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The Impact of Nature and Nurture on Human Development

The Impact of Nature and Nurture on Human Development

The interplay between genetic factors and environmental influences shapes the developmental trajectory of individuals. The assignment explores two aspects of nature, namely temperament and genetic predispositions, and two nurture elements, including attachment and parenting style, to understand their influential role in development. I think temperament and genetic predisposition are nature’s most influential aspects because they play a part in how a person acts, engages with others, and interacts with the outside world. Subsequently, I think attachment and parental style are the most influential aspects of nurture because they are significant in determining how people conduct their social, romantic, and private lives. Drawing insights from the provided resources, including articles on the nature-nurture debate and a podcast discussing a unique case of switched identities, the assignment delves into the research surrounding these aspects and examines their relative impact on human development.

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Aspects of Nature and Nurture

Aspects of Nature


Temperament refers to an individual’s innate or biologically-based behavioral and emotional patterns. It encompasses characteristics such as activity level, adaptability, intensity of reactions, and mood. Temperament is believed to significantly influence development because it sets the foundation for a person’s personality and behavior (García, 2021). For example, a child with an easy temperament (e.g., positive mood, regular routines) may find it easier to establish positive relationships and adapt to new situations, leading to more favorable developmental outcomes. In contrast, a child with a difficult temperament (e.g., negative mood, irregular routines) may face challenges regulating emotions and difficulties in social interactions (Feldman, 2022).

Genetic Predispositions

Genetic predispositions refer to the hereditary factors individuals inherit from their biological parents. These genetic factors can influence various aspects of development, including physical characteristics, cognitive abilities, and susceptibility to certain disorders. Genetic predispositions can determine a person’s height, hair color, and eye color but can also affect intelligence, temperament, and personality traits (Feldman, 2022). For example, certain genetic markers have been linked to an increased risk of mental health disorders such as depression or schizophrenia. While genetic predispositions provide a foundation, their expression and impact can be modified by environmental factors, such as parenting style or early life experiences (Tomlinson et al., 2021).

Aspects of Nurture


Attachment refers to the emotional bond between an infant and its primary caregiver, usually the mother. This bond is formed through consistent and responsive interactions with the caregiver, which create a sense of security and trust in the child. Attachment profoundly influences various aspects of development, including social, emotional, and cognitive domains (Tomlinson et al., 2021). Securely attached children tend to have better emotional regulation, higher self-esteem, and stronger social skills. They also demonstrate increased curiosity and exploration, positively impacting their cognitive development. In contrast, insecure attachment, characterized by inconsistent or neglectful caregiving, can lead to difficulties in emotional regulation, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships (Feldman, 2022).

Parenting Style

Parenting style refers to the approach and strategies parents use to raise their children. It encompasses dimensions such as warmth, responsiveness, discipline, and control. The development of a child can be strongly impacted by a variety of parenting styles, including authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. Positive results are linked to authoritative parenting, which is characterized by warmth, attentiveness, and an appropriate degree of control. (García, 2021). Children brought up by authoritative parents typically have better social skills, a greater sense of self-worth, and higher academic performance. In contrast, authoritarian parenting, which is high in control and low in warmth, may lead to negative outcomes such as decreased self-esteem and poor social skills (Feldman, 2022).

Research in the Selected Aspects


García (2021) identified three temperamental styles: easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm-up. Subsequent studies have expanded upon these categories and highlighted additional dimensions of temperament. For example, she proposed a model that includes effortful control, negative affectivity, and extraversion/surgency. This research has shown that temperament influences various developmental outcomes. For instance, children with higher effortful control, which involves regulating attention and behavior, tend to have better academic performance and social competence (Feldman, 2022). Longitudinal studies have also demonstrated the stability of temperament traits over time and their association with later outcomes, such as mental health and behavior problems (Feldman, 2022).

Genetic Predispositions

Twin and adoption studies have been instrumental in distinguishing between genetic and environmental influences. These studies have revealed that many traits, including intelligence, personality, and susceptibility to certain disorders, have a substantial genetic component (Feldman, 2022). Advances in molecular genetics have allowed researchers to identify specific genes associated with certain traits or disorders. For example, the discovery of the APOE gene’s association with the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has provided insights into the genetic basis of this condition (Feldman, 2022). Moreover, studies have explored gene-environment interactions, showing that genetic factors can interact with environmental experiences to influence development. For instance, the interaction between the 5-HTTLPR gene and stressful life events has been linked to an increased risk of depression (Tomlinson et al., 2021).


Tomlinson et al. (2021) provided a framework for understanding attachment patterns and their impact on development. The research identified three main attachment styles: secure, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-resistant. Numerous studies have shown that secure attachment is associated with positive developmental outcomes. For example, secure infants develop better social skills, have healthier peer relationships, and demonstrate more resilience in the face of stress (Feldman, 2022). Longitudinal studies have also revealed the continuity of attachment patterns into adulthood and their influence on adult relationships and mental health outcomes (Tomlinson et al., (2021).

Parenting Style

García (2021) initially proposed the authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles. Numerous studies have demonstrated the good effects of authoritative parenting, which is characterized by warmth, responsiveness, and the right amount of control. For instance, children raised by parents who are authoritative typically have higher self-esteem, better academic results, and fewer behavioral issues. (Tomlinson et al., 2021). In contrast, authoritarian parenting, which is high in control and low in warmth, has been associated with negative outcomes, such as decreased self-esteem and increased aggression (García, 2021)

Impact of Nature and Nurture on Development

Gladwell (1998) discusses the work of Judith Rich Harris, who argues that children learn more from their peers than from their parents. Harris posits that children strive to contrast themselves from their parents, seeking social acceptance and identity formation through peer interactions. This challenges the conventional view of parental influence as the primary shaping force in child development and highlights the significance of the social environment.

García (2021) provides an overview of the nature versus nurture debate, acknowledging that both factors contribute to development. She recognizes that genetic predispositions interact with the environment to shape outcomes. This perspective underscores the dynamic and reciprocal nature of the nature-nurture interaction. To follow this, the podcast episode “Switched at Birth” presents a real-life case where two infants were mistakenly switched, leading to differing environments and upbringings. This case study exemplifies the impact of genetic and environmental influences on development (Glass, 2008). It highlights the role of nurture in shaping individuals, as the contrasting environments influence children’s experiences, relationships, and identities.

Considering these resources, the relative impact of nature and nurture on development is a complex and interactive process. Both factors are integral to human development, with genetic predispositions providing the foundation and environmental influences shaping and modifying outcomes. The concept of gene-environment interaction is crucial in understanding development. Genetic factors can create predispositions, but environmental experiences influence their expression. Likewise, environmental factors can shape gene expression and impact developmental trajectories (García, 2021). It is essential to recognize that nature and nurture are not opposing forces but intertwined elements. Both contribute to an individual’s development, with their influences often interdependent and synergistic.


The nature versus nurture debate highlights the complex interplay between genetic factors and environmental influences. Both nature and nurture significantly contribute to human development, and their effects are intricately intertwined. Acknowledging the dynamic interaction between these factors is crucial for advancing our understanding of development and promoting optimal outcomes for individuals in diverse contexts.


Feldman, R. S. (2022). Child development (9th ed.). Pearson.

García, J. D. (2021). Nature versus nurture debate. In Salem Press Encyclopedia

Gladwell, M. (1998, August 17). Do parents matter? Judith Rich Harris and Child Development. The New Yorker.

Glass, I. (Host). (2008, July 25). Switched at birth (No. 360) [Audio podcast episode]. In This American Life. WBEZ Chicago.

Tomlinson, M., Richter, L., Fleming, W. (2021). What does the science of child and adolescent development contribute to understanding the impacts of COVID-. South African Journal of Science, 117 (1/2).


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Most of us have been raised to believe that our parents play one of the most important roles in our lives. Traditionally, developmental psychologists (e.g., Freud, Erikson) have placed a great deal of emphasis on the impact of parents. But what if parents are not as important as previously thought?

The Impact of Nature and Nurture on Human Development

The Impact of Nature and Nurture on Human Development

More recent theory and research have challenged the assumption that parents are not as important as previously thought by suggesting that individual biologically based characteristics (e.g., temperament) and forces outside the family (e.g., peers) are also important in shaping development. How does this new information challenge your previously held beliefs? What do you think of the relative impact of nature and nurture on development?

To prepare:

Review the Week 6 readings and media.
Consider the arguments of Harris in Gladwell’s blog post, “Do Parents Matter?” and the experiences of the two women in the podcast, Switched at Birth.
Consider the aspects of nature (e.g., temperament) and nurture (e.g., attachment) covered in the course and in this week’s Required Readings and media. Select two developmental concepts related to nature and two related to nurture for this assignment.
The Assignment (4–5 pages):

Write a paper that addresses the following:

Select two aspects of nature (e.g., temperament) and two aspects of nurture (e.g., attachment) that you have determined to be most influential on development. Define each of the aspects you selected, and then explain why you think they are most influential.
Describe the research in the area of each aspect you selected.
Summarize your ideas on the relative impact of nature and nurture on development. Be sure your response incorporates and responds to the issues and concepts raised in the learning resources.

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