Home » Anxiety » Blogs » Anxiety and OCD Exposed » Nature or Nurture? The Final Answer….

Nature or Nurture? The Final Answer….

nature or nurture?I remember back in the late 60’s during my first psychology class the professor discussing whether children’s development was dictated by the way they were born (genetics, nature) or what their parents did with them at home especially during childhood (nurture). Back then, the view swung toward nurture. It was a hopeful message.

Good parenting could overcome lots of obstacles. It was the idea that children were quite malleable and that with the right experiences, they could be taught to be builders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, or even presidents (who’d ever want to do that to their child??!). Parents were considered pretty much responsible for teaching their kids morality, self-control, friendliness, social manners, and just about everything else. It was at once a highly optimistic outlook, but at the same time put lots of pressures on parents—especially when a kid didn’t turn out as hoped for.

Well, during the last four decades, this debate has swung back and forth over time. Sometimes the forces on the side of nature as science has developed a greater appreciation of the strong influences of genetics on personality, happiness, extroversion, introversion, and intelligence. Other factors such as neighborhood, siblings, economic status and other factors have also been found to influence child development.  But the pendulum continues to swing every few years.  And there is usually a best-selling book that proclaims a final breakthrough understanding.

Well, I do have the final answer.  The definitive argument that will once and for all end the debate (and push our new book on Child Psychology and Development For Dummies onto the New York Times best seller list) will be provided in four words. Are you ready? Here it is. Is it nature or nurture?

Photo by isla_yelo, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

“Both and it depends”

Good. Now that we have that issue solved, we can go on to provide you with more information about raising healthy kids.  You’ll see this information in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. Take care.

Nature or Nurture? The Final Answer….

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Smith is a widely published author of articles and books to the profession and the public, including: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2E), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth, and Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Her website is:

6 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Nature or Nurture? The Final Answer….. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Apr 2011
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.