Category Archives: Nature/Nurture

“It Runs in the Family”

Julie Kittka

Blog Post #3

PSYCH 100

 

Growing up my father used to stay at home some days when he felt “sick” or “under the weather”.  He never appeared to have a cough or a cold so as a young child I did not really grasp the concept of a “personal day”.  He would stay at home and take time to work on personal projects, pay bills, do some handiwork, or just catch up on sleep.  I did not realize until later in life that these sick days were for my father to cope with his anxiety and depression.  Sometimes the environment in which he worked – a very fast-paced office space with cut-throat co-workers – was too much for him to handle.  He explained to me that he would have these irrational thoughts that always began with “what if”.  He would question his skills and qualifications to be working for his company, he would question his relationship with other co-workers and his boss, and this constant questioning greatly interfered with his ability to work.  My father would take personal days to calm his nerves and get back on track.  Dealing with anxiety and depression most of his adult life, he knew some tips and tricks that helped him control these uncontrollable notions.

When my sister was a little older, she developed the same type of thought-processes and behaviors.  Our high school was highly competitive in regards to grades and keeping up with other students was not as easy for my sister as it was for me.  Sometimes this fear of being left behind or not being good enough would keep my sister up all night long.  I did not know what was going on at the time because my father would just tell me “it’s just something that runs in the family” when she had one of her episodes.

Now that I have a clearer definition and understanding of anxiety and depression, I feel that it is easier for me to relate and cope with my sister’s and my father’s episodes.  It left me wondering, is anxiety and depression heritable?  Would my future children be somewhat susceptible to a similar disorder?  It also left me wondering if it has something to do with childhood development.  Because we are around our parents during childhood and throughout our adolescence, do parents with these disorders have an influence on how their children develop and specifically how they develop similar disorders?  I suppose my question(s) are a summed up in a simple question: which has more prevalence in these disorders – nature or nurture?

Type of Twins

My cousins are twins. They are both girls, look very similar, and have similar personalities. Growing up though my family and I had our doubts that they were identical. They both have blond hair and blue eyes, most people can’t tell them apart. But I always could and so could the rest of my family, except of my little sister, who mixes them up every time. So, they look a lot alike but they don’t look identical. They have different shoe sizes and one of the twins has more freckles than the other.

But then they also have very similar personalities. They have always played the same sports, had the same friends, and now both are pursuing a medical career at the same college, where they are both in sororities. When they are doing their own things, both tend to ask as leaders, helping others, yet put them in the room together and one always dominates and becomes the leader. At every family event, I have always noticed the same twin taking charge. If you separate them though they both take charge. Also sitting next to both of them I found one to be more sympathetic and the other more outgoing. These differences are only distinguishable when they are separated though.

So are my cousins identical or fraternal twins? Identical twins, or monozygotic twins, occur when a fertilized egg splits, creating two of the same organism. These types of twins share the same DNA and because of that are very similar. Fraternal twins, or dizygotic twins, on the other hand, come from two different eggs and two different sperm. This causes the twins to be different. They do not share the same DNA. Fraternal twins are no more alike, genetically, than other siblings, they were just born at the same time.

Learning about these differences in definition I now strongly believe my cousins are identical twins, they are too similar not to be. The differences they have that allow me to distinguish them have come from various environmental effects. Each twin has had different experiences and therefore has become their own person. One of them had a concussion while the other did not. In addition one studied in Denmark for a few weeks while the other did not. Events like these have shaped my cousins differently, so even though they are identical, they are each their own person with a unique life.

Nature and Nurture Cannot be Separated

Are we born to be good at something or do we learn to be good at the things we weren’t in the first place? The topic of nature versus nurture is one of the most debatable topics throughout the centuries. My belief is that based on nature, we tend to accept new things and if we don’t develop either the nature or the nurture we have, then that is when our ability of doing something degenerate. When my brother was born, he was heard from others that he had a talented skill in crafting and making objects with his hands. He was awarded from numerous places and his elementary school head principle even came to see his work that he had done. Since then, my brother was taught to focus on other areas more such as studying, or do the “practical” thing that we should do to be a more successful person in our life. Since then, I’ve never seen my brother ever make something with his hands or draw a fantastic picture putting all his effort. Ten years later, my brother tells me he doesn’t want to create or design anything now, but simply just do the things he is told to do. I have never doubted once in my life that my brother has talent in the creative field, but what nurtured him throughout the years made him completely different. I do believe that his skills are better than mine, or any other people who weren’t born with the talent, but if you don’t uphold your talent, then I think it slowly fades away.

Another example is that I’ve seen someone who had absolutely no talent at all, at least that’s what her mother and her family members have been talking about her since a long time. She had no talent in sports, studying, socializing, or even enjoying things. So her parents kept telling her that she should change her personalities and be more outgoing if she wanted to succeed in her life. When I first met her, she could barely speak English at all. The only thing she kept doing was persistently study and prepare for her tests, or even socializing issues, she would try to speak up and stand up to others. After a few years I could find that her English dramatically improved and her personality had changed completely different from what she had been before. I believe all this comes from training, what you constantly teach you to think, and how hard you try. So this might sound as a nurture passage but I do not think nurture covers 100 percent of your personality; because her nature of being passive against everything, she tried had to recover that. And her parents were very consistent too so that’s where she probably could have improved by consistently doing what she was told to do.

Nature and nurture does not have an exact rigid answer. Many people differ by DNA structures and the way they were taught from families. However, we can learn that nurture can be created from your nature that was already in you and thus later making the nurture to be a stronger nature than what you originally had. As of a conclusion, do not debate whether nature or nurture is what forms you, because everything that you’re made of is part of your experience, nature, and the nurture you keep developing on.

 

Nature vs. Nurture: What Makes a Killer

Megan Henderson

Blog Post 1

Psych 100.003

 

Nature vs. Nurture: What Makes a Killer

            School shootings, serial killers and violent children.  Any time a shooting occurs, children lash out, or horrible things happen by the hands of humans, people instantly respond with “It’s these video games today, there’s too much violence on television…” or something of that nature.  When horrible things happen, people naturally assume it’s because of the environment in which they’ve been raised, but there might be more to the debate than that.                                                                                                              On one hand, the concerned mothers of Call of Duty and GTA players might just have a handle on things. Stemming from the time of the Greeks, Aristotle had the belief that human behavior is subject to laws.  This view, known as “Empiricism” was built on the idea of knowledge being gained through experience.  This is where the mothers and concerned citizens come in.  Children who witness violent behavior on television at a young age and virtually act violent on video games as teenagers are the ones who become violent (according to this school of thought).  The Empiricism view is widely accepted due to the success of an experiment run by Dr. Vincent Matthews with his colleagues at Indiana University. Matthews used fMRI tests to scan the brain activity of 28 students.  After the initial scans, the men were asked to perform tasks with either emotional or non-emotional content.  These men were randomly assigned to play either violent shooter games or non-violent games every day for a week. After the seven days of video games, the same men were rescanned using fMRI while re-completing the same non/emotional tasks to observe differences.  Of the results, Matthews said “Behavioral studies have shown an increase in aggressive behavior after violent video games, and what we show is the physiological explanation for what the behavioral studies are showing,” The results showed those who played the violent games showed less brain activity in the areas which involve emotions.  The views of Aristotle clearly have some physiological significance to them, based on the results of Matthews study.                                                                                                  Opposing the views of Aristotle and the results of Matthews study sits the school of Nativism.  According to Plato and Socrates our thoughts, characteristics, and behaviors are all innate qualities.  Because this field of study heavily relies on genetics, most studies will look into the heritability of traits such as aggression.  In an effort to look at the genetic and environmental influences of aggression, twin male subjects were mailed subscales of the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory.  In the results of this study, three of the four BHDI scales demonstrated heritability among aggressive behaviors of a non-additive nature (40% -Indirect Assault, 37% -Irritability, 28% -Verbal Assault).  Because of what these BDHI scales indicate, we can technically infer that some forms of impulsive aggression can be heritable in men.                                                                                                While both Empiricism and Nativism are accepted schools of thought with evidence to support both, it’s impossible to say one is more accurate than the other.  At best, psychology will uncover behaviors, particularly aggressive and violent ones are a product of a combination of both the environment in which a person is raised and the innate characteristics with which the child is born.

 

References:

http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/02/how-playing-violent-video-games-may-change-the-brain/

 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322396002570

Nature vs. Nurture

As clearly stated in many other blog posts, nature vs. nurture is a very popular topic in psychology today.  Nativism (nature) is the idea that our behavior is inherited, and empiricism (nurture) is the idea that our behaviors are acquired through experiences and relationships.

Growing up, just like many other kids, I was always interested in playing soccer.  But I was a little different.  I had talent beyond any other 7 year old girl, which is why I tried out for the boys travel soccer team. I had an inborn talent. I was extremely fast and naturally talented at playing soccer (yes, it was inborn because I never worked at it). At the age of 7 I played up a year and made the u-9 boys soccer team, and continued to be the star player of that team until the start of my freshman year of high school.  I made the team because of my inborn talent, but growing up with 17 other boys and being with them every single day made me the hardworking, resilient, aggressive athlete and person I am today.

Since I was the only girl on the team, I had to work much harder than everyone to keep my spot (I was made fun of a lot too by the boys on other teams, until I kicked their butt). Working hard and being aggressive was a huge factor in middle school when the boys hit puberty and finally became faster, stronger, taller, and much tougher than I was. You would think that I shied away, being not even 4′ 11″ on a team with men who were taller than 6′, but that made me work harder, and become even tougher than I already was.

With that being said, as a freshman in high school I had no problem making varsity of my high school soccer team.  My coach loved the traits I possessed and I continued to use them until my very last game, because that is what I learned made me stand out from all of the other girls.  Because of my experience, I realize I need to continue to work hard to help make me stand out today in the real world.

Why do we put up with toxic relationships?

Recently, I’ve been helping a friend who has been stuck in a toxic relationship for the past 6 months. I have a hard time helping her because I can’t understand why she would want to be with someone who half the time is great, and half the time horrible. He is unappreciative and rude to her most of the time. It seems simple to me for her to leave the relationship and completely forget about him. However, after reading an article I found on psychologytoday.com, I understand why that is so hard for her. As stated in the article, although we have been programed to make life as enjoyable and happy as possible, sometimes toxic relationships are hard to avoid.

The article talks about reasons that my friend could possibly still want to be in this relationship could have to do with the way she grew up. The article explains that if my friend grew up with a relationship with her parents similar to her relationship with her romantic partner, she may perceive this behavior as acceptable. She could believe that, “if you are nice to me, you are allowed to hurt me.” (psychologytoday.com). This would relate to the psychology concept of nurture, and learning behavior.

Another reason that my friend wants to stay in this toxic relationship is because of chemical reactions in the brain. The article refers to the chemical dopamine, which is responsible for feeling happy, being released during lust. Also, being in this unpredictable relationship creates adrenaline in the brain. The article says, “Adrenaline is a stimulant. Stimulants are addictive. In terms of neuro chemicals, you can think of dopamine as straight whiskey, adrenaline as beer, and the brain as a boozehound.”(psychologytoday.com). This explanation relates to the psychology concept of neurons and chemicals in the brain.

The article suggests that the way to escape a toxic relationship like the one my friend is in, is to learn why she wants to be in this relationship. She needs to realize that the reason she wants to be in this relationship is because of subconscious psychology and chemicals in the brain. 

 

Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/obesely-speaking/201402/hooked-messy-loving

Do our children learn bad habits

The old debate, Nature vs Nurture is known to almost everybody. Do we act the way we do because we were raised this way, or because our genes tell us to? That is the question that has been bugging people for ages, since the time of Socrates and Aristotle we have been arguing about it. Both sides have equal merit and there is research to back up both sides. It is the application of such things that makes one wonder about the way things really are.

My sister has a two and a half year old daughter who is starting to vocalize and be very independent. Observing her has made me wonder if the things she does are learned from watching the people around her, which would prove nurture, or whether she just inherently knows to do those things as in nature. Sort of like instincts in animals, are the actions we perform really something we are born knowing? The problem is figuring out how we learn, is it simply reinforcing our instinctual knowledge, or is it learning from scratch. From watching her develop and grow, I am very much convinced that she is learning these things from us. I have seen her watching my sister as she interacts with people and then, at a later time, do similar things while she plays with the other kids in her Sunday school group. Being a role model to a two year old may seem like an easy job, but when every move you make is scrutinized by a child, you might think twice. To me this is very good evidence of nurture over nature, but in the end who can tell?  Just because someone is raised a certain way, doesn’t guarantee that they will act that way. I’m sure most families that produce serial killers don’t intentionally raise them to be go out and kill people. The scientist might argue that there isn’t a gene that controls that kind of behavior either. We are left with our own experiences to make sense of the world around us.

Nature vs. Nurture

Muzi Li

Psychology 100 Section 3

February 4, 2014

Blog Post #1

 

Nature vs. Nurture

 

Nature verses nurture is a hot and old debate topic in psychology for a long time. In common words, the debate is focus on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to the human development. There are two different groups holding their own opinion. One group is leaded by Plato, they states that certain things are inborn, they are naturally appearing despite the outside influences. They believed that all or most of the human behaviors and characteristics are inheritance, or so called nativist. Another group like John Locke pointed out that out mind is a piece of blank paper, according to the surrounding, the influences from the outside, so all or most of our behavior and characteristic are the result of learning, which is called empiricists.

It is common sense that our physical characteristics are definitely inheritance genetically, like the color of our eyes, skin and hair. These factors make people speculate that whether our psychological characteristics such as personality, behavior and mental are naturally born with. As for the nurture, the differences of infants and children are the accumulated result of learning and observing.

For example, here is a question: our sexuality is something that genetically imposed on us that we have no control over, or something else? Nobody knows that he/she is homosexual when he/she was born, but is it nature or nurture; the scientists are still working on that project. Being a homosexual person can be nature, scientist states that the gay people look different from those of heterosexuals. The brain is form when the baby is not born yet, so some people is genetically homosexual. While, people may become homosexual because of the outside environment influence them. Lots friends of mine are homosexual, but they are not at the beginning, for example, a guy likes him and go after him, time to time, he fell in love with that guy and became a guy. That person changed his sexuality because of the experience or so called the influences of the environment and outside factor that is nurture.

In my personal point of view, nothing is absolutely nature or nurture. It could be part of genetically and part of experiencing.

nature-nuture

References:

McLeod, Saul. “Nature Nurture in Psychology.” – Simply Psychology. N.p., 2007. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.

Nativism (Nature)

Nativism is the idea that our thoughts, ideas and characteristics are inborn.  I feel that this is true of all of us, and we can all think of an example in out lives to back this theory up.  Being a male, I have grown up to love sports.  Now this also may be true for some other guys and even girls, but I would bet that this is true for more guys.  The reason I have this theory is because I grew up with two older sisters in the household.  Being together for eighteen years I have noticed our different ideas towards sports and our likes and dislikes.  It is in a girls nature to like more feminine activities such as painting nails, gymnastics, playing with dolls and talking on the phone with friends.  To continue, it is in a boys nature to do more masculine activities such as ride bikes, play with trucks, watch and play sports, etc.

As I mentioned before I love to watch and play sports.  This is an example of Nativism.  I was born with traits similar to other men and women are born with traits similar to other women.  This can be seen all the way through the early Greeks.  Socrates and Plato claimed that we learn about ourselves by examining others, and including one’s thoughts and feelings.  Today we call this introspection, or “looking within”.  I have studied my sisters, and can say that Socrates and Plato were right.  I feel that I can make a strong argument solely based on my interaction with my sisters for eighteen years.  The nature of people a lot of the time can be determined by there gender and interactions with others.  My experience throughout my childhood has shown me that Nativism, explained early on by Socrates and Plato, holds true up to today and will continue to show us how different all of us are, sometimes even based on our gender.

Brian Stoyanoff

Nature versus Nurture

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.