, Research Paper
Nature or Nurture?
In psychology, both in the past and present, there has been a search for an answer to the question of how our personalities and behaviors are formed. There are two major hypotheses that attempt to answer this question. The first holds that our personality is determined by our genetic makeup. The second hypothesis states that the environment in which we are raised determines our personality. However, neither or these are right, and neither are wrong. The simple truth is that both our genes and our environment and experiences affect who we are.
Our genes lay the basic framework for our behavior, such as survival instincts, the fight or flight reaction, and, as one hypothesis about sleep suggests, our need for sleep. This can be seen in Socrates leap into the river after his cruel master Jennings. Even though Socrates possessed human-like intelligence, thousands of years of loyalty and subservience to human masters had made that undying loyalty a genetic trait. Socrates remains loyal to a master that beats him nightly. Genetic behavior is a compulsive concept. We cannot explain why we need to sleep, just as Socrates could not explain to
the Professor why he had to go back to Jennings. The basic concept that genetics determine our personality and behavior is subscribed to by the Freudians. They believe that by nature, we are bad and impulsive creatures, and that our environments can only thinly veil these basic urges.
While the genes lay the basic framework for our behavior and personality, our environment and experiences give the flat basics a bit of depth and individuality. We are all human, but we are not all the same. Environment and experiences, even those we do not understand fully, affect our personalities and behaviors more specifically than our genes do. We all must sleep, feel fear, and have the basic need to survive, but we do not all have the fear of heights that stems from almost falling off of a cliff when we were
young. Socrates possessed intelligence. His intelligence was due, most likely, to the close proximity of x-rays during his gestation. This is a factor caused by environment. Socrates was a defeatist philosophically. As a pup, he was inches from having his head bashed into a wall. He knew that his genes had determined his fate. He understood that he had to remain loyal to his master, and that it would mean his death. His lean towards defeatism was a product of the circumstances of his upbringing and his environment as he matured. The Behaviorists subscribe to the concept that our experiences and the environment in which we are raised have most precedence in the determination of our behavior and personality.
All things are intertwined within our minds and bodies. The relationship of experiences and genetics to behavior and personality is a complex one. Environments affected our behavior, the behavior became genetics, the genetics lead to domination of our world, and the domination changed our environments. Will the new environment affect our genes? Has it already, perhaps? Will longer lifespans cause us to mature more slowly? There are many questions to be asked, and many solutions undiscovered. Socrates behavior and personality, like all developed lifeforms, was affected by both his genes and the environment and experiences unique to him.