In psychology, Nature vs Nurture describes the level to which aspects of human behavior are the product of genetic (inherited) or learned (acquired) characteristics. Genetic inheritance has an influence on nature as well as other biological factors and this process can be thought of as ‘pre-wiring’.
Nurture, on the other hand, is usually considered to be the effect of outside environmental factors on an individual after conception, for example, the result of someone’s exposure, learning, and experience. This debate concerning Nature and Nurture focuses on the contribution both of these factors make when it comes to human behavior.
Nature vs Nature: The Debate Rages On
This is a scientific, philosophical, and cultural debate that has raged for years and people are still divided on whether human culture, personality, and behavior are caused by nature or nurture primarily. Certain physical traits such as eye color, hair type, skin pigmentation, and certain types of diseases are determined biologically by genetic inheritance.
Our other physical features, (if not caused by genes), seem to be heavily influenced by our biological parents’ genes at the very least. Some factors that are correlated with people who are related genetically include weight, height, hair loss, the risk of specific illnesses like cancer, and even life expectancy. Facts like these are the reason many people wonder if psychological attributes like behavior, personality, and mental abilities might not be wired into us before we’re even born.
Nature vs Nurture – The Effects on Mental Health
In simple terms, nature (concerning this debate) refers to genetic or hormonal behaviors while nurture refers to environment and experience. The popular understanding of this debate has grown in recent years, with the nature side of the debate gaining more attention as headlines announce newly discovered genes for almost every kind of human behavior you can think of.
However, critics are still emphasizing the importance of early childhood environment development as well as cultural influences in determining how people turn out as they grow.
Although genetics have been scientifically proven to play a very important role in the development of some mental health conditions such as bipolar and schizophrenia, the occurrence of these mental disorders isn’t entirely genetic.
This means that nature is not the only contributing factor to those illnesses. Another example that places more emphasis on nature rather than on nurture is addictions, with studies showing that there are genes that may influence the way alcohol tastes and the way it affects a person’s body. Those studies also show how alcohol addiction can recur in families
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, while family history of certain conditions like mental history is a strong predictor of mental disorders down the line, the more significant predictor is the actual life experiences and events that someone goes through in their lives such as abuse, bullying, and other trauma.
The same goes for some physical conditions that one may or may not develop in their lives, and this supports the idea of nurture’s major role when it comes to the development of mental health conditions.