Nature vs nurture Debate

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APHI 111 - The Nature vs Nurture Slides shown in class - as part of the overall theme of "Images of Man"

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Nature vs nurture Debate

  1. 1. •What is Personality?•Do you think you have a unique personality?•On a piece of paper write down your likes, dislikes andpersonality characteristics?•How do you think your personality affect the choices thatyou make, the way you live your life, how you are as aperson individually and in a group?•What do you think determines (“makes you to have ordisplay”) these likes, dislikes and personality traits?
  2. 2. or
  3. 3. It seems as if it is easy to prove that our physical traits – how we look, what our facialfeatures are like, what our body type is like, is the result of natural inheritance or ourgenetic code.People may say: “You look just like your Father! Or “You look just like yourgrandmother!” or “I can see that the two of you are cousins!”
  4. 4. So it seems that our physical traits can be the result of NATUREright?•However even physical traits may be the result of Environment –for example – How tall you are may have more to do with yourenvironment than it might have to do with your genetic code!•Certain environmental factors can have an influence on a person’sheight. Even if your grandfather was super tall, and your dad wastall – if during the developmental stages in your childhood, you didnot get the right types of food, vitamins and minerals – you may notgrow to be as tall as your grandad and dad were.• So perhaps it is not so easy to say that our physical traits arecompletely the result of genes or nature.
  5. 5. •And so when it comes to personality – we might have the sameproblem.•How many of you would say that you have a fiery temper, or that youget angry very easily?•Would you say that one of your parents has the same kind of temperas you?•So it is fair to say that personality may also be a result of geneticinheritance, nature or DNA?•How many of you would say that the reason that you think you havesuch a fiery temper is because people, have in the past, and even stilltake advantage of you and you react so angrily because you are madthat people do that?•How many of you would say that the reason you raise your voice andyell at someone when you are angry is because that is the way that youare used to. It happens like that at home?•So is it fair to say that personality may be the result of NURTURE orenvironmental factors?
  6. 6. •The Nature versus Nurture Debate has been going on for centuries.•Most of the studies done on the Nature versus Nurture debate have been conducted onthe study of twin behaviour.•Biologically there are two types of twins – Identical Twins and Fraternal Twins
  7. 7. Two very important studies were done using twins to determinewhether certain personality traits were the result of their genesor the result of their environment.One was called: Happy Families: a twin study of humour (and itwas conducted in London)And the other was called: Sources of Human PsychologicalDifferences: The Minnesota Study of Twins reared aparthttp://twinsuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Cherkas.TwinResearch.pdfhttp://web.missouri.edu/~segerti/1000H/Bouchard.pdfBoth studies came to these conclusions :-the Minnesota study seems to argue that NATURE or genetics do influence personality- The London Study seems to argue that there is a case that NURTURE influencespersonality.
  8. 8. Jim (real name James)LewisJim (real name James)Springer
  9. 9. “Thomas Bouchard of the University of Minnesota did the mostfamous research on genetic influences in humans. Hestudied identical twins separated since birth. Identical twins comefrom a single egg, fertilized by a single sperm, which splits after theegg starts to develop. Therefore identical twins are closer to beinggenetically identical than any other humans. By studying identicaltwins who were separated at birth and raised by differentfamilies, Bouchard could see which similarities might emerge despitea different family environment. These similarities might be those thatare heavily influenced by a persons genetic heritage.Bouchards data set was unique, probably a one-time event inhistory, because modern adoption agencies no longer break up setsof identical twins. Bouchards project started when he read newsreports of two identical twins reunited after a lifetime apart: JamesLewis and James Springer were separated weeks after birth. Whenthey were reunited, an extraordinary collection of coincidencesemerged.”http://www.intropsych.com/ch11_personality/bouchards_twin_research.html
  10. 10. "When the two first met, Lewis described it as "like looking into amirror." For starters, both had the same first name. They werephysically identical. But when they got talking, the similaritieswere astounding. Both had childhood dogs named Toy. Both hadbeen nail biters and fretful sleepers. Both had migraines. Both hadmarried first wives names Linda, second wives named Betty. Lewisnamed his first son James Allen, Springer named his James Alan.For years, they both had taken holidays on the same Florida beach.They both drank Miller Lite, smoked Salem cigarettes, loved stockcar racing, disliked baseball, left regular love notes to theirwives, made doll furniture in their basements, and had addedcircular white benches around the trees in their backyards. TheirIQs, habits, facial expressions, brain waves, heartbeats, andhandwriting were nearly identical. The Jim twins lived apart butdied on the same day, from the same illness."http://blog.lib.umn.edu/reife014/myblog2/2012/04/twin-studies.html
  11. 11. In one case, identical twin babies (Oskar and Jack) were raised inextremely different cultures. The two were born in Trinidad andseparated shortly after birth. After that, their childhoods were verydifferent.
  12. 12. The mother took Oskar back to Germany, where his grandmotherraised him as a Catholic and a Nazi youth. Jack was raised in theCaribbean as a Jew, by his father, and spent part of his youth on anIsraeli kibbutz.But similarities started cropping up as soon as Oskar arrived at theairport. Both were wearing wire-rimmed glasses and mustaches, bothsported two-pocket shirts with epaulets. They share idiosyncrasiesgalore: they like spicy foods and sweet liqueurs, areabsentminded, have a habit of falling asleep in front of thetelevision, think its funny to sneeze in a crowd of strangers, flush thetoilet before using it, store rubber bands on their wrists, readmagazines from back to front, dip buttered toast in their coffee...Bouchard professed himself struck by the similarities in theirmannerisms, the questions they asked, their"temperament, tempo, the way they do things." (Holden, 1980)http://www.intropsych.com/ch11_personality/bouchards_twin_research.html
  13. 13. Bouchard did not find outstanding similarities between identicaltwins on such standard measures as IQ tests or standardizedpersonality tests, but he did find striking similaritieswere mannerisms (such as wearing rubber bands on the wrists, orreading magazines backwards), personal choices (such as choice ofnames for pets or children, or choice of clothingstyles), and expressive social behavior (shyness or socialease, laughter, facial expressions and posture). These are exactlythe sorts of things many of us refer to as personality, so in thatsense Bouchards findings can be interpreted as strong support forgenetic influences on personality.http://www.intropsych.com/ch11_personality/bouchards_twin_research.htmlHowever there have been other twin studies that seem to point in an oppositedirection – that of twins who are raised together in the same environment butyet develop very different and unique personalities. Even within the case ofOskar Stohr and Jack Yufe – they developed different worldviews and ideasabout what it right and wrong, ethical or not ethical. Consider this excerpt:
  14. 14. Let’s look more closely at the case of Oskar and Jack. Do they haveany differences?Well, for one, they had opposing political views–Jack is politicallyliberal, Oskar is conservative. These contrasting values certainlyplayed a role in their relative ambivalence towards each other whenthey first met.Our political views and values do appear to be strongly affected byour upbringing, as do our attitudes and religious beliefs. These areaspects of a child that a family environment can often influence.Although the effects of a shared environment are relatively small, wecannot say that genetics are the only factor contributing to ourbehavior.Even so, the specific aspects of our environments that shape us arestill not clear; the research is continuing to evolve. We often like tothink that our experiences are what define us. We feel influenced byour surroundings, and we feel that we can influence the thingsaround us through our personality and behavior.http://alfre.dk/identical-identical-twins/
  15. 15. Also consider this case:“An interesting case to consider is that of Brian Dugan, a man whoadmitted to abducting, raping, and killing a 10-year-old girl in 1983.His defense lawyers used brain scans and the testimony ofprominent neuroscientists to argue that Dugans brain had beenhardwired to commit violent acts, that it was in his nature to kill andhe was unable to control his behavior.
  16. 16. This argument falls in sharp contrast to the idea on which laws arebased, that all people have free will and can choose whether or notto follow the law. The environment may influence the ease of thatchoice--a starving man might have little regard for laws against theftif it means he can eat--but ultimately the individual has the ability tochoose. To say that nature has the most influence in determiningpersonality, then, provides a scapegoat for a person when he doessomething considered unlawful or morally unacceptable: I couldnthelp it, its in my nature. Like an animal, such an individual wouldexist outside the realm of right or wrong, innocent or guilty, becausehe would be acting purely on instinct. How could that personjustifiably be punished? The converse, saying nurture has the mostinfluence in determining personality, similarly frees a person fromaccountability for his actions by placing blame on those who raisedhim.”http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/75468.aspx
  17. 17. •What is your opinion?Remember that this course is all about developingyour skills to argue and express your thoughts inan expert manner! Think about the followingdiscussion points on the next slide and make anote of what you think and how you can “back up”your idea when you try to convince someone elseof your thoughts on the subject.
  18. 18. •Do you think personality traits are the result of NATURE or are theythe result of NURTURE?•Why do you think the NATURE versus NURTURE argument is debatedin the first place, in other words – why is it important to figurewhether nature or nurture is more dominant in determining aperson’s personality? Do you think it is possible to answer thisquestion definitively? Or is it possible to have a clear indication ofwhether nature or nurture determines a person’s personality? Why?•Do you think it is possible to change your personality? Why or whynot? And if so how would you go about making those changes?•If you are not a twin, would you rather be an identical or a fraternaltwin? Why? What do you think would be some of the challenges ofbeing a twin? If you are a twin, write a couple of sentences about theexperience. Is it fun? Difficult? If you have other siblings,is your relationship with your twin different from the relationshipwith your other siblings? If so, what makes it different?
  19. 19. These slides as well as complete versions of the Minnesota Twins study, the HappyFamilies Study and few other very interesting articles on the topic can always befound here.Leave a comment on your thoughts if you can – it will be veryinteresting to read what everybody is thinking.

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