The argument of nature vs. nurture is a long-standing one in the psychological and social worlds. It is the argument about whether we are ruled by our genes or our upbringing. It is my thought that neither is true. It is nature working with nurture which determines our personality and our lifestyle.
The Nature Argument
The proponents of the nature side of the nature vs. nurture argument hold the position that we are who we are because of our genetic code. They think that they have isolated genes that determine whether someone is predisposed to alcoholism, smoking, and mental as well as physical illness. In April of 2006, Susan Bergeson and a team of scientists at the University of Texas “found 20 gene candidates that could influence excessive drinking.” (Bryner. 2006) There have also been reports of a gene isolated that even determines the number of cigarettes that a person smokes based on how they metabolize the nicotine. There are those scientists who believe that we act on instinct alone based solely on our genetic makeup. This is a rather dangerous view because it relieves us of the responsibility we must all have for our own actions. Using the reason that one can’t control one’s behavior, they were simply born with a predisposition toward violence could be used as an excuse to commit violent crimes. Although we certainly have some genetic predispositions toward things like hair and eye color, certain diseases, and so on, it is not our genetic code that determines our life path for us.
The Nurture Argument
On the other side of the argument, the nurture proponents are certain that the environment in which we are raised holds far greater sway with the people we become. This argument can even be traced back to biblical times when it was said, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) When we see children misbehaving it is our first reaction to blame the parents for not having control of their children, thus putting the blame solely on the nurture, or upbringing, of the child.
When the horrific acts took place at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, the first response of those living in the community and around the world was to place the blame for the actions of the shooters squarely on their parents. The prevailing thought was that maybe the parents didn’t pay enough attention to them. This was really an unfair assumption on the part of the world. This instance did, however, help scientists explore further the peer relationship of the nurture side of the argument. Judith Rich Harris helped bring this thought process around with her thesis that “after an all-too-brief period of babyhood, the tribal--and sometimes secret--world of a child's friends and schoolmates exerts a potent and even decisive influence.” (Healy. 1999) This more firmly places in control the nurture side of the argument.
Nature vs. Nurture History
These arguments have a...