Posted by: gtaube15 | February 14, 2018

Nature versus Nurture

We have been reading about the power of media and discussing how it plays a role in society. People are exposed to the media and its influences every single day. However, familial upbringing is also important in shaping an individual’s values, mindset and personality. One could arguably say that family is the core of our society because humans are shaped into the people they are today based on the genes they received from their parents and the way they are raised by them.

The nature versus nurture debate has been discussed and studied for years. I will link below a video and an article that explains and analyzes adoption and family studies. Both of the aforementioned sources discuss how psychologists and other scientists have argued about whether genetic makeup or environmental influences have a stronger impact on people and their formative years. Researchers have conducted various different kinds of studies in hopes to find the answer.

Twin studies are a useful tool in examining nature versus nurture. They look at how similar and different monozygotic twins are to one another. These studies can help explain what traits children are born with and which traits they developed throughout their lives. Adoption studies do the same as well. These may even be more effective since they take into account the factors of biological parents and environmental parents.

Unfortunately, none of these studies are perfect, and they ultimately concluded that each situation is different. Some cases are influenced more by genetics, while others are influenced more by environments. Researchers may never be able to find a distinct answer to this nature or nurture question. Personally I believe that personality traits are explained more by genetics, while values and beliefs are more influenced by the environment. There is a model known as the Five Factor Model that explains the “Big Five” personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. I think how someone would stack up on the five major dimensions of personality would be quite similar to how their biological parents would, whereas their beliefs and values would be similar to and influenced by their environmental family, friends, surrounding community and the media they are exposed to.  What do you guys think? Do you think you are the person you are today because of your genetics or because of the media and where you grew up?

Here is the link to the video:

and to the article:


  1. Hi friend! I would agree with your argument that family is at the core of society. In one of my other classes, we learned that family units are how a culture’s core values and beliefs are passed from generation to generation. So yes, in that way, parents pass down not only their genes to their children, but the beliefs they hold. I too am interested in the nature vs. nurture question, and have seen some really interesting documentaries that looked into twins who were separated at birth and grew up to work in the same field, have the same favorite color, and choose to wear the same styles of clothes.
    I think your thought that personality is more influenced by genetics and beliefs/values being more influenced by environment. I would take it one step further though, and say that initial personality is influenced by genetics, but it is subject to change according to the interactions a person has as they’re developing.
    I think the media plays a greater role in our development as people than we give it credit for. I know personally, I have seen strong women in television shows and movies, and I have tried to model myself after them. Confront situations like Ziva from NCIS, argue like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, and lead like Miranda Bailey from Grey’s Anatomy. Not only that, media has the power to imprint negative characteristics into children. The video that we watched in class said that the FCC found that negative/violent video games lead children to act violently. The video also said that we do what we know, and too often, situations are handled with violence. This also gets into the question of: does real life influence the media or does the media influence real life? My answer is to split the baby and say that it is a never-ending cycle. People are influenced initially by their genetics, then by their family, then by the environment that they grow up in.

  2. I have taken a childhood development class and have been exposed to this idea. I agree that both nature and nurture effect the upbringing of children where in some cases nature or nurture play a larger role. It seems to depend on kids genetic makeups as well as the influences the have in their lives. Tying this into leadership, I think that the same effect of nature vs nurture plays a role in leadership qualities regardless of gender. Some kids are born with certain though processes that make then have better social skills or motivation, where some kids find themselves liking to be solitary. Certain traits might give kids the ability to be more a more skillful leader. Same goes for how their parents raise them and what skills they focus to instill in their children. There are simply too many factors to address when it comes to which is more influential and why kids grow up the way they do.

  3. The nature vs. nurture argument still dominates many science/social science fields today, as genetic/biological make-up and environmental factors both influence one’s characteristics, personality, and temperament. A concept I learned in AP psychology defines a very interesting take on this debate; termed the Diathesis-Stress Model, this theory states that psychological illness can be explained through the interactions between genetic and environmental causes. Essentially, if one has a predisposition for a certain emotional or mental disorder – depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, etc. – the chances of such illnesses being expressed is greater if they face certain circumstances. Someone with a family background of anxiety, per se, is more likely to develop PTSD if they undergo a stressful or traumatic event. In regards to the media, I absolutely believe this ideology can be applied. Children whose parents tend to be more aggressive can be more easily influenced by violence in the media. Thus, the interplay between nature and nurture can have a massive effect on us.

  4. I think the nature versus nurture arguement will always have advocates for both sides. I ask my parents all the time why my sister and I are so different. We have the same biological parents, but while she is extroverted, loud, and confident I am introverted, very quiet, and have anxiety. I think these traits fall under the “Big Five” personality traits you mention, therefore we must have inherited these traits. However, our values seem to be almost identical. How is this possbile when we are so different? Our values then, must stem from the nurture of our family. Our parents raised us to put family first, be kind to others, and always do out best. We both hold these three lessons dear.

    However, I believe there are basic traits we cannot run from. I think there are some traits we are born with that will never leave us no matter how we are raised or what we are surronded by, but it can change depending on the situation. For example, I have anxiety and I cannot get rid of it. It does however, manifest itself in different ways depending on who I am with. The learned behaviors I associate with different people and situations helps me manage my anxiety, even when I feel like I have no control.

    What does this mean for leadership? If we believe the ‘Big Five’ and also believe that we are influenced by the media, then we must believe that each leader has certain traits they cannot change. The leader must also understand that the same goes for their followers. Therefore, media will affect us all differently and we may not always be able to understand why or change how we feel. Having this awareness can help leaders react in an appropriate manner as to not offend someone for their learned or basic traits and qualities.

    This arguement makes me think of the question: Are leaders born or made?

  5. Great question! I personally believe that it is not fair to us, as complex as we are as human beings, to try to pinpoint one specific aspect of this world that is the cause for our thoughts, feelings, dispositions, behaviors, personality traits, and other things of that sort. In my opinion, to try to distinguish or separate nature versus nurture as far as how they each effect an individual’s development, is like trying to separate the two identities of a double minority to see which identity impacts them the most in their everyday lives. It is almost impossible to study the two concepts in either case independently because they have never existed independently from one another. The idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is important in this situation. It would almost be more harmful to try to completely separate nature vs. nurture than to accept their intersectionality because trying to make the two independent of one another could greatly distort what is really true about us as humans and our development.

  6. A lot, if not all, of a person’s personality and values are determined by the nature vs nurture paradigm. No person can be exclusively influenced by only one because they are so closely related. Usually, it is so hard to separate the two because the child is usually exposed to just the parents usually exclusively. If the parents’ behavior is all they know, it will be expected of them and they take on that role.
    I disagree with your thought that genetics play a larger role. While the genes determine the character traits of a person and leader, it is up to the person to develop how or if they use it. If it was all about genes and traits, the Great Man Theory would not have been debunked.
    The environment matters more because it determines whether the character traits are used or not. It is the experiences that bring out one’s personality. In fact, Erickson developed a theory that is widely known as fact. In this, the conditions as a child and if the standards were met or not, determined the personality and traits of their future. With observing the first few years of a child’s development and environment, almost their entire essence can be predicted.

  7. I think that the nature versus nurture debate is one that can never be won. There is an in between answer, that explains how they both come into play, and it is essentially impossible to ever see the exact line. I agree that, to an extent, genetics affects personalities, which is where the famous line “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” comes into play. But there is something bigger happening here. My opinion is that extreme stress or traumatic situations can change someone’s genetically given personality. It’s called synaptic plasticity, which means our brain is ALWAYS changing – with every passing thought! So although we were given a baseline to start with, every single thing that we see or hear or observe affects the way our brain works and consequently who we are as individuals. Media is one of these variables that we constantly see, hear, and observe. The amount of time that children (and adults) spend around media, maybe without even noticing it such as subconsciously seeing an objectifying billboard while on a road trip, is insane. It is having way too much power and affects on the general population. I think that advertisers should realize what they are doing to the minds of children and the future of their society next time they release an objectifying, sexist advertisement.

  8. The question of nature vs. nurture and leaders made vs. born have been asked for some time now and I feel there might never be one answer to them. I believe that both aspects definitely play a role in the development of oneself and their leadership style. For example, my genetic makeup is different from everyone, yet I have similar beliefs, values, and personalities that make me similar to some people. I was born in Italy and grew up there for ten years of my childhood and living there definitely affected my life through my values and beliefs and my interactions there have shaped my personality. Environment does play a role however between the family and the environment there are these human interactions that allow us to learn about others environment and upbringing. Those interactions, I feel shape us even more than our own genetic makeup and familial upbringing. Humans are constantly learning, asking questions, and staying curious. Some children don’t agree with some of their familial belief systems and values and with their interactions in the world around them have the decision to accept deny or mold those values in to their new set of values.

    Of course the family upbringing plays a role in how we are raised for example, strict versus laid back parenting styles can affect the values and character of their children. I see this difference the most among people with the differences in which they were raised. Some are able to see it and try to fight it and some do not hate the way they were raised and have no problem with it. As Carolyn mentioned above, we are complex human beings and even with our differences and similarities no one person is the same and therefore, we can not denote one specific aspect of someone to explain an entire idea or theory. Generalizations can and have always been made with these assumptions but these questions are not disjointed or separate. As we mentioned in class with how media and culture influence each other-stemming from the question of “does culture influence media or does media influence culture?” we discussed the fact that they are not disjointed they influence each other. Culture has the ability to accept, deny, or challenge what the media portrays and the oppositely, the media has the ability to accept, deny, or challenge the cultures, ideals, values and beliefs that are experienced in the world. This is not a question of is it one or the other but how they both work together.

    In the aspect of leadership, in some ways people can be born with some specific traits; however, everyone can learn what helps to become a better leader. We are capable of changing ourselves and our leadership style to fit our followers if they change and thats not something everyone is born with. Its a tactic and process that can be learned through classes or leadership experiences. Leaders make mistakes and bring in personal experiences from life or their childhood, but its how they learn and grow from them and where it becomes more of a circular process.

  9. Nature vs nurture is a debate that I have discussed extensively in my sociology classes. Like others have said there is no single answer to explain the debate. My take on it though is the nature in which a person is placed like their environment has the greatest impact on an individual. Biologically we are all very similar genetically (ex: similar organs, 2 arms 2 legs, same amount of teeth, you get the point), what makes us different are our phenotypes and the environments in which we were raised. Take two young white males who have both parents but live in different environments; one in a rich suburb the other in a poor ghetto. Both of these children are raised exactly the same except the one who must grow up in the ghetto will have more experience with crime and less financial opportunities. As leaders the child who grew up rich will have access to higher education and credentials etc while the other will not have the same life chances to become as great of a leader. To simplify: biological nature= similar, nurture type=similar, physical nature= different. For this argument I take the nature side because there are multiple variables that go into it which can be interesting to discuss further.

  10. I honestly think that who we are has a lot to deal with both genetics and the media in regards to what we are exposed to. For example, I think I was born with certain abilities but think that my main opinions are affected by the media because the media almost brainwashes who we are. The media proposes images and ideas of who we should be and how we should act. Just as the film mentioned, it is our job as a society to change this and have the media reflect who we actually are. I know when I as a teenager I constantly looked at magazines and would ask my mom why I didn’t look like those girls because I felt that that was expected of me.This should not be the case and I think that media is getting better about portraying that but in general has such a long way to go. I also think that age has to be considered when thinking of nature versus nurture and the affects of media because I feel that children are way more impressionable to the shows they watch than older adults because they are still figuring out who they are.

  11. Nature v Nurture is a question that will be pondered by science until the end of time. I personally agree that some characteristics are derived from your family genes, while others are shaped by the environment you are surrounded by. This question I also believe directly relates to the question if one is born a leader or made a leader. Is one genetically blessed with the characteristics one would deem to be an exceptional leader or does the situations you are involved in and influences around you have the ability to mold you into this exceptional leader? Genetically, I would say if you are born a white man, you are automatically accepted by many as one who could stand in the role, but personality wise his genes could define him into a perfect exemplar of bad leadership. Rather, one who may not have been born with a “natural” privilege, but was accepted into the presidents leadership program and took classes that altered perspectives and made one realize what the best style to lead for the and their followers are shaped by nurture. I also personally believe that both play a role in who you are as an individual and who you are as a leader.

  12. I agree that familial upbringing and genes both have an important impact in a person’s values, mindset, and personality. I would enjoy looking further into the research from adopted twins. It would be interesting to see studies on twins where one sibling lives with the biological family and one sibling lives with the adopted family. I wonder if living with a different family affects one’s leadership confidence. I agree with you that personality traits come more from genetics while values and beliefs come more from the environment. Growing up, I noticed that my personality is similar to those of my parents in different aspects. Because I only see them once a month now, I tend to notice it a lot more. Sometimes, I wonder if by growing up and watching them, I thought it was a norm to act in these ways because that’s all I knew. I believe the media plays a role in what we expect from others, but deep down, we are who we are meant to be.

  13. I personally have always put a lot of thought into this debate. Over the years, I have decided on what I think ultimately reflects how people shape the way they think. I believe that everyone is born with innate qualities and attributes, and have a natural preference for the way they will behave. As you grow up, these natural preferences that would be considered personality are either then encouraged to be expressed or repressed by the experiences we have growing up, and they can either be emphasized or repressed. The internal dialogue we create based on the experiences we have that we use to justify whether or not to express or repress our natural personalities are our values, and these are largely shaped by society, family, friends, and the media. Personality is naturally linked to leadership as well, so it’s important to recognize how tightly all of these factors interplay and how it may affect decision making as a leader.

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