Psychology: Nature and Nurture on Behavior

Consider This:

Your parents genetics contributes to how you behave. The field of behavioral genetics is “the study of how genes and environments work together to shape behavior” (McLeod). Psychologists have discovered that outside influences (often referred to as nurture) as well as a person’s heredity (often referred to as nature) construct and contribute to his or her behavior. To acquire knowledge of how nature and nurture develop one’s behavior, psychologists construct experiments in families called family studies in which twins as well as adopted children are studied.

Twin Experiment

To understand how nature affects behavior, psychologists did several studies of twins. They did this by separating identical twins (whose genes are exactly identical) at a young age into differential environmental factors to see whether they would result in similar behavior. In one case, one twin grew up “with a married couple who made him feel secure and loved” while the other “went from orphanage to foster home to hospital” (Bernstein). After years of growing apart in different environments, they met and discovered similarities of not only physical appearance, but extremely specific ones as well. For example, they “used the same aftershave lotion, smoked the same brand of cigarettes, used the same imported brand of toothpaste, and liked the same sports. Their IQ scores were nearly identical” (Bernstein). Psychologists noticed similar results in other twins. Through studying twins, psychologists were able to identify that nature affects the behavior of a person.

Adopted Child Experiment

Psychologists also conduct experiments on adopted children to see nurture’s effect on behavior. These studies are to identify if “adopted children’s characteristics are more like those of their biological parents than of their adoptive parents” (48). This experiment is to find out whether nature determines behavior more so than nurture. Psychologists found out that the “traits of young adults who were adopted at birth tend to be more like those of their biological parents than those of their adoptive parents” therefore suggesting nature—genetics—determines a person’s behavior. These results were found through conducting experiments on adopted children.


Studies on twins and adopted children lead to psychologists’ realization that both nature and nurture affects how a person’s behavior forms. Through the experiment of separating identical twins, genetics was shone to be the reason as to why the twins had similar behavioral traits. Adopted children also show results of being more similar to their biological parents than their adoptive ones, thus supporting nature as the predominant reason for behavioral similarities. Although much of behavior is determined by genetics, one can still strive to acquire a well-rounded, successful behavior.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Douglas A. Psychology Eight Addition. Southampton: Hoffman, 2008. Print

Cherry, Kendra. “Nature vs Nurture: Do Genes Or Environment Matter More?” About Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

McLeod, Saul. “Theories of Personality | Simply Psychology.” Theories of Personality | Simply Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.