Nature vs. Nurture

Essay by ctannahill June 2009

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Over recent years the nature vs. nurture debate has been extensively discussed and researched. Should human characteristics such as intelligence, personality, behavior and ability be attributed to our genetics or our environment? One problem with this is how to pin a trait down to either an inherited or learned characteristic, or perhaps it’s both.

Are we to blame for our behavior or is inevitable due to our genetics? This question and others seems to be part of the controversy over the subject. Also, these questions play a factor in how to change and adapt behavior. Different techniques would be more effective depending on the cause of a particular behavior or characteristic.

When analyzing the causes of behavior problems in children the question of nature vs. nurture is a legitimate question. One recent study conducted by the University of Virginia and several others including one in Australia studied 1,045 twins and their 2,051 children.

Some of the parents were identical twins with others being fraternal. This affected the amount of genes that were shared among the siblings. Participants were twins from a volunteer twin registry and information was gathered through a series of phone interviews beginning in 1993 and ending in 2003. The study discovered that spousal fighting wasn’t to blame for behavioral problems in their children. Rather, it was the genes that influenced how often they argued with spouses. These genes when passed to their children caused more conduct problems. The conclusion of the study was that in family therapy, more focus on the child rather than the parents would be more effective (Society for Research in Child Development, 2007). This conclusion supports the theory that it is nature or our genetics that influence this particular behavior.

On the other end of the spectrum another study involved observing children in...