The controversy between nature and nurture as related to the human behavior can be dated back to the 13th century and from that time there has been continued debate regarding the source of human personality. The debate is based on issue of whether the human personality develops from inheritance (nature) or from the environment in which human beings are raised (nurture). Due to the above controversy there has been a lot of research carried out and this has resulted to the belief held by most people today that the human personality is influenced by both the nature and nurture.
This belief has been known as ‘interactionism’ and scholars in most of the fields believe in the concept. Adoption, Twin and family Studies A great debate between researchers has come up regarding the outcomes of families, adoption and birth of twins. Some researchers argue that there is a genetic basis to criminal behavior while others argue that there is no enough evidence in the cases of adoption, twin births and family status to show that genes play a crucial role in the development of antisocial or criminal traits.
Twin studies are conducted to compare the rates of criminal behavior among identical twins and fraternal twins so as to study the role played by genes and environmental influences on the behavior of an individual. According to Joseph, 2001, there is a high degree of heritability in the behavior of fraternal and identical twins. This study was very important because it assessed the issue of different environments among twins because the twins were raised under different environments. The research concluded that hereditary factors play a less significant role in development of antisocial and criminal behaviors (Joseph, 2001; 179-218).
Adoption studies have also been carried out to study the relationship between adoptive kids and their foster and biological parents because the studies separate nature and nurture. The relationship between environmental and genetic influences on antisocial behavior has also been studied by family studies although the results have been the least accepted compared to the others because of the high level of difficulty in separating nurture and nature in the family.
Neurochemicals in Sociopathic, Criminal and Antisocial Behavior According to Elliot, 2000 neurochemichals play a significant role in activating behavior patterns in a definite area of the brain. Research has been carried out to determine the role played by neurochemicals in influencing antisocial and criminal behaviors and it has been found out that there is a genetic component in the development of antisocial and criminal behavior. Recently there has been study of personality disorders in individuals who seem to develop criminal or antisocial behaviors and these have also been seen to influence human behavior (Elliot, 2000; pp. 9-21).
Environmental influences Researchers have agreed that genes have a significant influence on the antisocial or criminal behavior of an individual. However, researchers have also agreed that there is need to assess the environmental component as this may also influence development of criminal and antisocial behaviors in human beings. The family environment is very important to the development of a child and if there are problems within the family then it is obvious that the child will suffer the consequences.
Researchers have argued that the environment within a family influences the behavior of the child and the major risk factors within a family are family structure, poverty, level of education within the family and the parenting practices (Schmitz, 2003; 835-840). Families that have weak bonds and poor communications within the family are known to have a higher likelihood of children developing antisocial and criminal behavior.
It is then obvious to conclude that those families that are not financially stable, those who have more children and those families where it is difficult to punish kids consistently will create an environment likely to create antisocial or criminal behavior among the kids. Children who were neglected or abused during their younger days are 0. 5 times more likely to develop antisocial or criminal behavior as compared to those kids who received care and were not abuse (Holmes et al, 2001; pp. 183-192).
Another finding in the research on the influences of environmental and genetic findings on the development of antisocial or criminal behavior is age. Research has shown that both in children and adults, the environment is the major significant factor that influences their criminal and antisocial behaviors. Heritability has been seen to influence the behavior of adults more than the environment. Adults have the ability to choose the environment that they want to stay unlike kids and adolescents and this accounts for the high influence of environment on the behavior of kids and adolescents as compared to adults.
Another factor that influences the development of sociopathic, criminal and antisocial behavior mostly in adolescents is peer group influence. The major reason as to why peer influences affects the antisocial and criminal behavior can be seen in the violent behavior common in young children which extends to their peers in the same school or neighborhood. This kind of a relationship is likely to be carried over to the adolescence stage and in some instances to the adult stage.
The peers create an environment in which they tend to influence each other on matters concerning behavior and if their behavior is antisocial behavior the peer end up influencing others to adopt the behavior (Holmes et al, 2001; 183-195). So as to explain the way in which environment can influence the behavior of an individuals researchers use social learning theory. This means that a child will observe sociopathic, criminal or antisocial behavior from the parents or siblings although in some cases both the parents and the siblings.
As a result of observing the aggressive behavior the kids believe that the behavior is normal and that there is no mistake in behaving just like the parents (Miles & Carey, 1997; pp. 207-217). Gene-Environment interactions Researchers have realized that there are theories related to genetic and environmental influences that show a clear interaction between the two factors and one major theory is the normal stimulation theory of criminality. This theory suggests an interaction between a group of factors that are combined of the genes and the environment; this factors lead to development of criminality among individuals.
The theory argues that the individuals acquire a nervous system that does not respond to low levels of stimulation and therefore the individual has to find the right stimulation so as to increase their arousal and the stimulation includes activities that lead to antisocial, sociopathic or criminal behaviors (Miles & Carey, 1997; pp. 207-217).
Conclusion There has not been enough evidence to strongly conclude that genes play a more significant role in shaping the behavior of those individual who indulge in sociopathic, criminal and antisocial behavior as compared to the environmental factors.
The studies that have been carried out have shown that there is a high degree difficulty in trying to separate nature and nurture and therefore there is need to carry out research to clearly define the influence of environmental and genetic factors on the behavior of individuals. At this point it is wise to conclude that both the environmental and genetic factors play significant roles in shaping the behavior of individuals.