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The debate of nature versus nurture is the cultural, philosophical and technical discussion on whether either nature or nurture initiate the behavior, personality or culture of humans. Often, nature is established in the debate as behaviors based on genetics or hormones, on the other hand, nurture is predominantly established as experience and environment. The perspective of nature explains the impact of genes on the humans’ personalities contrary to the impacts inherent in the environment and early child development. Since it is always evident that we inherit physical characteristics like hair and body shape from our parents, it is suggested that we could also inherit other characteristics from them which in turn influence aspects like cognitive development and personality or social behavior. On the other hand, nurture entails getting learning from the immediate environment and adapting to the surroundings and situations. From this perspective, it is seen that people’s characteristics like cognitive development and personality get nurtured by the people we interact with during childhood for example friends and especially parents.
Influence on Mental Health
Various genetic factors can predispose a person to a certain illness such as mental illness. However, the probability of a person developing the illness can partly rely on the environment which is nurture. In the case where a genetic variation shows the likelihood of developing mental illness, it is possible to use the information to establish positive behavior through nurturing in a manner which the condition does not progress or advances with less rigorousness (Goodtherapy.org, 2015). According to James Fallon, who established having a psychopath’s brain affirmed that he had the belief that being brought up in a loving and nurturing environment assisted him to become a prosperous adult (GoodTherapy.org, 2015). Additionally, it could have effectively hindered the development of psychopathy traits. Additionally, most of the researchers have the notion that addiction cannot be completely genetic.
There is a possibility that environmental factors such as the habits and behaviors of friends, partner or parents could significantly contribute to addiction. A genetic alcohol tendency could be far more considerable if a person is frequently open to binge drinking including other alcohol abuse forms and gets to perceive the habit as a normal use of alcohol (GoodTherapy.org, 2015). According to researchers, it has been lately established that conditions of mental health could be the second profound mental illness predictor, the intense predictor could be in fact the experiences and events of life during childhood like abuse, bullying or other trauma. On that account, it supports the notion of nurture having a significant role in the onset of issues of mental health.
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Influence on Social behavior
According to various studies, nurture can greatly influence social behavior of people for example on establishing violent behavior or aggressiveness. According to Levitt (2013), research indicates that the study participants emphasize nurture as key to influencing the aggressive behavior of children or violent behavior among young people. The family and parents have depicted the greatest crucial influences for babies as well as young children, then peer groups and additional experiences and relationships for young people. The study participants also establish themselves being influenced by the surrounding people especially parents (Levitt, 2013). In the study, the students were particularly probably to discuss the impact of morals inculcated in them by the parents and environment. Furthermore, antisocial and violent behavior in the longitudinal study is correlated to a mutual genetic attribute in cases where the person is brutally treated in their childhood.
Influence on Personality
Personality refers to a set of unique characteristics that influences an individual’s way of thinking, behavior patterns and feelings. The long-standing traits and personality consistently affect the cognitive and emotional patterns of an individual’s life. Research has shown that character is not inherited from birth. The external factors of the environment play an extensive role in influencing an individual’s personality compared to other biological factors more so the genes inherited from parents. From research by University of Exeter (2013), it has been established that foster parents are more influential to their adoptive offspring compared to the genes inherited from their biological parents. Our unique characteristics are brought about by the external environmental factors. They range from, the structure of the brain, our level of nutrition, the background of the individual and the social relationships of people. Through the environmental factors, genetic predispositions at birth may either be amplified or diminished. A good example is the identical twins whose character will vary mainly overtime depending on upbringing hence even though the two may be genetically similar they will possess different traits. This then makes it difficult for to determine the behavior of a child as the environmental factors that occur randomly and sometimes by accident is responsible for shaping the overall functioning of the child. The way genes will affect our personality depends on our daily experiences. It’s hard, based on hereditary factors to determine what one will turn out to be.
Nurture and Cognitive Development
Cognition is the variation of the brain processes and capabilities among individuals. The examples of cognitions factors will vary from problem solving, attention, and memory. The nurturing aspect overpowers the nature idea concerning the influence on a child’s cognitive development. Even though both factors are essential in the growth process of a child, the nurture factor has been proved to carry more weight than the internal factors determined by genes. The positive elements in the surrounding present a nurturing environment that helps children flourish in a positive way (Healy, 2011). Sometimes, a child may be born with a high academic capacity, but the potential can only be sustained with a proper supportive environment. If not adequately influenced and nurtured, an individual born with a high intellectual ability may reduce his cognition to deficient levels. Further Research has shown that the presence of adverse environmental factors is harmful to a child’s development in the different stages of life. These may lead to undesirable aspects such as, horrible temperament, poor decision-making skills, and reduced cognitive ability that will eventually that makes a child’s life rougher as they mature (Baker, 2004). A stable environment results in emotional and mental stability. A situation that allows children to develop calmly leads to an increase in the cognitive aspect of the child. The environment influences the psychological aspect of a child that in turn affect the rate of brain development. Through further investigations, different societies have different intellectual scores, and this is generated by social inequalities regarding material access and opportunities. In a much more daily example is where Children from the Ghetto will have a lower score on the intellectual capacity tests compared to their counterparts that have been brought up in more privileged homes where there are adequate resources.
To sum up, nurture has proved to have a broader impact on children compared to nature. Even though the two play an essential role in the cognitive, personality, mental and social behavior of a child, nurture proves to be more impactful than the latter. A healthy and encouraging environment should be readily available for the child to develop correctly. The manifestations come in many forms as from the daily societal experiences. Ideally, children who have grown up in harmful environments do not end up maturing as normal individuals hence its entirely clear that nurture changes people’s life either positively or negatively.
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- Baker, C. (2004). Behavioral genetics: An introduction to how genes and environments interact through development to shape differences in mood, personality, and intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.aaas.org/spp/bgenes/Intro.pdf
- GoodTherapy.org. (2015). Nature vs. Nurture. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/nature-versus-nurture
- Healy, J. M. (2011). Impacting Readiness: Nature and Nurture. Exchange: The Early Childhood Leaders’ Magazine Since 1978, (198), 18-21.
- Levitt, M. (2013). Perceptions of nature, nurture and behavior. Life sciences, society and policy, 9(1), 13.
- University of Exeter. (2013, June 5). Personality is the result of nurture, not nature, suggests study on birds. Science Daily. Retrieved from: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605090524.htm