Social Sciences

Start Your Free Trial

What does it mean by nature and nurture? Explain. human development and learning

Expert Answers info

cburr eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write400 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Math, and History

"Nature" means the influence of an individual's genetic make-up on their development and learning.  "Nurture" means the impact of the individual's family, education and upbringing.  

There have been many studies of the impact of these two factors.  The most interesting of these involve twins separated at birth.  Here is the introduction to an NPR story about one such pair: 

What is it that makes us who we really are: our life experiences or our DNA? Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were both born in New York City. Both women were adopted as infants and raised by loving families. They met for the first time when they were 35 years old and found they were "identical strangers."

Unknowingly, Bernstein and Schein had been part of a secret research project in the 1960s and '70s that separated identical twins as infants and followed their development in a one-of-a-kind experiment to assess the influence of nature vs. nurture in child development.

Now, the twins, authors of a new memoir called Identical Strangers, are trying to uncover the truth about the study.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

craig734 | Student

The debate over nature vs nuture has continued over the years. Is he a great athlete because of all his hard work and training or is it because his father and grandfather were also great athletes?  Was the serial killer a natural born killer or the result of growing up in a dysfunctional home and drug addiction?

People have always questioned which has more of an affect on who and what we are.  Our height and eyes color are definitely affected by nature because it is a direct result of the genetic make up of our parents. Our political beliefs are more than likely a result of nuture or the end result of our upbringing and life experiences

Other areas might not be so clear.  For example music ability, most would agree the a child progeny who can play perfect classical music is an example of nature or genetic predisposition.  However and adult accomplished pianist could be the result of years of training and practice. Many times it could be the result of the effects of both nature and nuture.

While it is clear that both nature and nuture affect and influence physical and emotional traits, the debate will probably continue over the extent they influence this attributes.


panda2014 | Student

Nature refers to the human traits one gets biologically through their parents and cannot be altered or changed in any way. Nurture refers to the human traits one gets from the environment that they grew up in. The nature versus nurture debate is actually scientifically disproven, because both nature and nurture both affect a human's traits.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Nature vs. Nurture is a debate. Nature (heredity, genes) vs. Nurture (environment) It is debate whether we are influenced by genes or the our surroundings.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
frizzyperm | Student

this 'nature and nuture' argument is very very old and used to be very very important. Is John born John or does he becomeJohn from his life experiences? In the past it was a very important question and historically, before the discovery of DNA and psychology, many strange arguments were used to prove that one group of people was born naturally superior over another group.

It was a very important subject, Royalty and Aristocracy used the argument of 'nature' to claim their birthright to rule and to oppress people of 'low' birth and to continue this for generation after generation. The idea of poor people 'bettering themselves' was not encouraged until the last 150 years.

Men believed they were born naturally superior to women and that women couldn't/shouldn't be educated (nutured) as highly.

During slavery, white slave owners generally believed that they were born naturally superior to black slaves and that educating (nuturing) blacks wouldn't work and that using them as slaves was OK.

There was a crazy false science called phrenology that involved measure people's head and thereby proving intelligence and character. Of course, white male 'scientists' decided that white male head's were the shape of the highest qualities.

Their are still many people today who believe that your birth defines who you are and your life choices can't change it. But they are wrong.