The Use of Genetic Designs (Ch. 3)

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How much do genes contribute to the human traits we all possess? How much does environment play a role? These are the basic questions which lead into further discovery by scientists who study heritability. I am not a biological science enthusiast by nature, and, thus, found myself struggling to scan the lengthy chapter three in the textbook on "Biological Psychology". However, I found myself interested in these particular questions that were brought up near the end of the chapter and how scientists answer them by employing the use of three different behavioral genetic designs: 1). Family Studies, 2). Twin Studies, and 3). Adoption Studies. (116) Then, I began to think about my own experiences with heritability and if I considered one of these studies to be less useful than the rest.

With the use of family studies, researchers discover how much a certain characteristic runs within intact families, or families in which all members are raised in the same home. This study has a particular shortcoming, however, and it is that members of a family often share a similar environment as well as a similar genetic makeup, so the clear winner in the battle of "nature vs. nurture" in these studies is never really established. (116) The last idea mentioned made me think of my own family and my older brother, Guy. Guy is a successful, passionate, thirty year old man who happens to be gay.

As a homosexual man, he disagrees with my conservative, Catholic parents on nearly every issue in nearly every walk of life. He grew up in the environment my parents built for all of us children. This was an environment my parents grew up in and continued to live in. With that said, I cannot envision how Guy's homosexuality could have been influenced by the environment we grew up in at all. My brother Dan, on the other hand, shares the same exact views as my parents, and it is likely that our environment of upbringing is responsible for this. Therefore, it is a challenge for me to know if the environment or genetic makeup plays a greater role in human characteristics through the family studies lens. I now seek answers for the following questions: Which genetic design is the most useful/relevant? How can other forms of studies related to heritability be developed in different categories other than twins, families, and adoption? Will there ever really be a clear-cut winner in the "nature vs. nurture" debate?


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I found this post interesting considering how I have a somewhat similar situation. My older brother, Tyler (27), is gay while my other brother, Emery (21), is straight. I wouldn't say my parents are extreme conservatives but my brothers & I were raised to go to church every Sunday. I'd agree with you in saying that Tyler's homosexuality was not influenced by the environment. Although Emery doesn't necessarily share the same views to my parents unlike your brother Dan. Tyler's views are actually more similar to my parent's than Emery's. I really don't think there will ever be a clear cut winner in the "nature-nurture" battle. Something I've considered is that maybe it's part of our genetic make up to be more/less susceptible to our environment or certain aspects of our environment. When I think about my friends from high school some are completely different people after they left home. Others are more hard headed and despite the environment change as a person they didn't change much. It's just an idea but like I said before, I doubt we will ever find a clear-cut winner since nature and nurture seem to overlap so much.

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This page contains a single entry by carda017 published on February 4, 2012 5:22 PM.

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