Heredity vs. Environment in Development

Human beings can be said to develop depending on many factors which are associated with their upbringing. A mature person, therefore, is assumed to behave in a way that can easily exhibit his/her conditions that they were brought up in. Hereditary and environmental factors can greatly determine the development of an individual in any given situation or point of life.

The use of the terminologies “Heredity” and “nurture” is a very convenient reference point to the duties and responsibilities of environment and hereditary in the development of a human being, which can be traced back to the 13th century in France. According to Powell (2009), some scientists tend to believe that human beings behave according to their genetic predispositions which are therefore referred to as “nature” theory in human behavior. The increasing understanding regarding human nature has made it possible and clear that hereditary and environmental factors are found to be partly right in the development of human beings since the two factors tend to directly influence the developmental characteristics in human beings. Nature gives the provision of the personality traits and abilities that are inborn while nurture/environment operates on the genetic tendencies to mold the human beings in the learning process as they grow. This paper identifies how much development in human beings is determined by either heredity or environmental factors in a given state.

Heredity-the nature theory

Heredity plays a key role in human development especially considering that some human being features such as hair color are believed to be directly related to specific genes embedded in a person’s cells (Global Cognitive Theory, 2002). Moreover, the DNA of human beings is a significant element that contributes to the development of some specific characteristics and features such as intelligence, sexuality, traits among others that define a person (Weiten, 2008, p. 116). Indeed, the difference in the level of intelligence in human beings clearly shows some evidence that heredity is influential in developing human intelligence.

When people are exposed to the same environmental phenomenon, they may show different adjustments or reactions with some portraying positive reactions, others, negative reactions while others may not respond at all. This shows that the difference in reaction, commonly referred to as ‘range of reaction’ implies the role that heredity plays in the development of personal development. Moreover, studies conducted on identical twins being brought up in different environments show that the twins tend to exhibit similar personality traits compared to personality traits exhibited by other persons. The role of heredity on personality development can also be evidenced by the traits exhibited by biologically connected persons which tend to be more or less related compared to those exhibited by non-biologically connected persons Kail and Cavanaugh (2008, p 49). Kail and Cavanaugh (2008, p 220) further argue that the intelligence quotient showed by children as they grow directly correlates with that of their biological parents.


The environment in which an individual is exposed may have a significant effect on the development of a person and the direction to which the intelligence acquisition follows will depend on whether the environment is conducive for learning or prohibits intelligence development. According to Kail and Cavanaugh (2008, p 221), the intelligence exhibited by children as they grow is influenced by the environment in which they are brought including the family organization and the behavioral patterns of the people around them. Moreover, the intelligence quotient of the earlier year’s generations is different from the intelligence of the current generation due to the changes that have occurred in the environment. Melnick and UN Millennium Project (2005, p 6) argue that clean water and improved air preconditions for human life and good healthy ecosystems are some of the environmental exposure examples that have a direct influence on the sound development of human beings. For instance, children brought up in poverty-laden environments show different developmental characteristics from those brought up in affluent environments. He further argues that pollutants like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide can easily lead to brain ruin, respiratory problems, and even cancer which can hinder effective human development. If environmental conditions are abused, then they are bound to cause negative effects during human development putting in mind that the human brain will respond to the exposure it is subjected to. To some extent, some limitations in the environment enhance creativity leading to the positive development of human intelligence


Many psychology researchers agree that heredity and environment play a very significant duty when it comes to the development of human traits. Although the environmental factors have shown a significant influence on the development of human beings, heredity factors tend to carry strong argument as compared to the nurture conditions because an individual is largely supposed to behave regarding genes that are encoded in the DNA; that is, a DNA test is assumed to reveal more on a person’s characteristics than any other proof. Moreover, since heredity gives birth to the personality trait that a person will adopt, environmental factors have less influence on the development of the human being.


Global Cognitive theory. (2002). Global Cognitive theory: Intelligence, Intuition and creativity. Web.

Kail, R. V. and Cavanaugh, J. C. (2008). Human Development: A life-Span. NY, Cengage Learning.

Melnick, D. and UN Millennium Project. (2005). Environment and Human Well-being: a Practical Strategy. London, Earthscan.

Powell, K. (2009).The Nurture Theory – Environment. Nature Vs Nurture. Web.

Weiten, W. (2008). Psychology: Themes and Variations. NY, Cengage Learning.

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