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Nature Vs Nurture By Bret Lane. A Research Paper About Whether Alcoholism Is More Related To Environmental Factors Or Genetics

1525 words - 6 pages

Alcoholism can affect anyone. It has enormous costs as it pertains to societies, families, and individuals. It is not prejudicial towards any race, color, sex, religion, or economic level. Researchers are continually seeking answers to the long-standing nature versus nurture debate. Different views are split between a biological basis and a psychological basis. Some scientists debate that genetics are more to blame for alcoholism, while others debate that environmental factors are. What do experts think about the relative influence of genetics vs. environmental in the development of alcoholism?

        A few key terms must be defined before addressing the views of the experts. Nature is innate behavior that has been evolved over many generations, under the influence of natural selection. The behavior is adapted to the way of life and is shown by all members of the human species. Nurture is behavior that is learned by the individual throughout his or her life from the surrounding environment. There is often great variation amongst people as it depends on the environment and experiences of the individual. In previous decades the two opposing views were that behavior was determined by either nature or nurture. Nowadays the essence of the debate is: what is the ratio of genetic to environmental influences in understanding the source and expression of various biological and behavioral characteristics? The relevance of this debate to psychology in the study of alcohol addiction is that many researchers feel that alcoholism is hereditary and that if parents are alcoholic, their children may be more likely to develop into alcoholics than others. However, others feel that genetics may play a part in the development of alcoholism, yet the environment plays a larger part in helping to shape the individual's alcoholic behavior. It is now a more commonly held belief that neither nature nor nurture is solely responsible for the development of alcoholism.

        Alcoholism is considered a disease which runs in families and results from genetics (Bierut et al.). According to Edenburg, "Alcoholism is a disease of the mind and body similar to other diseases like cancer". Alcoholism is like cancer because both are based on the genes of the person, Edenburg feels. Edenberg is Chancellor's professor at the Indiana University School of Medicines and was the lead researcher for the study. Edenburg believes that even though there is not one single "gene that causes alcoholism", the statistical link between genes and the risk for alcoholism is powerful. He has researched the GABRA2 gene, which is one of many genes that produce parts of the receptor for the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA (Edenburg). Edenburg believes that the link between alcoholism and this gene is the strongest. His evidence came from the study he conducted that involved 2282 individuals from 262 families, all picked because each had 3 or more alcoholic family...

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