As an Identical Twin, do I have the Inside Scoop on the 'Nature versus Nurture' Debate?
Identical Twins and Nature vs. Nurture
Nature Versus Nurture
The simple explanation of nature versus nurture according to Wikipedia:
The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of a person's innate qualities ('nature') versus personal experiences ('nurture') in causing individual differences. In the language of population genetics, the heritability of a feature is the extent to which it is inherited genetically. That includes traits of behaviour and character. Though the public debate is all about humans, the principles apply to any living thing, plants as well as animals.
Twins and Nature and Nurture Debate
I recently joined a writing group for bloggers called 'One Stop Blog World.' Every day of the week has a different blog theme hosted by a writer. The idea behind the group is to help writers get the creative juices flowing. They give you a prompt or question to help inspire a story. Last Sunday the prompt was 'Nature versus Nurture.'
I thought back to my college days in Psychology and Sociology and what I had learned about the subject. Let's just go over the fundamentals of the nature versus nurture theory.
Nature refers to genetics, heredity and innate qualities one is born with.
Nurture refers to the environment we grow up in and the personal experiences that shape us.
Examples of Nature versus Nurture
Using Myself as an example: I can say that I inherited my brunette hair from my mother and I got my dad's bushy thick eyebrows. Research has shown that the physical characteristics I mentioned are inherited and genetic but it becomes much more complex when we start looking at traits such as: Behavior, Intelligence and Personality.
Using myself as an example again, let's look at intelligence. Did I inherit the gene that helped me through my Master's degree in Psychology or was this more about an environment in my upbringing that fostered my study habits which led to good grades?
Another example would be my love and passion for singing. Again, was this a inherited trait or was it about my environment and experiences?
This debate will continue but more and more researchers are seeing that genetics is only part of the puzzle. Genetically, we may be inclined to certain behaviors but environmental factors also have to be looked at. The question is, how much of who we are is genetic and how much of who we become is upbringing.
As an identical twin, I have always believed that both nature and nurture are valid propositions that work together. I don't know to what degree but I have lived it and learned it. My twin sister and I are very much alike (genetics) but we do have our differences which have been shaped by our experiences in life.
Regarding the intelligence trait I spoke of earlier-My twin sister also went on to get her Master's Degree and also received good grades. We actually went to college together for both our Bachelor's and Master's Degree. This is probably genetics and environment. My father skipped a couple years in high-school to attend college. He was an intelligent man which also affected the environment in my upbringing.
Regarding my passion for singing-My twin sister and I have been singing together since we were very young. We have sung at weddings and funerals and love singing Karaoke. Doing two -part harmony is especially fun because our voices are pretty much identical. Again, I see environment and genetics at play. My extended family is known to have a natural talent for singing and playing instruments and I was brought up in a home where musical talent and other artistic traits were highly valued.
Public Speaking is a skill I absolutely fear. I may have it in me as an extrovert, but it's not something I cared to practice or learn. I remember speech class in high school and college and how nervous I'd be two days before a speech. I was a total wreck and could think of nothing else but my fear of having to stand in front of the class and speak. My twin sister however, has made public speaking a big part of her professional life. She's not only incredibly captivating and talented at speaking, she has a passion for it. She loves to teach and educate others through her gift of public speaking. She had a big enough interest in it to practice and hone her skills. Genetics or Environment at play here? Probably both, but I just chose not to pursue the avenue of public speaking.
Conclusion of Nature vs. Nurture Discussion
Hopefully my personal experience as an identical twin has helped illustrate the Nature versus Nurture theory in a simple way. Although my twin sister and I are very much alike, (genetics) we have choices and free will and aren't merely our genetic make-up. We've had different life experiences aside from our childhood upbringing (environment) which has not only cultivated different talents in each of us but also shaped who we are as individuals.
What do you believe?
Identical Strangers-a book on their ordeal
© 2011 Linda Rogers