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Nature and Nurture in Developmental Psychology

Development psychology is a broad branch of science that studies such an essential aspect of human life as the human psyche in the various life stages. Particular attention is paid, for example, to childhood and old age. Naturally, such an extensive science has many studied areas, topics, and questions. The purpose of this essay is to study one of the most critical issues in the psychology of development, namely, the confrontation between nature and nurture.

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Under nature, scientists understand those factors that are inherent in us initially at birth. The psychological state of a person, its actions and reactions are considered from the influence of nature on a person, and not as a consequence of the acquired experience. Indeed, there are behaviors in which the environment makes a minimal impact. For example, these are the manifestations of traits that were also shared by the ancestors of the person (Honeycutt, 2019). Nativism, as the influence of nature is also called, can manifest itself in instincts as well as in thoughts through the presence of ideas that were initially embedded in a person’s mind. Throughout the history of psychology, these ideas were sometimes supported, and occasionally whole movements opposed them. However, in the middle of the 20th century, along with the development of genetics as a science, it was understood that much in human activity depends on its nature.

The flip side of this debate is the movement, which states that most of the personal behavior patterns come from interacting with people and gaining experience. This trend was specially developed in the 1920s when the value of instincts in human action was questioned (Honeycutt, 2019). Proponents of these theories have disproved the idea that all behavioral traits are inherited. On the contrary, it is argued that most of the patterns of personal behavior come from the experiences a person encounters. It was confirmed by numerous theories that a person is shaped by society. An individual is influenced by parents, peers, colleagues, as well as the norms and orders adopted in the community, such as gender and social roles (Kandler & Zapko-Willmes, 2017). However, such theories cannot fully explain all the features of behavior. That is why there is a third, most relevant approach to this issue.

The third theory is to combine both methods and consider them together. Over time, scientists have realized that it is unreasonable to try to address such a complex issue as the human psyche, on one side only. It led to the creation of models that take into account both the influence of genetics and the importance of factors related to personal experience. Studies show that about 50 percent of individual traits are formed under the effect of genetics (Kandler & Zapko-Willmes, 2017). At the same time, the rest depends directly on the impacts of society. However, this does not mean that spheres of control are divided equally. Genetic sources and sources associated with the community are closely intertwined and manifest themselves in different ways. It is challenging to understand to which particular root a behavior model belongs. Nevertheless, this task is the main one for psychologists working in this direction.

Thus, the problem of confronting natural factors and human upbringing is one of the key issues in developmental psychology. Initially, there were two clearly defined scientific camps, but recently both teachings have intertwined to form a single whole. Individual behavior models for these theories are a consequence of both genetic and environmental factors. One of the most important tasks of this area at the moment is to determine the source of human behavior.


  1. Honeycutt, H. (2019). Nature and nurture as an enduring tension in the history of psychology. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. Web.
  2. Kandler, C., & Zapko-Willmes, A. (2017). Theoretical perspectives on the interplay of nature and nurture in personality development. In J. Specht (Ed.), Personality development across the lifespan (pp. 101-115). Academic Press.

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