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< Back to question Are we products of nature or nurture? Show more Show less

There is a longstanding debate about what factors contribute to forming each human being's identity. Some argue that genes singlehandedly determine our identity, while others claim that our environment does so. Although psychologists regard some combination of these two factors (i.e. nature and nurture) as what shapes us, there is little consensus on the issue. Which aspect is the most significant force in terms of who we become in life?

Nurture is more important than nature Show more Show less

Our experiences, or nurturing, determine who we become.
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The multifaceted ecosystem in which we develop creates us.

Human diversity originates from the infinite combinations of environmental conditions that can exist throughout a person’s life. As much as everyone’s genome is unique to them, so is their environment.
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Proponents


Context

People are a summation of their habits, temperaments, and experiences. However, where do these things that define us come from? Psychology has long been debating whether they stem from our genes or our environment. Settling the debate will expand our currently limited understanding of human development.

The Argument

Although our genes contribute to who we are, it is our environment that really determines identity. Urie Brofenbrenner proposed a theory called the ecological model of development that explains this. We are infants with genes born into families, but those families determine who we are. How this happens depends on the family composition, how roles are divided within the family, and the quality of family interaction. However, Brofenbrenner didn’t think that families are the sole determiner of who we become. His model also explains that our development is influenced by a series of increasingly vast systems.[1] Peer groups are one of the systems outside of families that influence us. On a broader scale, the communities we live in (i.e. Maryland or Minnesota, rural or urban, impoverished or affluent) have influence over us too. So does the culture of the society a person grows up in. All of these systems that simultaneously influence us are what mold us into who we are. Our environment might not be able to change whether we develop a disease that we have a mutation for, but what really shapes us is not the development of the disease, but how the world responds to it. This encompasses whether we have support and good treatment, as well as whether the disease is stigmatized in this person’s community/culture. This argument assumes that people do not develop in a vacuum. Even people who grow up in the complete absence of social interaction (i.e. children locked in a room) are still environmentally influenced. Even though they have the genetic capacity for language like everyone else, they don’t develop it. It is our environment that does that. So thus, the environment is more important to our development because our environment is what causes us to acquire language.

Counter arguments

There are multiple holes in this argument. The fact that infants are born with genes need not be discounted entirely. As much as their family contributes to their development, so do their genes. Infants are not blank slates, but are born with some genetically-determined traits and temperaments. These influence how the family interacts with them. More social babies elicit more social responses, which increases their sociality. Less social babies are socialized with less, so they grow up to be less social. Therefore, nurture isn’t everything, because our genes determine exactly what kind of nurturing we get.

Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://exploringyourmind.com/bronfenbrenners-ecological-systems-theory/

This page was last edited on Monday, 10 Aug 2020 at 01:55 UTC

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