The Everlasting Debate

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Do you believe we are who we are because of our genes or our rearing environments? This has become a big debate in the psychological world for quite some time. The debate of Nature or Nurture has struck many people. Many people would argue that we act the way we do due to Nature, or our genetic make up. Others would argue differently. They would say our environment (nurture) shapes us to be who we are. In other words, we learn from experience. This question was first proposed by Francis Galton in the late 19th century. He believed that intellectual ability was largely inherited. Environmentalists argued against him and said that the human mind is gradually filled as a result of experience. There have been many different experiments proving both nature and nurture make us who we are. I think that the importance of this debate is that we understand how much each of these ideas influence us. By looking into both sides we can form an understanding about what shapes who we are. This helps reveal causes of things to society so that we can use these findings to help predict future outcomes for new borns.

Many nativist believe strictly that our psychological traits including personality, intelligence, and interests are due to a genetic code. They think everything was "wired in" us before we were born. We have physical traits such as eye color, hair color, curly or straight hair, height, weight, and color of skin are due to genetics. There has been studies proving that there are certain genes that contribute to behavior and diseases. For example there are four genes that contribute to the risk of alcoholism. There has also been gene links to how fast a person can run.

On the other hand, empiricists believe that behavioral differences are a result of learning. There has been twin, adoption, and family studies that have helped show that we learn from our environment. One intresting study that has emerged is the study of feral children. This goes to show that we are shaped by our environment. Feral children are usually abandoned or abused at birth. Some are locked up while others are raised in the wilderness by animals. They adopt traits from learning and watching the animals, and it makes them physically behave as an animal. There genetic makeup from their parents really had little impact on these children.The way that these people are is due to their experience. Many of them cannot talk which shows that language is learned over time. Children in the wilderness show traits of animals such as barking, walking on four limbs, and eating like an animal. They aquired these traits due to the experience of watching the animals around them and picking up their habits. There has also been research done on feral children where people try to teach them human language and ways of life and their behavior was actually able to be changed. This shows that we are who we are due to experience and learning. Watch these you tube videos, they are very interesting and show insight to the nurture debate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljVd6XS-J0s&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STn3bpTTU6c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEnkY2iaKis

This debate has somewhat been considered dead now. Almost everyone now agrees that both genes and the environment shape us. Overall genes give us our physical characteristics as well as some inherited behaviors, but our environment and experience in the world really shape who we are.This is relevant to me because it can help me bring up my child in the future. I know that my behavior and their experience will shape them so I need to be careful with some of the things I do which they can learn from. I also know that they will genetically inherit some of my personality traits and features. Even though this debate is at an end, people still have a lot to learn about how the environment and genetics shapes us. This debate does lead me with the question of, what shapes us more? I would like to know which one really makes us more of who we are. These insights can help us form to be someone we want to be.

Read more about this debate at:
http://www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html

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This page contains a single entry by joh09401 published on September 30, 2011 3:06 PM.

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