Child development theories seek to describe, explain and predict behaviour based on the relative influences of nature (heredity and biological makeup) and nurture (interaction with the environment) (Berk, 2013). Explaining individual differences, therefore, depends on the weight of a theory's position on the roles of nature and nurture (Berk, 2013) and the influence they have on children's learning, growth, and maturation (Allen & Morotz, 2010). For example, both Piaget's cognitive-development theory and Vygotsky's sociocultural theory agree that development occurs as the brain grows (nature) but the course of development differs depending on the type of experiences children have (nurture) (Berk, 2013; Nixon, 2005). Behaviorism and social learning theory, however, emphasize the roles of conditioning and modelling (nurture) in children's development (Berk, 2013; Allen & Morotz, 2010).
So, if I have my father's blonde hair and my mother's brown eyes, then that's biological, inherited information I have received from my parents and therefore nature is responsible (Berk, 2013). No amount of nurturing is going to alter my genetic makeup so that I have different colored hair and eyes. Now, if we assume that there is a gene responsible for good tennis playing and it could be proven that my family and I have it, then nature would also be responsible for my tennis ability. However, if no such gene could be proven, but my family and I have the physical makeup conducive to good tennis playing then it could still be argued that ˜it runs in the family', that is, I am predisposed to being good at playing tennis, and nature would again be responsible. It is more likely, however, that my tennis ability is the result of nurture, that is, because of my family's interests in tennis, being socially and emotionally immersed in the game, enjoying watching tennis on television, and by physically participating in matches.