Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Arthur Falk

Second Advisor

Dr. Jon Adams

Third Advisor

Dr. John Martell


When trying to identify the driving forces behind the development of traits, 'nature' and 'nurture' are presented as the sole answers to a seemingly inevitable philosophical question. There must be reasons behind why an individual has a certain trait, so the rhetoric goes, and the line of reasoning has to go in one of two directions. Either factors in the individual's environment - such as parental care or life experience - are responsible, or the trait is an immutable characteristic of the individual's biological makeup. Although this dichotomy has permeated the public consciousness, it is dismissed by those who study development as a gross oversimplification of a complex, dynamic process. The more widely accepted view is that traits and characteristics are the result of an interaction between biological and environmental factors (more broadly, nature and nurture). This interactionist approach is more complex, but it relies conceptually on the very dichotomy it attempts to supersede. In recent years, developmental systems theory (DST) has emerged as an alternative way to conceptualize the dynamic process of development. DST claims that the division (or even the interactionist's continuum) between nature and nurture is nonsensical because it is impossible to isolate and classify reasons or provide explanatory stories in regards to development in the first place.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Included in

Philosophy Commons