The Debate About Nature vs. Nurture - One of the Most Fascinating Debates in Psychology

Within psychology, there is a wide spread debate about nature versus nurture. it is a very interesting and difficult topic for psychologists to explain. It still cannot really be determined whether nature is more dominant within a human, or nurture, Nature refers to a person’s innate qualities; nurture is usually referred to as the genetics. Nurture is the idea that a person reacts to the world based solely on experiences and their environment. Nurture basically means that people get traits from non-genetic things.

An example of nurture, or the environment, would be prenatal or post natal illnesses that effect how the child develops. The current argument is that both nature and nurture play an equal role in human beings. Many psychologists believe that there are both programmed innate things within a person’s brain, and that experiences play a role about how a person reacts to their environment and lives their life.

The debate of nature and nurture is one of the most interesting debates in psychology because there is no definitive answer about which is more important.

Twins are the most interesting example of the debate of nature versus nurture. Monozygotic twins share all of their genes, but dizygotic twins only share fifty percent of their genes. This is interesting to researchers because it helps them see how genetics really affect human beings, For example, if one argues that genetics affect a particular trait, then it would make sense that monozygotic [wins will be more similar regarding that trait than dizygotic twins.

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This would mean that nature does play a large role among people. The ”twin design” is widely used as a screen for genetic influence.

The twin method was initiated in 1924 and has since been used to study more than 10,000 twin pairs, showing results that monozygotic twins have correlations of 0.85 and dizygotic have about 060, this shows that genetics have a substantial influence on cognitive abilities, While this is true, there are still environmental factors that appear to effect traits as well, For example, if a one twin is short-tempered but the other one is not, there is likely an environmental influence, rather than a genetic. The main problem with the twin method is the “equal environment assumption,” which is the assumption that environmental similarity for monozygotic and dizygotic twins raised in the same family is similar (p 329). This assumption can lead to inflated results upon the influence of genetics (Walker, et al. 2004). An example of this is that monozygotic twins share the same outer layer around their membrane and dizygotic twins do not.

This leads to the inference that monozygotic twins may share greater prenatal environmental differences. This can be shown in the fact that monozygotic twins often show greater birth weight differences than dizygotic twins The fact that the monozygotic twins share the same environment does not make them the same, and it is wrong to assume that it does Twins also appear to be very similar cognitively, possibly because they have similar environmental experiences, being the same age. This could also be due to genetics, so once again it is unknown which dictates more The actual study was done on six pairs of seven year old twins, three monozygotic and three dizygotic; they were put through a standardized test that was adjusted for sex differences. The twins all scored very similar, with high correlations indicating both environmental and genetic influences leading to their similar scores.

The twins were tested in: speaking and listening, reading, writing, mathematics, numbers, and shapes After calculating the twins’ combined similar scores, the monozygotic twins had a 0.86 correlation, while the dizygotic only had a 064 This once again leads one to believe that nature has more of an influence than nurture. The twins were also tested in different classrooms. Monozygotic twins did better when in the same classroom versus when they were in different classrooms, showing an environmental influence. However, there were no significant differences in scores when dizygotic twins were in the same and different classrooms. The assessments of the children also varied while the kids were rated by the same, as well as different teachers, skewing the results. Because the same teacher did not administer and grade every twin’s test, there is a possible bias among the teachers regarding how they gave the test and graded the results.

All of the twins appeared to do better when the test was administered by the same teacher versus when it was given by different teachers and the scores were compared. For example, mathematics, when assessed by the same teacher showed a large amount of genetic influence, with a correlation of . 63. When assessed by different teachers, the correlation was only . These correlations remained consistent regarding all of the tests. The results show that the consistent pattern of higher monozygotic twin correlations, versus dizygotjc suggest more of a genetic influence on academic achievement. These results support the results of an earlier study done in Sweden showing a substantial genetic and shared environment influence on academic performance.

However, the Swedish study was done on twins of older age, while this is the first study to be done on twins as young as seven. While the study does have some flaws, such as the researchers not obtaining “reliability or validity” from the teacher assessments, the high correlation between the assessments show that genetics does play a large part in cognitive ability for twins (p 336). This article relates to Infancy and Childhood because nature versus nurture is something that is very prevalent in psychology and is a reoccurring theme within class. Also, the fact that the study was done among seven year olds is very relatable to class because seven year olds are still in childhood and are part of the age group that is being studied. The results of this study can be applied to class, especially when discussing nature versus nurture and the effect of genetics on intelligence.

I found this article very interesting because I am highly interested in the debate of nature versus nurture. I not only discuss it in my psychology classes, but in other classes such as philosophy, I am just fascinated by which has more influence. [was not surprised by the results of the study. It makes sense that twins share very similar cognitive abilities. I do not feel that the results show a difference towards environment and genetics The twins were all raised in the same home, so they had similar environments. To make the study better they should have used twins that were being raised in separate environments This would help to better tell if genetics are more prominent than environment. I also believe the researchers had many flaws in their study. There was a lot of bias from the teachers giving the assessment. They also did not have a control group so the study cannot be considered very accurate. Overall, I found the article very interesting and I will probably do further research regarding nature and nurture.

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The Debate About Nature vs. Nurture - One of the Most Fascinating Debates in Psychology. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from

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