The opposition between nature and nurture is one of the key areas in developmental psychology. This debate juxtaposes genetic determinism and the decisive influence of external factors in the personality’s development. Hence, this issue is highly relevant for gaining an understanding of a person’s behavior and requires careful consideration. Therefore, it is essential to address the ideas of both opposing parties.
There are numerous advocates and opponents on both sides of this argument. For example, Maanvi Singh (2014) argues that “earliest experiences” from one’s childhood actually “continue to influence us well into adulthood” (para. 1). Indeed, infants “raised in supportive and caring home environments” demonstrate better academic performance and socialization skills (Singh, 2014, para. 4). At the same time, the author does not underscore the significance of a person’s psychological makeup, admitting that some people may be “more sensitive to environmental factors than others” (Singh, 2014, para. 14). Singh makes a consistent conclusion that a person’s development is a highly complicated process. However, the scholar emphasizes that a positive childhood experience can amend a negative one, implying that each personality is inherently flexible.
By contrast, Christian Jarrett (2016) advocates genetic clues to one’s personality in early childhood. The author provides evidence from different researches, demonstrating the patterns in a person’s behavior as a child and as an adult. For instance, in one of the studies, researchers found specific associations between the personality traits in infancy and 40 years later in the same individuals (Jarrett, 2016, para. 10). However, at the end of the article, Jarrett (2016) admits that a timely intervention at an early age can correct the genetic clues to one’s personality and thus streamline children’s development. Consequently, it will be possible “to steer children on the path to a healthier future” (Jarrett, 2016, para. 15). In other words, the author argues about the significance of genetic predisposition and behavioral tendencies in infants but ultimately acknowledges that an appropriate environmental influence is the only practical guideline in this regard. Indeed, the environmental approach usually suggests specific practical implications “contrary to the many genetic findings” (Nes, 2015, p. 162). Therefore, Singh’s article is more consistent since it develops a solid argument and provides a feasible way to tackle this issue. Meanwhile, Jarrett’s considerations do not propose any deterministic solution and refer to the opposing approach instead.
Moreover, representatives of different cultures tend to impose a different value on certain personality traits. In this context, parents can develop the culturally desired traits in the newborn through environmental influence, thus rendering a child’s life more comfortable in a specific cultural setting. By contrast, genes are unlikely to have any feasible influence on specific personality traits since “genetic determinism would be incompatible with the principle of evolution,” which relies on adaptation (Nes, 2015, p. 155). However, it is necessary to keep in mind that “environmental influences are important, but do not exert long-lasting redirection or enduring changes unless exposure is continuous” (Nes, 2015, p. 153). In other words, a persistent environmental impact is crucial. For instance, one can achieve this aim by demonstrating to a child the expected behavioral patterns through conversations, designing the problem-solving and decision-making situations in the family, applying specific role-playing games and activities.
The most important lesson learned is that one’s personality is a flexible entity, which shapes when a child witnesses the surrounding world. Hence, it is essential to exert an influence on children to develop the desired personality traits. Furthermore, thorough planning of this impact will allow achieving the maximum possible effect. A carefully considered algorithm of environmental influence can mitigate and correct the effects of genetic predisposition. Thus, the nurture approach provides a well-defined direction for streamlining a person’s development.
- Jarrett, C. (2016). Clues to your personality appeared before you could talk. Web.
- Nes, R. (2015). The nature-nurture debate: New evidence and good news. Gross National Happiness Conference, 149–165.
- Singh, M. (2014). Some early childhood experiences shape adult life, but which ones?