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The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

Understanding nature versus nurture

Both nature and nurture influence character development in different ways.
Courtesy of The Phrase Finder
Both nature and nurture influence character development in different ways.

In the field of psychology, nature versus nurture remains a persistent debate. Do biological genetics or environmental characteristics contribute more to an individual’s behavior and personality? Though there is yet to be an absolute answer to this question, numerous studies have been conducted in an attempt to dissect the different contributing factors.

David Reimer’s case is an infamous study that illustrates the impact of biological traits. Due to a failed surgical procedure, Reimer was forced to undergo a bilateral orchiectomy which altered his gender identity. Following the operation, Psychologist John Money recommended that Reimer’s parents raise him as a female in order to fulfill his own selfish desire of analyzing nature versus nurture. Money sought to compare the behavior of Reimer to his twin, Brain, to evaluate the impact of Reimer’s feminine upbringing.

Therefore, Reimer was renamed “Brenda” and his past was hidden from him in an attempt to protect his best interests. However, Reimer continually questioned himself and never truly felt content as a girl, experiencing various masculine urges. When Reimer’s father finally revealed the truth, Reimer ultimately chose to return to his original gender identity as a male.

Reimer’s case conveys the influence of biological characteristics like gender on behavior. Though some of these traits may be stereotypical, others are logical and suggest the relevance of “nature” within the debate. For instance, impulsivity is commonly associated with males, primarily because men naturally have significantly higher levels of the hormone testosterone.

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Nevertheless, “nurture” still plays a critical role in the discussion. The environment in which children grow up in and their access to different resources significantly influences their lives. There are multiple components that contribute to “nurture,” including exposure to air/noise pollution, family dynamics, financial stability, and more. These different elements all generate vastly different levels of stress in children which, in turn, influences their character regardless of their “nature.”

The ethics of utilizing twins to contribute to our understanding of the debate is highly controversial in the scientific world. The Twinning Reaction is a documentary that shares the stories of four pairs of twins who were purposefully separated at birth as an experiment. The scientists who facilitated the study argued that they were only attempting to justify their belief that twins should be separated to eliminate their parents’ burden.

However, it is clear that their true intention was to set up a “perfect” experiment in which they could observe nature versus nurture from childhood through adolescence. Despite their reasoning, separating the twins resulted in a lifelong impact that led to the lingering question in adulthood of what could have been. In today’s society, experiments such as these are much less common due to increased protocol and a greater emphasis on moral principles.

Numerous scientists have come to the conclusion that nature and nurture coexist with each other as separate entities. Therefore, it is impossible to assume which one carries more significance without obtaining a deeper understanding of this concurrence.

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About the Contributor
Muskaan Batra, Eastside Online STEM Editor
Muskaan is the Online Stem Editor for Eastside this year. Besides from Eastside, she is a member of Neuroscience Club, Interact Club, and Hospital Support Club. She loves to dance, read books, and play piano outside of school. She is so excited to work with Eastside this year!

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