Have you ever wondered why people act like us? This has been a very popular question throughout our history. A serious debate over whether a person’s behavior can be justified by their childhood circumstances and how they were brought up, or whether someone’s behavior is determined by science and our genetics.
The “Nature vs. Cultivation” debate is age-old and is mainly known for arguing whether environment or genetics play a larger role in determining how a person behaves. The term “Nature versus Nature” was first coined in 1875 by Charles Darwin’s younger cousin, anthropologist Francis Galton.
Many people (empiricists) argue that your genetics has nothing to do with your personality and behavioral traits, but rather how you behave depends on the environment you grew up in. The over-cultivation position, known as the belief in empiricism, insists that your mind is like a blank slate (tabula rasa) at birth and that external factors such as education, treatment, upbringing, and overall experience fill this blank slate.
From this point of view, the psychological characteristics that begin to form in infancy and childhood are a result of learning. Just as belief in how you eat at these stages of life can affect development.
An example of the empiricist view is Bandura’s social learning theory, which explicitly states that aggression is learned through the environment and observation. Another important view would be Freud’s, who claimed that events in our childhood have a tremendous impact on our adult lives and also play a role in shaping our personality traits. Freud believed that the method of parenting was crucial to a child’s development because the family is the most important part of a child’s life from infancy to young adulthood.
However, some members of society may believe in innateism—the belief that aspects of a person such as intelligence and personality can be inherited and defined only by genes—holding the extreme nature position in the discussion. Many on this side of the argument hold the belief that your behavior is a product of your genetic makeup, since other aspects of your physical body are also dependent on genes. For example, the color of your eyes depends on the color of both eyes of your parent, and so your behavior is also dependent on your parent’s behavior because of the same genes you carry.
An innateist’s common assumption is that the traits of the entire human species are the product of evolution, and that everyone’s individual and specific differences in behavior, personality, and other aspects are based on their unique genetic code. A popular example of an innate view in psychology is Freud’s “instinctive theory of aggression” and the belief that adult personality is the result of innate drives, such as natural motivations or other drives that we have innately.
Do you believe that it is our nature and genetic makeup that shapes us as human beings, or that the way our parents treated us in childhood made us the people we will become later in life?