Nature vs Nurture Debate | B.Ed notes

Nature vs Nurture Debate

 One of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology is the Nature vs Nurture debate. It is very hard to decide whether a person’s development is due to his/her heredity or due to his/her life experiences and environment. Of course, e can not deny the fact that both nature and nurture plays very important roles in human development.


Diane Halpern, in her book “Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities” writes, ‘I can not argue that nature and nurture are inseparable’.


Nature- The coding of genes in each cell of humans determine the traits we have, more dominantly on the physical attributes like eye colour, hair colour, height etc. However, it is difficult to say whether the more abstract attributes like personality, intelligence, sexual orientation, likes and dislikes are gene-coded in our DNA.

 Nurture- The nurture theory holds that there may be genetic influence on over abstract traits, but the environmental factors are the real origin of our behaviour in a child through conditioning.


Nature refers to traits and characteristics that are inherited on gentle on origin, while nurture refers to traits and characteristics that are learned by organisms as they grow.


However, it is found that both nature and nurture has influence on our development. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to explain as to why fraternal twins if raised differently have remarkable similarities in some aspects, but show several deferences in the way they behave, which is a result of the intervention of environmental factors.


Nature divides male and female based only on biological differences. It is however, observed that it is nurture which actually makes a person think as men or women.

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 Gender stereotypes are a result of nurture more than nature. In our culture, the ideal male is seen as competent, stable, tough, confident, strong and aggressive. The ideal female is seen as warm, emotional, kind, polite, sensitive, friendly, fashionable and soft and is follower. There is usually a tendency in human to conform to these cultural norms.


It is however, seen that there are several men who are soft and gentle in their temperament, love cooking. Such men are criticised by the society for not being charismatic and extroverted. On the other hand, there are many women who are naturally extroverted, brave and tough. They are also criticised by society as not being soft and submissive.

 Common comments, we hear in our day to day life, make us develop our personality according to the norms set by the society for men and women. Some of these comments are- “Men are insensitive”.


Boys don’t cry like girls,

All men love sports and sex.

Women are bad drivers.

All women love shopping and gossiping.


As the feminist writer Simone de Beauvior puts it, “One is not born a man but becomes one; One is not born a woman but becomes one.”

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 It is nurture which creates feelings of subordination in the minds of the girls. As they grow up, they start understanding as to what they are supposed to and not supposed to do. Everyday experiences of her life, makes her believes that she is not equal to boys- physically and socially. She is weak and doing domestic chores is her work. Boys are made to believe that they are stronger than girls and that they have more rights than girls. Girls start confirming to all sorts of social injustice done to her because she is made to believe that girls are born for it. On the other hand, boys grow up believing that they have all the rights to torture a woman, if she does not listen to or obey him.

 Therefore, we see that though nature creates no differences in individuals except for biological, it is how an individual is nurtured, shapes his/his complete personality.

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