Last Updated 28 Mar 2021

Nature versus Nurture

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As far as how an individual personality is biologically determined, no one really knows just in what manner it is accumulated. In an article conducted by John Hockett, he describes the differences as such; “Nature is a trait which does not change with age, while nurture is an influence, uncorrelated with nature and making for individual differences which change with the length over time or number of years through which it acts”. In other words, nature is permanent and nurture causes it to fluctuate (Hockett).

Early childhood experiences are often linked with personality changes in people. This goes along with theories that maybe personality is only determined from your own experiences after you’re born. Many people also believe that personality is pre-determined by your biological make-up even before you are born. The truth in the matter is that your personality is made up by a combination of both nature(Biological Genotype) and nurture (your personal life experiences). There are many problems involving the nature vs. nurture debate.

The idea that peoples personality/disition making is strictly biological at birth and cannot be changed throughout their life could be used to argue that people charged with major crimes should not be given the chance to be rehabilitated. This would be because we believe that people cannot change their moral being, even if put through helpful services. For people who believe that nurture (or your environment you are in growing up) is the only factors for personality development would have to argue that you are not born with your personality, that it is created from your own life expirience.

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This conclusion would make it very hard to show hereditary links between personality and mood disorders in family trees. I personally have heard of studies that show that there is a correlation between the two (nature & nurture theories) In present day, most psychiatrists can agree that personality is shown in early development of children and that it can be srastically altered from tramatic childhood neglect fo expiriences. This proves that “nuture” is almost definitely involved in personality factors. Nature is the phrase that is used to describe any personality traits that are strictly up to your genetics.

There are some studies that show biologically set in stone personalities. Some people have a natural dopamine deficiency that causes them to be more thrill seeking in order to get that missing void filled. You can test people average hormonal levels as well in order to determine how they might be influenced by genetic factors. Studies have shown that babies that have stressed out mothers while they are in the womb tend to be born showing more anxiety and stressfulness than those that were born from calmer mothers.

Nurture refers to the personality traits that are obtained over a lifetime, or in other word things that are not genetically implanted in DNA. The famous and probably one of the first people to suggest this was the philosopher John Locke who came up with the idea that everyone is born with no knowledge or personality and every experience shapes them. This is called the “blank slate” theory. The problem with this theory is that it means that humans would have no instinctual knowledge and everything would be up to your own personal experience.

Humans have the natural ability to have some things such as breathing and temperature regulation as instinct. To bring nature (genetics) together with nurture (environment) in the study of social development we will have to look at results of many social-development studies. According to Robert Plomin ; three examples are the newest ideas for developmental examinations of personality( Plomin). First, he claims that there are three key areas of social development; attachment, empathy, and social competence. He claims that “these suggest that genetic factors contribute to individual differences in social development” (Plumin).

Second, research on widely used measures of social environment implicates a genetic contribution. Plumin believes that nature does have an effect on personality but his emphasis is on the rise of increasingly advanced technology being used to read genetic variation to determine personality traits. “It is predicted that behavioral genetic research will be conducted using DNA markers that assess genetic variation among individuals directly rather than resorting to indirect estimates based on twin and adoption methods. This will revolutionize behavioral genetic research and make it more accessible and applicable to developmentalists” (Plumin).

As a first step in the direction of behavioral genetics, social developmentalists are encouraged to include siblings in their research. Plumin is a very good example of one of the many people who are still in the debate of Nature vs. nurture as far as personality goes.

Works Cited

  1. Plomin, R. (1994). Nature, nurture, and social development. Social Development, 3(1), 37-53. doi: http://dx. doi. org/10. 1111/j. 1467-9507. 1994. tb00022.
  2. x Symonds, P. M. (1926). Nature vs. nurture. Journal of Educational Psychology, 17(7), 498-500. doi: http://dx. doi. org/10. 1037/h0067291

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