Psychological Explanation of Behavior

What are some of the ways that Psychologists attempt to explain human behavior? One of the major debates within the field of Psychology is the degree to which nature versus nurture shapes human behaviors and traits. What comprises our nature? How would you define nurture? How would you describe the interaction between genetic potential, environmental influences, and personal choice? In your opinion, is biology destiny? Why or why not?

I think that the textbook tried to convey the idea that Psychologists try to explain human behavior in the most total manner possible; meaning that Psychologists take all aspects of social, economic, religious, marital, political, etc… predispositions into consideration when trying to understand human behavior. As far as specific ways, Psychologists use the term adjustment to describe the reactive response to changes in a person’s life.

Nature describes the inherited traits that we got from our parents, etc… Nurture describes the traits that we picked up since we have been alive.

Genetic potential is the starting line. Environmental influence describes how long the race is to be. Personal choice indicates which place you will finish the race. Some would probably see genetic potential as the speed limit, the absolute ceiling, and I agree that without personal choice it would be. However, I believe that personal choice can overcome both genetics and environment. No, I do not think biology is destiny. I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but when racers start a long race on a track they are staggered. That is because the ones on the outside of the track actually have to run further than the ones on the inside of the track. We might all start at different positions in life, but we all have the choice to run the good race.


Nevid, J.S., Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium. Danvers, M.A.: Wiley.


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