Free essay on Nature vs Nurture

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Every person in this world has their own distinctive personality and behavior. People may wonder why an individual may act the way they do. Thus psychologists had put this into a study of whether an individual’s behaviors are caused by hereditary or the environment. This study is known as the nature-nurture debate. This essay will discuss the nature-nurture debate in relation to how it influences the human traits and behavior focusing on twin and adoption studies. Furthermore the essay will also discuss how hereditary and the environment influences on the behavior of intelligence base on twin and adoption studies.

The debate of nature versus nurture had been dated back to the time of Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle (Crooks & Stein, 1991). In this context, according to Feldman (1997), nature means the genetic influence on the individual’s behavior. In relation to that, nurture means the effect the environment has on that individual, for example influence of parents or friends. The purpose of the nature-nurture debate is to explain the effect of genetic influence and the environment on the development of human trait and behavior (Crooks & Stein, 1991).

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The history of nature-nurture debate started off with famous philosophers like John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau (Feldman, 1997). John Locke believed that human behavior is solely influenced by nurture. By this is meant that human were born with an empty brain and we learnt and developed through the experiences in life (Myers, 2000). In contrast, Jean Jacques Rousseau suggested that human development was due to individual’s genetic factors which means that human trait and behavior is more or less develop the moment of birth (Feldman, 1997). In the present time, psychologists share the same thinking that both nature and nurture interdependently rely on each other in human development (Westen, 2002). Clearly it can be seen that the concept of the debate had changed. Now, psychologists are more interested in to what extend can genetic factors and the environment, affect the development of human trait and behavior (Feldman, 1997).

In the support of the nature-nurture debate, psychologists used the studies of twins. There are two types of twins, identical twins and fraternal twins. Identical twins are from the same fertilized egg of the mother and they share the same genes as each other ( E pg 62). In addition, fraternal twins are from different egg cells and they do not share the same genes. In other words, identical twins share 100 percent of their genetic contents and fraternal twins share 50 percent of the same content (Wortman, Loftus & Weaver, 1999). For example, in the study of a genetic based disorder, schizophrenia, identical twins are rated four times higher in getting the disorder than fraternal twins (Neil, 2001). From just the studies of these two types of twins, researchers could only estimate the degree of environmental influence on behavior. So in order for researchers to find out the extent of genetic influence on human behavior, identical twins of the same genetics but were raised in different environment are used.

An example for the effect of the genetic influence on human behavior, are the identical twins Gerald Levey and Mark Newman. According to Wade and Tavris (1998), these two twins were separated at a very early stage, they were brought up in different cities. What the researchers found out was that both of them have many similarities. They are both bachelors and have the same job as firefighters, even have the same hobbies and favorite food. So from this study, it can be concluded that genetic influence does play a part in the development of human.

Another form of study in support of the nature-nurture debate is the study of adoptees. Research made has conclude that between the biological parents and adoptive parents, the adoptee is more similar to his or her biological parents (Sodorow, 1995). Adoption studies have found evidence that adopted children who share genes with their biological parents are greatly influence by genetic on their IQs (G pg 318). Similar studies have also found that adoptees share the same religious value as their biological parents rather than adoptive parents (Sodorow, 1995).

Intelligence provides a better understanding to the discussion of the nature-nurture debate. According to (Miele, 2002), various studies on intelligence of identical twins being rear apart had shown the result to be 0.78. Following that, the fact that correlations in IQ between parents and the adopted child is about 0.19, and the result between the adopted child and the natural children of the adoptive parents is about 0.32. Fisher (1918, as cited in Miele, 2002) calculated the correlation for any heritable trait on cases such as the identical twins. The reading would be 1.00 since the twins share the exact genes and for fraternal twins, the reading is 0.5. Surprisingly, the tests conducted on identical and fraternal twins who were rear apart reveal the following results. The higher one of the twins scored, the lower the other one gets. From this, (Miele, 2002) conclude that since the results is quite similar to the predictions, genetic factors do influence in human development.

In adoption studies for intelligence, Nyborg (1997) stated that the IQs of the adopted child is related to the IQs of his or her adoptive parents and non biological siblings. By this is meant that the environment the individual is in can also help in developing his or her intelligence. In contrast, according to (G pg 318), the influence of the non biological parents and siblings of the adoptee will decline as age decline. Following that, the IQs of the adopted children is highly similar to their biological parents than their adoptive parents. From this, it can be said that both genetic and environment influence the adoptees in their development in intelligence.

In conclusion, this essay has discussed the general role of the nature-nurture debate and how it can affect the human traits and behavior. Clearly it can be seen that both genetic factors and the environment can influence the intelligence in human through the studies of twins and adoptees.

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