Home   » The idea of g

  » Types of Intelligence

  » Intelligence, Heredity, and Environment
        Evidence for Nature
        Evidence for Nurture
        Comments on Research

  » Neuropsychological Testing
        Normal Intelligence
        Abnormal Examination             and Brain Trauma

  » Spectroscopy Data

  » Disorders related to Intelligence

  »  Gender Differences
       Self-Estimated              Intelligence
       Anatomical Differences
       Gray vs. White Matter

  » Artificial Intelligence
        A Timeline of AI
        Ancient History of AI
        Modern History of AI
        The Future of AI

  » Age and Intelligence
        Areas of Function
        Effects of Lesions

  » References

Conclusion: Interactionist Perspective

As you have probably noticed, the nature or nurture question is complex and not easy to address. Considering the evidence stated previously in the earlier sections, it would be a result of ignorance to believe that one sole factor, either genetics or environment, determines a person’s intelligence and mental aptitude. It is rather obvious that there two factors contribute to a person’s mental abilities. As data accumulates, evidence for the role of both nature and nurture accumulates and gains plausibility. Thus, a third perspective is needed to integrate what have formerly been seen as incompatible perspectives. In fact, during the last decade, an interactionist perspective on the origin of intelligence emerged and it became quite popular. This interactionist perspective argues that an expression of the interaction between genetic material and environmental factors provides better explanation of the phenomenon of intelligence than does either a nature or nurture perspective. Interactionists argue that, “since human intelligence is both adaptive and transformative, it can be best viewed as a dynamic, continually emergent, and protean phenomenon that cannot be explained adequately by static process such as the nature or the nurture perspective”. (Gordon and Lemons, 1997) This new interactionist perspective tells us to move away from the classic nature-nurture debate, and consider new issues.


Now, it is commonly believed that gene expression is environment dependent, and it is impossible to obtain pure estimates of genetic vs. environment contribution. One cannot contribute to an individual’s mental abilities in the absence of the other. Therefore, instead trying to pick a side, either nature or nurture, and defending it, scientists should start to believe in the interrelation between genetics and environment in order to understand the phenomenon of intelligence. Here are few examples to support this point. The environment a child experiences is partly a consequence of the child’s genes as well as external factors. To some extent a person seeks out and creates his or her environment. If he/she is a mechanical bent she practices mechanical skills; if a bookworm, she seeks out books. Somewhere along our research, it was saying that ‘genes may create an appetite rather than an aptitude’.


Through the research we have done, it seems that heredity, as well as environment plays an important role in humans’ mentality; but these are not exactly equal in influence. A person’s entire environment seems to be more effectual in determining his mental ability than heredity is. The most fundamental way to explain our opinion is quite comprehensible. It is that heredity determines one’s potential, but environment determines how far one will reach that potential during his lifetime. In other words, every individual has a destined mental potential, but how much of that potential the individual will be able to gain solely depends on the environment that the individual grows in.  “Nature designs blueprints and nurture modifies them each step of the way.” (Dempsey and Zimbardo 164). For example, some genes increase our risk of heart disease: but if we know this and eat less fat, we reduce the risk. A similar example involving intelligence can easily be generated. For instance, some genes might increase our spatial abilities, however if you do not encounter enough spatial tasks during your lifetime, then you cannot expect that your genes would still make you a genius in that area. Thus, you need to interact and learn from your environment in order to reach your actual, inborn potential, which was determined by your genes.


In certain cases, though, both heredity and environment could possibly play a roughly equal role in humans. The mental disorder schizophrenia is one of these circumstances. Schizophrenia has been proven to be very hereditary; furthermore, it is most common among people living in the poor rundown areas (Kagan and Havermann 39). Hence, humans with schizophrenia may have this brain disorder for a number of reasons related to both heredity and environment. This is also an important fact to explore connected with human mentality. “Heredity sets limitations and tendencies while environment takes over to encourage or discourage the development and operation of our inborn traits” (Kagan and Havermann 40).

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