There has always been a large controversy over whether inherited genes or the environment influences and affects our personality, development, behavior, intelligence and ability. This controversy is most often recognized as the nature verses nurture conflict. Skinner talked a lot about natural selection in that we, as a species, must choose to learn as we progress to be able to survive as long as possible (Catania, 2003). This theory was a huge part of the battle between nature and nurture because Skinner’s arguments have so much science and testing behind them and his experimenting proved his hypothesis. Some people believe that it is strictly genes that affect our ways of life, others believe that it is the environment that affects us, and some believe that both of these influence our behavior. Either way, social scientists have been struggling for centuries deciding whether our personalities are born or made. Tests are done often on identical twins that were separated to see how they are each influenced by their separate environments. In the past twenty years, it has been discovered that there is a genetic component to every human trait and behavior. However, genetic influence on traits and behavior is partial because genetics can account, on average, for half of the variation of most traits. Researchers are finding that the balance between genetic and environmental influences for certain traits change as people get older.
Also, people may react to us in a certain way because of a genetically influenced personality and, we may choose certain experiences because they fit best with our instinctive preferences. This means that our experiences may be influenced by our genetic tendencies. One way researchers study the development of traits and behaviors is by measuring the influence of genetics throughout ones’ life span, and it is found to be that the genetic influence on certain traits increase as people age. Some studies was done to see whether a trait would show up in a child if it was environmentally influenced or genetically influenced. A child was given more negative attention than another was, and it increased the chances of the child having depressive symptoms and anti-social behavior. But these symptoms disappeared when accounted for genetic influences and how parents treat their children. There are three types of gene/environment relations. The first one is called a passive correlation. It is to be explained as, for example, if a musical ability was genetic, and a child was passed a musical ability trait, than the child would most likely have musically inclined parents.
Their parents then would provide them with the genes and environment to promote the development of that ability. The second one is called evocative. This happens when genetically distinct people evoke different reactions from peers and parents and others. And the third association is called an active correlation. This is when people actively select experiences that fit with their genetically influenced preferences. This does not mean that there are no environmental influences on behavior, because, for example, it is found to be that a loss of a parent during childhood promotes alcoholism in women. It is also shown that genetics plays a big role in influencing people within society. Leadership is a big quality that everyone has and there is a wide range of variations. Heritability is what researchers call ‘the degree to which behavioral variations within a population can be accounted for by genes.’ Heritability is what is found to make up a lot of one’s personality. For quite some time, scientists have been trying to draw a line between heredity and leadership also. There is no single leadership personality.
Even intelligence can only go so far with leadership. It also involves how people make decisions, and how they give and carry out rules, how they are involved with a group, and how they inspire and respect others. The list of characteristics is endless. Although genes seem to play as a map for a person’s life, researchers caution that genes act only as an influence. Anyone who has enough will or a strong enough experience could affect the way they act or react for the rest of their life. In other words, if an environmental background is changed, the amount of variation that is due to genetics can change. Both Piaget and Vygotsky argued that children actively construct their knowledge, they did not agree on how that occurred though. While Piaget focused on the biological more, Vygotsky focused on the social aspect.
This may be a classic argument of nature versus nurture. Piaget’s thought process was that learning follows maturation. Vygotsky’s thought process was that learning follows socialization. Although their theories may seem very different, they did in fact know each other and had an impact on one another. (Pass, 2007) In conclusion, it is safe to say that the role of genetics and the environment equalize people’s traits and behavior. You cannot blame either one because without one, the other would not be activated. Genes affect a lot of many aspects of your personality and behavior but the environment mutates and molds the way people are going to act. This will always be an ongoing controversy because it is nearly impossible to pin point accurately where the role of genes and the environment steps in are activated.
Catania, C. (2003). B.F. Skinner’s Science and Human Behavior: Its Antecedents and its Consequences. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 80, 313-320. McClelland, D.C. (1973). Testing for competence rather than for intelligence. American Psychologist, 28, 1-14 Pass, S. (2007).When constructivists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky were pedagogical collaborators: A viewpoint from a study of their communications. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 20, 277-282. Santrock, J. W. (2009). Life-Span Development twelfth edition. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill
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