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Do childhood experiences determine behavior in later life? Show more Show less
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Yes, childhood is a key factor in who people are in adulthood. Traumatic events in childhood create phobias, likes and dislikes, and even core personality features. For example, children that are abused tend to be abusive parents. The flip side is also true, college students succeed more if they have support from their parents. Also, siblings come into play. Children with opposite-sex siblings tend to have happier marriages if they are wed to the opposite sex.

No, childhood experiences do not influence adult behavior Show more Show less

Behavior is a choice in the moment, not determined by past experience.
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Every human has free will, so behavior as an adult is based on choice, despite childhood experience

Human beings have free will to make their own decisions. Some childhood experiences may influence a person’s feelings, but adults are mentally able to make decisions despite that.

The Argument

While childhood teaches us a lot about the basics of human relationships and skill-building, it is not an infallible determiner for how an adult will behave later in life. Life is not deterministic, and our choices are not pre-coded based on our childhood experiences. While, for example, someone who was abused as a child may be statistically more likely to abuse others as an adult, that is not 100% always the case.[1] Plenty of people who suffered abuse are able to grow into healthy, functioning adults who actively make choices despite experiences in their youth, not because of them. A study done on people from infancy until the age of 32 found that only 10 percent of their academic performance could be attributed to their childhood home life; the other 90 percent came from later experiences, genetic factors, and sometimes just plain luck.[2] A person’s childhood experiences may teach them meaningful lessons, for better or worse, but it does not impede someone’s ability to make autonomous choices about their behavior as an adult.[3]

Counter arguments

Adult behavior may not be completely deterministic based on childhood experiences, but it has been illustrated in research again and again how childhood experiences affect our relationships as adults. Children who have experienced severe trauma have been shown to experience difficulty attaching, committing, and maintaining healthy romantic relationships as adults.[4]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/cycle-of-child-sexual-abuse-links-between-being-a-victim-and-becoming-a-perpetrator/A98434C25DB8619FB8F1E8654B651A88
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/12/19/371679655/some-early-childhood-experiences-shape-adult-life-but-which
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/putting-psyche-back-psychotherapy/201602/is-our-childhood-really-blame-everything
  4. https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-childhood-trauma-affects-adult-relationships/

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 27 Sep 2020 at 17:56 UTC

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