Print Сite this

The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior


Different approaches to the study of human behavior, often conflicting but convincing, have made it difficult for a student to arrive at a definite understanding of the subject. Some researches show that instinct or nature decides the behavioral pattern, but there are other views stating that human mind comes as a clean slate. To prove the former argument, much has been cited from the behavior of birds, animals and man, and for the latter there are enough examples which can be taken from human experience. This brief paper takes a critical look at these arguments about behavior in the light of nature as well as nurture.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Main Part

Those who believe that nature has molded the pattern of behavior and nothing much can be changed by one’s interaction with the outside world argue that the instinct for a particular way of response and reactions is innate in man and animals. Education, religion, and society can only reinforce the tendency innate in an individual. The advocates of this line of approach give much importance to the sensory organs. They cite the collective behavior seen in animals and man, and argue that the collective response to kinship preferences and caring come from the experience set by the sensory responses. Behavior is also, according to them, guided by the instinct for survival. They rely on Darwin’s theory of evolution to support this view.

Some researchers who write about the importance of nurturing human behavior believe that new experiences can completely change one’s behavioral patterns. They are of the opinion that the environmental events can manipulate or alter natural instincts for responses. Emotions change as the events change and write new impressions on the mind. American psychologist, John Watson says, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take anyone at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief”(Watson). This line of thought originates from the idea that human mind initially comes as a clean slate, and as one life in a given environment and reacts to it, the impressions coming from it get automatically written on this slate. If the slate is placed in a new situation capable of recording new impressions, the behavior to changes accordingly. Philosophers like David Hume and John Locke belong to this school of thought. In short, they assert that knowledge is derived from experience based on observation. This approach, I feel, is important because modern psychology takes this as the premise to correct the imbalances in behavior.

While the researchers put forward convincing arguments in favor and against nature and nurture, my own feeling is that both have their role in shaping the human behavior. In some cases nature seems to exceed nurture, as there are cases where the psychic patients refuse to cooperate with the new environment in which they are placed to improve their autistic behavior. Their original behavioral pattern has clearly taken firm roots in them to accept changes. At the same time, a child can be seen reacting to the circumstances in which he is brought up and develops his intellectual caliber accordingly.


What emerges from the observations made so far is that accepting any conclusive statement by any school of thought about the behavioral pattern is risky. It still needs more studies. Evolution has its impact on everything. Both nature and nurture must be helping the development of behavior. Therefore, theories emerging from evolution, neurology, and philosophy are equally important for evolving a synthesis on behavior.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2022, July 29). The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, July 29). The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior.

Work Cited

"The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior." StudyCorgi, 29 July 2022,

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior." July 29, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior." July 29, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior." July 29, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Role of Nature and Nurture in Behavior'. 29 July.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.