The question of factors that determine people’s behavior, character, and abilities baffled various thinkers and researchers for a long time. As a result, the Nature vs. Nurture debate has formed – the question of what has a more significant impact on people. In this debate, nature represents biological/genetic factors and nurture – family relations, culture, experience, and other environmental factors. Various scientific areas and branches of psychology tend to attach greater importance to one of the two groups – nature or nurture. As a result, the debate significantly influenced the development of psychology and the formation of various perspectives within its framework.
The opposite sides of the debate were previously more skeptical against each other. Proponents of nature attach greater importance to innate qualities, believing that they result from evolution and that only the genes transferred from parents make each person unique. The extreme degree of assumption of nurture supporters is that all people are born with a blank slate mind, and differences arise due to obtaining contrasting experiences. Depending on the degree of confidence in any of these statements, it is possible to construct various assumptions about the development of people, their abilities, opportunities for change, exposure to external factors, and other aspects.
Adherence to a particular side of the debate contributed to the development of various psychological theories and even some social phenomena. For example, the eugenics laws are a vivid example of the naturalistic side. Different psychological approaches such as biological and psychoanalysis are based on assumptions that tend more to nature. Such directions as humanistic psychology and behaviorism, in turn, represent the side of nurture. However, most researchers are no longer inclined to the extreme points of view and believe that both nature and nurture interact. Consequently, researches within this theme are aimed at studying relationships between factors.
Considering more specific examples, one can see how and to what extent the nature vs. nurture issue manifests itself. For instance, Karl Rogers’ theory of self-actualization suggests that people’s self-esteem depends on the interpretation of personal experiences. As a result, external factors affect self-esteem and allow people to change. This assumption indicates Rogers’ tendency to nurture side. Another example, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs presents a pyramid with different levels of human needs which must be satisfied. The individuals’ actions are determined by the needs that should be addressed. Therefore, Maslow believes that the environment determines people’s lives and behavior to a greater extent. In particular, some of the needs are met through society, social contacts, and relationships, indicating nurture’s importance. These theories represent humanistic psychology and illustrate the influence of debate nature vs. nurture on the emergence of different views and approaches.
Thus, by the search for an answer to the question of what affects a person more – nature or nurture, a debate has formed affecting the development of psychology. Leaning towards one of the points of view, psychologists and philosophers built their theories and assumptions about the features of people’s characters and their potential abilities. Although initially, opinions were more radical and aspired to one of the views, psychologists later recognized the interaction of nature and nurture. Rogers’ theory of self-actualization and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are examples of approaches that recognize the more significant influence of nurture since the emphasis is on the experience and environment of the individual.