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Chromosomes, DNA, Genes, Genotype, Nature, Nurture, Phenotype, oss0152
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Nature/Nurture (Genetics & Evolution) - Course Map and Recommended Resources



How to Use this Guide

This guide provides information and resources on teaching learning concepts in an Introduction to Psychology course. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System (LMS) via the hyperlinks.

  • Although nature/nurture is not specifically addressed as a topic that falls under a Pillar, according to the TAG, these concepts can be applied across a number of required topics, such as Brain and Behavior, Lifespan Development, and Intelligence.   


This section introduces students to the concepts of nature and nurture, and provides examples of psychological topics in which an understanding of the impact of both nature and nurture is crucial.  

Learning Objectives

  1. Define nature and nurture
  2. Distinguish between the differences in the nature vs nurture argument
  3. Define DNA, chromosomes, and genes
  4. Understand the difference between phenotype and genotype

Cross Cutting Themes


  1. Discuss whether a time will come when we will be able to predict almost everything about someone by examining their DNA.
  2. If it can be shown that a violent criminal had violent parents, should it make a difference in culpability or sentencing?


  1. How might children benefit from what psychological science tells us about environmental influences on intelligence?

Variations in Human Functioning

  1. Ask students to reflect on how their personality might be similar or different than parents and/or siblings.  Then, have them to reflect on how they think these similarities and differences develop.

Cultural and Social Diversity

  1. Discuss whether certain traits associated with cultural groups are influenced more by genetics or by environment.  (Perhaps even consider having students design a basic experimental protocol to test their assumptions.)

Recommended Resources

The Nature/Nuture Question

This is an excellent chapter on the Noba website to explain all of the basic concepts of the nature/nurture debate, and also provides details on behavior genetics research methods.  

The Source of Intelligence 

This section of the OpenStax chapter discusses the influences of both nature and nurture on intelligence.  It might be a good application chapter after reading the Noba chapter to explain the basics first. 

Is Personality More Nature or More Nurture? Behavioral and Molecular Genetics

This is a resource from the University of Minnesota that covers the basic principles of chromosomes and genes.  Then it discusses the nature/nurture of personality.

Supplemental Resources