Genes and Your Environment, The Developmental Tools of Life

Essay by shanecroughanCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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Shane Croughan

Professor Niki F. Milani

Psychology 24 Lifespan Development

12 October 2014

Genes and Your Environment, The Developmental Tools of Life

Ah, the old "nature vs. nurture" controversy -- Is the person we become shaped more by the environment in which we grow up in, or by the genes we inherit from our parents? At birth we are unwillingly exposed to the influences of our family and the surrounding environment, all while embracing the psychological traits that we are genetically predisposed to. But, which one of these is the greater influential factor on the type of person we become? The consensus, it seems, is that we are shaped by both nature and nurture; I couldn't agree more.

In early stages of study, it was believed that environmental influences were what determined a person's behavioral traits. "The view that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioral traits from 'nurture' was termed tabula rasa ('blank slate') by philosopher John Locke.

The 'blank slate' view proposes that humans develop only from environmental influences" (Nurture & Protect). The issue with this view presented itself when twin studies emerged. When pairs of identical twins were reared apart, they were far more similar in personality than randomly selected pairs of people. Likewise, identical twins are more similar than fraternal twins, and the personalities of biological siblings

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were more similar than their adopted siblings (Nature vs. Nurture); thus, showing a correlation between inherited genes and personality traits as well.

In my opinion, twin studies are extremely important in trying to learn and understand why our personalities develop the way they do. Sir Frances Galton stated that "Twins have a special claim upon our attention; it is, that their history affords means of distinguishing between the effects of tendencies received...