Nature V/S Nurture
NATURE V/S NURTURE Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is and I am standing here in front of you all to present to you my opinions about the topic “Nature v/s Nurture”. Considering it, the foremost question that comes to mind is what exactly is nature and nurture? My dear listeners, nature and nurture are a convenient jingle of words, for it separates under two distinct heads the innumerable elements of which personality is composed.
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Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence that affects him after his birth.
The use of the terms “nature” and “nurture” is a convenient catch-phrase for the roles of heredity and environment in human development. Some scientists think that people behave as they do according to genetic predispositions or even “animal instincts. ” This is known as the “nature” theory of human behavior. Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so. This is known as the “nurture” theory of human behavior. The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology.
It centers on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development. The debate is actually about how far are human behaviors, ideas, and feelings, INNATE and how far are they all LEARNED? It concerns the relative importance of an individual’s innate qualities (“nature,” i. e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences (“nurture,” i. e. empiricism or behaviorism) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits.
For example, Is it just coincidence that Bobby Bonds and his son Barry both made baseball history with their all-star power and speed? Or that Francis Ford Coppola and daughter Sofia rose to fame as award-winning film directors? Or you got your green eyes from your mother, and your freckles from your father. But where did you get your thrill-seeking personality and talent for singing? Did you learn these from your parents or was it predetermined by your genes? While it’s clear that physical characteristics are hereditary, the genetic waters get a bit more murky when it comes to an ndividual’s behavior, intelligence, and personality. To fully understand it we need to discuss each part separately. The nature argument states that everything a person will ever become, their physical appearance, personality etc. , is already decided since their developmental information is in their genes. Genes are activated at appropriate times during development and are the basis for protein production. Proteins include a wide range of molecules, such as hormones and enzymes that act in the body as signaling and structural molecules to direct development.
Scientists have known for years that traits such as eye color and hair color are determined by specific genes encoded in each human cell. The Nature Theory takes things a step further to say that more abstract traits such as intelligence, personality, aggression, and sexual orientation are also encoded in an individual’s DNA. A good example of this is identical twins. If genetics didn’t play a part, then fraternal twins, reared under the same conditions, would be alike, regardless of differences in their genes.
But, while studies show they do more closely resemble each other than do non-twin brothers and sisters, they also show these same striking similarities when reared apart – as in similar studies done with identical twins. The nurture argument, on the other hand, argues that although inherited genes make up the person, they do not limit the potential a person can achieve if the right environment is provided. While not discounting that genetic tendencies may exist, supporters of the nurture theory believe they ultimately don’t matter – that our behavioral aspects originate only from the environmental factors of our upbringing.
Studies on infant and child temperament have revealed the most crucial evidence for nurture theories. * American psychologist John Watson, best known for his controversial experiments with a young orphan named Albert, demonstrated that the acquisition of a phobia could be explained by classical conditioning. A strong proponent of environmental learning, he said: Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select… egardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors. * Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner’s early experiments produced pigeons that could dance, do figure eights, and play tennis. Today known as the father of behavioral science, he eventually went on to prove that human behavior could be conditioned in much the same way as animals. * A study in New Scientist suggests that sense of humor is a learned trait, influenced by family and cultural environment, and not genetically determined. If environment didn’t play a part in determining an individual’s traits and behaviors, then identical twins should, theoretically, be exactly the same in all respects, even if reared apart. But a number of studies show that they are never exactly alike, even though they are remarkably similar in most respects. Taking the above in considerastion, we can even find some cases in which both nature and nurture effect the individual’s traits. For example, identical twins reared apart are less similar than identical twins reared together. Another example is found by the researchers at the University of Southern California.
They found that when it comes to taking that first smoke, women are more likely than men to be affected by environmental factors such as peer pressure. Genetic factors, however, play a larger role in influencing men to start smoking. Similarly, Mayo Clinic researchers found that environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals, play a greater role in men developing Parkinson’s disease, while genetic factors affect Parkinson’s susceptibility in women. And even though scientists are finding genes linked to alcoholism, they aren’t ruling out environmental factors.
Because even though it is now widely accepted that genetic variation predisposes to alcohol and drug dependence, but it’s also very clear that without environmental factors—including access to alcohol and drugs—addictions don’t occur. Turns out genes have what are called epigenetic markers. Acting like a volume knob for genes, these tags adjust the intensity of gene expression. Identical twins are born with the same epigenome. But over time, environmental factors such as chemical exposure, diet and other lifestyle differences can alter these markers. That’s why identical twins might become less alike as they get older.
In one twin, an epigenetic marker could activate the gene expression for schizophrenia or cancer, but not in the other twin. This discovery has added another layer of complexity to the nature-versus-nurture matter: For instance, finding that identical twins don’t both display a disorder such as addiction, doesn’t mean that addiction is not genetic. So, was the way we behave engrained in us before we were born? Or has it developed over time in response to our experiences? Researchers on all sides of the nature vs nurture debate agree that the link between a gene and a behavior is not the same as cause and effect.
While a gene may increase the likelihood that you’ll behave in a particular way, it does not make people do things. Which means that we still get to choose who we’ll be when we grow up. As Jawaharlal Nehru rightly said: “Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will”. Kranzler also said: “Genetic predisposition is not destiny,” So, the issue not only remains unresolved still but evidences and experiments show that the influence of both nature and nurture play enormous parts in our personal development or the inhibition of it.
But the question now comes about the distribution of effecting traits between them. Ultimately, it is probably misleading to say that X% of behavioral trait is due to genes and (100-X)% is due to nurture/environment because there are no clear cut boundaries between them. The key is to understand the interactions between the two. This difference is perhaps highlighted in the quote attributed to psychologist Donald Hebb who is said to have once answered a journalist’s question of “which, nature or nurture, contributes more to personality? ” by asking in response, “Which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width? “