Is intelligence determined by genetics or environment?

intelligence determined by genetics

Is intelligence determined by genetics or environment? Intelligence is a complex attribute that is impacted by both inherited and environmental influences, like the majority of elements of human behaviour and cognition. Because intelligence can be defined and assessed in a variety of ways, research on it can be difficult.

Nature vs. nurture is one of the oldest arguments in human history.

It poses the query of whether our genetic makeup and innate characteristics have a greater influence on who we are than our upbringing and surroundings.

This is particularly significant in terms of intellect.

Are you intelligent from birth or do you acquire it? Or is it a fair mixture of the two?

Let’s discover the reality.

Weighing genetics versus environment

In a strict sense, environment refers to the circumstances and setting in which you are born and nurtured, whereas genetics refers to what you are born with.

Genetics determines how you manifest in this world.

These are the resources provided to you by your ancestors through the DNA they left behind.

Environment, which includes epigenetics, or qualities that manifest as a result of a particular environment, determines how you are treated, educated, and raised in this world.

These are the skills you learn to acquire and are trained to employ.

Using identical twins reared in extremely different contexts, the traditional tests to determine whether heredity or upbringing has a greater impact on your IQ later in life have been conducted.

The results usually indicated that genetics had a higher weight, but they also showed that many genetics don’t manifest themselves until the environment permits and demands them to.

Most intelligence is inherited, but it’s not that simple…

There is no question that most intelligence is inherited, strictly speaking.

In accordance with the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology:

Recent research has revealed that genetics account for 70–90% of the diversity in the overall grey and white matter volume of the adult human brain.

But in addition to being demonstrably significant and crucial in defining an individual’s intellect later in life, parenting, education, and social variables are all known to have a role in developing intelligence.

Let’s face it:

You could simply be genetically predisposed to having a larger brain than someone else.

Simply said, because of your DNA, you might have won the genetic lottery for intellect.

The stimulation and support provided by the environment, however, can have a considerable impact on whether or not that brain capability will be developed and used.

Understanding phenotypes and gene expression

Knowing how our phenotype evolves and changes is one of the fundamental ideas in comprehending how the environment influences gene expression.

Our phenotype is the genetic culmination of our physical characteristics and behavioural traits. It encompasses characteristics of the mind, such as intelligence and intellectual prowess.

The phenotype is a product of genes and reflects genetic ancestry, but it doesn’t simply follow a predetermined course.

It varies depending on the circumstances.

According to Lyndsay Wilson:

“A gene is more like a recipe that can be altered based on the available components than it is like a computer programme that is always followed exactly…


“It’s vital to keep in mind that there is nothing predictable or mechanistic about how DNA emerges as complex and adaptable behaviour in the real world when talking about the genetic component of intelligence.”

In other words, you could have a higher or lower IQ than someone else.

However, the environment unquestionably plays a significant role in determining whether you’ll be that way in 10 or 20 years.

The amount? Let’s look into it, beginning at the beginning…

The importance of early infant experiences

The places where we are nurtured and fed—either with a mother or a guardian—provide us with our earliest experiences as brand-new beings on this world.

Numerous studies have now demonstrated that this has a significant impact on how our genes evolve.

Young children become smarter when mothers show them more love and attention.

This was demonstrated by a 2012 study conducted by child psychiatrists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Jim Dryden says that school-age children whose mothers took care of them from an early age have brains with a larger hippocampus, a crucial structure critical to learning, memory, and stress response.

Additional research, including that conducted by Professor Regina Sullivan of New York University, has now corroborated the findings of the Washington University study.

According to Sullivan’s research, as mammals grow and develop in their first 20 days of existence, the more care and affection they receive, the smarter and more aware they become later in life.

However, the rats whose mothers were absent for a longer period of time or more irregularly showed signs of distress and were likely to develop later attention deficit disorders and poorer intellect.

The considerable importance of environment

A person’s IQ can be considerably improved or diminished by a variety of environmental factors. While there is disagreement about the precise amount, it is generally accepted that there is a significant impact.

While studies of identical twins reared in diverse environments do tend to discover similarities in their intellect levels, some studies find the opposite, with those raised in better and more educated situations being more brilliant.

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For instance, a 2003 study from Virginia University using identical twins found that those from wealthier and more educated households were likely to be smarter.

“Homes headed by highly educated parents yield real increases in the cognitive ability of the children they raise,” wrote study author Professor Eric Turkheimer.

Naturally, a healthy environment goes beyond having intelligent parents, pleasant things to play with, and a solid education.

It also contains:

The standard and nutritional content of the food we consume as children

The environment we grew up in, the quantity of activity we got, and the healthy lifestyle we led

The intensity and closeness of our childhood interactions and relationships

The morals and values that our parents, teachers, coaches, and other authoritative figures have ingrained in us on a social, spiritual, ethical, and religious level


Even if quantifiable IQ turns out to be similar in some research, the same two genetic codes from identical twins will undoubtedly manifest themselves in various ways because of the countless environmental influences that shape who we are.

Numerous facets of our intelligence and potential are genetically determined, as has been repeatedly shown.

But a lot of factors, including how our particular character interacts with, shapes, and uses our surroundings, determine whether or not that actually occurs.

The way we respond to social or economic obstacles in our surroundings, for instance, is greatly influenced by who we are on all levels, which is why some people who were reared in challenging or uneducated situations go on to do amazing things.

Not only were they genetically predisposed to intelligence, but sometimes a challenging environment also encourages the expression of particular genes and phenotypic features in opposition to the resistance of that environment.

In other words, every situation is unique.

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