POST 1: Berk (2011) states that nature encompasses genetic and hereditary influences while nurture are the environmental influences in our lives that help shape our development as humans. It seems that my parents had more fulfilling lives when they were my age. Families appeared to be happier, last longer, and were more committed to one another. Research from Shanok & Miller (2007) showed mothers being a central asset when a teenage girl suddenly becomes pregnant. Although this study took place 11 years ago, it demonstrates the invisible male figure in the home. When I was growing up I had uncle, granddaddies on both sides, male cousins, and even men in the community that I could look up to. Unfortunately, my children can only count on one hand the number of men in their lives. Incarceration, murder, other acts of violence, and drug abuse has made the male in our lives almost non-existent. And there are even fewer men that can represent themselves as a role model or a family man or even a contributing member of society. There is additional research from Rosario, Schrimshaw, & Hunter (2011) that identifies youth asserting their preference for the same sex at an early onset in their lives. Years ago, even if you thought you were gay – you weren’t. Period. In our culture (African American) it was taboo and the best way for a man to disguise his feelings for other men was to get married & raise a family. These are my views on how nature and nurture have shaped human development across life spans. The two have come together to make this world a cold place where being a hero consists of what you can do for yourself and not what impact your choices have had on the betterment of people.
My belief is that nature has more of an impact on human development than nurture does. Poulin-Dubois, Serbin, Eichstedt, Sen, & Beissel (2002) studied when toddlers realize there are different roles for men and women. This study demonstrated that babies are born innocent, a fact that we have all known from the beginning, but that over time they are warped and their innocence is impacted by nature (Poulin-Dubois et al., 2002). Nurture happens to consist of our environmental influences (Berk, 2011). When I think how my environment has affected my own personal development over these last 42 ½ years, I cannot blame global warming for the fact that I was 19 years old and pregnant. I have lived through a few wars, but they didn’t impact me personally. I’ve seen gas prices rise and fall, along with the price of milk and stamps and I have lived through a recession where my home was foreclosed and my husband was laid off. But none of that was a result of nurture. The majority of the causes of the occurrences in my life that have shaped who I am are a result of nature – – my own personal good or bad choices.
Working in the foster care field, I see how children are impacted by poor decision making on the part of their parents. I am a believer that mental illness can be attributed to primarily biological causes. Environmental stressors don’t cause mental illness, they may negatively impact it, but not cause it. In my job capacity, I don’t judge the people who lose their children to the system. There are thousands of children in foster care today who have parents that chose drugs over them. It is my job to find a loving and nurturing home to help these children grow up in. And prayerfully they can overcome their traumatic childhood through education and career readiness. My job has shown me that even after children are adopted, they desire to find their biological families. Regardless of how good a foster home they grew up in, they want to find that mom that abandoned them. This is nature.
Berk, L.E. (2011). Exploring lifespan development, 2/e.Pearson Education, Inc.
Poulin-Dubois, D., Serbin, L, Eichstedt, J. Sen, M. & Beissel, C. (2002). Men don’t put on make-
up: Toddlers’ knowledge of the gender stereotyping of household activities. Social
Development, 11(2), 166-181.
Rosario M, Schrimshaw, E., Hunter, J. (2011). Different patterns of sexual identify development
over time: Implications for the psychological adjustment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual
youths. Journal Of Sex Research, 48(1), 3-15.
Shanok, A., Miller, L. (2007). Stepping up to motherhood among inner-city teens. Psychology of
Women Quarterly, 31(3), 252-261. POST 2: When I think about the nature versus nurture debate, I remember the 1988 movie “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. In the movie, the mother had been part of a genetic experiment. Sperm from the most genetically superior men of that time, had been artificially inseminated into the mother, who was also a fine genetic specimen. As the story goes, there was only supposed to be one offspring, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was given the finest schooling, ate the best food, superb exercise routines, and no stress, i.e. the best nurturing environment. Then there was the “accident”, Danny DeVito, he was the “runt” so to speak. He had to grow up on the tough streets of LA hustling to survive. After being reunited, the twins find out they have many of the same characteristics and aptitudes. It’s just Arnold’s had been developed, due to the environment he had been raised, and Danny had yet to tap into his potential. I give this example, because this was a hypothetic test in the ago old nature versus nurture debate. However, there is much applicable research in testing the nature vs nurture hypotheses in twins. One such study, by psychiatrist W. John Livesley M.D., reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, from his study with 175 pairs of twins found that personality disorders, while having a hefty genetic component, specific environmental factors had substantial effects. He stated “genetic vulnerability, appears to influence the responses we make to adverse environmental circumstances”. (1994). So, the debate continues, nature versus nurture, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
In the article, “The Nature-Nurture Issue: Lessons from the Pillsbury Doughboy”, gave concrete examples about the nature vs nurture debate in a different context. The author, David Miller, explains the relationship between genes and behavior using a cooking metaphor with flour. He explains that flour is the component you start with, your genes. When you add water, cook it in oil, then you get a flour tortilla. You can use the same ingredients and get bread if you put it into the oven. Both start out as flour and water, and the cooking shapes them into these different materials. He believes this metaphor applicable to human beings, in that we start out as genes then we add our environmental influences, they shape the person. (Miller, 1988).
For me it’s not which one, nature or nurture that has an impact on human development, but how much of both. Take for instance the matter of substance abuse, I believe that I was genetically predisposed to addiction. Both of my grandfathers, my paternal grandmother, and my father were all alcoholics. So, yes, I think that I had a genetic propensity to become an alcoholic. However, I would not think the argument complete, if I didn’t say that if I would not have been exposed to alcohol my entire life, if I would have had a drink.
I think that working in the human resources field, its paramount to be educated in different theories so that one gain a deeper understanding of cultures, behaviors, and beliefs. The biggest key is to not be judgmental and stay unbiased. It would not be fair to treat one person differently that the other because of what they have done and what experiences they have had, because that shapes humans into who they are. I think a thorough assessment of both biological and environmental factors are relevant in developing client’s needs strategies.
Livesley, W. (1994). Nature vs Nurture: Neck and Neck. Psychology Today, 27, 18.
Miller, J. (1988). The Nature-Nurture Issue: Lessons from the Pillsbury Doughboy. Teaching of Psychology, 15, 147-149.