Meanings and Concept of Intelligence

As living creatures, humans are characterized by various traits that can differ from one person to another due to multiple factors. One of such traits is intelligence which represents a person’s cognitive abilities and can affect their personal life and academic achievements (Zajda, 2019). To better understand a trait such as intelligence, one should analyze its origin by examining its nature and nurture and determining which one contributes more to the set trait.

First, one should start by identifying the meaning of both nature and nurture. Nature refers to genes and hereditary factors influencing an individual’s identity, from physical features to personality traits (Cherry, 2020). Nurture represents environmental variables that impact people’s experiences, such as certain events in childhood, upbringing, culture, or social relationships (Cherry, 2020). There is a debate on the significance of nature and nurture in relation to a person’s development. For instance, biological psychology puts genetics above any other factors, while behaviorism stresses the value of the environment (Cherry, 2020). There are also disputes on whether certain traits are inherited or obtained (Cherry, 2020). For example, whether people’s actions solely depend on their genetics or on something they have learned at some point in their lives (Cherry, 2020). However, most characteristics are influenced by both nature and nurture. For instance, a person can be born with genes for a tall height but never actually grow tall if raised in an environment without proper nourishment (Cherry, 2020). Nature and nurture impact people’s traits, but there are debates on the importance of their impacts.

Second, one should determine the role of nature and nurture in relation to intelligence. The concept of intelligence differs across cultures and times (Zajda, 2019). According to Zajda (2019), the traditional definition of this trait refers to “a uniform cognitive capacity that people are born with.” A psychologist Francis Galton believed that intelligence resulted from genetics and proposed that more intelligent people should marry each other and “have many children” while others should not reproduce (as cited in Cherry, 2020). Hans Eysenck suggested that while some aspects of intelligence are inherited, they are not “fixed as such” and can be affected by the environment (as cited in Zajda, 2019, p. 93). Intelligence can be connected to adaptability, with intelligence being “dynamic in nature” (Zajda, 2019, p. 90). Intelligent behaviors can change along with environmental conditions, and one’s intellectual performance can be high in one setting and low in another (Zajda, 2019). With that being said, according to Zajda (2019), the extent of the impact of nature and nurture on learning is still being researched. Intelligence is connected to both nurture and nature but should be analyzed more.

To summarize, it is difficult to state that either nature or nurture is more important than the other one. However, I can say that nature contributes to my intelligence based on genes inherited from all my ancestors, and nurture contributes to my intelligence based on my own experiences. For example, nature’s impact can be seen by the professional successes of my parents, from whom I could have inherited the basis for my learning abilities. On the other hand, nurture’s impact can be seen by my own academic achievements that depend on me obtaining new knowledge throughout school and college. Overall, I believe that both nature and nurture have contributed to my intelligence, and as of now, I cannot emphasize one above the other.


Cherry, K. (2020). The age-old debate of nature vs. nurture. VerywellMind. Web.

Zajda, J. (2019). Current research of theories and models of intelligence. Curriculum and Teaching, 34(1), 87-108. Web.

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