Definition of Environment:

Environment is a terminology that comprises all living and non-living things that occur naturally on earth or some part of it. Eg the natural environment in a country. This term include few key components

  1. Complete ecological units that function as natural systems without massive human intervention, including all vegetation, animals, microorganisms, rocks, atmosphere and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries.
  2. Universal natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear cut boundaries such as air, water and climate as well as energy, radiation, electric charge and magnetism; not originating from human activity.


  1. Shared environment:- this refers to a set of conditions or experiences that is shared by children raised in the same family with each other. This is normally used in carrying out studies of individual differences.
  2. Non-shared environment:- this refers to a set of conditions or activities that is experienced by one child in a family and not shared with another child in the same family.

According to (Reiss etal 1991), children raised in the same family have both shared and non-shared experiences. The conditions shared would include such factors as being poor or well off, living in good or bad neighborhoods and having parents who are employed or unemployed, in good health or physically or mentally ill.

The experiences not shared in contrast would include factors or events related to the individual characteristics of a particular child eg what specific activities that a child engages in, or how he/she is treated because of age, gender, temperament, illness or physical and cognitive abilities. (Hetherington 1990)


Not only does the environment influence genes, but genes also influence the environment to which people are exposed. Eg parents with certain genetic predispositions can create a home environment that suits those predispositions and which also suits and encourage the inherited predisposition of their children.

Peoples inherited tendencies can also evoke environmental influence from others. During the course of development, the genotype interacts with the environment in complex ways to produce the phenotype

Genotype in this case refers to the particular set of genes that a person inherits from his/her parents. Phenotype on the other hand is what is created by the interaction of a persons genotype or genetic make-up with the environment. It is the visible expression of the persons particular physical and behavioural characteristics. (Hetherington 1995)

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