Is our identity determined by nature or by nurture?

Some might gravitate towards our biological and genetic features (nature) as being the determining factor, but I’d argue that the influence of social environments and role models (nurture) plays a much bigger role in shaping who we are.

Not convinced? Well, let me tell you an analogical story. Try to imagine that a piece of Play-Doh is representative of our brains and, more specifically, our personalities. When we’re young, our personalities are like fresh balls of Play-Doh right out of the box—soft and malleable.

Let’s pretend for a minute that every one of our role models (our parents, siblings, and others) and every social environment we grew up in (like being an only child, or being born into a well-off family) are the hands of an omnipresent kid. Those nurturing factors would do as the child’s hands would: play, roll, pierce, pinch, form, and shape the Play-Doh ball.

The ball, just like our personalities, would keep changing and developing into a final product until the ball of Play-Doh lost its freshness and hardened, eventually forming a rock-solid form that is incredibly difficult to reshape.
That final form is the mind and personality of a mature adult that has been shaped by following certain guidelines and morals. If the child grows up admiring his hard-working parents and participating in the various clubs in which they enrolled him, it will more than likely transform him into a polite and well-rounded person.

That is just an example of the many, and quite possibly infinite, combinations of nurturing factors that could have an influence on personality.

So yes, I believe nurture has a bigger influence on our personalities. Because nature just makes us something physical—a man, a woman, big, small, short, tall—but nurture is what makes us unique under the surface.