Nature versus nurture has been a hot topic of debate within the discipline of human development since the 16th century (Nesterak, 2015). The idea that biology and genes dictate how a person develops throughout life is known as nature. Nurture argues a person develops due to the environmental influences placed upon at any given moment and how a person responds to those influences. People can respond in a positive or negative way, both of which have consequences that influence that person’s life. Scientists have often camped their beliefs in either nature or nurture. The practice of strictly adhering to either nature or nurture actually limits the view of human development. Human development continues throughout a person’s lifespan through a balance of nature and nurture traits.
            Humans are born with a genetic disposition that allows for personality and biological traits to be shared between parents and a child but that doesn’t always mean the child will turn out to be an exact copy of his or her parents. Heritable traits can change within the way they are expressed but these changes do not change a person’s DNA sequence. Another words, a change in the phenotype does not change the genotype. The science behind understanding how our genes change the way they express themselves is known as epigenetics. Epigenetics, a term coined by Conrad H. Waddington in 1942, is the scientific study of how environment influences genetic expression (What Is Epigenetics, 2016). This new science focuses not so much on how the genes express themselves but what they are doing.
            David Moore (as cited in Nesterak, 2015) explained in an interview with Evans Nesterak that genes express themselves because of the environmental contexts humans find themselves in.
Epigenetic changes occur naturally throughout a human’s lifespan. Some of the influencers that cause epigenetic changes include age, lifestyle, environment and disease (What Is Epigenetics, 2016). Researchers have found many types of epigenetic processes including, ubiquitylation, sumolyation, acetylation, methylation, and phosphorylation (Weinhold, 2006). These natural processes are essential for how humans adapt to the world. Yet, if the natural processes occur improperly it will cause the body to experience major health and behavioral problems.
            Epigenetics has not had the opportunity to study how human genes change due to environmental factors due to ethical reasons. In order to test the biological changes within the human genetic makeup researchers would have to conduct tests with human beings in a tightly controlled environment. It is unethical to imprison humans and conduct tests on them in the name of science. Researchers have conducted experiments using monkeys and rats (Nesterak, 2015). The results of their research have given new insights into epigenetic.
            While biological research cannot be conducted upon human subjects it is possible to study the effects an environment has upon a person through research studies in social science. Societies change all the time through economics, war, political movements, and natural disasters. Humans can adapt to whatever changes occur in their lives. Collins (2000) found major societal factors, such as poverty, can influence how parents raise their children. Growing up in an impoverished setting affects everyone within the household. Parental behaviors are effected by how long the family remains in poverty (Collins, 2000). David Moore, (as cited in Nesterak, 2015) found children who remained for a long time within impoverished homes exhibited biological consequences decades later in their adulthood. But the adverse effects poverty has upon the body can be hindered if the child becomes an adult living in a middle class setting. Children who grew up in middle class homes then spend their adult lives as middle class their epigenetic makeup would differ from the impoverished child that became middle class.
            Nature versus nurture has been debated among scientists interested in the study of human development for so long that the arguments between the two has become common in our society. A relatively new science, known as epigenetics, challenges scientists to think outside the box and accept that nature and nurture work together to change the way humans develop throughout their lifetime.
            Humans don’t have to accept their heritable traits as an end all for their lives. Every person is different. Our lives, personalities and outward appearances may mirror one of our ancestors but that doesn’t mean we have to live the life they had nor accept their adversities as our own. Heritable genes will change as we are confronted with age, health issues, lifestyle and environmental factors. How we accept those changes affects the way we develop. We can grown in a positive way if the changes occur naturally and at the right time. We will incur behavioral and health problems if our heritable genes are forced to change inappropriately.
            Epigenetic research is quite young. While researchers cannot experiment upon human beings due to ethical problems it is quite possible to learn more from studies conducted upon rats and monkeys. There is more that we need to learn in the field of epigenetics.

Collins, W. A., Maccoby, E. E., Steinberg, L., Hetherington, E. M., & Bornstein, M. H. (2000).   Contemporary research on parenting: The case for nature and nurture. American  Psychologist, 55, 218–232.
Nesterak, E. (2015, July 10) The End of Nature Versus Nurture. The Psych Report. Retrieved  from http://thepsychreport.com/books/the-end-of-nature-versus-nurture/
Weinhold, B. (2006, March) Epigenetics: The Science of Change. Environ Health Perspect. 114(3), A160-A167. Retrieved from             http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1392256/
What is Epigenetics? (2016) Epigenetics: Fundamentals. Retrieved from     http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/