Serial Killer: Nature vs. Nurture
The Nature vs. Nurture debate is a long-standing controversy over whether human behavior is primarily determined by genetics (Nature) or by environmental factors (Nurture). The pro side of the debate between nature and nurture aspects of serial killers would argue that serial killers are born with certain predispositions or traits that lead them to commit their heinous acts. These predispositions could include a lack of empathy, impulsivity, and an inclination to violent behavior. The Con side of the debate argues that serial killers are born with innate qualities and characteristics predisposing them to crime. This includes a lack of empathy, lack of remorse, and a lack of fear of consequences. This debate is especially relevant when considering the behavior of serial killers, as some experts argue that they are born with a predisposition towards violence. In contrast, others argue that environmental factors, such as a traumatic upbringing, can cause someone to develop violent tendencies. Supporters of the Nature side of the debate point to the genetic similarities among serial killers and the fact that some serial killers have a history of mental illness in the family. Additionally, they would point to the fact that some serial killers have a history of mental illness, which could result from genetic factors. Furthermore, proponents of the "nature" side of the debate would argue that even if serial killers are exposed to certain environmental factors, such as a lack of parental guidance or violent media, these factors alone do not explain the behavior of serial killers. The Con side also argues that some serial killers have a genetic predisposition to violence and aggression, which makes them more likely to become serial killers. Furthermore, the Con side believes that a person's environment and upbringing can impact their development and behavior, but it does not create a serial killer. It may, however, amplify existing tendencies or lead to the development of certain antisocial behaviors. The motivation behind a serial killer's actions cannot be explained by genetics or upbringing alone, but a combination of the two may be able to. Beyond a few shared traits, serial killers are unique people shaped by their extraordinary experiences, circumstances, and mindsets.
The Literature Review
This literature review will explore the controversial debate between the nature and nurture aspects of serial killers. It will look at the various theories surrounding the development of serial killers and the arguments for and against each theory. It will also look at the potential implications of these theories for society and law enforcement. Additionally, this review will address how understanding this debate could lead to more effective crime prevention strategies. Ultimately, this review will provide an overview of the various theories and opinions surrounding the debate between the nature and nurture aspects of serial killers.
A brief look at the histological perspectives of the serial killer's nature and nurture aspects
The debate between nature and nurture regarding serial killers has been controversial since the 1800s. In the early days, scientists and criminologists believed that environmental factors, such as poverty and crime-ridden neighborhoods, contributed to serial killers' behaviors. They believed these environmental factors could make a person prone to violence and crime. In the mid-1900s, scientists began theorizing that genetics played a role in criminal behavior, including serial killers. This led to the "nature vs. nurture" debate, which is still alive today. On the nature side of the debate, some believe that a person's biology, including brain chemistry and genetic makeup, plays a role in criminal behavior. This theory suggests that some people may be predisposed to violence and aggression due to their biology. On the nurture side, some believe that a person's environment, upbringing, and experiences are the primary factors that contribute to criminal behavior. This theory suggests that a person's environment can shape their behavior, including violent criminal behavior. Today, the debate between nature and nurture regarding serial killers continues.
The argument between nature and nurture aspects of a serial killer
The pro side of the debate between the nature and nurture aspects of serial killers is that some are born with a predisposition for violence due to genetic factors. Hernandez et al. (2015) suggest that specific genes, such as the MAOA gene, can make a person more prone to violent behavior. This means that some serial killers may be unable to help their violent tendencies and be considered victims of their biology (Hernandez et al., 2015). Additionally, some serial killers may have grown up in abusive or traumatic environments, which could have contributed to their violent behavior. O'Hara (2021) suggests that their environment may have had a significant influence on the development of their violent tendencies and that they may have been victims of their circumstances. For example, research has suggested that a lack of nurturing and warmth in early childhood and a lack of parental control and supervision may contribute to the development of psychopathy among serial killers. Additionally, it has been suggested that certain aspects of criminal behavior can be attributed to social learning, whereby individuals learn from their environment and the people around them. In this sense, it can be argued that nurture is a significant factor in the development of serial killers.
The con side of the debate between nature and nurture aspects of serial killers is that serial killers are born, not made. This is because research has shown that genetics plays a large role in the development of a serial killer. For example, according to Entail (2021), certain genetic markers, such as a combination of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine receptors, are present in serial killers. Additionally, certain behavior traits, such as impulsiveness and aggression, have been linked to genetic variations. Furthermore, Davies (2022) found that serial killers have a higher incidence of psychopathic traits, which may be inherited. The con side of the debate also suggests that environmental factors, such as poverty, abuse, or neglect, are not the cause of serial killers. While these factors may contribute to criminal behavior, they are not the sole cause of serial killers (Davies, 2022). This is because serial killers often come from stable backgrounds, and many have been found to have had loving and supportive families. Additionally, some serial killers have been found to have had successful careers and no significant criminal records before their murders. Overall, the con side of the debate suggests that serial killers are the result of a combination of both nature and nurture.
Supporters of the Nurture side of the debate argue that environmental factors, such as poverty, abuse, and neglect, can lead someone to become a serial killer. Ultimately, the jury is still unsure which of these two theories is more accurate, and both sides continue to argue their case, making this an ongoing, controversial debate. Supporters of the "nature" side of the argument would cite research that suggests a genetic component to serial killers, which could explain why some people have a greater risk of becoming serial killers than others. It is impossible for genetics or upbringing to account for a serial killer's motivations fully, but a mix of the two may be able to. Serial killers are distinct individuals who, beyond a few basic characteristics, are molded by their unusual experiences, environments, and mindsets.
Davies, N. (2022, August 24). From abused child to serial killer: Investigating nature vs nurture in methods of murder. Psychiatry Advisor. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from
Entail, W. D. A. S. K. (2021). Are Serial Killers Born or Made?.
Hernandez, J., Highsmith, J., Madrigal, S., & Mercado, M. (2015). Nature (MAOA) and Nurture in a Criminal. UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, 8(1).
O'Hara, K. (2021, October 23). Nature vs nurture: The making of a serial murderer. Medium. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from