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Nature-nurture debate

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(psychology) An opposing viewpoints concerning the relative importance of heredity (nature) and environment (nurture) in various aspects of individual development, such as intelligence, personality, or mental illness


The nature-nurture debate has long been a debate between a group (nativists) who sees development as arising from innate factors and another group (empiricists) who sees development as occurring from experience and learning.1 There is an opposing viewpoint in which the nativists thought that humans develop individual differences in physical and behavioral traits through an individual's innate qualities or nature whereas empiricists believe that it was through an individual's personal experiences or nurture. Nativists believe in inherited characteristics influencing the development of an individual, for instance his or her intelligence personality or mental illness. Empiricists believe in the influence of experience and learning.1 Nevertheless, this debate is regarded as an outdated issue because modern psychologists consider both factors to influence human development.

The phrase nature and nurture was coined by Francis Galton in his discussion of the influence of heredity and environment on social advancement.2


  • nature-nurture issue

1 Hayes, N. (2000). Foundations of psychology. London: Thomson Learning.
2 English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture - Sir Francis Galton - Google Boeken. Retrieved from [[1]].