Studying the processes of child development, the researcher is inevitably faced with several fundamental questions, including what leaves a more significant mark on the character: nature or nurture? On the one hand, the English philosopher John Locke believed that the environment and upbringing play a huge role, and intrinsic factors are not essential. On the other hand, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said that all the most vital things in children are inherent, and adults can only carefully accompany and guide them. Nevertheless, although the path of development of each person is genetically determined, there are some critical points associated with upbringing, which affect the possession of certain character traits. Thus, both nature and nurture have the same value for human development.
The effects of genes on personality traits, including extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, benevolence, and neuroticism, have been found. Rolls (2019) notes that twin studies have shown that genetics determine personality type in 40-60% of cases. However, the influence of genes on character is not direct; that is, there is no gene for kindness or a gene for greed. But they determine the sensitivity to hormones that govern a person’s emotions. For example, Hosken et al. (2019) affirm that the DRD4 gene determines the sensitivity of neurons to dopamine – the hormone of joy, anticipation, excitement. There are many variants (alleles) of this gene, which are divided into groups: 2R, 3R, 4R,…, 11R. Someone’s dopamine sensitivity will be low; such people can live their whole lives in one place, and changing their familiar environment is stressful. On the contrary, someone will have high sensitivity to dopamine, so a carrier of this type of DRD4 gene will constantly seek adventure and change. It is precisely the influence of nature on the presence of certain traits in a person’s character.
Nevertheless, nurture plays an essential role in the presence of certain character traits. According to Sanderson Huffman (2017), upbringing involves instilling certain moral norms and rules of behavior. For example, if children become the center of the universe for a family and all their whims are satisfied, most likely, such people will develop selfishness and low empathy. On the contrary, when children are required to be independent and have responsibilities, most likely other qualities are present in their characters, such as will, self-control, and empathy.
All of the above can be traced to my personal example. So, since I am an introvert, my focus is on my personality. The source of energy is in my inner world of ideas, emotions, and impressions. The outside world quickly puts me into a state of overexcitation, and I need a quiet place where I can think carefully and recharge my batteries. On the one hand, this is an innate quality, because according to my mother’s stories, I was not too fond of noisy companies even in infancy. After a short time spent with people, I became capricious and calmed down immediately when I was alone with my mother. On the other hand, most of my hobbies, including drawing and reading books, which were encouraged by my parents, involve loneliness. Moreover, since childhood, my mother taught me to play with dolls and collect Lego; I spent most of the time alone or with my mother, which contributed to introversion. It seems that, after all, introversion is inherent in me by nature, but in this case, it is difficult not to notice the influence of upbringing.
Therefore, two large classes of factors influence the development of personality: biological characteristics (nature) and social environment (nurture). In this regard, the development of certain character traits can be considered the influence of both nature and upbringing. It seems that there is no unambiguous answer to the question: which is more important: nature or nurture? This question correlates with: what more affects the area of the rectangle, its length or width?
Hosken, D., Hunt, J. & Wedell, N. (2019). Genes and behavior: Beyond nature-nurture. Wiley.
Rolls, G. (2019). Classic case studies in psychology (4th ed.). Taylor & Francis.
Sanderson, C. A., & Huffman, K. (2017). Real world psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.