Does Nature Have a Larger Impact on Human Development Than the Environment?

Does Nature Have a Larger Impact on Human Development Than the Environment?

Nature versus nurture has been a continuing debate between scientists and is far from being settled. It is a challenge for scientists to come up with a true answer to whether a human is born with all of their traits or if the environment develops them. It is extremely difficult to study what genes are specifically inherited by a person and what aspects of control the environment has over those genes. The reason for this is because it is unethical to take a child out of its natural surroundings to test nature versus nurture.

Eye color, hair color, skin tone, and height are characteristics of humans that are easily recognized as nature. Some things however are not as easy to characterize such as general thoughts or actions, psychological disorders, and general likes and dislikes. Scientists have discovered specific types of DNA that will allow for a person to have blue eyes, or blonde hair. But did you also know that how much a person smokes can be influenced by DNA? A certain gene allows for faster metabolism of the drug in cigarettes called nicotine, thus influencing a person to smoke more than others who do not have this gene. However, because nicotine addiction is something that is influenced by the environment, it is much harder to characterize smoking in nature or nurture. (Journal of Surgical Research. Eslevier Inc., 3 Feb. 2011. Web. 1 May 2011.)

There are a few things that are often debated when touching on the debate of nature vs. nurture. A major one is intelligence. An individual’s intelligence goes beyond psychology, but IQ and verbal test scores are often used to show correlations between genetics and intelligence. The chart shows the correlation between children and their biological parents, adopted children and their birth parents, also adopted children and their adoptive parents. As you can see, there is a rather strong correlation between a child who wasn’t adopted and their birth parents. There is also a strong correlation between a child who was adopted and their birth parent. From this one can conclude that environment has little to do with intelligence but that genetics does. (Nature vs Nurture in Intelligence . N.p., 10 Apr. 2005. Web. 6 June 2011. .)
A solution to the debate has been thought to be monozygotic, or identical twins. Multiple studies have been conducted on them in recent years, however little discoveries have been found. Studying twins that grow up together yields little results. Many times people see siblings doing their hair the same and wearing the same clothes; this is because they share the same environment. It is now realized that the result of twins sharing the same environment is inevitably going to be similar characteristics. This makes it hard to tell whether or not the characteristics were established because of the twins’ shared genes or because of the environment that they were shared while growing up. (“Nature versus Nurture in Twins.” 10 Mar. 2004. Web. 28 April 2011. .)

The best studies to conduct are on identical twins that have been separated and therefore have grown in differing environments. Studies done in this scenario are able to form the best conclusions. This is because it is ensured that the DNA is the same in both humans while the environment is substantially different. There was a case of two twins, Tamara and Adriana, who were born in Mexico but adopted by separate families from the U.S. They coincidentally ended up residing in the same region, about 25 miles apart. Until they were 20, they never had any idea of each other’s existence. Tamara was approached by a friend that informed her of a woman who she knew that had to be Tamara’s sister because of the similarities they shared. The friend was right. After the initial meeting the twins began meeting up over coffee. They discovered that they were in fact identical twins who had been separated at birth and shared very similar characteristics in not just looks but likes, dislikes, and other random occurrences in their lives. They share verbal qualities and the ability to dance. They had the same college major in mind and even shared a very similar reoccurring dream. (Unborne, David. N.p., 3 Oct. 2003. Web. 6 June 2011. .)

This is clearly an example of how strong the effects of nature are. However, it is not strong enough. It would be unreasonable to assume that there were not equal differences for every similarity the twins share. Some scientists argue that there will never be an answer to whether nature or nurture wins the debate because in truth it is impossible to accurately conclude by any sort of measure.

There is also a case where twins were able to share the same environment and be studied quite accurately. This is the case that was used in the movie titled Sex: Unknown. In 1965 identical male twins were born named Bruce and Brian. The doctor used an unconventional form of circumcision and destroyed Bruce’s genitals. There was no way of reconstructing, so the family was advised by a psychologist named John Money to raise their child as a female because he had believed that nurture is what caused you to feel male or female. It became very evident that he was wrong when the child hit puberty and had to receive hormone treatments, but even before that when she described feeling forced to play with dolls and wear pink when really she wanted to play with her brother’s toys and dress like him. Even though the psychologist believed that if the child was nurtured as a female she would naturally begin to have personality characteristics like one, she did not which contributes to the study pointing to the idea that nature does not determine aspects of gender or sexual orientation.( X-Gender. 6 April 2009. Web. 23 May 2011.( .)
Some scientists argue that both nature and nurture have equal control over human development. One very basic example that scientists have based this conclusion on is the study of critical periods. Every human has a critical period of development. During this period of time a human must have certain experiences or else it will not develop normally. Both nature and nurture play a part in this development period because genes set the time table and the environment must then provide certain experiences or development will be knocked off track.

According to all of the research, nature seems to win the debate. When first addressing the topic, I was convinced that the environment had the biggest impact on human development. This is because I am so used to thinking about the people I am around every day as my environment and loved ones and not as a science experiment on genetics. In reality, genetics has a lot to do with life as a human. It is agreeable that the environments you are placed in make you act differently. For example if you are a school teacher, you will most likely adapt the attitude of a teacher. But you have to really think about what got you in that environment, which would be genetics. You have to have the intelligence, patience, and other psychological characteristics that are directly linked to genetics. This is why genetics has the largest impact on human development; it is the base of creation for almost everything you do.

Journal of Surgical Research. Eslevier Inc., 3 Feb. 2011. Web. 1 May 2011. .

Nature vs Nurture in Intelligence . N.p., 10 Apr. 2005. Web. 6 June 2011. .

“Nature versus Nurture in Twins.” 10 Mar. 2004. Web. 28 April 2011. .

Unborne, David. N.p., 3 Oct. 2003. Web. 6 June 2011. .

X-Gender. 6 April 2009. Web. 23 May 2011. .