Importance of heredity and environment

Relative importance of heredity and environment in child’s development

Man is the product of nature and nature i.e. heredity and environment. Both heredity and environment play important role in the development of the personality. When the son of a dacoit is found to be behaving like a dacoit, it is a case of heredity dominating the environment.

Meaning of Heredity

A cat gives birth to a kitten, a cow to a calf and human being to a baby.
The members of one species resemble each other. A child resembles his sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents etc. It usually referred to is heredity which means that an offspring inherits most of the personality traits of his parents.

What is heredity ?

Heredity means likeness and similarly i.e. resemblance is physical features size, shape etc. It is a narrow concept. So, heredity stands for all those factors which are present in the child not at the time of birth but at the time of conception.

Definition of Heredity

According to R.A. Fisher, “Heredity is a scientific journal concerned with heredity in a biological sense”.

Meaning of Environment:-

Environment consists of the external forces which influence the growth and development of an individual right from his conception. Our innate abilities are modified by the circumstances. Environment consists of physical, intellectual, social, moral, economic and cultural forces. Their influence is a continuous one which begins with the emergence of life and goes till death.

Definition of environment

According to Boring langfield and Weld, “The environment is everything that affects the individual except his genes”.

According to Woodworth, “Environment covers all the outside factors that have acted on the individual since he began life”.


From the above definitions, we can say that Heredity is everything in determining the personality of an individual and education cannot make the child superior if he is inferior. Environment can give any direction and form to the personality.

Importance of Heredity

1. Every day experience
It is common every day observation that he children of bright and intelligent parents tend to grow bright & intelligent.
On the other hand the history of dull and stupid adults reveals a record of dullness and stupidity. We know of children who grow up in the same family or go to same school, play together, and some learn more rapidly and others very slowly. Such a difference must be largely the result of heredity.

2. Biographies of great men:-
Biographies of great men like Swami Rama Tirtha, Lala Hardayal, Ramaniyam reveal the fact that they were bright from the very beginning.

3. Experiments on feeble minded:-
Various studies revealed that about 80% of feeble mindedness is inherited.

4. Studies of family histories
(i) Edward family study: Winship studied Edward’s family. He too, concluded that natural abilities are inherited.
(ii) Juke family study: This study was conducted by Dugdale. Juke was corrupt fisherman. His wife was also corrupt. About 1200 descendants of the family line established by them were studied. It was found that most of these descendants were paupers and prostitutes. Only a few of them were found normal.

5. Blood relationship and abilities:
With the help of Stanford Binet Intelligence Test, correlation between the various members of the family was found. Trend is one of the such mental tests as reported by Anastasi.

Importance of Environment

1. Example of hogo fish:
If this fish is incubated in an abnormal temperature it develops one eye instead of two eyes. It is due to environment.

2. Case of Ramu, the wolf boy:
Ramu’s case is quite recent who remained among the wolves and became wolf in food habits, speech and other traits. This also proves that an individual is more a product of environment than of heredity.

3. Nursery education:
It has been found that children who are sent to nursery earlier than other children show an increase of 4 to 5 points in their intelligence quotient as compared to children who do not receive education.

4. Case of Amala and Kamala:
Amala and Kamala aged two and nine years respectively were found in Bengal in 1920 by J.A.L. Singh. The used to talk, walk and act like wolves. It also indicates the importance of environment.

5. Akhtar’s experiment:
Akhtar’s experiments to keep children away from the society and under the care of dumb nurses show that social environment marks the child a human being worth the name. Children under experiment remained dumb.

At the end, we can say that Heredity and environment both are significant factors in the development of personality. If heredity is the base, environment is the structure. If heredity is the seed, environment is the soil. If heredity is the soul, environment is the body. As we cannot separate the soul from the body in a living human being, so we cannot separate the heredity from environment.

Thus heredity and environment are complementary.

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