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Innate Versus Environmental Factors in Personality Development

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Innate Versus Environmental Factors in Personality Development

The concept of “nature versus nurture” has been studied for decades, dating back to the writings of Charles Darwin. The debate can be particularly interesting in cases of adoption, where innate qualities (“nature”) versus personal experiences (“nurture”) of a person varies compared to a more traditional beginning and upbringing. Studying which category has a greater impact on personality development generally brings no clear answer.

A number of adoption studies have focused on the development of innate qualities versus nurtured qualities. Adopted children bring a unique combination of these factors into their personality, with the separation of genetic or innate factors from the developmental influences of parenting and environment. Adoption studies in this area of research are particularly useful in the ongoing debate of personality development, as these studies permit the dissociation of environment and genes. Adoption studies allow a greater ability to examine the heritability of a trait and better determine which traits have been influenced by genes and innate factors versus environmental ones.

Current thinking generally believes that neither innate qualities nor environmental traits are necessarily dominant. However, it is becoming more apparent that environment is able to influence the extent to which innate traits may manifest themselves. Ultimately it is difficult to convincingly determine the exact role innate traits and environmental factors play in the development of personality. What appears to be most likely is that the two factors work together in concert to develop an individual’s personality.



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