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Nature and Nurture in Society

Are we a product of what we inherit or how we live, or both?

It is clearer to determine how a person can pass on his genes for brown eyes and more difficult to say whether his nervousness is also transmitted through his genetic DNA. This is because where phenotypic qualities have long been mapped out and studied in Mendelian crossovers, behavioral qualities are not as clear. Critics then give more credence to environmental influences as causing more change on a person, molding his character so that he can fit and survive.

Nature can be equated to the heredity and the passing on of genes from a parent to a child. Nurture is referred to environmental influences such as the amount of attention a mother gives to her child when he grows up. There seems to be an interplay between the two but the amount of one or the other is arguable, no one has been able to quantify how much of a person’s character is due to what he has received from his parents or how much depends solely on the way he lives.

Francis Galton, having been influenced by Darwin, coined the term ‘Nature versus Nuture’ when he observed the effects of hereditary and environmental factors on a person’s working capacity. Originally people thought a person could have been totally affected by environmental causes, that his mind were a blank slate ready to be filled. Today we see that this view is completely outmoded.

Certain elements have been understood as being transmitted through inheritance, studies have shown that an intelligent child is likely to be from intelligent parents. The same can be said about personality and aggression. This is not to say that only disadvantaged children arise from non-educated parents because history has proven that there are some self-taught individuals that excelled in their work and became self-made men and women having come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Similarly an aggressive child is likely to have inherited some characteristics that upset calmness and a child who is quiet is likely to have inherited those same traits from a parent.

The current debate on whether a person gets his sexual orientation through his genetic makeup is still on; there has been progress in finding genetic markers being passed onto gay children. It is thought that if a hereditary argument is going to be used, a gay person would have to inherit gay qualities from different genes of his parental chromosomes and those traits would have to work in concert. The clustering of genetic markers on three chromosomes has been seen being passed onto progeny but specific genes have not yet been identified.

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