Science Resources for Learning

Learned vs. Inherited Traits

What is the difference between learned traits and inherited traits? Learned traits are characteristics that are learned, or gained from an environment while inherited traits are characteristics that are gained from their parents.

Living things have many inherited behaviors and characteristics. For example mice avoid being in open places, salmon swim up rivers to complete their life cycle, birds migrate, and bears hibernate. All of these behaviors are not taught from others and just happen naturally because they are part of their DNA or genetic code. Inherited traits are often occur naturally becuase they are important for survival. For example, it is good for mice to avoid open places because open places can make them easy targets for birds and other predators. Most mice would not get a second chance to learn this lesson so having this natural instict is important.

Living things also

The difference between learned and inherited traits is often misunderstood. For example, it is common for people to say that they are not good at math because their parents were not good at math. This is incorrect because math skills are not passed down from parents to their children through their genetic information. No one is born good at math just as no one is born knowing how to read, write, and speak. These are all examples of learned traits.