Is Your Child a Product of Your Genetics or Environmental Factors

Nature Versus Nurture — One of The Biggest Psychological Debates

The debate between nature and nurture has been one that has fascinated me for many years. None more so than recently, as I watch my daughter grow.

My daughter loves books and hates peas and dresses. I hate peas and dresses and love books. We are two peas in a pod, excuse the pun. We are a perfect genetic match, except we aren’t because she is my adopted daughter.

This led me to think exactly how much of child development is nature and how much is nurture.

Initial Nature Versus Nurture Theory

Nature versus nurture refers to the difference between biologically traits and learnt traits.

The first publicised information, for this theory, was in 1869 by Francis Galton. However, psychologists have been debating this theory as early as Hippocrates time.

Hippocrates thought all characteristics were a result of biological factors. He put human behaviour down to four bodily fluids.

  • Yellow Bile
  • Blood
  • Black Bile
  • Phlegm

Thank god we have moved on from these thoughts. Philosophers, Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke thought people were born as a blank canvas. Their behaviour traits developed later from environmental factors.

If All Development is Nurture

Then how do we explain diseases such as sickle cell and downs syndrome? These have been linked to genetic markers within our DNA.

If these diseases then alter our personality. Do they become a product of the biological trait or environmental factors? Do people act differently to us, because of our diseases? In turn, does this change our personality?

If All Development is Nature

Then explain how we have domesticated wolves into our homes. If mankind did not use nurture to tame the wolves, then would so many of us have dogs as members of our family.

Twin Studies

To settle this argument several scientists have conducted experiments on twins. None more famous or gruesome than Josef Mengele.

Jim Lewi and Jim Springer studied identical twins who had been raised apart from four weeks old. When the twins were reunited at the age of 39 the similarities were mind-blowing.

  • Both suffered from tension headaches
  • Both were prone to nail-biting
  • Both smoked the same brand of cigarette
  • Both drove similar types of car
  • Both had vacationed in Florida

These studies show that all development could be targeted as nature, even the fact that you smoke or not.

So What is The Argument For Both

Several factors could make us presume that both sets of scientists are right. A combination of both nature and nurture will develop our children.

Cancer and heart disease have been found to have genetic markers. Both cancer and heart disease can be caused by lifestyle choice. A combination of both factors can lead to you developing these diseases. Nature through genetics and nurture through bad lifestyle choices.

Intelligence can also be attributed to a combination of both nature and nurture. Genes will affect the biochemistry of your brain. Subsequently nurture will play a part in this as you need to be in an environment where learning is offered. Where books are available to develop your brain to higher intelligence.

The vessel the information goes into is nature, but the quality of the information is nurture.

Did you know a babies intelligence comes from its mother? Take a bow all mums out there.

We would be remiss to think either theory is correct. The truth is that humans are a combination of nature and nurture.

Traits such as eye colour and hair colour are biologically inherited characteristics. Many of you may have the same sense of humour as your parents or children. Your personality is similar to those in your immediate family.

Children who have attachment disorder show similar personality traits. Nurture or the lack of it develops these, not nature.

At the end of the day, my daughter is perfect. She has a great set of genetics inherited from her nature side. She will continue to develop through both those genetics and the nurturing I give her.


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