“Nature vs. Nurturing” – by Simran Khatri, Hampton High (Photo: Photo by kjpargeter on freepik.com)
Have you ever wondered why people behave the way they do? This has been a very popular question throughout our history. Serious debate over whether a person’s behavior can be justified by their childhood circumstances and how they were raised, or whether one’s behavior is determined by science and our genetics.
The “Nature vs. nurture” debate is perennial and is mostly known for arguing over whether environment or genetics play a larger role in determining a person’s behavior. The term “Nature vs. Nurture” was first coined by Charles Darwin’s younger cousin, anthropologist Francis Galton in 1875.
Many people (empiricists) say that your genetics have nothing to do with your personality and behavioral traits, but how you behave depends on the environment in which you were raised. The extreme parenting position – known as the empiricist belief – insists that your mind is like a blank slate (tabula rasa) at birth, and external factors such as education, treatment, upbringing, and general experience are what fill that blank slate .
From this point of view, the psychological characteristics that begin to emerge in infancy and childhood are the result of learning. And also the belief that the way you are nurtured during these stages of life can affect development.
An example of an empiricist view is Bandura’s social learning theory, which makes it clear that aggression can be learned through environment and observation. Another significant view would be that of Freud, who claimed that childhood events have a huge impact on our adult lives and also play a role in shaping our personality traits. Freud believed that the method of parenting is of great importance for a child’s development, since the family is the most important part of a child’s life from infancy to early adulthood.
However, some members of society may believe in nativism – the belief that human traits such as intelligence and personality can be hereditary and determined only by genes take nature’s extreme position in the debate. Many people on this side of the argument assume that your behavior is a product of your genetic accumulation, because other aspects of your physical body also depend on your genes. For example, the color of your eyes depends on the color of the eyes of both your parents, and therefore the way you behave also depends on the behavior of your parent because of the same genes you carry.
A common assumption of nativists is that the characteristics of the entire human species are a product of evolution, and that the individual and specific differences in behavior, personality, and other aspects of each individual depend on its unique genetic code. A popular example of the nativist view in psychology is Freud’s “instinctive theory of aggression”, as well as the belief that the adult personality is the result of innate drives that we are born with – such as natural motivations or other drives.
Do you believe that our nature and genetics shape us as human beings, or does the way our parents treat us as children shape us into the people we become later?