pretty traumatizing childhood, and I feel that as a person I have grown to be responsible, motivated, intelligent, compassionate and sympathetic.


So the debate begins.


Are children that have grown up to be responsible function adults despite their bad environments and unhealthy relationships the select few minority? Or were they born with this disposition and personality? If so, does that mean that whatever environment and relationships they experience as a child are ineffective to their perceptions, beliefs and behaviors as adults? Or would both nature vs. nurture play an equal role in a child’s development?


When considering this debate many scientists and psychologists have used the case of twins since they come from the same family, and environment, and adoptions since it is the exact opposite situation.


Francis Galton cousin of Charles Darwin was one of the first to do studies on twins in respect to the Nature vs. Nurture debate. Francis compared identical twins to fraternal twins. Identical twins have 100% of the same genetic material, while fraternal twins have 50% of the same genetic material. From Galton’s observations and findings he leaned more towards the belief that “Nature” was more prominent in the development of a child.


John B. Watson on the other hand strongly believed that “Nurture” played a more dominant role in a child’s development. John Watson has been called the father of “behaviorism”. John B. Watson believed that conditioning and controlling the child’s environment was they key to fostering development. John B. Watson is notorious for his “Little Albert” experiment. The “Little Albert” experiment was intended to prove that complex behaviors could be learned by the manipulation of a child’s environment. With that being said John B. Watson determined that rats, rabbits, and cotton do not produce a negative reaction in the body, but when you introduce them with a loud noise, or any other unconditioned stimulus, the response was fear. So after doing this repeatedly with “Little Albert” he then showed “Little Albert” white, furry objects, and he responded with a scared fearful disposition towards these objects.


So with Francis Galton’s twin studies and John B. Watson’s “Little Albert” experiment, the question still remains, does Nature or Nurture play a more dominant role in child development?








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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      charamia2,this is a great hub. However, I staunchly believe that nurture is more an influential determinant as to how a child is going to be than nature. Nature only plays a minute part in how a child develops; however, a parent's nurturance or lack of nurturance of child is the main determinant of how that child is going to be in his/her later teenage years and in adulthood. Children do not raise themselves, you know.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 8 years ago from Western Australia

      Dear Charamia, thank you for your well researched and written hub. I have also tried to answer your question on the hub. I am also curious in the answer to your question due to my own family circumstances however I really do not believe there is one, 'black and white' answer to your question. Life is more complicated and closely intrrelated to have a simple answer for such a complicated question.

      I value highly your expertise in this area and I would be honoured if you decide to visit me on my blogs:

      All the best from Beata

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I think that they both play a part and as to which one predominates in the end...that is anybody's guess. That being said, it is always worth the effort to try and give a person (or a pup...I notice that you are an animal lover) a second chance with good nurturing. Good hub!