NATURE VERSUS NURTURE IN PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
By Edwin Amuga
Both approaches are nomothetic, deterministic-which is a disadvantage to behaviorists and an advantage for biological, reductionists, have successful applications in psychosurgery or classical conditioning, and scientific. Significant differences between the two approaches include the fact that whereas behaviorism focuses on the environment -nurture, biological focuses on genes –nature. The main limitation of the behaviorist approach is the fact that it ignores meditational processes and biology like the role of hormones such as testosterone. It is also too deterministic that it involves little free will. It utilizes experimentation with low ecological validity and it is reductionist and humanistic in that it makes it hard to compare humans to animals. The weaknesses of the biological approach include the fact that it focuses too much on nature and ignores nurture. It holds that behavior is entirely dependent on hormones, neurotransmitters, and genetics (Eagly & Wood, 2013).
In biological theories, fraternal twins differ in their personalities because it is a mixture of genetically predisposed temperament and non-shared environments. Fraternal twins, being dizygotic, share up to 50% of their DNA but differ in genetic make-up which contributes to personality differences between them (Gottlieb, 2014). The interaction between environment and genetic predisposition unfolds personality (Gottlieb, 2014). Genetic variations and environmental interconnection create different responses which generate different non-shared environments for them; account ting for personality variability. In the case of Jane and John, the twins share some genetic temperament characteristics. They are also genetically different, predisposing them to different temperaments. This difference in temperament can lead them to seek different environments that further shape their personality concerning the directions that their genes predisposed. Their parents might have provided different responses to them since they have been different since birth thereby creating unique experiences for each, contributing to the non-shared environment aspect (Coll, Bearer & Lerner, 2014). Different environmental aspects such as peer interactions might have additionally accounted for the non-shared experiences between the two fraternal twins, Jane and John. The human personality is an amalgam of their genetically predisposed temperament and non-shared environments, accounting for the differences in personality between the twins. Jane, therefore, responding to her genetic predisposition and the non-shared environment with John, has an open-minded and friendly personality, prefers an open environment, interactions and intermingling. She plays volleyball and likes crowds as her form of response to these factors. Consequently, John, has a quiet personality, wants to keep to himself, plays chess which has few participants and audience, avoids crowds, and does not like interactions and intermingling.
Behaviorist theory explains the personality difference between John and Jane to be related to different experiences that created their behaviors since the environment accounts for personality variance. Strict behaviors such as in John's case are the development of external factors that continuously change and shape human behavior (Eagly & Wood, 2013). The difference in Jane and john’s behavior is a result of different environment-related reinforcement history. Jane must have spent a lot of time with her father getting love rewards for paying attention to team sports. She must have also been in environments that rewarded competition, molding her openness and preference for being involved in groups. Consequently, John must have been exposed to environments with a string of interconnected behavioral events that were punished and rewarded which molded his closed personality, avoiding people and finding solace in being alone and having a small circle of close friends. The twins differently responded to environmental behavioral reinforcements.
The behaviorist theory is the most effective in explaining the behavioral difference as it paints a more vivid picture of personality and behavior development than the biological theory.
Coll, C. G., Bearer, E. L., & Lerner, R. M. (2014). Nature and nurture: The complex interplay of genetic and environmental influences on human behavior and development. Psychology press.
Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (2013). The nature–nurture debates: 25 years of challenges in understanding the psychology of gender. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(3), 340–357.
Gottlieb, G.(2014). Synthesizing nature-nurture: Prenatal roots of instinctive behavior. Psychology Press.