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Do you think personality traits are primarily inherited or influenced by environment? ...

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sandilicious | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2010 at 12:13 AM via web

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Do you think personality traits are primarily inherited or influenced by environment?  and why do you think that nature versus nurture is debated?

Do you think personality traits are primarily inherited or influenced by environment?  and why do you think that nature versus nurture is debated?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 9, 2010 at 2:26 AM (Answer #2)

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Nature and nurture are debated because not one comes above the other in terms of human development. Cognitive psychologists adhere to nature as the main source of human personality traits such as genetics. Behavioral psychologists on the contrary believe that social learning is key to human personality traits.

The fact is that not one method is the be-all end all. Surely there is a lot of both, nature and nurture, to make a whole individual. An example that always comes to mind is serial killer Jeffrey Dahmner: His childhood was reportedly quite normal. His parents are healthy, and his Dad even had a PhD while his mom worked at a church.

There was nothing abusive nor abnormal about his upbringing except for one stint at the hospital for some normal childhood illness. Right after that he began his withdrawn and strange behavior. And then he became the monster that he was. Since his brain was conserved for further studies, maybe in the future we may know what causes humans to be one way or another.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:03 AM (Answer #3)

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I think that the debate is so strong between nature and nurture because of what is at stake in the discourse.  If the code can be cracked as to what plays a larger role in how humans grow and mature, then I think that much can be designed to help develop human behavior.  From an educational point of view, the implications are drastic in that individuals can end up predicting how students can fare based on data in each.  I think that there is enough research to explain how both factors can play a strong role in how personality traits are formed.  I think that the danger might be in attempting to ignore the importance of both domains in personality and identity formation.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 9, 2010 at 5:44 AM (Answer #4)

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In my opinion, this question is debated for a simple reason -- it is because it can never be answered.

In my opinion, personality traits are strongly influenced by both of these things.  There is no way that people are not influenced by their genes, but there are strong influences that come from one's surroundings.

Anyone who has more than one child should know that genes matter.  One of my kids is naturally angrier than the other.  At the same time, they have, by growing up together, rubbed off on each other and have also been influenced, I think, by our parenting.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 9, 2010 at 7:18 AM (Answer #5)

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Personality traits are both inherited and learned. I do think that aspects of personality such as humor, temper, shyness, etc. are primarily learned. This all goes back to learned behavior and modeling. As children we see adults acting a certain way and we model that behavior. However, there have been numerous studies conducted on twins. These twins were not raised together but instead raised in different homes in different areas of the country. These twins did show striking similarities in personality which suggests that genes may be responsible for personality.

The possibility of a "gay" gene is one of the reasons that the nature vs. nurture theory is being debated right now. This pertains to the "nature" theory and some suggest that sexual orientation is genetically linked. Others will say just the opposite-that it is learned.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 10, 2010 at 12:17 AM (Answer #6)

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The word personality has many different meaning in general use. Even in a scientific field of study like psychology or sociology is regarded as a pattern of complex behavior including action, emotions and thought processes. Frequently personality of a person is described in terms of personality traits or characteristic components of such behavior pattern.

Research has shown that some personality traits tend to remain dominant in individuals over a long period and under varying environmental condition, while there are other traits that continue to change as a result of experience and in response to environment. Based on these findings we can say that some aspects of personality may be may be inherited, or at least acquired very early in life. However most other aspects of personality can be directly related to the experience and environment of the individual.

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dead-romace91 | Student , Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 12, 2010 at 9:51 AM (Answer #7)

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Personality is a mix between how you've been raised and the environment. You're parents raise you to do certian things like say please, thank you, yes sir, and no sir. Those things have to do a great deal with your personality. Were you go to school or live for that matter make a difference like if you live in a southern area vs. a city area.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 16, 2010 at 4:56 PM (Answer #8)

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There is no doubt that one’s personality is a mixture of nature and nurture. Science has proven that. Which is dominant has still to be proven. What we cannot ignore, however, is that some of our personality is inherent. It is with us from birth.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 21, 2010 at 11:08 AM (Answer #9)

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It is a mixture, no doubt about it, but I believe environment has more influence over time.  Take identical twins and drop one in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as an infant living with a foreign family and leave the other one in the states.  You'll see a lot of things develop differently, including personality.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM (Answer #10)

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Personality is caused by a combination of heredity and enivonrment. The nature-nurture debate is about which one has more influence. The truth is that it depends on the person. Some people will have more influential environments or are more influenced by their environment. Of course, it also depends on the gene. Some genes do affect personality, such as is the case for Down's Syndrome.

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