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Intelligence…does it depend more on the environment than genetic factors?

Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including as one's capacity for logic,
understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, planning, creativity, and
problem solving. It can be more generally described as the ability or inclination to perceive or
deduce information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors
within an environment or context (Neisser, 1996).

But, What Factors Determine Intelligence?

In addition to disagreements about the basic nature of intelligence, psychologists have spent a
great amount of time and energy debating the various influences on individual intelligence.
The debate focuses on one of the major questions in psychology: Which is more important -
nature or nurture?

Today, nearly all psychologists recognize that both genetics and the environment play a role in
determining intelligence.

First, it is important to note that genetics and the environment interact to determine exactly
how inherited genes are expressed. For example, if a person has tall parents, it is likely that the
individual will also grow to be tall. (Nairaland, 2014) However, the exact height the person
reaches can be influenced by environmental factors such as nutrition and disease.

Yet researches shows that the genetic influence on intelligence is not the cause of the wide
achievement gap in society. Intelligence depends more on environmental factors than on
genetic factors.

Recent findings from the human genome project have found that the relationship between
genetics and intelligence is far more complex that we originally thought.

Genes can be activated or deactivated by our interaction with our environment and the way
we learn can help us achieve far more than whether we have a particular set of genes. In fact
evidence shows that our environment can activate and deactivate genes throughout our lives.
This makes us ask ourselves different questions:

Is the inheritability of intelligence a myth?

We are product of our genes; there is no doubt about that. But our genes operate in complex
ways with our environment. They can be
activated or deactivated depending on our
home environment, our schooling, and in a
multitude of other ways in which we
interact as an individual with the outside
world. For instance, changes in
environment, access to education and
culture have caused average IQ levels in the
US to rise by 30 points between 1900 and
2012. This means that the average person in
2012 had a higher IQ than 95 percent of the population in 1900.

Wealth is more inheritable than genes

Numerous studies have found that success and wealth are determined more by economic
factors than genetics. If you are born into a richer family or society you are more likely to
achieve more than someone who isn’t. A study from the National Bureau of Economic
Research found that children’s income is strongly influenced by the wealth of their parents.

Better schooling improves outcomes not genes

The country that invests more in teaching and recruits

the top ten percent of graduates to the teaching
profession is Finland. It is also the top of the
international league table for educational attainment.
The Finnish don’t have better genes than every other
nation in the world. But they do have a better
education system, which receives more funding and
better resources than any other in the world.

It’s about mindset not inheritability of intelligence

Research at Stanford University has found that

the key reason why people fail is because they
have a negative mindset. Too often people
believe they can’t solve a problem, aren’t good at
something, like maths, and believe that their
talents are fixed from a young age.People also
believe that making mistakes is key evidence that
they aren’t good at something. Yet research
shows that thinking more positively and accepting
that making mistakes is part of the learning
process can make the difference between success
and failure.

(Little, 2017)

In conclusion we can say that our intelligence isn’t inherited but made. The in which we live
and the way we think about learning in by far more important than genes.


 Little, W. (2017). Is Intelligence Genetic? 5 Reasons Why Intelligence Depends on

Environmental Factors and not your Genes. Obtenido de
 Nairaland. (2014). What Factors Determine Intelligence? Obtenido de

 Neisser, U. (1996). Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns. Obtenido de