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Nature vs. nurture

 

Explanations > Evolution > Nature vs. nurture

Freud vs. Darwin | Separated Twins | TraitsSo what?

 

To what extent do we get our skills, attitudes, and so on directly through our genes from our parents vs. acquiring them from our experience?

Freud vs. Darwin

Freudian analysts will look first to childhood experiences, whilst evolutionary biologists pay more attention to what has been stored in our genes.

The surprising findings over recent years is that there is far more than we had expected in the nature argument. It seems we get a lot more than the color of our hair and eyes from our parents--in fact at least half our traits are inherited. 

Separated twins

A neat way of studying the question is to take identical twins, who will have the same genes, separate them at birth, and then watch how develop differently (supporting the nurture argument) or similarly (supporting the nature argument).

A famous study did just this. Well--almost. Rather than cruelly separate the twins, they went out and found twins that had already been separated through such as different adoptions. The results were that the separated twins were often living remarkably similar lives.

Preferences vs. traits

There can be something of a debate as to whether you talk about Preferences or Traits. Traits is probably an older and hence more established term, but it either assumes a 100% nature argument or a (rather Freudian) fixed-in-childhood pattern. Many prefer (!) the term 'preferences' as it indicates choice, which we always have, even if nature is prodding us in the opposite direction.

So what?

See if you can meet others from the target person's family, or maybe talk with them about it. Are there any 'family traits'? 

The bottom line of the nature/nurture debate is that it is far harder (if not impossible) to change anything in a person which is hard-wired into their brains.

See also

Preferences

 

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