The issue of Nature versus Nurture

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When it comes to personal psychological qualities, the subject of Nature vs Nurture has long sparked heated disputes. Intelligence has always been a central issue in identifying who has the upper hand in determining one's intellectual aptitude or any other psychological process. The purpose of this research is to show that the two are equally important determinants of one's intellect. To begin, it will demonstrate how the two establish a person's intellectual identity, and then a conclusion will be appended to the findings presented.

As stated in the introduction, intelligence has been the subject of heated disputes, and its definition remains a point of contention among many theorists. All cultures and schools or learning assert that it is the cultural knowledge-based differences in levels and degree to which different individuals exhibit their expertise in uniquely solving different problems (Eysenck, 2016). However, when different distinguished personalities such as lawyers, lecturers, and politicians were asked what the definition of intelligence would be they responded as follows; a problem-solving expertise. This problem-solving expertise involved the application of reason, logical argumentation or applying with an open mind what other competent authorities have commented on a given matter. Others defined it as only a verbal ability to solving problems. They further asserted this ability applied the tenets of useful communication skills, application of diversely read content or quoting other competent personalities on a given topic. Others also defined it as the social ability to relate well with others by applying the virtues of prudence, patience, tolerance and admitting mistakes. While others suggested; it is the product of the interactions between nature and nurture. This paper will be treating intelligence as defined by the last cluster of people.

Nature is the attributed biological factors that are engrained in an individual straight from birth (Imbrogno, 2017). They are the factors received from hereditary means. Heredity is the biological activity of passing down ones genetic makeup to his or her offspring. It is the copying down of all if not some of the paternal characters and propensities to one's offspring. With regards to intelligence, there has always been a debate between which of the two (Nature and Nurture) takes dominance. The two appear to equally determine how a person applies his or her intelligence and how they perceive and synthesize intellectual data. Nature has always been appraised to bring on the table two aspects; the intellectual aptitude; which is the disposition to having an improved intelligence quotient and the ability to grasp intellectual data and synthesize it with ease. The other aspect is the impeding factor that nature can also bring on the table that inhibits intellectual finesse from a genetic point of view.

Researchers have been carried out to precisely distinguish if nature indeed has any bearing at all on the intellectual disposition of a person and so in the early 1960s tests were conducted to ascertain this. A family of well genetically mapped individuals exhibiting an average intellectual quotient were asked to voluntary adopt a child from a family with a recorded more than ordinary intelligence quotient (IQ). After several years, researchers following the dictates of Mendel (author of an article discussing the laws of heredity) conducted tests to determine if the adopted child has in any chance attained any traits that would have had an impact on his IQ. The entire family was subjected to a series of test ranging from random general questions to solving puzzles and riddles. To their surprise, the adopted child exhibited, though young a particular efficiency in addressing the intellectual problems and riddles that even the entire adoptive family couldn't solve as a group (Steen, 2013). Those conclusions significantly impacted on their hypothesis that nature could affect the overall attuning of one's intelligence properties. Their findings asserted that the adopted child had received from his paternal parents' genetic traits that had significantly disposed him to an increased aptitude that the adoptive average IQ family.

However, those findings were met with a lot of criticism by the scientists from the pragmatic school of thought that posited that nature only presented a broad open slate of one's intellectual propensities and so cannot be a significant determinant (Steen at al' 2013). They heavily borrowed from the ancient empiricist philosophers mainly of the Stoic school that propagated that the human mind was born as an empty slate 'Tabula Rasa' (Plomin, 2004). Such a school of thought went ahead to assert that science according to them the human mind is born blank, so is its genetic probabilities. That meant that only empirical data shaped what the mind apprehended as data thus shaping its personality and intelligence capabilities. To advance such an understanding meant that they proposed more of empirical credibility which in this case would be the environmental factors (Nurture), than innatism. Innatism is the counter theory that suggested that the mind is born in already possession of some certain knowledge circumstantially so due to one's genetic mapping (Grosul, 2014).

As the discussions became heated, there was the need to conduct another research to ascertain their (antagonist to the adopted child test) hypothesis, which nurture had more determinism than nature. To this effect, they performed a second experiment with a set of twins from an average IQ family that was separated right from birth and raised up in different environments (one in a wealthy community and the other a low income and high criminal rated environment). After several years they conducted tests to ascertain the effects of the different settings, they conducted similar tests ranging from general knowledge questions to mathematical problems. They discovered that the child who had been raised in a rich environment had an increased intelligence spectrum that the one in a low income and high criminal rated environment (Grosul, et, al' 2014). The findings from that case study caused a scientific impasse on what indeed determined the actual intelligence quotient and one's psychological processes. Both tests' findings supported the two pillars in contestation (Nature and Nurture) thus placing equal determinism on both of them.

With such discussions prevalent the argument took another dimension, the dimension of the questions raised changed towards the issue of creativity. Creativity is the umbrella term that refers to propensities, potentialities, aptitudes, motivations, and traits that enhance one's efficiency in handling specific tasks or responding to specific psychological processes (Grosul, et, al' 2014). The thought has always been that creativity a progression of intelligence as the applicatory mind function is domain centered. That is to mean that all creativity is localized on a given skill or procedural task. Arguments as such attribute creativity to matters biological, that its ones natural makeup that predisposes them to efficiency in a given function or psychological process.

However, scientist such as Feist held the contrary opinion that creativity is not a centered or domiciled domain. In fact, he asserted that a creative person could be so in any field they choose to apply their talents, efforts, propensities, potentialities, aptitudes, motivations and traits (Plomin, et, al' 2004). His arguments meant another counter move towards the efforts of ascribing Nature as the dominant feature that determines one intelligence aptitude. By so stating he meant that creativity is as though some open reserve of potentialities that can be directed to what the environment (Nurture) shapes an individual to be. That should one opt to apply his or her abilities in several fields of study or expertise; then he is bound to be creative and successful in all. That argument went in support of the fact that there exist, individuals who are multitalented, not because they are more naturally endowed but chose to apply their skills in all the fields they have expertise in, affirmed Feist (Grosul, 2014).

In as much as Feist argued such it raises the fundamental question that how then can one explain the fact that even in that individual who is multi-talented, there is that specific skill, or talent that they are best at in all the rest. That particular talent or ability probably would have been their initially endowed skill, and the rest of the ability one is best at are just an overflow of one's intelligence creativity. The argument that creativity can or cannot be domain centered still raises questions about whether it's the environment that determines one's intellectual identity.

Academicians such as Francis Galton (the precursor to the study of individual interests) elaborated that while assessing both multi-gifted persons versus the commonly gifted ones (singularly talented), one notes that there is the need to undertake the study to measure intelligence (Kan, 2013) accurately. He further asserted that the measure of such a functioning of the human psychology could only be attained by studying the biological and environmental underlying tenets of all human cognitive activities directly or indirectly impacting individual differences in performance of tasks (Sarewitz, 2016). This meant that the measurements of intelligence could only be accurately attained by over a period studying objectively the unique genetics of individuals and how they interact with their particular environment to yield the personalities that people become.

By such findings, Galton suggested that there would indeed never exist a line of demarcation between the two features (Nature and Nurture). He instead saw the two in complete collaboration with each other with each complementing and completing the other. That went further to mean that the individuals who had genetic propensities and underlying potentialities could only actualize those inherent capabilities by interacting with nurture. That the environment went a long way into sieving from the various stimuli prevalent in the community, that which an individual was genetically ascribed to a given individual. Moreover that, that interaction between the two provided biology a playing field to express itself and in literal terms pick from the society that which it is ascribed to be or actualize with ease.

Such arguments from the considered father of individual interests threw the spanner into the works of those who posited that it was either Nature or Nurture but not both. However, those arguments brought in the far removed issues of deliberate or voluntary crime or feigned stupidly among certain individuals. Reacting to the same, Galton asserts that intelligence as a psychological process remains active and is in essence actualized in the event of crime and/feigned stupidity (Kan et, al' 2013). He elaborates that it's the function of intelligence to contemplate and execute crime or even raise itself higher by denying its very existence. That the reason as to why people commit a crime or are apprehended is because they were either stupid enough not to apply their intelligence in plotting the crime wisely or are stupid enough not to know that committing such crime is illegal, to begin with (Kan et, al' 2013). That sound hilarious but in the in-depth look at it, it sure applies both the features of nature and nurture.

To explain further the interaction between the two, using the same example just illustrated, it is profound that intelligence may be a progression from what already exists in a given individual. That the very ingrained set of moral decorum defines whether a person becomes intelligently disposed or not. That even the application of the intelligence is also a natural aspect. One can be nurtured in an environment that is well accommodating and absorbs all intelligent content from books, or the internet. But as long he or she is not intrinsically endowed to apply those tenets learned in ordinary life, they remain like a book in a library shelf (versed with knowledge but never utilizes it's in person).

That argument matches that of Flynn; he poses the question who or what makes you intelligent; your family, lecturer, environment or what you are on the inside? He poses that as a psychological dilemma on what or who indeed factors most in one's intellectual identity. His findings note that in as much as all the listed aspects of social interaction contribute to the actual attainment of a person's knowledge; they can only be effective by interacting with each other (Flynn, 2016). Looking at it from a mechanical point of view, all parts of a motor vehicle have to be operating in synch with the car to move. Should the motor vehicle not have fuel, then even if the other transmissions are optimum the motor vehicle still would not move. The Same case applies to the other components constituting a motor vehicle. In context, Flynn disapproves the theory advanced by either Empiricist or innatist (as mentioned previously) that one's knowledge is dependent on either nature or nurture but not both.


Having analyzed the various theories and concepts revolving the matter of intelligence identity versus nature and biology several findings arrive. That intelligence is a progression of a humans psychological functioning held distinct from other processes deriving the same. The acquisition of knowledge is dependent on the genetic mapping of an individual as handed down from their parents and the environment. Intelligence is domain centered, and any multi-talents potentialities that exhibit themselves in an individual are stratified from that which is dominant to the least. That stratification indicates that the most dominating talent is the actual application of one's genetic propensity and the rest are personal initiatives to apply the same potentialities to other none warranted activities. The use of one's intellectual abilities is only possible through the collaboration of both nature and nurture. Nature and nurture are two aspects of human psychological interaction that cannot be separated.


Eysenck, H. J., &Kamin, L. (2016). Intelligence: The battle for the mind. Springer.

Grosul, M., & Feist, G. J. (2014). The creative person in science. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8(1), 30.

Flynn, J. R. (2016). Does Your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy. Cambridge University Press.

Imbrogno, J., & Quintero, L. (2017). Nature vs. Nurture (vs. Nerd).

Kan, K. J., Wicherts, J. M., Dolan, C. V., & van der Maas, H. L. (2013). On the nature and nurture of intelligence and specific cognitive abilities: the more heritable, the more culture dependent. Psychological Science, 24(12), 2420-2428.

Plomin, R., &Spinath, F. M. (2004). Intelligence: genetics, genes, and genomics. Journal of personality and social psychology, 86(1), 112.

Sarewitz, D. (2016). Saving science. The New Atlantis, 49, 4-40.

Steen, R. G. (2013). DNA and destiny: Nature and nurture in human behavior. Springer.

April 26, 2023



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