Difference Between Nature and Nurture

Nature vs Nurture


Nature and nurture are two terms used in behavioral psychology between which one can identify a range of differences. Nature refers to these characteristics that are innate. A person is born with specific skills and characteristics. Nature highlights this aspect. Nurture, on the other hand, highlights that the concept of innate, the hereditary characteristics is false. According to this belief, human behavior is not innate but has be practiced. This is the main difference between nature and nurture. In Behaviorism, one of the main assumptions is this conflict between nature and nurture when it comes to human behavior. Behaviorists believe that nothing is innate, and everything comes through interactions. This highlights that in psychology nature vs. nurture has been a controversial topic of discussion. Through this article let us examine the differences that can be found between nature and nurture, through an understanding of the two concepts.

What is Nature?

The concept of nature is applicable in behavioral psychology in terms of certain genetic and hereditary characteristics that are passed on from one generation to another. Nature determines features and characteristics that may be inherited in you by the fact that some of your ancestors and forefathers are endowed with the same features and characteristics. For example, if your grandfather and great grandfather were artists, the likelihood of you developing into a fine artist is more. This is because of the fact that you simply inherit the properties or characteristics of your forefathers and ancestors in matters relating to arts and facial features. However, psychologists believe that more than the inherited characteristics, the learned characteristics are significant and that the human behavior can be changed through learning. J. Watson once said ‘Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my special world to bring them up in and I will guarantee to take any one at random and train him to be any specialist I might select- a doctor, a lawyer, artist’. This highlights the belief that the behaviorists had on nurture in opposition to the role of nature. Now let us focus on nurture.

 Difference Between Nature and Nurture

What is Nurture?

The concept of nurture does not involve the element of hereditary traits. It depends entirely on the elements of practice, reference, and care. A writer for that matter would be in a position to create a masterpiece after undergoing a lot of training in the art of writing, referring to books and practicing the art of composing. He would become a writer even if his forefathers were not writers. This is the basic difference between the concepts of nature and nurture. John Locke once said that when we are born our mind is a ‘tabula rasa’ or else a blank slate. It is through learning that we acquire certain skills, behaviorism, and practices. When speaking of nurture, the contribution made to Behaviorist psychology by psychologists cannot be ignored. Specially to prove the impact that nurture has on training and changing behavior, Classical conditioning of Pavlov and Operant conditioning of B. F Skinner has to be highlighted. Through his experiment, Pavlov pointed out that involuntary emotional and physiological responses can be conditioned through learning. Also, Skinner pointed out that behavior can be changed through reinforcement and punishment. These theories emphasize that behavior is not always inherent, but it can also be learned. Now let us move on the difference between the two concepts.

 Nature vs Nurture

What is the Difference Between Nature and Nurture?

  • Nature depends on the inherited skills whereas nurture depends on the improved skills.
  • Nature depends on genetics whereas nurture depends on the time spent in the acquisition of skills.
  • Nurture has nothing to do with heredity and lineage whereas nature has everything to do with heredity and lineage. In the same way, nature has nothing to do with time spent whereas the concept of nurture has everything to do with the time spend.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Mother’s Love” by Mark Colomb [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. “France in XXI Century. School” by Jean Marc Cote (if 1901) or Villemard (if 1910)[Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons