Category Archives: Nature/Nurture

Made By Paralysis

The concepts of nature and nurture were studied by Socrates and Plato, and Aristotle respectively. Nativism is the idea that characteristics and ideas that we have as humans are in born, meaning that they have always been there from the beginning. Nurture is the idea that the same characteristics and ideas are present due to experiences that we go through. When thinking about my life and the debate between which of these two are more prevalent in today’s society, I am forced to believe that the way we behave is given to us through our experiences, not by birth. At my birth I was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury known as brachial plexus palsy, and my right arm is almost completely paralyzed. From this situation I have worked hard to excel in many sports  and other activities that others have thought wasn’t possible, in fact I believe that I may even be better with the injury than I would be without it, because I know I have to work extra hard to achieve what others can do much more simply. Even tasks such as tying my shoes were difficult, but I can still remember the day in 4th grade that I was able to do it for the first time. It was this experience that was able to alter the course of my life, and made me who I am today, but I wasn’t born with this injury, it wasn’t in my genes it was a mistake by the doctor at my delivery that has affected my life. The experiences I have gone through in my life with this injury have also afforded me many opportunities that others do not have. I used sports as the example of how I had to work and practice harder, but that same mindset carries over to everything I do in life. The experienced affected me in a physical way, but even more so in a mental way. I think of myself as more reserved than some other people, and that is due to the fact that I don’t want to draw attention to the difference in my appearance. Many people in the past have asked me what’s wrong with my arm, and as a young kid it got annoying and frustrating.  My parents were vital in my development during my life in dealing with this injury. They had always supported me and pushed me in rehab and physical therapy, which further aided my mindset during my childhood. In fact, all of my siblings have been raised the same way, and all have turned out to be hardworking and dedicated to our studies, sports, and any other activities in which we are engaged. If you put me in the exact same situation, but changed the mindset of my parents, there is no doubt that I wouldn’t be as successful in the things I have done. You could argue that I am talking about nature rather than nurture but that is not true. If that were true, then you would be arguing that I am a perfect mix of my parents. The fact is that it is through my experience with them, not my genetic connection to them that has made these impacts on my life.

Nature vs. Nurture

Nature vs. Nurture

            What happens when you take a child from a family with a history of addiction problems and place him in a new family with no history of addiction?  Does he suffer from addiction problems or does he grow up to be more like his adoptive family?  This is a classic question in psychology.  Socrates and Plato believed in the idea of Nativism, that our character and our personality were inborn, or hereditary as we would say in modern times.  These characteristics of thought, ideas, and behaviors are passed down genetically from our parents.  Aristotle, however, believed in the idea of Empiricism.  This was the idea that knowledge is gained through experience, that your personality and character is more reflective of the environment in which you grew up and the influence of those around you.  This debate between which of these theories holds more truth is still a major debate in psychology today and is more well known as the argument of nature versus nurture.

While growing up I witnessed a very unique situation, one that would have been difficult to create in an experimental setting, but demonstrated this idea of nature versus nurture better than many studies could have.  My mother’s sister had a baby a couple years before I was born.  She was not able to keep the baby and my father’s sister adopted him and with her husband raised him along with their other son who was a few years older.

Addiction and alcoholism has been a problem for many members of my mother’s family, including her father.  She is one of six children.  More than half of her siblings have suffered from some level of addiction and/or alcoholism.  My father’s family has no history and no current problems with addiction or alcoholism.  He is one of eight children and neither his parents nor any of his siblings have struggled with any form of addiction.

My cousin was raised by a very caring family, in a religious home with no exposure to anyone with any form of addiction.  His brother has had a very successful career in aviation.  He is currently an air traffic controller who is married with two children.  Never has he suffered from any form of alcoholism or addiction.  My adopted cousin, however, has struggled with alcoholism and other addiction problems through much of his life and almost died because of them.  He was once pronounced dead at the scene of a terrible car accident where he was running from the police after getting into a fight with his parents while very intoxicated.  He is by no means a bad person and is a genuinely nice and caring individual, but he has suffered from problems with addiction none the less.  His personality and behavior is much more reminiscent of my mother’s family than my fathers, although he had very minimal interactions with anyone on my mother’s side of the family and was raised solely by my father’s sister.

I have always found this situation very interesting and a very good argument for genetics having a large part to play in an individual’s thoughts and behaviors.  I do not think that genetics alone determines a person’s personality and the way they think and behave, but I do think that no matter what environment you place some people in they will not be able to escape their biology.


Empiricism is an idea by Aristotle that knowledge is gained through experience.  Everything that a person experiences during their day will somehow affect their behavior.  Anything from a conversation with friends or seeing something horrific changes someone’s behavior.  Also, a person’s surrounding will have an effect on someone’s behavior.

I’ve seen this happen to my sister.  My sister was not very happy for most of her life.  She would get angry very quickly and over the most insignificant things.  For a while we all thought she was just being difficult.  It wasn’t until she was almost through middle school that we realized what the problem was.  The kids at her school were very mean to her.  She couldn’t go through the day without being bullied.  That experience made her lash out very quickly, since she’s the type to defend herself.  Her whole demeanor changed when she went to a high school outside of our district.  Away from all of the bullies and with people who understood her, she became a much happier, easier to talk to person.  By changing her surroundings and experiencing happier people, she changed her behavior.

These are related because my sister’s behavior changed based on the experiences she had in her life.  The environment she was in during middle school was hostile and she had to fight back to feel like she was in control of her situation.  After going to a high school with different people, she was able to relax and be a happier person.  She no longer felt the need to lash out at the littlest things or defend herself in a situation where no one was being mean to her.

Pathway to College

The idea of nature versus nurture was founded by the Greeks in 300 B.C. Socrates and Plato introduced the theory of nativism (nature). This is the idea that our thoughts, ideas, and characteristics are inborn or genetic. Empiricism theory (nurture) was introduced by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Empiricists believe that at birth the human mind is a blank slate and is gradually “filled” from learning experiences. Many people today are not able to take one side completely because of the facts on each argument.

When I was thinking about the theories and what to write on, I realized that my pathway to college and education choice were a prime example. I solely believe the way I raised and who I was surrounded with led me to where I am today.  Success in education was always something my parents held a standard too. The idea of success may be inborn in us, we all want to succeed and be good at what we do. However, there are many ways to succeed, and I believe that college was my way to success because of my family members and how I was brought up. My sister and dad both graduated from Penn State along with a handful of aunts and uncles. I do not think Penn State was inborn in me, but being surrounded from the idea of it has lead me here. I am currently majoring in Information Science and Technology as well as Security Risk Analysis. I am the first to take on this field of education, but I believe my dad was a major influence on my choice even though I never realized. My mom and sister were always closer and I was always my dad’s little girl. My mom is a teacher and my sister later went on to become a teacher as well. My dad is an engineer, I think which has directed me to go on the more technical side of careers. Past experiences and surrounding environments have led me to where and who I am today.  I do not think just nature or just nurture make us who we are as human beings though. I believe both do their fair share of  influencing our development and choices in life.

Nature Vs. Nurture Regarding Intelligence

I believe that all aspects of our lives are influenced by both nature and nurture. Not by just nature of the child, or likewise just nurturing your child. Both aspects work together when raising your kin and both aspects can affect them for the rest of their lives. Nature refers to the genetics that children inherit from their parents and family. Nurture on the other hand, is all the factors that influenced children as they grew up, as soon as they were conceived. Nurture is more of social and outside situations that shape us, while nature is who we are and what we born with. Both factors can be positive or negative outcomes for us. For example, with nature, children can inherit the ability to learn to play musical instruments easily like one of their parents or negative because they can also inherit a genetic disposition to alcoholism from them. With nature children can grow up with a lot of family parties and become social butterflies or the parents could abuse their child and the child could grow up with psychological problems. This is why I believe both nature and nurture are both crucial to the lives of every person.

I have seen this in both myself and my friends. For example, my best friend Amy is very intelligent. She has never gotten anything less than an “A-” on any assignment and if you ask her a question, she can answer it without any hesitation. Now this makes me wonder why Amy is the way she is. Is she so intelligent because of the way her parents raised her (Nurture) or her DNA they gave her (Nature). Well, let’s break this down, part of our intelligence and brain functions are determined by our genetics, which is all on the nature side of the debate. It could also be Nature because her father is a doctor, and her mother is a psychologist, both career paths show that her parents must be pretty intelligent. This means that Amy could have inherited her mother and father’s genes and thus be born intelligent. On the nurture side of the debate, there are all sorts of positive environmental inputs that can enhance intelligence. Amy grew up with a wealthy family, so they put her in better schools than other children in the area. Children who grow up in stimulating environments are likely to benefit from mental stimulation that activates their brain cells, develops their logical skills. Also, having those other private school children around her to talk to her and stimulate her mind with intellectual conversations can make her increase in intelligence. All these “nurture” factors had a major influence on Amy growing up so Nurture definitely played a role in her superior intelligence as well.

As you can see, both nature and nurture worked together to produce Amy’s impeccable intelligence. Having “good genes” alone is worth little if intelligence is not nurtured in healthy and stimulating environments. Both nature and nurture are crucial to any developing person.

Jadah Bird

Nature vs. Nurture

Shannon Kenney

Psych 100 Section 3

Blog Assignment 1

Siblings Nature vs. Nurture

Nature (Nativism) is that which is inherited genetically, we are born with the genes we have.  Nurture (empiricism) refers to all the environmental influences after conception that knowledge is gained through experience.  These theories came about by the Greek around 300 B.C.  Socrates and Plato introduced the nativism theory.  Aristotle introduced the empiricism theory.

I am the youngest of three girls; we range from the ages of 24 to 20.  Even though we were growing up at the same time in the same environment, our personalities and traits are completely different.  My oldest sister is four years older than me; I was always trying to keep up to her.  Having her to follow accelerated my learning process.  My other sister is 10 months older than I am.  Growing up, everyone thought we were twins, the joke being not twins but “Irish twins”, which are siblings born within 12 months.  We all do look a like, but my sister who is ten months older, we really resemble each other.

We all attended the same small catholic school.  Therefore, we had the same teachers, but we were all academically different.  We each learned at different paces.   My sisters were more worried about getting things done, where I procrastinated and waited until the last minute.

All three of us are very athletic and competitive; we were involved in sports starting at an early age.  I was the more aggressive athlete; my sisters were more laidback.  I had coaches and teachers question how could three sisters be so close in age be so different.

In conclusion, I believe this theory applies, we are three children, born from the same parents, brought up the same way, have very similar traits including beliefs, morals and family ties, however, in the same breath, are totally different with opposite personalities, outlooks, strengths and weaknesses.  Do you ever wonder how people who are so a like can be so different?  Even though we did grow up with the same genetics, we are all individuals.

Nature vs Nurture: How to Raise a Super Bowl Champion

Credit: SportsCenter

I am pretty sure most of you know that the Super Bowl took place last night. It pitted the number one offense against the number one defense, headlined by a match up between Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Seattle Seahawks corer Richard Sherman. They both ended up on the big stage but had very different ways of getting there.

Peyton was born to Archie Manning, future NFL member of the Hall of Fame. Peyton was going to be nurtured into a football player just like his father. He has a football in his hands before he could walk. The day he was old enough he was out on the field learning to play football, following in his father footsteps. When the time for college came around he went to Tennessee, and was drafted number 1 overall in the 1998 NFL draft. Many consider him to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time, if not the best. But some people question, where did his talent come from; his father’s ‘football genes’ or from his rigorous upbringing in football.

Across from Peyton stands Richard Sherman, who got here in a completely different way. He was born in Compton. His parents are a garbage man and a special ed teacher. His parents taught him at a young age to be the best he can be. In a culture where school was something to be joked about, Sherman graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA, second in his class, and leader of his football team. From there he went to Stanford where he played football and graduated with a 3.7 GPA. He was drafted late in the 5th round of the 2011 draft, and was a nobody until his play and colorful personality got the attention of the press. His story is considered to be one of the best stories of overcoming adversary and achieving greatness.

The real question from this was is Peyton Manning’s upbringing of his lineage that made him great. The same could be asked about Richard Sherman, was it the way his parents raised him of something else that gave him the will to succeed. We may never know what truly determines our future, but these two stories prove that regardless; hard will and determination are necessities in Raising a Super Bowl Champion.

Nature vs. Nuture in School

Cara Barnes

I attended Catholic schools my entire life, from pre-school to senior year. It differed from public school in that we had to wear uniforms, take religion classes, and also pay tuition. I went to an all girl high school, and graduated with only 74 girls. With these small class sizes and extremely strong emphasis on religion and education you would think that we were 74 cookie cutter girls, right? Wrong! This is where the idea of nature vs. nature comes in.

The struggle between the ideas of “nature” and “nurture,” also known as Nativism vs. Empiricism, arose around 300 BC from the Greeks. Socrates and Plato came up with the theory that our thoughts, ideas, and characteristics are inborn. They called this Nativism, which deals with one’s nature. Aristotle then proposed the idea than knowledge was gained through experience, and called it Empiricism (nurture).

In high school, the importance of going to mass every Sunday was constantly ingrained in us, but it didn’t mean everyone went. I go to church every Sunday, while some of my friends never went again after graduation. The teachers always stressed the fact that our parents paid a lot of money for us to attend this school so we should take our education very seriously, although many girls never did their schoolwork. Some girls took the work ethic that was instilled in them and ran with it, while others left it right at the door. Every once in a while, we would receive a new student who was a “troublemaker” at their old school. Their parents would send them to Catholic school in hopes that the strict teachers and religious concepts would somehow morph their child into an “angel.” It never happened. There are well behaved students and badly behaved students in public and private schools. It has nothing to do with the schools, it is the students’ attitudes.

This shows that although we all grew up with the same values and beliefs we aren’t all the same. All of us girls were given the same lessons and were “nurtured” in the same way, but our inbred characteristics and “nature” seemed to be what really shined through in the end.

Nature vs. Nuture, Applied

Nativism is the idea, thought of by Socrates and Plato, that out thoughts, ideas, and characteristics are inborn. Empiricism is the idea, thought of by Aristotle, that individuals are the way they are because of what they’ve experienced in their lifetime.

Growing up with a twin brother always had its ups, and its downs. At a young age, I began to realize my twin brother had developed some sort of anger issue. He would typically lash out at my parents when he wouldn’t get his way, sometimes for no reason at all. We tried bringing him to therapy in hope that it would help decrease his anger, but it never worked. I would always wonder to myself, “why does my brother get so mad all the time? I’m not an angry child, so why is he?” Looking back at that thought, now that I am beginning to understand the psychological mind, I realize this is a great representation of the idea of Nativism vs. Empiricism, or Nature vs. Nurture.

The other day, I was talking to my mother on the phone and she mentioned how my brother began to lash out at her and my father, like he used to when he was younger, because they wouldn’t give him money.. She told me that his actions set a great example for the idea of Nature vs. Nurture. She began to go on and say how I was always so nice to her and my father, when my brother wasn’t. We grew up in the same household, and the fact that I was always (and still am) so nice and respectful, and my brother was so rude and disrespectful, shows Socrates and Plato’s idea of Nativism: the belief that our thoughts, ideas, and characteristics are inborn.

After looking back at my life, so far, and coming to the realization my mother seemed to have embedded in my head, I do now agree with the philosophical approach of Socrates and Plato, for my brother’s anger issues.


Nature v. Nurture

One of the theories we have learned about in psychology this semester is the idea of nativism (nature) v. empiricism (nurture).  I have always found this idea to be very interesting. I took a psychology course in high school as well, so I am familiar with the concepts.

I particularly find this topic very fascinating as it relates somewhat to my life. My mother is one of two children and has an older sister. When my grandmom (my mom’s mom) was young and trying to have kids, it was very difficult for her and she unfortunately had a high amount of miscarriages. After trying and failing to have a child many times, my grandparents figured it would be best to adopt a child. After this decision had been made and they had gone through and signed papers for adopting a child, my grandmom found out she was pregnant! So, with that being said, they had one child that was biologically theirs and another child whom they adopted. My mom is the biological daughter and my aunt is the adopted daughter.

Growing up, my mom and her sister had never been friends. They were like oil and water and just never seemed to get along. This always seemed strange to my grandparents being that they were less than a year apart in age. My aunt was adopted at just a few days old, so my mom and her sister were practically raised together their whole lives. One would think they would be similar and get along just fine, but that was not the case. My mom had always been so outgoing, yet very independent as well. She had many friends, took part in many activities, and did almost everything without the help of her parents. My aunt on the other hand, was just the opposite. She found it hard to make friends and always found herself being bullied by other children. She was very dependent on my grandparents for practically everything.

Seeing how my mom and my aunt turned out today makes me believe in nativism more than empiricism. Both my mom and her sister were raised by the same parents and taught the same values and manners, yet they are polar opposite people. My mom knew how to get what she wanted in life. She went to a great college, joined a sorority, was very social, and graduated with a master’s degree. She went on to become a pharmaceutical rep. and married my dad. Now, my parents own their own business. As for my aunt, she got mediocre grades throughout school and never did much with her life. She married very young and is now onto her third husband. She has many financial problems and cannot support herself. She is bitter and not appreciative of anything people do for her.

All in all, it still puzzles both my mom and me that they grew up to be so very different people. The same parents raised them in the same way, yet that did not seem to matter. Clearly, nativism has more of an effect on an individual. I believe that no matter who raised my aunt, she would have turned out to be the same exact person she is today.