Nature Vs Nuture Essay, Research Paper
Nature Vs Nurture
“The History of one’s universe is not written in the genes inherited
from the sum of one’s ancestors. (Shore, 23)
What is it that makes us who we are? This is a question that has been asked by many people countless times. The debate Nature Vs Nurture has been a longing standing one and the controversy over what determines who we are, whether it is, Nature (heredity, our biological make up) or Nurture (our environment) has been a widely discussed topic. There is no clear answer to this question though it seems that both play apart in making an individual. So a new question arises on which of the two plays a greater role? The environment is more significant in the development of a personality than one’s biological makeup. Though people are born with certain traits (physical or mental), it is the things a person witnesses and interacts with that shape their personality.
Children inherit genes from their parents. They inherit physical attributes (eye colour, hair colour, and height), mental abilities, and other skills. All these things are possessed by a child but not all of them will be used or brought to the forefront if the right environmental conditions are not there. Vision is a good example: “Unless an infant sees light during the first 6 months, the nerves leading from the eye to the visual cortex of the brain that processes those signals will degenerate and die.” It is easy to see that the condition one is immersed in is important to development. Someone could be born with the genes to possibly become a genius, but if the environment is such that the gift is not cultivated than it lies dormant and may never surface.
Humans are separated form other species by many things but one of the main things is our ability to communicate with one another through language. The ability to speak is within everybody from when they are born but the speed in which one learns to speak or if one learns to speak at all depends heavily on their environment. Children learn to speak from imitating the sounds their parents make. If the child is deprived of contact with other people and isolated, they are not able to develop proper speech because they have no one to communicate with. They have no idea what language is or how to produce it. Language needs to be taught and can’t be inherited, the environment fosters such abilities to surface.
“Some children are born with the tendency to be irritable, impulsive and insensitive to emotions in others.” , is a biological trait that occurs naturally but does not definitely determine if the child will turn out that way. “When these child characteristics combine with adult caregiving that is withdrawn and neglectful, children’s brains can wire in ways that may result in unsympathetic child behaviour. When these child characteristics combine with adult caregiving that is angry and abusive, children’s brains can wire in ways that result in violent and overly aggressive child behaviour.” Infants and toddlers do learn about themselves and their world during interactions with others. Even though the predisposition of a child may be bad they are not permanent. “Brain connections that lead later to success grow out of nurturing, supportive and predictable care. This fosters creativity, curiosity, and self-confidence in a child.”
Puberty is a stage of development that is programmed in our DNA. Everybody hits it at different times, not really knowing when it is going to happen. But a study done by Vanderbilt University illustrates that the environment does play a role in determining when puberty occurs. “A young girl’s relationship with her family, especially with her father, my influence at what age she enters puberty .Girls with close, supportive relationships with their parents tend to develop at later ages while those with distant and cold relationships develop earlier. ” Our genes do not tell us when to hit puberty but it seems that the environment we live in does.
As knowledge of our DNA is discovered, the idea of cloning an individual is not so farfetched. But cloning doesn’t guarantee that the cloned individual will be physically or behaviourally identical to the donor. For example,
“Identical twins share identical nuclear genomes just as clones do. In addition, identical twins share identical mitochondrial DNA as well. Yet it is clear that identical twins are neither physically nor behaviorally identical to one another. If they do not have identical diets and nutrition, then they will not be the same height or weight. Or they may suffer dissimilar injuries, or wear their hair different lengths. Identical twins will often not share the exact same values or beliefs. They often do not like the same sports. They usually choose different occupations. They do not always choose similar friends or mates. If genetically identical twins, (or clones) were raised in different environments then their physical and behavioral characteristics would differ accordingly. Imagine identical twins who are separated at birth. One is raised by a middle class French family living in Marsailles. The other twin is raised by a Kickapoo Indian family living on the Kickapoo Indian Reservation in Oklahoma, USA. How identical will these genetically identical people end up looking and acting? Will they think alike? Will they feel they same way about the same kinds of things? Will have the same beliefs? Will they dream alike? Will they have the same needs and desires? Will they like the same kinds of people, foods, drinks, clothes? Obviously the answer is no. One will dress, speak and be French. The other will dress, speak, and be a Kickapoo Indian. Their differences will be readily apparent. But will they have any significant similarities? If so, can these similarities be the result of their having identical genomes? In short, the environment in which genetically identical individuals grow and develop shapes their physical and behavioral appearances in many significant ways. The genome codes for potential. The genome is not deterministic of many significant physical and behavioral characteristics, because the environment acts upon this genetic potential to determine the final characteristics.”
Twins have distinct personalities, and yet have identical DNA. The only possible difference is the situations each encounters and the environment in which they are immersed. Thus, their environment is shaping their view of the world, not their genes. Furthermore, if a person sees a tragic event such as a violent crime or accident, that person is bound to construct an opinion about what they saw, and therefore probably change their mental set about what happened. If they previously thought, for example, that it was safe to go in a certain neighborhood at night, and then they witnessed a robbery there, they are bound to form the opinion that it is no longer safe to go there at that time. What we see and live through shapes our opinions and future decisions. It seems that the environment plays a greater role in developing a person’s personality. Even though people are born with certain traits that seem to stay with them throughout their life, the things one witnesses and participates in seem to shape one’s personality more so than predetermined drives.