October 2011 Archives

Nature Vs. Nurture: An Intertwined Web

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Throughout many years, the debate between nature and nurture has been a prevalent force. On one side of the argument, well known philosophers such as John Locke have claimed that our brain is a "blank slate" and that all of our behavioral traits are attributed to our environment. On the other side, experts claim that our traits are inherently due to our genetic makeup. But is it really possible that our traits are attributed solely to our environment or our genetic makeup? Or is it much more plausible that it is a combination of both, not one or the other, that make us who we are?


Clearly, there are strong arguments for both.

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The figure above shows a strong correlation between the IQ's of identical twins reared together as well as identical twins reared apart, while the unrelated persons reared together did not have a strong correlation of IQ's. This strongly supports the argument that personality traits, intelligence in this case, are genetically influenced.

However, there are also studies that argue that environment plays a much bigger role than expected.intelligenceFlynnEffect.jpg

This figure represents a study performed by James Flynn. It shows that IQ levels have been rising in all countries since WW2. His reasoning for this? Environment. Flynn found 21 environmental factors that influence intelligence such as parental ambition, book reading, criminality, and a plethora of other factors. This supports the argument that environmental factors do indeed influence mental ability.

So from the figures above, it is noted that nature and nurture both play roles in our behavioral traits. Its obvious that some traits, such as height, weight and eye color are highly heritable, but other traits are highly malleable and can be easily influenced by environment, or "nurture". So while looking at the grand scheme of things, it is important that neither nurture nor nature is the sole determinate of our traits. Instead, nature and nurture are intertwined in one web that makes up our complex being.

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