Nature and Nurture – What We Are Made Of

Personality is composed of nature and nurture.” (Francis Galton 1822-1911)

This theory by Francis Galton appeared in and was explained in the book The Psychology Book by Catherine Collin, Voula Grand, Nigel Benson, Merrin Lazyan, Joannah Ginsburg, Marcus Weeks. Galton was first interested in the concept of whether abilities of people are either inborn or learned after birth. He was inspired by his relatives, because many of them were gifted individuals, including the famous evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. Galton was the first person to give the thought of identifying “nature” and “nurture”, the two ingredients to compose the personality of a person. Nature is what is inherited within the person; nurture is what is experienced after the birth of the person, this may be the environment he lives in, or what he learns etc. These two sources differ from each other particularly.

When Galton was doing research towards inherited traits for his book Hereditary Genius, he found that most of the highly talented individuals were often in certain families, certain growing environments. These people’s intelligence was certainly not only from their nature but also from their privileged home environment, which was how they were nurtured. Galton once stated that “Characteristics cling to families.” (Galton, 1822-1911) Many examples are pieces of evidence that support this claim, even including himself, a great polymath grew up in a wealthy environment and was able to receive unusually high education, which was not accessible to most of the people.

Although Galton suggested that both nature and nurture are very important components of a person’s personality, the balance is also questioned. Therefore, Galton’s theory explains both elements are indispensable. First of all, nature may set the limit to how we develop in the world, for example, no matter how hard a person practices, how much he puts effort towards swimming, how well his coach works trains him, if he has no talent towards swimming, he will never become better than the other swimmer who is talented and works hard. Hence, nature limits on how a person may thrive amongst the community. However, it is also essential to realize that even with highest natural gifts may be badly affected by “starved by defective nurture.” (Galton, 1822-1911) For instance, if a person has an extraordinary intelligence, but his family’s condition could not afford the fees for him to receive education, then his gift is completely wasted. Thus, if the talent is not through education, then it has no use upon the person. The debate of “which component is the determining factor” continues even to nowadays. Some people agree that to receive an education is more important than ever, while others think that there’re no gifted people in this world, everyone is fairly treated.

I think Galton’s idea relates to me, I need to thank my family for providing me such a nice source of education by giving me the opportunity to go to ISB. I cannot say that I am talented, but with the knowledge, I am given to learn every day at school, will help me thrive in life one day. With such education, I think it is crucial for all students here to precious it, and we should be grateful and use this chance efficiently.

As a conclusion, Francis Galton’s concept is true and relatable. He devoted most of his life to philosophy, and his theory of a person’s personality is composed of nature and nurture is still influential today. And nature and nurture are both vital components of a human’s personality.