We’re going to play a game. So, if you don’t usually comment, I would appreciate it if you participate. I’ll call it Nature or Nurture. It goes like this:
I give you a characteristic found in human beings and you respond by telling me if it is as a result nature, nurture or both. Now, I might not be using these words in the way you are used to, so you want to pay attention to the definitions.
- Choose Nature if the characteristic is a fundamental part of the person’s genetic code and therefore set at birth and which cannot be permanently changed without modifying the person’s biological functions in a way. e.g. hair color.
- Choose Both Nature and Nurture is the characteristic is affected by the person’s genes, but also modified by the person’s environment – parental upbringing, nutrition, physical environment, etc. For instance, height has a genetic component but is affected by the type of nutrition a person get during their growth periods. That’s why identical twins can have different heights.
- Choose Nurture if the characteristic has no correlation with genetics or if it has very little correlation and is mainly affected by a person’s environment
- You can also say Neither and I Don’t Know
Here’s an example:
Skin color: Nature or Nurture
Identical twins are born with the same genes controlling skin color, but if one of them spends more time sun than the other. She’ll probably be darker (or sunburnt). Since identical twins would have the same skin color barring outside influences, but different skin colors if raised in different environments, the answer is BOTH.
Accent: Nature or Nurture
Identical twins often have the same accent. But this does not mean that it is nature because it does not rule out environmental causes. Think. What if two identical twins were placed in different families: one in Britain and one in the United States. Would they have the same accent when speaking English? Of course not. Accent is something that does not exist apart from environmental influence. The answer is NURTURE.
Preferred career: Nature or Nurture?
Identical twins often have similar likes and dislikes. Often, but not always. Cultural pressures can have a huge influence. A twin taught that you should do whatever makes you happy and a twin thought that you should do whatever has the best chance of giving you a good life will choose differently in certain circumstances. However, since identical twins are often raised together, this difference should not be very pronounced. Also, the fact that they have similar, but not the same likes and dislikes points to something beyond genetics. I’m thinking the answer to this one is BOTH.
Ready? Here are a few guidelines.
- Do identical twins always have it the same or very similar? Then it is strongly genetic.
- If identical twins were separated, what is the probability that they would differ sharply The higher the probability, the stronger the impact of the environment
- The fact that something can differ between identical twins does not mean that there is an environmental component. For some strange reason, identical genes can act differently. So, this isn’t an exact science. Be prepared to speak in probabilities.
- You might come across something that does not seem to be biologically influenced which also doesn’t seem to be significantly environmentally affected. I can’t help you there.
- Things influenced by nature tend to be physical traits: skin, hair, eyes, IQ. Things influenced by nurture tend to be behavioral: manner of acting, reasoning, response to stimuli (e.g. emotional reactions) and things influenced by our beliefs. Think: being vs doing. This is probably because, as far as we can change ourselves, we tend to become more like those around us.
- Things influenced by both are sometimes emotional: likes, dislikes, wants, needs, etc.
Okay, here we go. Nature or Nurture?
- Preferred foods
- Idea of beauty
- Traits preferred in romantic relationships
- Eye color
- Pet peeves
- Susceptibility to cancer (hint: read the linked article)
- Sexual preferences
- Body weight