- Education and Science
Nature versus Nurture- Some Thoughts
Nature versus Nurture
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Irrespective of our upbringing, how much of our decisions in life are determined by inherited traits and in what sense do they affect our paths? Experience of course moulds our understanding of life and teaches us to respond in certain ways regarding particular circumstances. Once we have successfully overcome a problem by a response, we then retain that knowledge and reuse it when the circumstance arises again. This is conditioning, a learned response.
There are many inherent factors that determine how we respond initially. For example, if we are mild-mannered by nature and are challenged by a rude sales assistant, we would probably verbally ask the person to treat us with respect. Even if we had learned the only way to shut up the rude sale assistant was to punch them in the nose, we would be unlikely to do that. So inherited traits, like manner, personality and even feelings can overcome learned responses.
Nature versus nurture has always been a contentious debate. Is it our true nature given to us through our DNA that overrides all else? Or is it how we have been nurtured, taught and what we have experienced that determines our life choices? Obviously the answer is yes to both; we can respond through both nature and nurture. But what constitutes a response from either, and how is it chosen?
On consideration I have realised how complicated I am as a mixture of my parents, both physically and psychologically. I share certain physical features of both parents: my mother’s mouth, eyes, feet, my father’s body shape, his nose, shoulders. I share my general demeanour with my mother, her compassion and sense of justice, while I share my father’s impatience, artistic temperament, musical and artistic talents. You see having looked closely at these aspects of my heredity I’ve come to the conclusion that each of us is a collective of often contradictory elements. Is it any wonder that we have issues about whom we are and continually search for real independence and to find our own truth?
Our psychology is complex and the pieces of this puzzle are many. As we grow we not only learn by conditioning, but learn to adapt each aspect of our heredity into a single psyche to move forward in a positive and successful way. We must learn the negative aspects of heredity and overcome them, replacing them with more positive and workable tendencies. For example, I had to learn to temper my artistic temperament to be successful in a music career. I have always tried to be compassionate and have a penchant for justice. These things I have learned and adjusted to mould my own personality as an individual.
Isn’t it interesting how we become our parents when we have our own kids? How many times have you caught yourself regurgitating a statement to your kids? Then your head drops. ‘I sound just like my mother.’ What is encoded in our DNA cannot be erased, but it can be tempered.
Nature has a profound affect on developing our personality, our manner and tendencies. However, the experiences we have in our earlier years can guide and often distort our natural tendencies transforming them into something else. You can imagine a child with a natural tendency toward anger, being physically abused in childhood. Both experience and natural tendencies would create far greater problems of this kind in adulthood. In reverse a child with anger tendencies can be transformed by parents who nurture and teach patience and love.
In conclusion, we are all the sum total of both our nature and nurture. How we respond and learn to recognise our faults and talents is up to us. We can choose to develop or suppress these tendencies and our life will be the result of those decisions.