Nature vs. Nurture
By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi
Nature vs. nurture is predicated on human behavior and specific elements that may influence social changes. There has been debate on whether nature is considered for what is observed through preconceived notions of heredities through societal influence while the concept of nurturing is dependent upon genetics, human experience, and familial connections. The argument is determining which model (nature or nurture) is responsible for the influence of human and cultural behavior (as previously mentioned). Per Blazer and Hernandez (2006), nature vs. nurture in psychology emphasizes the continuum of what qualities of behavior are either congenital or assimilated physiognomies. Both models are a scientific element of human behavior, which are based on genetic inheritance and learned comportments. It is difficult to delineate both concepts because both seem to be dependent upon another. Attempting to separate nature and nurture, excluding behavioral elements, is proven to be “impossible” and “unproductive” (Levitt, 2013, p. 1). I would hypothesize nature vs. nurture is determined by continuing research in the field of human behavior and psychological effects to prove the theory of separateness or inclusion of the two.
McCrae et al (2000) emphasized nature vs. nurture applies to the five-factor model: behavior genetics, parent-child relations, personality structure, animal personality, and the longitudinal stability of individual differences (p. 1). The authors conducted a research study (men and women, 14 years-old and older) and found the data collected supported strong conceptual correlations to child temperament and the maturation of personality was countered by “culturally conditioned development of characteristic adaptations that express personality” (McCrae et al., 2000, p. 1).
I have not thoroughly researched studies to determine if there are previous studies to confute my theory of separateness and inclusion. Though, I read an article that discusses the need for future research on Attachment Theory, a psychological paradigm that characterizes short-term and long-term interpersonal relationships between human beings (Fraley, n.d.). I was interested in the article because both terms could be correlated to this research based on the authors’ examination of how infant attachment patterns are learned through human behavior (biological parents were emphasized) and sociological environments, which is predicated on the nature vs. nurture concept. The need for further research via theoretical clarification, research, clinical interventions, and policy applications are important to understand this concept (Cassidy, Jones, & Shaver, 2013, p. 1). I believe the same data collection tools presented in their study would be beneficial for those in the psychology field, expounding on research on nature vs. nurture.
Nature and nurture can be as complicated as reliability and validity. It is one of those concepts that have different meanings with many commonalities that can be misconstrued. Yet, have two different lexicons that provoke thought and debate on how both should be interpreted and conveyed. One of the most common questions I find in research is "can you have reliability without validity?" And vice versa? I feel this is the same debate/question when it comes to nature vs. nurture. Saul McLeod illustrates the differences between both terms as stating, “nature is what we think of as pre-wiring and is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors” while “nurture is generally taken as the influence of external factors after conception” (2015, para. 2). In my opinion, both terms can be predicated on both meanings and be reversed—if grounded on McLeod’s theory. I believe nature can have biological and systematical influences based on societal cultures and environments. When I think of the term “nature,” I think of the world/environment around me. As for nurture, I believe it also can be based genetic inheritance and familial upbringing because when I think of nurture, I immediately think about parents (or guardians) raising babies and children to adults, which is heavily dependent upon human behavior and influence.
Understanding nature can be based on human behaviors, in addition to biological environments, I see how both terms can be misconstrued. Focusing on nature --because I believe that is where my confusion with the meaning lied, I realized there are two meanings, which are grounded on sociology and philosophy theories. The first meaning of nature can be referred to the laws of a nature (philosophical) and the second can be referred to the behaviors, properties, and cause of humans and other organisms (sociological and psychological). Nature vs. nurture to delineate the distinctions of child development and how that affects adulthood. With that said, the meaning of nature that is warranted for this topic discusses the genetic history that affects child development and learning abilities while nurture is indicative of how child development affects social and environmental elements (Florida Health, 2012).
Blazer, D. G., & Hernandez, L. M (eds). (2006). Genes, behavior, and the social environment: Moving Beyond the nature/nurture debate. Institute of Medicine, Board on Health Sciences Policy, Committee on Assessing Interactions Among Social, Behavioral, and Genetic Factors in Health. National Academies Press.
Cassidy, J., Jones, J. D., & Shaver, P. R. (2013). Contributions of attachment theory and research: A Framework for future research, translation, and policy. Development and Psychopathology, 25(402), pp. 1415-1434. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579413000692
Florida Health. (Infant toddler development training: Module 1, lesson 3. The Florida Department of Health. Retrieved from http://www.floridahealth.gov/alternatesites/cms-kids/providers/early_steps/training/itds/module1/lesson3_2.html (accessed on 7 February 2018).
Fraley, C. R. (n.d.). A brief overview of adult attachment theory and research. University of Illinois. Retrieved from https://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/~rcfraley/attachment.htm(accessed on 6 February 2018).
Levitt, M. (2013). Perceptions of nature, nurture, and behavior. Life Sciences, Society, and Policy, 9. 13. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1186/2195-7819-9-13 (accessed on 5 February 2018).
McLeod, S. (2015). Nature vs. nurture in psychology. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html (accessed on 5 February 2018).
McCrae, R. R., Costa, P. T., Jr., Ostendorf, F. Angeleitner, A., Hrebickova, M., Avia, M.D., &Smith, P.B. (2000). Nature over nurture: Temperament, personality, and life span development. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(1), 173-186.