Nature Vs. Nurture: Effects on Genes, Mental & Physical Health

Theorists, Plato and Descartes proposed certain things were inborn, arising naturally, regardless. Any characteristics that are inherited however, are assumed to be part of ‘evolution.’ Bandura’s, social learning theory stated that we learned from observing the behaviour of others. Locke suggested that the mind began as a blank slate (tabula rasa), which I tend to agree with.

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After all, a new born baby has no way of having any knowledge, or input until they have been born and begin to grow. If this is the case then surely, everything we are and everything we believe is all down to experiences through life as we grow? The nature vs nurture debate rages on.

Identical Twins Education

The study of identical twins shows that people with the same inherited genetics, can still be totally different people. Identical twins are not always physically or behaviourally identical. A lot of factors can help make changes, for example, if the twins do not have the same diets and nutrition then they are more likely to have different heights and even weights Plug and Vijverberg (2003), said that parents who were of a higher intelligence would naturally raise children of the same intellectual level. Their research found that about 70-75 percent of the ability for school achievement, measured by IQ, is determined by Nature. However, there were many flaws found in their research.

As individuals we can perceive our environment in many ways. At birth and through early childhood we are obviously immature, we develop gradually. Therefore, learning plays a very small role in developing our intelligence. An individual’s genes determine who they are, perfecting singular qualities such as temperament, intelligence and behaviour. A study on autism for instance proved that a clinical syndrome may be triggered by genetic risk factors. Walsh et al., (2008). NURTURE Nurture promotes that twins grow as separate individuals. Everyone should dominate their own personality rather than be the same as their ‘other half.’ Identical twins develop from a single fertilized egg and they have the same genome. This means that any differences between the twins are due to their environment, not their genetics. As identical twins grow up, they find ways to make themselves different from the other twin. They find ways like cutting their hair differently, wearing different clothing styles, having different friends and like different social activities, this then must shape who they are, their character and behaviour?

Parents create similar household environments for children due to their upbringing and can spend huge amounts of money creating the best environments for learning both at home and in academic institutions.

Are we are born as ‘blank slates’ acquiring knowledge and abilities through experiences? However, isn’t that nature’s argument too? The environment is important in the development of our intelligence. But how important? Jensen (1969) claimed hereditability to be 80% whereas Bouchard and Segal (1988) said the figure was more likely to be around 50-60%. Nurture sees huge amounts of money being spent on the environment of schools and colleges as creating a nurturing environment to support students, but, that it is wasted on genetically advantaged students.

All that is associated with environmental factors, has a greater impact on human traits and development. It is impossible to argue that ‘our everyday lives since the day of our birth shape our personality’ Ridley (2003). Nature is the term used to describe the genetic or inherent characteristics of a human and nurture is the term used to define the environmental factors, which contribute to the human persona. Both nature and nurture are now commonly viewed as intrinsic factors, which influence the character of an individual, thus psychologists are interested in the factors which influence behaviour both before and after birth. However, this debate has been one of the most controversial and long-standing issues within psychology. The main difference between these phenomena is that the first element stands for the inherited skills while the second one is about personal skills. It means nurture is free of heredity impact. Nature has a lot of information that influences individual’s behaviour. Both nature and nurture have strengths and weaknesses. Twins can be a huge example of how both of their nature and nurture can influence their behaviour. Most people believe that nurture has a stronger and influential point to how individual behaviour and development is inherited. I agree with Freud and Piaget’s theory that experience and maturation are as important as each other and have a massive influence over an individual’s choices throughout their life. I was born and raised in an area that was quite ‘rough’ to say the least. It was a very tight fit community, we all looked after our own, but if you ever mentioned to an outsider that you were from that area, you would get that certain ‘look’ of shock and disbelief. The environment was an area full of heavy drinkers, fighting and racists. If the ‘black Maria’ wasn’t outside the club on a Saturday night, then the club must have been closed. However, I didn’t turn out to be a heavy drinker, enjoy fighting or to be racist, yet I grew up in this environment. I was however raised by my grandmother. She was strict, Victorian in her ways, you were seen and not heard, but she was fair, polite and hard working. I had no input from parents. No nurturing or taking pieces of their personalities. I therefore must sit on the ‘nature’ fence. It is my opinion that you can have a child raised in the best condition, by attentive, loving parents, but they can still turn out to be ‘bad.’ There is overwhelming evidence that both genetic and environmental factors can influence traits and diseases, Benyamin said, ‘What is comforting is that, on average, about 50 percent of individual differences are genetic, and 50 percent are environmental.’ Genes and parents do not just influence their children’s mental abilities, but rather that home environment, culture and peer influence also have an influence in their mental ability.

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