The Ongoing Debate
The question of how nature versus nurture influences human development has been an ongoing debate for a very long time and at present there is no clear winner, as both nature (genes) and nurture (environmental factors) seem to play a vital and important role in human development.
Before this issue can be fully explained, it is important to understand what nature and nurture actually are. Nature can be loosely defined as genetic inheritance or the genetic makeup (the information encoded in your genes) which a person inherits from both parents at the time of conception and carries throughout life.
Several things in an individual are genetically inherited, ranging from gender, eye color, risks for certain diseases and exceptional talents to height. The concept of nature thus refers to biologically inherited tendencies and abilities that people have and which may get revealed later on as they grow up.
In contrast, nurture can be defined as the different environmental factors to which a person is subjected from birth to death.
Environmental factors involve many dimensions. They include both physical environments (a good example is prenatal nutrition) and social environments (such as the neighborhood, media and peer pressure.) Also, environmental factors have different levels of impact on human development as they involve multiple layers of action, ranging from most immediate (families, friends, and neighborhoods) to bigger societal contexts (school systems and local governments) as well as macro factors such as politics on the international level or say global warming. These layers are also impacted by other factors outside them. For example, teenagers are exposed to not just peer pressure from their peers but also to parental ideals, community standards or ethnic views.