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The debate of nature versus nurture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1613 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Debate on nature versus nurture focuses on individuals innate attributes also known as innatism as compared to personal experiences, also called empiricism, in influencing or determining personal differences in behavior and physical traits. Nature relies on the biological/genetical composition of individuals in determining behavioral as well as physical attributes on an individual. Genes originate from the parents and are unique between persons. The nurture orientation in shaping an individual focuses on the influence on a contextual environment of an individual in determining the attributes and character to be developed (Cummings, 2008).


In context of homosexuality, the nature concept determines the possibility that a certain genetical combination during fusion of sex chromosomes naturally predisposes an individual to homosexuality. The implication is that a homosexual is born so and as such, any form of discrimination directed towards the homosexual is an issue of civil right since one did not choose to be so. On the other hand, the nurture concept displays homosexuality as a behavior instilled by the environment within which a person grows or interacts with. As such the parental, peer and other social environment, may contribute to homosexual attributes exhibited by an individual (Bozett, 1989). It can be easily understood that the physical characteristics are inherent from the parents, but it’s practically hard to comprehend that the behavior of an individual depends fully on the behavior of the parents such that it is genetically inherited. Studies indicate that a nature-given talent, ability or attribute can be enhanced or inhibited by the environment in which a person grows in. As such both aspects of nature and nurture are in play in shaping an individual.


Nature’s influence on homosexuality

According to Shaffer (2008), siblings do inherit various physical characteristics directly from the biological parents. The traits may include eye color, height as well as predisposition ailments that are physical. Drawing from this later statement, human beings can as well inherit certain mental traits and attributes from biological parents. Mental characteristics may include susceptibility to attacks by certain mental disorders. Homosexuality, a personality attribute, is a mental state within a person that urges the person to have intimate relationship with individuals of the same sex/gender. As such, the mind of a homosexual houses an acquired composition or an orientation. The orientation to homosexuality may be coined in the autonomy or the divergent thinking characteristics all of which can be inherited from the parents. Indeed what society inculcates to people deprives people of their possible autonomy and divergence in thinking that would have developed them to completely different people. According to Nardi & Schneider (1998), there is a biological relationship between personality of resultant sibling and the parents. For example, extroversion, which is the social and outgoing character in a person and neuroticism, which is the moody and over sensitivity behavior in a person.

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Furthermore, researches indicate that schizophrenia which is a psychological disorder characterized by confusion, delusions and scattered thoughts is genetically inherited. In fact, if a family member has the disorder, there is a possibility of there being others in the lineage. In addition, major depressions and alcoholism, which are psychological disorders has also been found to be hereditary whether the social environment is changed or not, (Soble, 2002). There is therefore a possibility of a gene that is independent of the larger society and defies the society to manifest itself in homosexuality. It is however important to note that from the Minnesota registry and Australian Registry twin studies, only thirty eight and thirty percent gay and lesbians respectively resulted from their twin brother/ sister being gay or lesbian (Brewer, 1999). From the studies, it can be deduced that the correlation is not perfect since it is not a hundred percent. As such, it may be suggested that genes influence indirectly, though on average do not account for homosexuality sexual orientation. The aforementioned discussion leads to a conclusion that though the genetical passing over of human attributes contribute to homosexual habits; still there is/are other aspects in play to homosexuality. As such, while dwarfs, supermen and superwomen can blame their physical characteristic wholly on genetical combination, homosexuals cannot. The indication is that homosexuality is partly contributed by a decision and choice for it. Choice and decision comes to play with environment exposure which depicts the larger perspective of nurture.

Nurture’s influence on homosexuality

The environment within which an individual grows and develops in has an influence on the resulting personality of such individuals (Mathew et al, 2003). Indeed, the development of language to be spoken is learnt from the interaction with the environment of an individual. The environment will include the physical as well as the social aspects of an individual. For example, a research conducted by Robinson in fiscal 1982 on the influence of nurture to homosexuality had the following details.


The participants included two hundred and eighty five gay and forty seven lesbians from DIGNITY association, a homosexual association in USA. Each participant received a questionnaire via mail, responded to it and mailed it back to the researchers. The questionnaire assessed the couple status, past family life, demographic information as well as parental relationship with the individual respondents. The respondents were from diverse faith including Catholic, Protestant and atheism whose level of education was between high school and doctorate levels.

Findings and discussion

Seventy six percent of all respondents expressed their early life as full of care and love from their parents compared to twenty four percent who felt that their early life was unbearable. In addition, more than eighty percent expressed their parents’ approval of their behavior as they grew up as well as the current behavior as homosexuals. The findings reveal individuals whose family setups availed the care that children require while growing up. Socially, their parents supported them by offering approval of their conduct as they grew up. The implication is that homosexuality does not result from a neglected and unsociably individuals but from people who fit in the societal context. Furthermore, the participants expressed their parents’ satisfaction on the life and behavior of homosexuality that they had adopted. This further implies that homosexuality’s acceptability was evident. The homosexuals who participated in this research indicate that the urge to homosexuality was not as a result of a mental force beyond their control but as a choice that they had made. Their level of education indicates that they would have changed their sexual orientation if they wanted but their energy was directed to making their relationship with homosexual partners stronger (Jones & Yarhouse, 2000).).

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The deduction is that since homosexuality is a mental state in an individual and not a physical attribute, learned individuals, if they wish, can change if they suspect the behavior is a vice. The role of the environment comes to play in the sense the homosexuals gain acceptance by the parents and numbers. Moreover the religious faiths that represent a stronghold in many societies upheld homosexuality. Indeed, the support from the parents and the church accounts for a society’s support. The aspects that the environment avails to human beings provide experiences for adoption in life (Schein & Bernstein, 2008). These experiences shape the behavior of individuals. If the contextual society do not support expression of some behavior, the only possibility that such behaviour would sprout is if the behavior is genetically inherited or if the individuals displaying it are strong enough to accept the ‘deviant’ labeling from the society.


In exploring the classification of factors that shape the behavior, many contemporary researches appreciate the role of both nature expressed in inherited genes as well as the nurture expressed as environmental experiences. Inherited mental characteristic need to be exercised and enhanced in the environment for it to be successfully propagated to the future generations. The culture which is the framework within which nurture takes effect definitely has a role to play in shaping up an individuals’ behavior. It is important for individuals to evaluate themselves and as independent entities compare their behavioral attributes to determine their compatibility with the environment. There may be instances when individuals display behaviour that is ideally unacceptable and hence such individuals would need to conform to the environment. In some other instances, individuals may need to explicitly explain their traits if they are ideally acceptable to fit them into the contextual environment. Either way, the influence of the environment display natural ways of eliminating expression of behaviour that is harmful in the environment. The genesis of homosexuality and indeed its acceptability remains both a nature and nurture contribution until other studies find it different (Boswell, 1981).


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