Nature VS Nurture Theories of Personality in 21st Century
Nature vs Nurture theories have wasted a lot of energy of human beings. Plato is considered first to realize that you are made of not only flesh but also an intellectual soul. The issue may be much older… In Greek Mythology, when gods created man, they endowed him with divinity. However, the man started challenging them. They feared his potentials and decided to deprive him of the might. “Where to hide the divinity?” was the big question They considered heights of icy mountains, limits of shining stars and pits of the earth.
But every place was accessible to man’s capabilities. Then they decided to hide it within the man himself. Since then the man has been climbing icy mountains. He has navigated deep seas. He has traversed moon.
His machines have even touched Mars. But he is still looking for his ‘lost paradise’. Man, it is inside you! They call it personality now. It is ‘scientific’ to ask how it comes into being. Is it inheritable? Is it natural? Is it outcome of environment? Have you any will to change your behaviors or you are bound to follow the dictates? Nature vs Nurture theories focus upon these issues. The new discoveries in genome and quantum physics have revived the debate. Incidentally, more they discover, more they bewilder. The abstraction continues intensifying. How to Define Nature VS Nurture Theories There are three distinctive schools of thought. 1- Personality is Natural: This group believes that your personality is result of evolutionary process.
You inherit behaviors due to complex interaction of genes. They control your behaviors. So you don’t have a free will to act otherwise. 2- Personality is Nurtured: This group argues that you don’t get your personality inherited. Your mind is a blank slate at your birth. It is your environment, education and culture that make up your behaviors. There are differences on the issue of ‘free will’ to change your behaviors. 3- Personality is Spiritual: This group claims that your personality is result of neither nature nor nurture. It is gift of some deity. They are split on the issue of ‘free will’.
Nature VS Nurture Theories and Evolutionary Psychology Darwin’s theory of evolution led William Hamilton, George Williams and many others to the idea of personality evolution. They proposed that like physical organs, your personality is result of natural selection for survival of the fittest. You do as your genes dictate. They suggest that fear of death, fear of injury, fear of snakes, shyness, addiction, criminality and sexual orientation are main examples of inheritable behaviors. Steven Pinker (2004) includes religiousness, liberalism and conservativeness in the list. William Paley considers cognitive capabilities, temperaments and cheating behaviors inheritable. However, there is strong criticism on this approach. 1- There is no single universal behavior which can be proved evolutionary. Even fear of death, that seems natural to all, is overridden in crusades, suicides and suicide bombings. 2- You are made of 25,000 to 30,000 genes.
They are merely twice to the number in a fruit fly. Chimpanzees share 95% of your genetic characteristics. However, they don’t share even 10% of your behaviors. 3- People don’t differ in behaviors as they do differ in skin pigments. Extroverts, introverts, optimists, pessimists, criminals, liberals etc are found in all societies and cultures. Even identical twins (with 100% similar genes) and fraternal twins (with 50% similar genes) behave differently in most of the cases. 4- No genome scientist has related genes or a set of genes with any kind of behaviors. 5- There are a good number of living organisms and fossils which suggest intermediary stages to the physical evolution. However, no such intermediary stages are available for personality evolution.
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