I am writing this essay on nature vs. nurture to try to figure out which is more important. Nature is the side says that our behavior is pre-determined by our genes and DNA. A lot of the nature research has to deal with twin studies and IQ. Nurture is the side that says our environment shapes our behavior. Many people believe we are born a “blank slate”, and are influenced to behave a certain way. The conversation on which side is more important has been going on for decades, if not centuries. By looking at both sides it can help us understand why people are the way that they are and it can help us understand learning disabilities, serial killers and psychopaths.
The first side I am going to present is the nature side, which I believe has a little more weight in becoming who we are. The first idea I would like to talk about is Dr. Money case and the boy with no penis. Bruce and Brian were twin brothers who went in for a routine circumcision. Unfortunately, during Bruce’s something went wrong and his penis got burnt off. The boys parents were not sure what to when one day they saw an ad on t.v that a man named Dr. Money was opening a transgender clinic. Bruce’s parents and Dr. Money tried to raise him as a girl, but it failed. This help shows that no matter the environment, nature (genetics/DNA) will kick in and over power environment. The second idea comes from a “wild child” case. A thirteen year old girl was found locked in a room, strapped to a potty chair. They called the girl Genie. She had little to no communication skills as a result. When they first found her they thought they could teach her English, and she could live a normal life. The time spent with language specialists and doctors, showed a lot of improvement and she could communicate with other people. One doctor believed that Genie was born retarded, so her learning ability might have been already impaired.
The nurture side is also very important to who we are. The Zimbardo prison study really showcases the nurture side. Philip Zimbardo asked for college students to volunteer for an experiment involving a fake prison. The study was to see how people would react in a new environment. The study was suppose to go on for two weeks, but only lasted six days. Everyone got so involved in the fake prison, that they couldn’t see what was really going on. The prisoners were being abused by the guards, even Zimbardo was caught up in it all. These were all perfectly nice people and the environment they were in caused them to act like that. Stanley Milgram did a study on obedience. There was a “teacher” and a “student”. the teacher would ask the student questions and if they got it wrong, teacher would give them a shock. The student was not actually receiving the shocks, the teacher did not know that though.
Milgram wanted to see how far people would go to harm another human being. Before the test, all the participants swore they could never harm another person intentionally. Once Milgram said he would take the blame, they did not object as much. This shows even though we are not built to harm other people, under the right circumstances we can be convinced too. Jane Elliott was a third grade teacher, who one day did an experiment on her students saying that blue eyed people were better than brown eyed people. By lunch students were making fun and teasing kids they were friends with they day before. This shows that if we’re told one thing we didn’t like about a person, how quick we judge.
The side I think has less affect on us is nurture. In the boy with no penis case, it is clear that his DNA and genetics had a much greater affect on him. His parents and Dr. Money tried treating him like a girl, but it didn’t work. There was a boy in France in 1800, who was a wild child. They named him Victor and he lived in the wild for about 12 years. Dr. Jean Marc Gaspard Itard took him in and taught him language, reading and writing. When they first had him he had no verbal communication skills, and he did well learning. Even though he grew up in the wild away from people, his human instincts we are born with (capacity to learn language, reading, writing etc.) were still there.
I believe that nature leads the dance. Based on the facts I was presented with, nature seems to out weigh nurture. I believe that both sides are very important, and they help us understand a lot about people. They help us understand why we are the way we are. This discussion will continue on for a long time, and I don’t believe that we will ever decide which side is more important.