Does intelligence come from nature or nurture? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Does intelligence come from nature or nurture?” and explore the concepts of intelligence, nature and nurture and the impact of nature and nurture on intelligence to help understand whether intelligence comes from nature or nurture. 

Does intelligence come from nature or nurture?

Intelligence comes from both nature and nurture. The following 3 insights can help us understand how intelligence is a product of both nature and nurture –

  • Role of Nature (Genetics) in Determining Intelligence.
  • Role of Nurture (Environment) in Determining Intelligence.
  • Role of both Nature and Nurture in Determining Intelligence. 

What are these 3 insights about whether intelligence comes from nature or nurture?

In order to figure out what elements impact human intelligence, psychologists have looked at the subject from two different angles: nature and nurture. As a result, investigations on these topics have proved that both nature and nurture play a role in intelligence development. 

Genetic variables have been recognised as the influential forces of nature that form intelligence, according to Heffner (2002), whilst environmental influences impact intelligence by exposure or rather nurture. 

Intellect tests, according to both schools of thought, are aimed at evaluating the degree of intelligence through the use of an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test. The degree to which genetics and environment impact intelligence development are explained by similarities and variances in IQ among people.

Role of Nature (Genetics) in Determining Intelligence.

Heredity has been discovered to be one of the most crucial variables affecting the development of intellect in humans, according to evaluations. Deary, Spinath, and Bates (2006) give an overview of studies on the impact of genetics on intelligence. 

According to this study, methods for assessing human intellect have remained mostly unchanged over the last 100 years. Researchers have identified processing speed, verbal comprehension, working memory, and perceptual organisation as some of the most important cognitive domains in assessing the impact of genetics on intelligence (Deary, Spinath & Bates, 2006).

Plomin & Spinath (2004) reiterate that heredity plays a crucial role in the development of intelligence, notwithstanding the contrasting viewpoints offered by psychologists and biologists about the effect of genetics on intelligence. 

He claims that genetic research has identified distinct limits between nature and nurture, as well as the extent of hereditary variables’ effect on intelligence development.

Hereditary similarities between fraternal (dizygotic) and identical (monozygotic) twins, according to research investigations, explain the function of genetics in determining intellect.

Even when identical twins are raised in distinct contexts, according to Devitt & Ormrod (2007), they have similar IQs. This means that with identical twins, genetic factors are the driving driver for cognitive growth. Fraternal twins, on the other hand, have similar IQs. 

As a result, it is clear that their IQ is determined by hereditary variables (Devitt & Ormrod, 2007). Adoption studies also show that adopted children have similar IQs to their biological parents.

According to genomic studies, identical twins are created when a single zygote splits into two identical products. As a result, identical twins have comparable genetic characteristics. 

This helps to explain why identical twins have similar IQs. Even when reared in diverse contexts, identical twins have been found to have equal IQ scores on IQ tests (Devitt & Ormrod, 2007).

Furthermore, intelligence has been discovered to run in families. According to studies, children born to parents with high IQs are more likely to have high IQs themselves. 

This means that intelligence-related genes are handed on from parents to their offspring. Allelic tests have backed this up, confirming that children inherit inherited genes from their parents. It’s also been claimed that children’s brain structures are identical to their parents. 

Brain volume is one of the heritable elements involved in the development of intelligence, according to Thompson et al (2001), who used magnetic resonance imaging in in-vivo examinations of brain anatomy. Furthermore, genes linked to cognitive ability have been discovered to be heritable. 

For example, according to Winterer & Goldman (2003), chromosome 22 of the human genome has a heritable gene coding for catechol-O-methyltransferase, which is expressed more similarly in relatives than in persons from other populations (Egan et al., 2001).  

These findings show that genetics has a substantial influence in influencing cognitive development (Deary, Spinath & Bates, 2006). Children are normally genetically similar to their parents because they are the result of sexual reproduction, which requires the union of both male and female gametes via a well-understood biological mechanism. 

As a result, genes connected to intelligence are transmitted from parents in the same manner that other gene segments are, and they are expressed in the same proportions as genes linked to other qualities like height, colour, and gender.

Role of Nurture (Environment) in Determining Intelligence.

Intelligence is influenced by environmental influences as well. Environmental influences, according to Heffner (2002), explain disparities in children’s cognitive development. 

Home environment, diet, hazardous chemicals, and formal schooling are some of the environmental variables that impact IQ, according to Devitt & Ormrod (2007). The home environment is thought to play a role in determining intelligence. 

The socioeconomic position of a child’s household, for example, has an impact on their IQ levels. Wahlsten (1995) discovered that children raised in high-income households have higher IQ scores than children raised in low-income households. In general, a child’s intellect is influenced by the environment in which he is reared.

Twins and adoption studies give evidence for this occurrence. To show how environmental influences impact intelligence, Devitt & Ormrod (2007) exhibit IQ correlations between monozygotic (identical) twins and adopted children in two distinct situations. 

According to research, identical twins raised together have an IQ correlation of.86, but identical twins reared separately have an IQ correlation of.72. 

Adoption studies show that adopted youngsters have a greater IQ correlation than their non-adopted counterparts (Devitt & Ormrod, 2007). As a result, it is clear that intelligence is not just driven by hereditary elements, but that environmental influences play a considerable role as well.

Nutrition, on the other hand, has been shown to have an important influence on the development of intellect. According to Heffner (2002), children who eat a healthy diet have higher IQ scores than children who are malnourished. 

It’s also been discovered that harmful compounds in the environment have an impact on intellect development. The influence of foetal alcohol syndrome on children’s brain development provides evidence for this phenomenon. 

Delay in language development, poor motor coordination, and mental impairment have all been linked to this disease. As a result, it is clear that hazardous compounds have an impact on intellect (Devitt & Ormrod, 2007).

Formal education is another important environmental component that impacts IQ. School attendance is said to enhance intellectual growth through the learning of cognitive processes such as metacognition, rehearsal, and organising, and Vygotskian theory supports this claim. 

According to research, the IQ of school dropouts decreases year after year for every year they are absent from school (Devitt & Ormrod, 2007).

Role of both Nature and Nurture in Determining Intelligence. 

There is currently agreement that intelligence is influenced by both nature (genetics) and nurture (environment). IQ correlation studies, on the other hand, have not yet allowed psychologists to determine the extent to which each component impacts intelligence. 

According to reports, none of the two elements contributes equally to the development of intelligence; both genetics and environment are thought to combine to generate intelligence (Devitt & Ormrod, 2007).

Genetic variables are thought to determine an individual’s vulnerability to environmental effects throughout intellectual development. As a result, heredity generates a wide range of talents, the manifestation of which is influenced by environmental conditions in the form of IQ. 

This effect is described by the Skinner model of learning, which is based on enforcers and operant conditioning. As a result, it is clear that the environment has a substantial impact on inherited features associated with intellectual development. 

According to research, intelligence is the result of interactions between heredity and the environment; consequently, innate talents interact with environmental influences. In nature, certain offspring with specific inherent characteristics are better adapted to specific environmental settings. ‘Niche-picking’ is a term used to characterise this behaviour (Rodgers, 2014).

Conclusion – 

This blog post attempted to answer the question, “Does intelligence come from nature or nurture?” and reviewed the concepts of intelligence, nature and nurture and the impact of nature and nurture on intelligence to help determine whether intelligence comes from nature or nurture. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

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