Nature vs Nurture

Do you every sit around comparing yourself to you siblings or even your closest friends, wondering why we are so different or so alike. Wondering how this happens and what causes you to act differently to others in some situations. The nature vs nurture debate is one of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology. How much of humans behaviours, ideas, and feelings are innate, and how much is through experience? People have been asking questions for years wondering if aspects of behaviour are either inherited or obtained.  

Nature supports the idea that our traits are influenced by genes and biological factors, these impact on not only our physical appearance but some of our personality characteristics. Nature is whats passed down in your family, the genes that your parents give you so thats why some things you do or like are because thats what your parents do or like. 

Whereas nurture is the opinion that environment and surroundings that people grow up with determine our traits. Nurture can be effected by the environment we grow up in, our early childhood experiences, how we were raised and our social relationships. 

“No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience” said by British philosopher John Locke who wrote the essay concerning human understanding in 1689. He emphasised the role of experience as fully contributing to behavioural development of a person. Locke set out that the human mind at birth is a blank slate in which experience then imprints knowledge, therefore stating that nurture is what makes us different to others and no ideas or knowledge come from our nature.

“Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper void of all characters, without any ideas. How comes it to be furnished? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To the I answer in one word, EXPERIENCE.” this is one of Lockes most famous quotes said in his essay concerning human understanding. 

But some philosophers like Plato and Renne Descartes state that some things are stuck with you because of your nature, that they occur naturally regardless of environmental influences. Nativists say that all or most behaviours and characteristics are the result of inheritance.

God is not included in the debate between nature and nurture because both sides of the debate hold a position contrary to God. God did not create us to be bad, nor did God provide an environment for us to sin, but some people still behave in ways different from the norm. The bible states that both sides play a major role to how we turn out and who we become.

I believe this debate weighs slightly heavier on the nurture side because various psychologist have analysed the study of identical twins. It shows that individuals with the same genes can have very different personalities. If the twins grow up in separate environments they will turn out to be totally different individuals even though they are the same on the inside. I think that humans are effected by nurture more as we are very emotional beings and how we are treated effects how we take on life. 

An example of this is the study of Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, who are two identical twins that were separated at birth. Elyse said that when she felt lonely she thought she was missing a twin. Both girls had always know that they were adopted but it was not until Elyse tried to find her birth mother she found out that she had a twin sister and the had been separated for a study on nature vs nurture. After they got to know each other they released they had a lot in common due to their nature, watching them they have similar mannerisms, they had both been editors for there school newspaper and both attended film school. From this study I have found that our characteristics, traits, likes and dislikes are mostly determined on genetics. The sisters weren’t nurtured to like the things they liked, it was in their DNA.

In the novel Frankenstein we are shown how both sides of the debate influenced the creature. We are told that he is made up of various body parts and this means that he has a lot of ‘nature’ to run by, but the reason he turns out the way he does, is not because of his nature but by his nurture. The creature is left to fend on his own after being rejected by society as well as his creator because of his differences. The pain felt by the creature leads him to turn on society because hate is all that he knows due to the way he was treated.

The debate compares if it is our environment that is the cause of a certain behaviour or were we just born this way? So even though there is no solid conclusion to the age long nature vs nurture debate, the information from philosophers, the bible and the twin study, I think that nature and nurture both play a role in the way we turn out, how we behave in certain situations and why we are different to others.

“Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence that affects him after his birth.”


  1. Hi Molly,

    I am so glad someone is tackling this topic!

    You make some very good observations about the “nurture” perspective, driven by John Locke’s ideas. I would like to see you develop these a bit more- at the moment some of your content is very brief.

    The perspective on ‘nature’ is not as clear. You mention “the debate” but you don’t present a clear second perspective. My advice is to look for a leading psychologist that believes in the ‘nature’ argument and present some of their opinions.

    The example about the Parent Trap weakens your speech. There are many real life twin studies that you could address instead.

    You also need to connect your speech to one of the texts you have explored this year. Frankenstein has an obvious link.

    Mrs. P


  2. Hi Molly,

    My advice above still applies. I do not think your coverage of the nature argument is strong enough.

    Well done on acting on the advice about the twin studies. It is much stronger than what you previously had.

    Mrs. P


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