The Nurture Assumption
The Nurture Assumption
When we first started learning about the age old question of nature vs. nurture, I agreed with the concept of nature. I hated the idea of nurture, that no one is truly unique. I was against that. I liked to think that everyone is individual. But then as I thought more about it, I started to not like the idea of Nature. That we dont have a choice in who we are, that it has all been decided for us. I was thinking about a lot of things that could affect how someone is. There are some things that can describe how someone is using both nature and nurture.
The question regarding nature and nurture can be argued either way and has by countless brilliant people and psychologists. There are lots of examples supporting both sides. But what does this mean for me? I am an 15 year old young girl trying to shape myself into an ideal person, I have tendencies, habits, talents, these come from both sides of the issue that we have before us, nature or nurture, what is it? For me I think it is a little of both, nurture can explain a lot of what is me, however it can’t explain everything and for everything else we look to nature.
I personally believe I am who I am because of both nature and nurture. I dont agree that theres only one thing that decides what someone will be like. Im going to address this issue by looking at both sides of the spectrum. If the only thing that determines someones personality is nurture, then why is everyone unique? Wouldn’t that mean that people who grow up n the same house and raised by the same people all be exactly alike? I know this is not true. Im reminded everyday at home. Im nothing like my sisters. I get compared to them because they all did well in school and were very respectful.
Im not always like that and this is blamed on the public school system by my parents and blamed on my choice of friends. Some people say that friends influence one another and that is true but it brings me back to the original question. Before people have friends, when they are little and stay at home and before they’re in school, then peoplel still have there tendencies and personalities. The parents try to help them mold them into the perfect people, but even then, before the children are exposed to any ideas that go against there parents ideals, children still disobey. They still act in ways that there parents never taught them.
Where do those come from? Even babies that havent been alive very long and havent had a chance to be nurtured still show personalitys. Where does that come from? People can be taught something all in the same way but make it unique. I thought of this while I was writing this paper. In first grade everyone was taught the alphabet in the same way. Every day we had to trace a copy of the alphabet, each letter 10 times. And we all developed our own unique writing. It seems like I can go around in circles forever showing examples that support both sides. Chemistry is an important aspect of why we act the way that we do.
Genetically, our parents can pass down many of their traits to us. One may be genetically dispositioned to be an alcoholic like my uncle. But if a child grows up around alcoholics and sees at a very young age that alcohol rules the worlds of those around them they may be prone to think this same why. Some may be an alcoholic not because they drink too much or even too often but because everyone in the family is. And like the color of skin this trait is passed down with ease. I nurtured myself into this habit. So to support my thesis the chemistry of the brain can be both. Every teenager exhibits similar tendencies.
Many of these tendencies can be credited to the numerous physiological changes occurring in the body at the time. Many teenagers act out or change study habits these changes can be because of the internal confusion that one is feeling. Not all of the typical behavior shown by teenagers comes from the chemical changes occurring in their bodies. Teenagers often rebel because of the certain way their parent parents, or the crowd that they run with. Teenager’s undeveloped rapidly changing entities are extremely vulnerable and can be morphed through the attention given to them in a certain social situation.
Now the phenomena concerning twins baffles me. To hear about twins separated at birth but exhibit the same tendencies suffer the same illnesses amazes even the most intelligent people. This would most definitely be nature. On the other hand some twins never separated, who grew up wearing matching outfits etc. exhibit none of the tendencies of the prior. This whole topic is so baffling it is easy to understand that because of such different data coming from such similar case studies why researchers are stumped. Men and women are heavily influenced by nature. Men growing up in a house full of women still come out men and vice versa.
However society has such strict definitions drawn for what makes a man a man blah blah blah that in whatever type of environment you are in this will be engrained in your head. However at a very young age children make a discovery that they are different. Now if you kept a girls hair short dressed her in boys close she may not discover until and obvious time that she is different. Upon learning this she will act as if she is different therefore showing the difference in men and women.
While many women or me are raised around the ideal picture society paints many of the defining traits, passions, talents etc.are interchangeable. Birth order is one may lean more towards the nurture aspect of the debate. While many children show the typical signs of their birth order I think it is because of how they are treated in their family that would explain why they fit in there particular birth order mold. If parents had two children and didn’t know who was born first or last then these kids would never fall into the birth order sterotype because they weren’t treated in that particular way, I am a middle child, my parents know that I have always been treated as a middle child.
Hmm what a coincidence that I follow the birth order handbook to the t. I am a product of the way my brain was when I was born and the thoughts my parents, peers, society, have beat into it. Not just one or the other but both, and I can guarantee that the whole of this class would agree to this truth about themselves. My main problem with this whole nature vs. nurture concept is that it is so easy for me to see that both are in effect and not just one that I don’t know why scientist cannot see it.
One question is, if genes control behavior, then is an individual really responsible for their actions? I think people are definitely responsible for their actions. I think that, while our genes may control some aspects of our personalities, there is no denying that our environment has some effects too. Our genes form us, but our experiences shape the way we behave as people. The people we grow up with, specifically our parents teach us ways of acting and thinking that we keep for the rest of our lives.
A good example of this is television. When violent acts happen, people are quick to blame all the violence we see on TV, but why do some people act on this violence while others, who probably watch the same amount of television, do not commit any violent acts in their lifetime? I believe that it has to do with how a person grew up. If you grew up being told not to be violent and that television was just fiction, like I did, then you can sort out the violence on television from what happens and how people are supposed to act in real life.
But if you were not told these things as a child, or you saw your parents participating in violence, then these lines between TV and reality become blurred. Scientists have also found out that, even though a person may have a certain behavior-controlling gene, it is not always active. This research puts the responsibility for actions back on the individual. Humans do have free will, and they can choose if they want to let their body or their mind control them. Another question is, is a person doesn’t have the “bad gene,” but they commit a crime, are they more responsible.
To look at this issue from a legal perspective, judges determine responsibility for actions by something called culpability. This term refers to a person’s knowledge of their actions and the consequences. If a person doesn’t know what they are doing, such as a mentally ill person who commits a crime, or they are not aware of the consequences, such as a child who plays with a parent’s gun, then they cannot be legally held responsible. This would answer the previous question with an emphatic no.
Culpability makes no mention of genes, so if you had the “bad gene” and you committed a crime that you were fully aware of doing and you knew what could happen if you got caught, you would be fully responsible for your actions. From my perspective, all healthy individuals are responsible for their actions. I believe that genes control our physical characteristics, but have a minute role in controlling our behaviors. As I mentioned before, some people have a certain gene, but it is not active in their bodies. This could mean that many people with the “bad gene” have led perfectly normal, law-abiding lives, while many people without the “bad gene” could have committed crimes.
Scientists say that only about 10% of criminals in our prisons have the anti-social personality, and this could be the same thing with the “bad gene. ” It is too risky to take responsibility off of individuals, because it just creates excuses for inexcusable behavior. I think that nurture plays a much bigger role in the shaping of our behavior than nature does. Placing complete control of our behavior on our genes removes responsibility off the individual, which is trouble. If people believe that they have no control over their bodies and it is all up to their genes, then we will see complete chaos.
People will not engage in healthy lifestyles because they will believe that, it doesn’t matter what they do, genes will dictate their fate. We will also see an increase in crime rate because people with the “bad gene” would be able to get away with crimes because it’s not their responsibility; it’s “their genes’ fault. ” We do know that our genes determine our physical properties, like whether we have brown or blond hair, but whether or not they control our behavior is still a mystery. I believe that they have a very limited role in determining behavior characteristics for the numerous reasons that I outline above.
Subject: Nature versus nurture,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 November 2016
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