Psychology has always been a subject that sparked my interest and actually made me excited to learn about something. In high school, I was particularly interested in one debate: nature vs nurture. Nature versus nurture is the debate of whether our behavioral traits and attributes are influenced by our genetics or by our environments and relationships. It was a topic that always came up in class, and once I started to think about it, I started seeing it in everyday life.
My brother and I have always been complete opposites. He has always been very sensitive, dependent on others, and straight-edge. He rarely ever gets in trouble with my parents and would never do anything to intentionally disobey them. On the other hand, I have always been very tough, stubborn, and self-sufficient. I was always in trouble with my parents, never took ‘no’ for an answer, and was very rebellious. My brother and I obviously share the same genetics, but we were not exposed to the same environments.
Up until my junior year in high school, I had attended Catholic school all my life. I spent 11 years at Notre Dame elementary school, and the school and classes were very small. I spent 11 years of my life with the same 50 or 60 people, generally the same race with the same values. Even when I got to high school, I saw most of the same people, and the size of the school was not much bigger. My brother, on the other hand, spent most of his education in public school experiencing all types of people with various values and beliefs. We also had very different groups of friends. He had a lot of friends who were generally the same as my brother behavior wise. I had a few close friends with rebellious personalities like mine, and I spent much of my time away from home while my brother spent most of his time at home. This is most likely why I am more independent while he is very dependent on my parents and others. We were definitely influenced by our environments.
Although environment does have an influence on behavior, so does genetics. Sometimes it’s scary how alike my dad and brother are. They have the same behaviors and mannerisms, and they even think alike. They definitely were not raised the same way with the same values. My dad’s parents were not very involved in my dad’s life at all, but my parents are involved in basically every aspect of my brother’s life. My dad also grew up an atheist while my mom and grandmother took my brother to Church and put him in religious education classes outside of school. This shows that genetics also has a noticeable impact on a person’s behaviors.
It is not just nature that makes us behave as we do, it is also not just nurture; it is both. There are so many factors that influence the way a person behaves that we cannot just look to one for the answer.