The nature/nurture controversy and the extent to which an individuals intellectual level is determined

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" The dubious history of the heredity environment controversy can be easily traced as far back as the start of the present century with at least some historical evidence placing the roots of this dispute in the time of John Locke. This controversy has continued despite continual reiteration that the critical question is not how much of a trait is due to heredity and how much is due to environment, but rather how environment transact to influence development." ( Wachs , 1983, p. 386).

This paper will focus on the nature/nurture controversy and the extent to which an individuals intellectual level is determined either by inborn intelligence or by environmental factors.

The relative powers of nature and nurture have been actively pursed by psychologists and biologists striving to determine how heredity and environment influence the development of intelligence.

Before we can go on to discuss the relationships between intelligence and the controversy that exists between the different schools of thought regarding inherited or environmental issues we must have an understanding of what intelligence really is.


Of all the words used in pressed day psychology, intelligence is one of the most difficult to define and is also one of the most controversial. There is however, a general agreement that intelligence refers to the overall faculties of the mind which concern themselves with the sorting of information in the brain after it has been received by the senses, the perceiving of relationships between this new data and information which is already in memory, and the capacity to make rapid and appropriate decisions as a result of the previous processes.

The intellectual faculties of the brain are dynamic and interactive and relate to the capacity of the central nervous system to respond speedily and appropriately in a rapidly changing and potentially threatening...