For many years, there had been a debate over whether genes alone can determine one’s intelligence or whether the environment and training can increase one’s intelligence. Some scientists think that people behave as they do according to genetic predispositions. This is known as the “nature” theory of human behavior. Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so. This is known as the “nurture” theory of human behavior. Intelligence can be employed to indicate the amount of knowledge available and the rapidity with which new knowledge is acquired; the ability to adapt to new situations and to handle concepts, relationships, and abstract symbols.
Scientists have known for years that traits such as eye color and hair color are determined by specific genes encoded in each human cell. The Nature Theory takes things a step further to say that more abstract traits such as intelligence, personality, aggression, and sexual orientation are also encoded in an individual’s DNA. Therefore, it is argued that intelligence is innate. People are born with it. There are also beliefs that the more folds you have in your brain, the more intelligent you are as your brain contains more neurons. Intelligence can be inherited. This can be used to explain why people say that Jews are smart. According to adoption studies, adopted children have more similar intelligence scores than their adoptive parents who reared them from birth.
Supporters of the Nurture Theory do not deny that genetic tendencies may exist, but believe that they ultimately do not matter. Our behavioral aspects originate only from the environmental factors of our upbringing. Therefore, intelligence can be increased or augmented if one goes through training. The importance of twin studies is evident if we look at the studies objectively, if intelligence is basically hereditary, identical twins who have the same genetic legacy. Jones’s study (1946) shows that there is a modest difference in the intelligence test scores of twins reared apart, and the more divergent the environments, the greater the difference.
I believe that it is a combination of both nature and nurture. Intelligence can be increased by training, but how much it can be increased very much depend on one’s innate intelligence. We are all born with a certain I.Q.. Some people may have higher intelligence than others. However, if both a high I.Q. person and low I.Q. person goes through similar training, they can both increase their intelligence, but it would be easier for the high I.Q. person to increase his/her intelligence.
I feel that it is not possible for one’s intelligence to be solely determined by the genes. If this had been the case, we would be living in a scary world. Our intelligence would be decided once we are born, and there is nothing we can do to change it. We have to live with it for the rest of our lives. I believe our environment plays a part. We can only fulfill our genetic potential by first, optimizing our environmental factors. For example, people living in third world countries may be born with the same intelligence level as other people in first world countries. However, they do not have the optimum environment to realize their potential, thus they fare much worse than others in first world countries.
Genes only serve as guidelines. The rest is derived from interactions with the environment. Individual intelligence and human behavior cannot be predicted based on knowledge of genetics and the environment. When something is considered determined, free will is destroyed.