Nature and Nurture What Impacts a Child's IQ? Essay

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Nature and Nurture: What Has the Biggest Impact on a Childs IQ?
Lisa Stevens
Western Governors University

The nature-nurture debate is a long standing controversy about what influences who a person really is. It refers to the question of which factors are most significant in determining development. Is it nature, the genetic make-up and hereditary components we are born with, or is it nurture, the social and environmental aspects we are exposed to. When a person is born, they are essentially a blank slate. They have certain innate characteristics such as their physical appearance and personality characteristics. But as they grow, they are exposed to environmental variables that can impact who they are. These include early life experiences, how they are raised, social relationships, and surrounding culture.
The nature-nurture deliberation is controversial largely due to the fact that some believe a person is hard wired a certain way when they are born. It is something that cannot be changed. Others argue it is the environment that creates and shapes who we are. This is not inheritable and can be altered. It can be a combination of both. Genes may be fixed, but can be activated or deactivated according to experience. Either way, scientists have struggled with the idea of whether personalities are born or made.
When it comes to a child’s IQ there is a large deliberation of how much is inherited from genetics and how much is acquired through the environment. Parents are always trying to come up with ways to indulge their children to the latest and greatest. Whether it’s reading encyclopedias to them when they are two, taking them on exotic field trips, or feeding them only organic food. But turn the table 180 degrees and there are parents just making sure their children have the basic necessities. They are fed, clothed and go to school most every day. Maybe take a family vacation once a year. They don’t necessarily go over and beyond in making sure their children are well educated. In extreme adverse cases, there are parents who virtually ignore their children or don’t provide them with basic needs. How might this effect a child’s IQ? Could it cause kids to be a detriment to society, drop out of school or turn to a life of crime? So the question lies, is a child’s IQ the result of genetics or do certain parenting practices play and important role? Is there such a phenomenon of having a bad seed or a naturally gifted child?
A study performed by Keven Beaver, a criminology professor from Florida State University explored this very idea. He examined a nationally representative sample of children, both biological and adopted, to support the argument that a child’s IQ is not the result of parental socialization or how they were raised. The study analyzed the behaviors of parents and whether they had an effect on verbal intelligence as measured be the Picture Vocabulary test and other analytical techniques. These IQ tests were administered to kids in middle and high school, and then repeated when they were ages 18 and 26. He found evidence to support that IQ is a genetic trait and not necessarily a result of parenting practices (Florida State University, 2014). When he examined the adopted group of children using an adoptive-based research design, he could focus solely on the parenting practices. He found that with reading, engaging in conversations and other socialization practices that a child’s IQ is not significantly altered. As stated by Beaver in the article, Can Parents Make Their Kids Smarter?, “Intelligence is passed down from parent to children genetically, not socially. We found there was no association between parenting and the child’s intelligence level later in life once we accounted for genetic influences.”(Farnum-Patronis, 2014, track 1) There are other research studies that show variances in IQ based on the home environment. Ralph A. Hanson lead a study indicating that a