Nature vs Nuture - Are Our Personalities Innate (Inborn) or Influenced by Our Environment?

The nature versus nurture debate is very interesting and there is, as yet, no conclusive answer. We often wonder how we develop our individual personalities. Are we predestined to be a certain type of person because of our genetic inheritance, or do we grow up to become a certain type of person because of our upbringing and environmental influences? Certainly, many of our physical characteristics are passed down from our predecessors but, as yet, we have no idea how much of our behavioral tendencies are already written into our genetic make-up and how much is learned through experience.

Often two siblings from one set of parents will turn out to be entirely different, even when they have been exposed to the same environment while growing up. Our individual experiences help to shape the way we turn out and, even if parents try to treat each child exactly the same, outside influences at school, for instance, will be different and affect each child in various ways. Sometimes even the same thing may be experienced entirely differently each individual, so there is no guarantee that any youngster will turn out to be a particular type of adult.

It would seem that some behavioral characteristics are indeed genetically inherited because of the way twins can turn out to be so similar, even when raised apart. This is often especially the case with identical twins. However, twins brought up within the same household can also grow up very differently.

Identical TwinsCredit: wikipedia.org

Research into whether sexuality is genetically inherited, or not, led George Howe Colt to claim in a 1998 Life magazine article, “Were You Born That Way?” that homosexuality, for example, can be passed on from generation to generation. Again, though, this is not necessarily bound to be the case.

The famous linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, believes that our ability to learn language is innate, or inborn, and that if, for example, a group of children grew up together without the influence of adults speaking around them, they would develop their own language with which to communicate. Other experts, however, are unsure that this is the case.

When looking at the nature vs nurture debate it seems there are no simple answers. It appears that we can be genetically predisposed towards having certain qualities, but our individual experience of the world will help to shape us in a variety of ways which cannot be accurately predicted. It’s a fascinating argument, and one that is unlikely ever to be won conclusively. That, however, is not a factor that is going to stop experts from researching this interesting subject.