Select Page
IELTS with Fiona Members Academy

Day 16: Personality


Key words/issues

nature vs nurture

an age-old debate/ a long-running debate

naturalist vs nurturist

inherited vs learned behaviour/emotions

hereditary vs environmental influences on behaviour

genes/genetic code/DNA

biological make-up – what you’re born with


characteristics/traits/predisposition (towards)

nurture: upbringing/how you’re raised/the environment

natural selection/survival of the fittest

adaptive traits

studies based on identical (not fraternal) twins

biological/psychological/sociocultural approach

influence of ethnicity/peer group


Nature or Nurture?

An absolute MUST READ – a famous experiment you probably studied at school!

Academic Passage 2: Matching paragraphs, multiple choice and TFNG


  • A built-in animal aggression instinct
  • A genetic need
  • A primal urge
  • An instinct which evolved as an advantageous trait/characteristic
  • Survival value to our ancestors
  • In our genetic make-up
  • A remnant of our ancient animal ways


  • Everything is a result of our social environment
  • The pursuit of scientific truth
  • Surrendering our personal and moral code
  • To the service of larger institutional structures
  • To forgo our sense of personal responsibility for the sake of an institutional authority figure.





A Psychology Study

A very difficult (!) Part 3 with Choosing from a List and Multiple Choice.







Part 2

Describe a feature of your personal character that you find important.

You should say:

  • what this feature is
  • how it is helpful to you
  • how it affects your daily life

and explain why it is important to you.

Similar questions:

  1. Describe a quality you really admire. 
  2. Describe a good quality you or one of your family members has. 
  3. Describe a good quality you find important for success.






Learning Link: If you haven’t discovered this website yet, do it NOW! Just type in any word/s or phrase and it will give you lots of sentences so you can see it in context (and to check if you’re using it correctly).

For example, my husband always says ‘nurture versus nature‘ but I say it the other way round. You can find out who’s right on!

Twin studies video

Twin studies – conclusion

Results show it’s both

‘The findings reveal the variation for human traits and diseases is 49 percent genetic, and 51 percent due to environmental factors and/or measurement errors.’

The Parenting Myth

Can talent be taught?

(This article helps with the essay question below)

Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?

Psychology Key Terms PDF (advanced but clear and useful)




Writing Practice

It is generally believed that some people are born with certain talents, for instance for sport or music, and others are not. However, it is sometimes claimed that any child can be taught to become a good sports person or musician.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.


Click here for a model answer

The issue of nature versus nurture has been a matter of considerable debate for many years. Some are of the opinion that musical and athletic talents are in the genes, while others hold the view that any child can learn these abilities, regardless of their genetic makeup. In this essay, I will explore both sides as well as offer my own opinion.

With regards to those who feel that any child can become a star sportsman or famous musician through training, there is some evidence to suggest that many so-called child prodigies and geniuses have actually trained for a minimum of 10,000 hours to achieve a level of mastery that people might assume is a gift. They argue that anyone who devotes a fixed amount of time to ‘deliberate practice’ can achieve expert-level performance and they often cite The Beatles as examples of performers who made up for their lack of musical talent by putting in hours of hard work.

Nevertheless, I believe that it is almost impossible to excel in sports or music without natural ability,  the reason for my view being that nearly every gold medal Olympian and best-selling artist exhibited raw talent  from an early age. Granted, they could not have reached their levels of success without practice and training. However, it cannot be denied that talent existed first. Take Michael Phelps, for example. It has been discovered that he naturally produces half as much lactic acid as other athletes, which means that he tires less easily and can maintain a fast pace for longer.

In sum, I believe in the value of hard work, but I also am realistic about the fact that not just anybody can make millions as a musician or sportsman. Hopefully in the future, every child will be allowed to nurture their own natural talents, whatever those may be.

Research indicates that the characteristics we are born with have much more influence on our personality and development than any experience we may have in our life.

Which do you consider to be the major influence?


Click here for a model answer

Today, the way we consider human psychology and mental development is heavily influenced by genetic research. We now understand the importance of inherited characteristics more than ever before. Yet we are still unable to decide whether an individual’s personality and development are more influenced by genetic factors (nature) or by the environment (nurture). This essay will argue that they are both equally important.

Research relating to identical twins has highlighted how significant inherited characteristics can be for an individual’s life. But whether these characteristics are able to develop within the personality of an individual depends on whether the circumstances allow such a development. It seems that the experiences we have in life are so unpredictable and so powerful that they can boost or over-ride other influences, and there seems to be plenty of research findings to confirm this.

My own view is that there is no one major influence on a person’s life. Instead, the traits we inherit from our parents and the situations and experiences that we encounter in life are constantly interacting. It is the interaction of the two that shapes a person’s personality and dictates how that personality develops. If this were not true, then we would be able to predict the behaviour and character of a person from the moment they were born.

In conclusion, I do not think that either nature or nurture is the major influence on a person, but that both have powerful effects. How these factors interact is still unknown today, and they remain largely unpredictable in a person’s life.


Day 16: How much can you remember?




When an individual’s physical or psychological characteristics are able to change in order to fit different situations and environments. Being adaptive increases that individual’s chances of survival and successful reproduction.


The way a person acts towards others or in response to a situation or stimulus.

Cultural norms

The types of customs, beliefs and behaviours that members of a particular community of people are likely to hold or use.

Cultural variation

Different communities of people will have differences in customs, beliefs and behaviours.


A community of people who share the same customs, beliefs and behaviours.


To change slowly over a number of generations into a different form or state.


Being passed genetically from parent to child.


Inborn or genetic, rather than learned.


Abilities or characteristics gained through experience.


Refers to the argument that characteristics and behaviours are genetically influenced.


Refers to the argument that characteristics and behaviours are influenced by upbringing, environment and experiences.


People who are from the same social group, same age group, or who have the same social status, background, abilities or qualifications.

Peer influence

The effect that those who are similar to us can have on our opinions, behaviours and choices.

Social factors

External events which may affect a person’s behaviour and choices.

Social influence

The effects that other people can have on our opinions or behavior.


A number of people who live together in a defined area or country and who share common values, laws and customs.

Need help? Message me on your favourite platform, or click here.

I'll get back to you as soon as I get your message.

 Back to Home Page

Copyright © 2022 All Rights Reserved Privacy | Terms of Service | Log Out