The field of psychology has not been spared as a hotly-debated social science, and its knowledge, information and theories have been vigorously debated since its origin; it even owes much of its discoveries to it. A popular and widely known argument is the 'nature/nurture debate'; which psychological attributes are derived from a biological source, and which are a product of one's environment. In this essay, we will explore the nature/nurture debate in regards to intelligence.
Following a brief overview of some key definitions, this essay will review the literature and investigate the claims of the role of nature and nurture with regard to intelligence. This essay will argue that the basis for intelligence is largely genetic, but that environmental influences affect the expression of intelligence. That is, nature determines an individual's intelligence potential and 'nurture', one's individual experience, allows them to reach their intellectual capacity. However, this is not to say that the importance of the environment's role in intelligence should be ignored; a dichotomous approach to nature and nurture does little to advance our understanding of development, particularly with regard to intelligence. The definition of intelligence has itself been subject to debate. Part of this is due to the difficulty in measuring intelligence. Another reason is due to the complexity of its meaning, and its many possible 'types' of intelligence; social intelligence, cognitive (problem-solving) intelligence, emotional intelligence et cetera. In part, the definition of intelligence depends on the psychological perspective one takes. For example, a behaviourist approach might consider intelligence as the capacity for learning through conditioning or through observing behaviours, whereas a cognitive approach might classify intelligence based on the speed and efficiency of information processing.