For a long time, the never ending debate among the human development theorists is whether it is nature or nurture that determines human existence. While some scholars have argued that it is nature, the human genetics make-up that determines the behaviour and health, others insist that nurture, an influence from environment and culture is what defines the human health and behaviours. So can individuals achieve a long and healthy life by making a choice to do so? Despite the continued debate of Nature vs. Nurture, the modern scientists in psychologists and behavioural scientists contend that both genetic makeup and environment have particular influence on a person’s health and life.
The early part of the 20th Century saw a clear divide between opinions on the role of genetics and environment in determining of individual’s health (Nevid, 2008). For example, Behavioural scientist John Watson was very categorical that environment was the sole determinant of individual ability, and not genetics. Psychologist Arnold Gesell, on the other hand, emphasized that biological development in individuals was the main determinant of one’s health (Porter, 2012). The argument in favour of genetics or biological makeup was that nearly all the problems individuals face was down to their hereditary failures. That is, difference between humans is determined by the germ cells that bore them, hence different men have different levels of health because of the genetic background (Hedaya, 2009). For example, a child born with sickle cell is believed to have inherited the condition from either or both parents. However, the believers in environmental influence argue that a person’s health or ability is solely influenced by the environment that they live in, and that genetic has nothing to do with it (Porter, 2012). But the recent studies have shown that the two issues both have influence on a person’s health or life (Shaffer, 2009). For instance, a child born from a poor background exposed to good education can equally make it to the top of good professions, irrespective of the parents’ genetic makeup.
However, the present acceptance among psychologists and other behavioural scientists is that the two factors influence one’s health, and that the degree with which each does the influence is what should be debatable. The relative contribution of nature and nurture is dependent on certain aspects of developmental issues. That is, the complex attributes of humans such as intelligence, temperament, and personality are as a result of long interplay between genetics and environmental influence (Dowling, 2011). In other words, many behavioural scientists have agreed that biology and experience from our environment all work together to enhance a person’s ability to live or be healthy in a particular way. According to Hedaya (2009), what we eat, our physical lifestyle, and the air around us affect how our genes are expressed. On the other hand, the impacts of how a person’s parents and generations before lived also matters, as it determines what genes are dominant and those that are recessive in the present and forthcoming generations.
The past debates on Nature vs. Nurture were mainly focused on which one really works to influence an individual’s life, or rather health. People should think less about this difference and instead focus on how the two sets of issues influence a person’s general growth and health in a combined way, or rather how they interact to produce change in a person’s life.