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Nature vs. Nurture Essay

There is a constant battle between researchers from different fields saying almost all traits come from genetic makeup and that traits are based off of the environment a person is living in. When it comes down to the argument of nature versus nurture, there is no clear answer. Based on the research, I believe the environment plays a larger role in determining a person’s traits than genes do. The way an individual is raised can have different influences on their intelligence and how they will end up as adults. Family is also a major role in the upbringing of a child.

When a person in raised in an environment with negative factors, they could be slightly off mentally, and even physically, as an adult. A person that grows up with parents that are addicted to toxic substances, it is believed they have a greater risk of being addicts throughout their life because that is what they were raised with. However, some researchers believe it is in your genes to be an addict if your mother was doing drugs or drinking will pregnant. That is wrong. An individual raised with addicts have parents have the ability to make the choice to be different from their parents and to stay away from toxic substances. Studies show that addiction is 50-60% genetic. (Genetics of Addiction 2014). There are still another 40-50% of people that have just made poor decisions and ended up as addicts. Roughly 50% of addicts that have a family history of addiction are able to overcome it by making the right choices and getting help when they felt it necessary.

One of the best examples of the nature versus nurture debate is intelligence. Researchers in favor of nature believe if two parents with lower IQs have a child, that child will have a low IQ too. (Bouchard & Lykken 1990) However, those researchers are not taking school into account. If parents know their child is going to have a lower IQ, they should take initiative and enroll their child in a more advanced learning career at a young age. In a study done by Thomas Bouchard and David Lykken in 1990, they found that seventy percent of an individuals intelligence is from due to their genetic makeup. Bouchard and Lykken also concluded that thirty percent of intelligence can be influenced by the environment that individual is in, such as education, family setting, and toxic substances.

Enrolling the child in advanced schooling early on will encourage the child to work harder starting at a young age and by the time the child is in high school or college, they could be at the top of their class. Although I do believe that nurture plays a larger part in child development, genetic makeup does play a role as well. In this field of study, one of the best experiments that are done are ones involving monozygotic twins. In the Minnesota Twin Study, identical twins were separated and raised in very different environments. The findings of the experiment were that the twins grew up to be very similar in appearance, personality, and basic psychology. This proves that nurture is not the only factor, but that genes do significantly determine the possible outcome of an individual.

The factor that plays the largest role in how any person grows up is their family. Family influences an individual more than anyone would really think. The most prominent example of family influencing an individual would have to be with sports. In an article written in the Washington Post, author David Epstein concludes that a person needs both nature and nurture in order to succeed. However, if you look at professional athletes with kids that play the same sport as them, you have to wonder if that child is genetically prone to play or if they just want to be like mommy or daddy. Some parents also believe that their child will have to take over the family business one day just because it ‘runs in their blood’.

This is also false because Bouchard and Lykken both concluded that genes to not determine a person’s destiny, and they do have the power to change what they want to do. Studies also show that the amount of every emotion a parent shows to their child at a young age can influence how much that child exhibits certain emotions. For example, a parent that is very affectionate with their child and always tells them how much they love them will produce a child that does the same thing with their child and with other people as well. The same theory goes for other emotions such as rage and sadness.

“…As environmental forces create a stronger influence on differences in a particular characteristic, genetic influences will be weaker.” With the influence of family, different factors, and the environment a person is raised in have a greater influence on the development of their personality and even their physical being than the genes they’re born with. Throughout the last hundred or so years, thousands of different psychologists have discussed this topic and it is still something that is being talked about. The majority of those psychologists believe nature is the reason for how everyone behaves, but there are a handful of that are empiricists, meaning they believe that environment is the reason for behavior. I consider myself one of those empiricists because nurture is the reason for how children develop.

Bouchard, T., Lykken D., McGue, M., Segal, N., & Tellegen, A. (1990). Sources of human psychological differences: The Minnesota study of twins reared apart. Science, 250, 223-229.

“The Genetics of Addiction.” Addictions and Recovery, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.

Roberts, Steven V. “Review: ‘The Sports Gene,’ on the Science of Athletic Performance, by David Epstein.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Apr. 2014.

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