Tuesday, January 13, 2009

STRANGE BUT TRUE...nature vs. nurture

One of the oldest debates in psychology is that ‘what determines an individual’s behavior’? We all agree that both our nature (inherent makeup gotten from our parents, which they also got from their parents and so on), and our nurture (environment, life experiences, style of upbringing etc) play a role in the final outcome of our behavior but the question is ‘do we owe our behavior more to nature or to nurture’? Interestingly, we tend to attribute most of the behavior of nonhumans to their nature but readily attribute human behavior almost exclusively to nurture. However, recent data as shown without a doubt, that nature plays equally, if not more importantly, in determining someone’s behavior.
The best way to have researched on this is finding out the outcome of identical twins separated in infancy and raised in different social environment. If nurture is stronger they will turn out differently if it is the other way round, i.e. nature stronger, each will closely resemble each other. Several hundreds of such pairs have been analyzed; the results were quite similar, check out some of the findings

Bessie and Jessie, identical twins separated at 8months of age after their mother’s death, were first reunited at age 18. Each had had a bout of tuberculosis, and they had similar voices, energy levels, administrative talents, and decision making styles. Each had had her hair cut short in early adolescence. Jessie had a college-level education, whereas Bessie had only 4years of formal education; yet Bessie scored slightly higher than Jessie in an intelligent quotient test, 156 and 153 respectively. Each was an avid reader which may have compensated for Bessie’s sparse education; she seemed to have created an environment compatible with her inherent potential.

Jim L. and Jim S. were reunited at age 39. They were identical twins but reared apart since infancy by different adoptive families in Ohio unaware of each others existence. As children, each twin had a dog named Toy. Each bit his fingernails and, since age 18, had suffered from mixed headache syndrome. Each had been married twice, first to a Linda and then to a Betty. One twin had named his son James Alan, and the other, James Allen. Each had put a circular bench around a tree in his garden. Each had worked in a gas station and later part-time in law enforcement as a sheriff. Each chained smoked Salems and preferred an occasional Miller Lite beer. Each scattered love notes to his wife around the house. Every summer, unknown to the other, each had driven his family in a light blue Chevrolet from Ohio to the Pas-Grille Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida, for their summer vacation. They had similar voices, hand gestures, and mannerisms

Jerry L. and Mark N., identical twins separated in infancy, were first reunited at age 30. Each was nearly bald and had a bushy mustache. Each was a volunteer firefighter and made his living installing safety equipment. Each wore aviator glasses, big belt buckles, and big key rings. Each drank Budweiser with his pinky hooked on the bottom of the can and crushed the can when he was finished.

Like it is written in the bible…in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses let a word be established…nature clearly emerges as a key determinant of human behavior. By the way the life of Jim L. and Jim S., living in the same city!? Imagine the confusion they would have caused an unsuspecting everyday guy if they both had crossed his path. It will pass for a movie; either comedy, best-seller or horror film, depending on your perspective…lol.
I will truly like your comments on this one. Cheers.

1 comment:

  1. the nature vs nurture argument is indeed an interesting one. but what is most interesting is that regardless of what determines our behavior- be it nature or nurture, we have the inherent ability to choose to change, and in circumstances where changing is difficult we have help we can always count on. i believe this balance is necessary cos several proclivities such as substance misuse, and certain sexual preferences have been attributed to nature and as such claims have been made that individuals who are hooked on them cannot change. but the truth is that change is always possible and a behavior is not right simply because we are born that way.