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How Genetics Influence Child Development
What determines how a child develops? In reality, it would be impossible to account for each and
every influence that ultimately determines who a child becomes. What we can look at are some
of the most apparent influences such as genetics, parenting, experiences, friends, family
relationships and school to help us understand the influences that help contribute to a child's
Think of these influences as building blocks. While most people tend to have the same basic
building blocks, these components can be put together in an infinite number of ways. Consider
your own overall personality. How much of who you are today was shaped by your genetic
inheritance, and how much is a result of your lifetime of experiences?
This question has puzzled philosophers, psychologists and educators for hundreds of years and is
frequently referred to as the nature versus nurture debate. Are we the result of nature (our genetic
background) or nurture (our environment)? Today, most researchers agree that child development
involves a complex interaction of both nature and nurture. While some aspects of development
may be strongly influenced by biology, environmental influences may also play a role. For
example, the timing of when the onset of puberty occurs is largely the results of heredity, but
environmental factors such as nutrition can also have an effect.
From the earliest moments of life, the interaction of heredity and the environment works to shape
who children are and who they will become. While the genetic instructions a child inherits from
his parents may set out a road map for development, the environment can impact how these
directions are expressed, shaped or event silenced. The complex interaction of nature and nurture
does not just occur at certain moments or at certain periods of time; it is persistent and lifelong.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at how biological influences help shape child development.
We'll learn more about how our experiences interact with genetics and learn about some of the
genetic disorders that can have an impact on child psychology and development.
Going From One Cell to Trillions

At its very beginning, the development of a child starts when the male reproductive cell, or
sperm, penetrates the protective outer membrane of the female reproductive cell, or ovum. The
sperm and ovum each contain chromosomes that act as a blueprint for human life. The genes
contained in these chromosomes are made up of a chemical structure known as DNA
(deoxyribonucleic acid) that contains the genetic code, or instructions, that make up all life.

Except for the sperm and ova, all cells in the body contain 46 chromosomes. As you might guess,
the sperm and ova each contains only contain 23 chromosomes. This ensures that when the two
cells meet, the resulting new organism has the correct 46 chromosomes.
From Genotype to Phenotype

So how exactly do the genetic instructions passed down from both parents influence how a child
develops and the traits they will have? In order to fully understand this, it is important to first
distinguish between a child's genetic inheritance and the actual expression of those genes. A
genotype refers to all of the genes that a person has inherited. The actual express of these traits is
the person's phenotype. The phenotype can include physical traits, such as height and color or the
eyes, as well as nonphysical traits such as shyness, a high strung temperament or a thirst for
Remember our building block metaphor from earlier? While our genotype may represent a
blueprint for how children grow up, the way that these building blocks are put together
determines how these genes will be expressed. Think of genes as something like a blueprint to a
house. Two houses can be constructed from the exact same blueprint, but the materials chosen
build each house can vary dramatically from one to the next.
Influences on Gene Expression

Whether or not a gene is expressed depends on two different things: the interaction of the gene
with other genes and the continual interaction between the genotype and the environment.

Genetic Interactions: Genes can sometimes contain conflicting information,

and in most cases, one gene will win the battle for dominance. Some genes
act in an additive way. For example, if a child has one tall parent and one
short parent, the child may end up splitting the difference by being of
average height. In other cases, some genes follow a dominant-recessive
pattern. Eye color is one example of dominant-recessive genes at work. The
gene for brown eyes is dominant and the gene for blue eyes is recessive. If
one parent hands down a dominant brown eye gene while the other parent
hands down a recessive blue eye gene, the dominant gene will win out and
the child will have brown eyes.

Gene - Environment Interactions: The environment a child is exposed to

both in utero and throughout the rest of his or her life can also impact how
genes are expressed. For example, exposure to harmful drugs while in utero
can have a dramatic impact on later child development. Height is a good
example of a genetic trait that can be influenced by environmental factors.
While a child's genetic code may provide instructions for tallness, the
expression of this height might be suppressed if the child has poor nutrition
or a chronic illness.

Genetic Abnormalities

Genetic instructions are not infallible and can go off track at times. Sometimes when a sperm or
ovum is formed, the number of chromosomes may divide unevenly, causing the organism to have
more or less than the normal 23 chromosomes. When one of these abnormal cells joins with a
normal cell, the resulting zygote will have an uneven number of chromosomes. Researchers
suggest that as many as half of all zygotes that form have more or less than 23 chromosomes, but
most of these are spontaneously aborted and never develop into a full-term baby.
In some cases, about 1 in every 200 births, a baby is born with an abnormal number of
chromosomes. In every case, the result is some type of syndrome with a set of distinguishing
Down Syndrome

The most common type of chromosomal disorder is known as trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. In
this case, the child has three chromosomes at the site of the 21st chromosomes instead of the
normal two. Down syndrome is characterized by facial characteristics including a round face,
slanted eyes and a thick tongue. Individuals with Down syndrome may also face other physical
problems including heart defects and hearing problems. Nearly all individuals with Down
syndrome experience some type of intellectual impairment, but the exact severity can vary
dramatically. No matter the severity of the syndrome, early intervention can result in much better
outcomes, allowing many people with Down syndrome to care for themselves and gain more
Abnormalities of the Sex Chromosomes

The vast majority of newborns, both boys and girls, have at least one X chromosome. In some
cases, about 1 in every 500 births, children are born with either a missing X chromosome or an
additional sex chromosome. Klinefelter syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and Turner syndrome are
all examples of abnormalities involving the sex chromosomes.
Kleinfelter's syndrome is caused by an extra X chromosome and is characterized by a lack of
development of the secondary sex characteristics and as well as learning disabilities.
Fragile X syndrome is caused when part of the X chromosome is attached to the other
chromosomes by such a thin string of molecules that it seems in danger of breaking off. It can
affect both males and females, but the impact can vary. Some with Fragile X show few if any
signs, while other develop mild to severe mental retardation.
Turner syndrome occurs when only one sex chromosome (the X chromosome) is present. It
affects only females and can result in short stature, a "webbed" neck and a lack of secondary sex
characteristics. Psychological impairments associated with Turner syndrome include learning
disabilities and difficulty recognizing emotions conveyed through facial expressions.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, genetics have an enormous influence on how a child develops. However, it is important
to remember that genetics are just one piece of the intricate puzzle that makes up a child's life.
Environmental variables, including parenting, culture, education and social relationships also
play a vital role.

Is Nature dominates or Nurture dominates in the

development of life of a child?

One of the leading and major issues of developmental psychology has been how to define and
determine the dominating influence of heredity or environment. The subject of study of
development of children has been the center of attention and focus of the developmental
psychology. The biologists and psychologists have always argued taking the issue of domination
of factors involved in the development of child. Which factor is more determining or deciding?
Heredity or envizronment has been the bone of contention for developmental psychologists. The
process. In this respect he says, the child became the best natural laboratory for the study of
evolution and the idea of development dominated the science of man. The developmental
psychology is devoted and concerned with development of child from conception to childhood
and beyond. As far as the overall development of a child is concerned, the two major knowledge
of how the child develops? Or the developmental process of child has enabled the psychologists
to know the exact process of human evolution.
Charles Darwin, in his world famous book The Descent of Man has highlighted the role of
knowledge of child development to ascertain the many facets and facts of human evolution and
whole evolutionary factors that play the leading role may be enumerated as following:
Hereditary flux
The developmental psychologists have differed sharply about how and why of child
development. Which factor plays the leading role in determining the nature of child has been the
main point of conflict and debate among developmental psychologists? The issue of relationship
of heredity vs. environment or nature vs. nurture was hotly debated and argued. Both sides tried
to win the race by advocating strong arguments in their favor.

What is heredity or nature of child? What the child gets simultaneously at the time of conception,
in the form of DNA from his parents is its real nature or heredity. The child not only gets the
temperament traits, he also gets the biological traits. The nature of DNA is semi conservative i.e.
the child gets half the traits from mother and half from father. Out of total, one half is newly
formed. That is why child is not the carbon copy of parents.DNA has great property of
replication. Half the DNA content of child is replicated. The child gets many diseases from
parents as hereditary property.
The hereditary nature of most of diseases has been confirmed and the biologists are actively
engaged in the study of these diseases. Genetic engineering is such a branch of science that is
focusing itself on study and cure of such diseases through altering the structure of DNA through
the manipulation and management of damaged genes. Color blindness and hemophilia are two
such hereditary diseases. What the man is? It is partly because of his inherited biological traits
and characteristics i.e. nature. The babys earlier reflexes are evidence to the fact of hereditary
borrowings. These have been naturally built in the biological system of the child. Later on the
learning process of child has in built traits of learning in biological process. The children have in
their nature the inbuilt clock for learning language. The milking of new born babies of animals
like calf etc of their mothers nipples is also an example of inbuilt clock of learning. The
evolutionary Charles Darwin has beautifully shown the hereditary trait of throwing objects or
things as inherited by boys .Mendel, the father of genetics has experimentally shown that dwarf
plants are dwarf on account of inherited dwarf recessive genes or hereditary flux.
The nurturists advocate strong points in their favor in the debate between nature and nurture.
Nurturists advocate that environmental forces and factors exert powerful influence in shaping the
development of child than heredity .The nurturists quote the famous quotation of john Watson in
their favor. Watson compares the child to a hot metal on the anvil to be shaped by parents and
It can be concluded that no factor is singly absolute in determining or shaping the destiny of
child. It is the relative value of two that shapes the development of child and his future course of
destiny. Now most of the developmental psychologists agree that developmental process of child
is shaped by the interacting forces of heredity and environment. It may be said in Marxian terms
that interaction of heredity and environment is dialectical .one factor affects the development and
formation of other factor and also in turns is influenced by that. The geneticist curt stern has
beautifully described the mutual relationship of environment and heredity with a rubber band
Stern compared the genetic endowment for any particular trait to the amount of stretch that is
possible in a rubber band. The basic natural stretch ability is its heredity. The amount of pull or

pressure exerted by people is its environment. It may also be termed as susceptibility to change
and adaptation.
The mutual healthy interaction of heredity and environment is paramount to the balanced
development of the child. The domination of one factor may result in uneven or lop sided
development of the child. The role of parents in shaping the destiny and their future course of
action is no less determining a factor.
2.1 Introduction
Anything that contributes causally to a result is known as factor. (WordWeb) In the matter of
factors that influence the child development varies. But they can be mainly divided into two main
factors which is nature and nurture factors.

Nature factors are factors that carried by the

individual from conception to birth. On the other hand nurture factors are factors that affect the
individual from after birth often regarding with the environment. All the following information is
gain from lecture by Miss Kamalawati, 2007.
2.2 Nature factor
2.2.1 Genetic
It is what that have been half inherited by the mother and the father in the form of gene. This
gene is a segment of DNA that actually controls the physical, mental and many attributes in the
body. The height, type of hair or color, skin color, blood groups are actually being control by the
DNA. When it comes to gene you can do nothing about it to change it especially the internal
factors such as blood group and also inherited diseases. Besides physical attributes, gene is
also affects the character and mental intelligence or IQ of an individual (Whitaker et al, 1997). If
the parents are temperament it is said that the child might also inherited it and so the IQ.
However to those parents who have mental disability or when there are mutation occurs during
the multiplication of gene or cross of gene during the fertilization of egg and sperm might causes
mental disability. Mental disability is an abnormal condition that causes significant distress or
dysfunction that can involve with cognitive, emotional, behavioral and interpersonal impairment.
Example is Down Syndrome.

2.2.2 Maternal nutrition.

The second factor is the maternal nutrition. What the mother consume during pregnancy is very
important to the health and well being of the baby. Mother should have a well balanced diet that
has all the food classes that are required in the correct amount and portion for the needs of the
mother and the baby. A pregnant mother should ingest more acid folic, iron, zinc and calcium
besides the usual daily food. Acid folic play an important role in the creation of baby nervous
system and iron is required because more blood is needed to send the supply to the baby
through placenta. Zinc and calcium is needed for the development of embryo. If the mother has
a poor nutrition it may affect the growth of the baby physical body and brain cell. Hence when
the baby is born the size of the baby is not healthy and deformities might occur. The cognitive
development also slows down.

2.2.3 Mothers health

What a mother does during pregnancy can affect the growth of the baby overall. So a mother
should take care of herself well by having a well balanced diet. Food that contains high level of
sugar and salt should be avoided. Going for medical check-up according to the doctors
schedule is a must to ensure the condition of the baby is perfect. Personal hygiene is also very
important to avoid getting ill. Try to wear comfortable clothing that does not obstruct the growth
of the baby so tight clothes is not advisable. Finally exercise regularly and have enough rest.
Unlike before pregnant a mother should sleep more and have more rest because pregnant
women is easier tired out and the baby also needs a good rest.

2.2.4 Teratogens
The forth factors are teratogens which refer to any agent that interferes with normal embryonic
development: alcohol or thalidomide or X-rays or rubella are examples. These teratogens can
actually cause abnormalities to the baby because they affect the preventing or modifying normal
cell division and differentiation of the baby. By taking drug the baby can suffers from deformation
and mental retard. Excessive alcohol consumption causes fetal alcohol syndrome where the
baby will suffers from poor growth, distinct patterns of unusual facial characteristic, small head
and brain dysfunction. Meanwhile mother should also avoid from smoking or being a passive
smoker because the smoke can decrease the amount of oxygen received by the baby. This will
cause the rise in fetal heart rate and premature delivery. Prematurely delivered baby usually

suffers from low birth weight and are apt to have impairments in cognitive, sensory and motor

Ever heard that pregnant mother are disallowed to go near or even worse working in the area
where radioactive is. It is very important to let the pregnant mother to know that high radioactive
level can cause the death of a few moths old baby in the womb. While places with lower
radioactive level should be avoided such as photostatting machine and x-rays. Laser rays from
the x-rays can caused the deformities of the baby. So be well aware.

Other than that for future mothers please be well aware that there is a type of germs called
German measles that are not harmful to adults but it is fatal for baby. Therefore the government
takes a preventive measure even before the misfortune can take place. Under the measure
taken Ministry of Health send doctors and nurse to provide injection named BCG to the female
student at the age of 12 besides the one taken during baby. The injection id needed as it
provide so immunity to the person that taken the injection. Sometimes a couple before married
or planning to have baby also takes this preventive measure. This German measles can cause
Congenital Rubella. Infected in early pregnancy can lead to fatal death, premature delivery,
congenital defects, spontaneous abortion, deafness, heart defects or mental retardations.

Mothers that are HIV positive should be prepared as the baby born has a big chance to be
infected by HIV. If this occurs child whole life will be a HIV patient. This usually happens in
country where HIV disease is rampant such as Africa that has a high rate of HIV and other
examples are Cambodia and Ukraine.

2.2.5 Rh blood factor

Rh a type of protein in the blood that contributes to the existence of Rh positive and Rh negative
in the blood type. It doesnt contribute much trouble if both the parent of the child belongs to the
same type of Rh either both positive or negative. But when it happens that both parent have
different Rh blood factor the problem happens. As an example mother with Rh positive carries a

baby that is Rh negative due to the heredity from the father. The difference of blood type
causing the mothers body antibody system recognizes the babys blood as foreign material or
bacteria that trigger the formation of antibody against childs blood. This doesnt bother the first
born as the antibody of the mother isnt that strong but if the second born is with Rh negative the
child might causes miscarriage or anemia as the mothers body reject the babys blood.

2.2.6 Emotional stress

Emotional stress is also identified as one of the nature factors. What ever the mother feels will
bring the effects. A stress mothers body will stimulate the production of adrenaline which alters
the blood flow. When a pregnant mother is often stressed the baby will have a shortage of
oxygen and nutrient supply. Somehow this will implement to the prematurely and low birth
weight. Lack of oxygen and nutrient supply is a matter but excessive adrenaline in the blood
may enter into the babys blood. The not suppose to exist hormone in the babys body causing
the baby having newborn irritability and behavioral problems.

2.2.7 Maternal age

According to Dessner, 1973 there is a relation between the risks of fetuss death with the
mothers age. It is said that teenage mother having a higher risk of miscarriage than the early
twenties mothers. Although teenage is said to be fertile but the condition of the womb is said
that have not been perfected for the carriage of the baby. Women older than the age of 35 to
have first born will have a higher probability to experience chromosome abnormality. One of the
good examples is Down syndrome that is caused by presence of three copies of the 21 st
chromosome instead of two. This situation is also known as Trisomy 21. Down syndrome effect
is mental retardation.

2.3 Nurture Factor

2.3.1 Childs Nutrition and Fitness

Food has been put into a very important role in a childs growth. That is when various brains of
healthy food for baby and children sprung up at the supermarkets shelf. The main food source
for baby is milk. What is the best milk for baby? Of course the mothers milk is the best.
Comprising all nutrients and supply antibodies needed by babies where can you get better as
cow or goat milk dont provide the instant antibody. Mothers milk comes with the correct
temperature and its free. When the baby is getting older enough protein and calcium is needed
to make sure the child will grow up healthy with strong bones and teeth. Of course balance meal
is required too. Correct food amount helps child to grow in the correct rate and size. Malnutrition
on the other hand causes many problems such as slow growth and many deficiency diseases
(J.L Brown & Pillot, 1996, McDonald et al. 1994) .Sufficient amount of exercise is important too.
(Wolf et al.,1993). Playing basketball and skipping rope can help the child to grow taller.

2.3.2 Family
Family is important as they are the person that support and educate the child. Parents choice
for suitable parenting method is significant in molding up a childs character. (Developmental
Psychology, 1998)Autocratic is a method where the parent decides everything for the child and
the child must follow strictly. Democratic method is the opposite of autocratic where the child is
given the freedom to whatever they want. Child is said to be feel neglected and not having the
enough attention or love by the parent and lower self esteem. So it seems like neither both of
the method is good enough. Like what Buddha said take the middle way where dont give either
too many freedom or no freedom to the child in this context. Thus authoritative method a
combination of both is born. The child is given freedom but with limitation. The child can have
the freedom to test out their ideas and have a better communication but when the child fails the
parent is there to support. Using this method it is said the child will be independent, assertive,
friendly, cooperative, high self esteem and achievement oriented.

2.3.3 Peer
Besides parent who accompany the growth of a child. It is the friend and peer. Peer here refers
to friend of the same age. This is the first step taken by a child to the society. Here is the place
where the child will try and acquire skills to adapt themselves in a society. Peer is also a place
where the child can safety test out their idea. There is also a higher tendency that child find that

peer is a more comfortable group to play with. To play in a group there is something such as
rules and regulations that need to be learned and obey so that the child will be accepted. This is
where the influence of the peer where the child will try to gain acceptance and will act according
to the group. At the same time they also learn to respect others right as they learned to

2.3.4 School
Furthermore school also plays a very important role as the school also functions as second
educator to the child besides the parent. Providing the knowledge required for the child the
school also prepared as a socializing medium for the students. Thus school is also known as
agent of socialization. Here the student will get the exposure with adults and also friends where
the socialization between these two parties will enable the child to learn the norm. School rules
and regulation enable to discipline the student. Rules of schools serve as a basic where the
child learns there is limitation of actions, speech or words. The environment of the school also
support and encourage child to interact with one another under discussion and activities that are
held by school. Of course moral values are also instills in the students where teachers tried to
shape the childs behavior or through motivational wordings that are display at school. Subject
such as moral education and civic are also taught to student. Lastly the school culture also
affects greatly on the child.

2.3.5 House and Neighborhood

Providing a shelter is the main basic of a house. Under the roof filled with rooms for many
purposes but how is that affects the child. The environment of the house can be decorated in
some ways that motivate the childs interest in learning and culture. Appropriate decorated room
with studying table and shelf of books provide a comfortable environment to study. Collection of
books or little library in the house can help in instill the interest in reading among children.
Besides the decoration the location of the house is also important as various neighborhoods
have different culture and style. It is said that children living in urban area are more
individualistic compared with children from rural area. Rural area has culture that creates a
cooperative and closer relationship between families. The child will try to suit the environment
through adaptation.

2.3.6 Mass media

Globalization is what that is happening nowadays. The rapid development of science and
technology makes things faster and the distance shorter. Where with a simple click on the
mouse many information can be gathered through the internet. All these information and
technology is a influencing our daily life. They are the electronic media and mass media. They
cover a wide range of sources in our daily life such as television, newspapers, radio, internets.
These media plays a wide range of function in our life as giving information, updating us with the
latest things or events in the world and source of entertainment. Hence they can have a very big
influence in our daily life. Useful as they can be but they are able to affect the cognitive
development of child. One study found that TV viewing before age three slightly hurt several
measures of later cognitive development, but that between ages three and five it slightly helped
reading scores (Zimmerman FJ,2005). Kids growing up in families in which the TV is on always
or most of the time spend less time reading and being read to, and are less likely to be able to
read (Vandewater, EA ,2005). According to an extensive research evidence indicates that media
violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear
of being harmed. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). The stunts showed in television gave
the child some kind of fantasy to the child. Repetition of violent scenes on the screen in
television also results child being insensitive towards violent. Children have the tendency imitate
the violence they see on TV. Children under age eight cannot tell the difference between reality
and fantasy, making them more vulnerable to learning from and adopting as reality the violence
they see on TV (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001).

2.3.7 Religion
Believe in god. That is the first thing mentioned in Rukun Negara. God is said to be the most
important and influential in a persons life. The teachings of the God must be followed. Religion
varies in the world and the four main religions in the world are Jesus Christ, Hindu, Buddha and
Islam. But behind all the religion their teachings are all based on good values that all human
beings should have in the life and immoral act should be avoided in all cases. In Ten
Commandments it is say that should not steal murder, commit adultery and many others. So do

other religion that forbids the immoral act. In the teaching of Buddha can be simplified as avoid
evil, do good and purify ones mind.

2.4 Conclusion
Since back to the ancient civilization the topic of which factors have a greater effect on a child
development is often debated even until now. But it is a matter of fact that both play a very
important role in childs development.

Overall the nature factors always come from the genetic factors, genetic compatibility and also
the mothers overall condition. Regarding the genetic factors there is much of the norm of
disallowing sibling to married. One of the reason is the chances or probability to gain a
unhealthy child is higher compared to others as the both parent are probably having similar
recessive gene that contribute to born of unhealthy child. That is why it is advisable to avoid
intermarriage to lessen the chance of having unhealthy children. We can see that mother plays
a very important role in contributing the developing of a child. As a mother she should be take
care not only her physical body such as fitness and fitness but also mentally and emotionally.
Also she has to beware of the environment. Hence the mothers action has a very great impact
of the childs wellness besides the gene factor.

Meanwhile the nurture factor is more to the environment and the people around the children.
They hold a great factor as mention in the principle of child that development and learning occur
as a result of the child interacting with people and objects in his or her environment. They learn
through interaction with the surrounding. From interaction they gain experience that helps them
to mould their own understanding of the world around them based on their own point of view.

The nature versus nurture debate is about the relative influence of an individual's innate
attributes as opposed to the experiences from the environment one is brought up in, in
determining individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. The philosophy that humans

acquire all or most of their behavioral traits from "nurture" is known as tabula rasa ("blank
In recent years, both types of factors have come to be recognized as playing interacting roles in
development. So several modern psychologists consider the question naive and representing an
outdated state of knowledge. The famous psychologist Donald Hebb is said to have once
answered a journalist's question of "which, nature or nurture, contributes more to personality?"
by asking in response, "which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its
Comparison chart</> Embed this chart

is it?

In the "nature vs nurture"
debate, nature refers to an
individual's innate qualities

In the "nature vs nurture" debate, nurture
refers to personal experiences (i.e.
empiricism or behaviorism).

Nature is your genes. The

physical and personality traits
Examp determined by your genes
stay the same irrespective of
where you were born and

Nurture refers to your childhood, or how you

were brought up. Someone could be born
with genes to give them a normal height, but
be malnourished in childhood, resulting in
stunted growth and a failure to develop as

Factors Biological and family factors

Social and environmental factors


1 Nature vs nurture in the IQ debate

2 Nature vs Nurture in Personality Traits

3 Moral considerations of the nature nurture debate

Nature vs nurture in the IQ debate

Evidence suggests that family environmental factors may have an effect upon childhood IQ,
accounting for up to a quarter of the variance. On the other hand, by late adolescence this
correlation disappears, such that adoptive siblings are no more similar in IQ than strangers.

Moreover, adoption studies indicate that, by adulthood, adoptive siblings are no more similar in
IQ than strangers (IQ correlation near zero), while full siblings show an IQ correlation of 0.6.
Twin studies reinforce this pattern: monozygotic (identical) twins raised separately are highly
similar in IQ (0.86), more so than dizygotic (fraternal) twins raised together (0.6) and much more
than adoptive siblings (almost 0.0). Consequently, in the context of the "nature versus nurture"
debate, the "nature" component appears to be much more important than the "nurture"
component in explaining IQ variance in the general adult population of the United States.
The video below furthers the debate on Nature vs Nurture:
Nature vs Nurture in Personality Traits

Personality is a frequently cited example of a heritable trait that has been studied in twins and
adoptions. Identical twins reared apart are far more similar in personality than randomly selected
pairs of people. Likewise, identical twins are more similar than fraternal twins. Also, biological
siblings are more similar in personality than adoptive siblings. Each observation suggests that
personality is heritable to a certain extent. However, these same study designs allow for the
examination of environment as well as genes. Adoption studies also directly measure the strength
of shared family effects. Adopted siblings share only family environment. Unexpectedly, some
adoption studies indicate that by adulthood the personalities of adopted siblings are no more
similar than random pairs of strangers. This would mean that shared family effects on personality
wane off by adulthood. As is the case with personality, non-shared environmental effects are
often found to out-weigh shared environmental effects. That is, environmental effects that are
typically thought to be life-shaping (such as family life) may have less of an impact than nonshared effects, which are harder to identify.
Moral considerations of the nature nurture debate

Some observers offer the criticism that modern science tends to give too much weight to the
nature side of the argument, in part because of the potential harm that has come from rationalized
racism. Historically, much of this debate has had undertones of racist and eugenicist policies
the notion of race as a scientific truth has often been assumed as a prerequisite in various
incarnations of the nature versus nurture debate. In the past, heredity was often used as
"scientific" justification for various forms of discrimination and oppression along racial and class
lines. Works published in the United States since the 1960s that argue for the primacy of "nature"
over "nurture" in determining certain characteristics, such as The Bell Curve, have been greeted
with considerable controversy and scorn. A recent study conducted in 2012 has come up with the
verdict that racism, after all, isn't innate.

A critique of moral arguments against the nature side of the argument could be that they cross the
is-ought gap. That is, they apply values to facts. However, such appliance appears to construct
reality. Belief in biologically determined stereotypes and abilities has been shown to increase the
kind of behavior that is associated with such stereotypes and to impair intellectual performance
through, among other things, the stereotype threat phenomenon.
The implications of this are brilliantly illustrated by the implicit association tests (IATs) out of
Harvard. These, along with studies of the impact of self-identification with either positive or
negative stereotypes and therefore "priming" good or bad effects, show that stereotypes,
regardless of their broad statistical significance, bias the judgements and behaviours of members
and non-members of the stereotyped groups.
Philosophical considerations of the nature vs nurture debate
Are the traits real?

It is sometimes a question whether the "trait" being measured is even a real thing. Much energy
has been devoted to calculating the heritability of intelligence (usually the I.Q., or intelligence
quotient), but there is still some disagreement as to what exactly "intelligence" is.
Determinism and Free will

If genes do contribute substantially to the development of personal characteristics such as

intelligence and personality, then many wonder if this implies that genes determine who we are.
Biological determinism is the thesis that genes determine who we are. Few, if any, scientists
would make such a claim; however, many are accused of doing so.
Others have pointed out that the premise of the "nature versus nurture" debate seems to negate
the significance of free will. More specifically, if all our traits are determined by our genes, by
our environment, by chance, or by some combination of these acting together, then there seems
to be little room for free will. This line of reasoning suggests that the "nature versus nurture"
debate tends to exaggerate the degree to which individual human behavior can be predicted
based on knowledge of genetics and the environment. Furthermore, in this line of reasoning, it
should also be pointed out that biology may determine our abilities, but free will still determines
what we do with our abilities.