Nature vs Nurture? Are we really born that way?
You got your green eyes from your mother and your freckles from your father. But where did you get your thrill-seeking personality and talent for singing? Did you learn these from your parents or was it predetermined by your genes? While it’s clear that physical characteristics are hereditary, the genetic waters get a bit murkier when it comes to an individual’s behaviour, intelligence, and personality. Ultimately, the old argument of nature vs. nurture has never really been won. We do not yet know how much of what we are is determined by our DNA and how much by our life experience. But we do know that both play a part.
Some scientists think that people behave as they do according to genetic predispositions or even “animal instincts.” This is known as the “nature” theory of human behaviour. Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so. This is known as the “nurture” theory of human behaviour.
Fast-growing understanding of the human genome has recently made it clear that both sides are partly right. Nature endows us with inborn abilities and traits; nurture takes these genetic tendencies and molds them as we learn and mature. End of story, right? Nope. The “nature vs nurture” debate still rages on, as scientist fight over how much of who we are is shaped by genes and how much by the environment.
So, was the way we behave engrained in us before we were born? Or has it developed over time in response to our experiences? Researchers on all sides of the nature vs nurture debate agree that the link between a gene and a behaviour is not the same as cause and effect. While a gene may increase the likelihood that you’ll behave in a particular way, it does not make people do things. Which means that we still get to choose who we’ll be when we grow up.
Now, think about your parents and their pet hates, have you inherited any?
Leave a comment below!