Effects of Nature and Nurture to Human Behavior

Human behavior being driven by either nature or nurture is a commonly discussed topic throughout society. Indeed, it is interesting to determine whether the actions of individuals are either influenced or even determined by their own genes or are basically a result of external factors such as the environment. However, the roles of nature and nurture in shaping human behavior are no longer a matter of debate, instead it is now widely accepted that both affect behavior through an interconnected manner (Coll, Bearer, and Lerner 53).

Nonetheless, despite the apparent complexity of the concept, accepting the intertwined effects of both nature and nurture, it would still be logical and appropriate to ask questions pertaining to which behavioral traits may be most heavily influenced by each factor. Therefore, in order to gain further knowledge regarding the concept of nature and nurture in the context of human behavior, not only would a review of current information from literature be accomplished but an attempt to point out personal examples to attest for the validity the of the concept would also be done.

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In discussing the influence of nature and nurture, it is best to point out cases regarding aggression. Certain communities, such as the Semai of Malaya, which were previously not known to exhibit violent behaviors have been noted to have changed significantly when the concept of war and fighting have been learned from Westerners (Chance 27). Without a doubt, the Semai are physically capable of aggression, but a possible explanation of why such a behavior have not manifested prior to Western influence is that there were no environmental factors which triggered it.

Interestingly, even the capability to exhibit sexual behavior, an ability which some may assume to be innately and solely determined by human genetics, has been established to be affected or triggered by external factors as well. To further expound, while it is true that experience and learning, both environmental factors, are essential in being able to successfully accomplish sexual pursuits, there are also evidences which highlight genetic influences on how often sexual activity is and how many partners an individual would be capable of having (Chance 27).

Given these examples, it is not difficult to accept the fact that human behavior is a result of both nature and nurture. In addition, it is important to prove the point that genetics may provide individuals with basic capabilities but the environment may turn may shape how such capabilities would actually arise. The ideal example for this would be language. Language ability is in part inherited through genetic means, however it is obvious that the manner in which humans speak or the language through which they communicate differs from one culture to another (Lippa 217).

Indeed, for the general population, it may be impossible to grasp the entire concept of nature and nurture as the effects or influences of each factor are both complex and potentially innumerable. Hence, experts in the field of human behavior gain additional insights into the effects of both nature and nurture through several scientific approaches. Specifically, twin and adoption studies are some of the most commonly applied methods for such purposes (Lippa 262). As noted beforehand, in addition to gaining additional insights about the concept, it would be best to provide personal examples of how it actually manifests.

In this sense, one of example which I could think of would be the caring attitude of my mother. To explain, my mother always had the tendency to care for animals and of course people, she immediately notices whether a person may be physically hurt or emotionally depressed. In such cases, if given the chance she would try to alleviate the individual’s problems by offering help; common examples would include talking to her crying friend at times. In my case, it is possible that she has passed on such a caring attitude as I definitely feel for others which are facing difficulties in life.

I immediately sense whether an individual needs aid or support, and at times I do think that I understand what they are going through. When I was younger, feeling that I have a responsibility to help those around me, I took care of people as well as animals when needed just like my mother would. However, if such an attitude may be partly inherited, it would be appropriate to assume that the environment allows for it to be manifested. In this sense, it would not have been possible to exhibit acts of kindness if the need to do so did not arise even once.

Furthermore, the environment has definitely affected my tendency to maintain such a trait as an event in the past led me to reconsider acts of kindness. To further expound, I once had a peer whom faced innumerable problems at one point of her life. Hence, as an act of kindness, I attempted to bring comfort and peace of mind through camaraderie. While it started in positive manner, the end of my endeavor was far from ideal. My peer eventually blamed me for things that I did not accomplish, despite the fact that I cared for her and listened to her thoughts for a considerable span of time.

With such, I became cautious of exhibiting a caring attitude towards other people, so as not to be hurt or ridiculed in return for one’s kindness. Indeed, the environment, despite an important aspect in allowing the manifestation of such a trait, has at the same time severely limited my tendency to do so. As established through scientific studies, the capability to exhibit empathy, altruism, and even kindness are, to a significant extent, heritable (Killen and Smetana 489). However, in my case, there is also distinct proof that the environment may affect such behavior in more than a single manner.

While there are possibly, other examples of how nature and nurture may have personally affected my entire being, such an example would definitely suffice for this discussion. Without doubt, the concept of the effects of nature and nurture on human behavior is not merely limited to theoretical terms alone. In conclusion, by gaining an effective understanding and appreciation of the concept, it would not be difficult to identify practical or day-to-day examples where in the interplay of nature and nurture manifests. Works Cited Chance, Paul. Learning and Behavior: Active Learning Edition.

6th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth – Cengage Learning, 2009. Print. Coll, Cynthia Garcia, Elaine L. Bearer, and Richard M. Lerner. Nature and Nurture: the Complex Interplay of Genetic and Environmental Influences on Human Behavior and Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Incorporated, 2004. Print. Killen, Melanie and Judith Smetana. Handbook of Moral Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Incorporated, 2006. Print. Lippa, Richard A. Gender, Nature, and Nurture. 2nd Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Incorporated, 2005. Print.


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