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Behavioral Genetics

Xenke

Member
In other words: "The idea that personality is determined genetically". The idea that you are the way you are, at least to some extent, because you're physically wired to be that way. Admittedly, I haven't done extensive research on the subject, but it seems that the scientific community still doesn't have a definite answer on the subject.

So the question is: Do you think that your behavior is dictated by 'nature', or by 'nurture'? Are we born this way? Or are we made this way?

[And the rest of this is TL;DR my views on the whole thing. If you absolutely have to skip it, at least read the last paragraph about twins because I know they will come up]

I personally don't think genetics plays much, if any, role in personality, but that's not to say I've turned a deaf ear to the possibility. I think that for the most part people are the way they are as a result of how they were raised and because of what they have experienced in life. Of course, the only reason I say that is because when I sit down and think about who I am, I can draw connections to specific things in my life which very well could have shaped me to be the person I am.

Despite the fact that I don't believe genetics make up who I am, looking at my family in relation to myself gives a strong appearance that this is indeed the case. I've got the same procrastination, attention to detail, want to help, and humor as my dad, among other things, while I have my mom's mental flexibility, views on aesthetics, thought patterns, and passive nature. Most of the things that make up who I am seem to mirror those of my parents.

And here is where those who subscribe to the 'nurture' side of this debate say "Aha! But this could easily be because these people raised you and imparted this behavior on to you!", a point which I agree could very well be the case. But notice how I said "most of the things[…]" a couple sentences ago. Obviously there are some things about myself I attribute to 'environment', but there are some things which I can only inexplicably trace back to my extended family whom I’ve had very little contact with my whole life.

One of the most prominent things I've picked up from my extended family (grandma in this case, probably a couple other people on my dad's side too) is a hoarding behavior. My mom is pretty much the opposite of a hoarder, she enjoys going through her stuff and getting rid of unneeded junk, and my dad only has lots of tools that he actually uses, which isn't really hoarding at all. Admittedly, I haven't become a "true" hoarder, but it's extremely difficult for me to let go of anything in my possessions. An example of this I can think of is that I've had this stretched out key-ring on my desk for a couple years now. It's junk, but I don’t want to get rid of it. So yea, I don't know where this behavior came from, among others, if not from my grandma whom I barely knew.

And of course, one of the things that people will bring up in topics like this are identical twins. Twins are often remarkably similar in both physical and mental characteristics. It’s easy to look at twins and say "well obviously genetics are responsible for this". You also have to keep in mind that twins are also pretty likely to have grown up in nearly identical situations, especially if they tend to stick together. Also, twins tend to become increasingly different as they get older, perhaps indicative that the differing life experiences could shape this divide. I knew a pair of twins to a degree at one point in my life, and even at their age there were subtle differences in their personality that had already begun to form.
 

Evan of Phrygia

WwwHhAaaAaTtTttTttTtT
I believe that there's a mixed theory of nature and nurture.

Ancestry passes down behavioral traits to the surviving families, but not through genetics (completely.)

That's just my thought on the matter.
 

Aetius

It's Me Gordon, Barney from Black Mesa
I believe its more of nurture. It really comes down to how much of an influence parental figures hold, as well the influences in the other aspects of life, including what environment you are in or who you are with while growing up.

Both can ultimately decide how you will behave.
 

Recel

Mamma Yeena
I think we are who we are because of how we grew up, what we understood and made out from the things we experienced, the people we met and so on. Basicly all the thing that happened to us or we did in our lives.

Tho I can see where the genetic codeing may come in, because our brain "wires" itself as we grow up, so maybe there is a pattern on how the cells (or what are they called in english?) in our brain connect to each other. But even so I think it is just a base to build up on. While it might be responsible for some characteristics it more than likely wont determen your actions in your whole life, but it might affect your decision.
The twin example is a good example for this theory, because they stay identical for a while, and while it maybe the way you wrote it, and its because they live together and grow up together it could aslo be an identical base in how their brain works. And thats why they become diffrent later, because they see the world diffrently and that is two diffrent ways of how their brains develop further from this base pattern.
 

Gavrill

ladies~
I'm going to say a mixture of both, if only because you're more likely to get mental illnesses if your parents have them.

I'll use myself as an example I suppose. I was raised by my grandparents, who were not biologically related to me (they adopted my mother). But even though I almost never saw my mother or father, I still had traits like them. For example, I loved studying animals. My grandparents cared nothing for it, but I had piles of Zoobooks as a kid and was always trying to prove people wrong about animal-related myths. Apparently my dad is like that as well.
I also loved reading, writing, and creative pursuits, which both my parents enjoyed but my grandparents did not.
There were several other things, like my taste in music, my taste in food, my love of culture, blah blah blah - basically I was exact opposite of what my raising had me at, and I act nothing like the people who raised me (I'm emotional like my mother whereas my grandmother is more "get over it" type, my grandmother loved schedules and strict rules whereas I prefer a little spontaneity, but that could be an old/young thing).


So in other words, I don't think it's possible to be more than just nurture because of personal anecdotes on the subject.
 
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Labeling anything with so many variables as either black or white, to me, would terribly ignorant.

Instincts vs observational learning.
 

Recel

Mamma Yeena
I'm going to say a mixture of both, if only because you're more likely to get mental illnesses if your parents have them.

I'll use myself as an example I suppose. I was raised by my grandparents, who were not biologically related to me (they adopted my mother). But even though I almost never saw my mother or father, I still had traits like them. For example, I loved studying animals. My grandparents cared nothing for it, but I had piles of Zoobooks as a kid and was always trying to prove people wrong about animal-related myths. Apparently my dad is like that as well.
I also loved reading, writing, and creative pursuits, which both my parents enjoyed but my grandparents did not.
There were several other things, like my taste in music, my taste in food, my love of culture, blah blah blah - basically I was exact opposite of what my raising had me at, and I act nothing like the people who raised me (I'm emotional like my mother whereas my grandmother is more "get over it" type, my grandmother loved schedules and strict rules whereas I prefer a little spontaneity, but that could be an old/young thing).


So in other words, I don't think it's possible to be just nurture because of personal anecdotes on the subject.

I think its possible to be nurture only, but as I said, it can be a mixture.

So, if you think of it, while your parents try to raise you one way you cant see and think with their eyes and mind. Talk is a rather narrow way to express thougts. So for one, you dont think of things the same way they do, even if they told you what to think. Also, you have a mind on your own, you see and experience things diffrently. So while your parrents try to raise you one way, you raise your self too, by thinking and seeing things from your own point of view.
 

Trpdwarf

Lurking in Castle Moats
Genetics give you a deck of cards. Nurture determines with cards gets played. That's how I look at it. Genetically you get certain things from your parents. If those things are not nurtured they may not become what the could. Some other things you just can't nurture away. For example you could be raised by just your mother in a good environment but still have the aggression issues of your father even if you never met him and never lived around or played with people who had these kinds of issues. Obviously genetics plays a part in behavior, there is no denying it. It's not an excuse though for bad behavior. That can be worked with to make it so it doesn't get in the way of living.
 

Dj_whoohoo

Member
I think its a bit of both, why? Because you learn from seeing. You get traits from your family , darwin has a theory on this called natural selection. The finches beaks are different depending to were they live. So they get that but they don't automatically fly on themselves, they observe the world around them and take notes basically.

So in a way it's 50-50, if both your parents were naturally shy when young. Then your probably going to be a shy kid.
But I think it's mostly on what you see , and interpret as right and wrong.
 

Gavrill

ladies~
I think its possible to be nurture only, but as I said, it can be a mixture.

So, if you think of it, while your parents try to raise you one way you cant see and think with their eyes and mind. Talk is a rather narrow way to express thougts. So for one, you dont think of things the same way they do, even if they told you what to think. Also, you have a mind on your own, you see and experience things diffrently. So while your parrents try to raise you one way, you raise your self too, by thinking and seeing things from your own point of view.
Yeah, but the point I'm trying to make is that to a certain extent maybe my point of view is predetermined or influenced before I can even process it.
 

Dj_whoohoo

Member
BUT! then again how your behavior is kinda controlled by your nurtures. Like when I was younger for example I only liked the things my parents liked. They like salsa music and old rap, but me I'm on that new new right now I'm listening to lift off by kanye jay z and beyonce next on my playlist is 30s to mars.
What I'm trying to say by that is when you are younger your behavior is dominated by your caretaker.
But now that I'm much older I have lost complete intrest in what my parents like. So like my last post it's 50/50
So because of that my parents think I'm so weird.
 

Ad Hoc

THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS
I think it's extremely unlikely that genetics have no role in behavior/personality.

I don't think you have to look any further than animal husbandry to see why. For example, border collies are known for being high energy and having the instinct to herd other animals; greyhounds are known for being low energy and extremely prey-driven. This is almost purely a result of a breeding. You can raise a greyhound puppy among border collies, and it's still going to act more or less like a greyhound. Same thing vice versa. You see it in other species/breeds too. Arabian horses are known for being high strung, clydesdales are known for being docile. White leghorn chickens are known for being anxious, bantams are known for being good mothers. There are exceptions, sure, always, but these are safe things to assume about the breed because it's been bred for it, because it's genetically prone to it. The whole process of domestication, really, is just a way to influence an animal's behavior mostly by way of genetic manipulation.

Humans are animals too; you'd have to be a certain kind of religious to believe that we can't be influenced by our genes the same way animals are.

I don't think that's the end-all of human behavior though. We're a very cognitively developed and behaviorally complex species, very geared towards learning and innovating. We're more, ah, "trainable" than a great many animals. We can be taught, or teach ourselves, not to display certain behaviors that are natural to us, or to comfortably display behaviors that are unnatural to us. So, for that, yes, quite a lot of human behavior can come from nurture instead of nature. That doesn't mean that nature has no influence at all, though.
 

ramsay_baggins

WINTERFELL!
It's both. I recently watched a really good documentary on the BBC about this. Turns out, scientists know that killers have a very specific set of differences in their brain activity than 'normal' people, and that coupled with a few high-risk genes which pre-dispose you to violence can set you off to be a serial killer and psychopath. However, it takes an abusive or traumatic childhood to activate these genes and differences most of the time. This break through happened when one of the scientists working on the brain scans and genetics discovered he held the exact combination of abnormal brain activity and high risk genes that the serial killers did. The only difference is that he had a very excellent childhood and so the psychopathic tendencies never resulted in him killing. When they interviewed all the killers they'd studied, all of them had been abused as kids.

Definitely both.
 

M. LeRenard

Is not French
Yeah... the modern consensus, I know, is that it has to be some elements of both, like what Ramsay said. The fact that genes can turn on or off because of 'nurture' (also known as the environment) is a clear indication that there's some connection between the two, and hence they don't act independently. So it's a matter of going case by case and figuring out which genes are responsible for what and what environmental factors trigger or don't trigger them. In other words, it's a complete mess.
 

Quick Wolf

Silver bullet stare
I'd have to say that a person's personality is determined by a mix of nature and nurture. I think that some part of a person's personality has to be given to them through genetics, but the majority of it comes from learned behavior.

If someone lives in a bad environment, this can negatively affect their personality, the opposite is also true. The friends a person has can also affect their personality in the same ways.

I don't think that science will be able to definately prove if someone's personality is transmitted through genetics any time soon, but there is information that points to the environment a person lives in can change their personality.
 

Tiger In A Tie

Say what now?
I really don't have energy for a post with a lot of discusison in it (maybe tmorrow) but here's some twin stuff.

I actually am a twin. I'm a girl and have a twin sister. She's older by 15 minutes. We are fraternal, and from my experiences I see both parts of the nurture vs nature argument.

We both grew up in the same household. from preschool to 4th grade, we were in the same school. For 5th grade we were in diff. schools, but 6-12th grade we again were at the same schools. Up until I believe 2nd grade, we even shared a bedroom. Our parents didn't play favorites; it's not like she got everything she wanted and I got nothing, or vice versa. But even so we still developed vastly different personalities. She has always been loud, outgoing, and bubbly. I have been quiet, shy, and calmer. Growing up, she had a lot of friends, and I had very few. She always fit in with the school kids, I did not. She was always more popular than me, and I got teased up until 8th grade. She ended up with a LOT of drama due to her popularity, while I had a small group of close friends. At home, she was always the one going in and out the door, going places and hanging out with friends. I spent the majority of my time by myself (and I still do spend a lot of time by myself). Our interests have always been different. I LOVE animals, and while she really likes them as well (we grew up with a ton of different kinds of pets), she doesn't have my passion. I love visual arts such as drawing, while her artistic preference has been music. I love video games (even got sucked into WoW for several years) and she can't play a game for more then two hours. I used to read a lot, now I draw more then read, but she still reads a lot.

We do share traits and interests with our parents. My mom and I have always been the animal lovers. My dad and I love science and sci-fi stuff (cheesy movies!) but my sister and dad share the love of reading, while my mom and I don't read often at all. Both my dad and sister get offended VERY easily and if they get disagreed with, the get huffy and "put up a wall" so to speak and won't talk until they've calmed down enough to listen to whatever was being discussed. My mom and I tend not to get as defensive. Appearance wise, my sis looks like my dad and I look like my mom (I know I'm restating that).

So that's an idea of the kind of environment we've grown up in. Now for nature.

EDIT: For shortness. Anxiety runs in the family, all the women on my mom's side have it. Both my sis and I have it, but I have it worse. I take 5 medications for mine, and she takes I believe two. Interestingly, all my family members with anxiety take Paxil and Xanax, while neither of those works at all for me. Regarding myself and my twin, I feel that our experiences with anxiety have kind of shaped who we are, so can that be called "nature" or "nurture"?

I'd post more but to be honest it starts to get a little too personal for me to post publicly. That, and I'd feel uncomfortable giving out all of my sister's problems to strangers on a forum that I'm not even sure she's visited without her knowing. I'm just...i guess giving food for thought? to give some insight into a twin's life. Idk if this counts as valid towards the argument because it was identical twins being talked about, but I figured I'd put in some info anyway.

Also, I hope I don't sound like "oh my sister had the best life ever my life sucks be sad for me" because I don't intend to sound that way. I prefer being alone and she likes having company. I have worse anxiety, but she has had definite problems with that sort of thing as well, and like I said I won't get into that because the degree of her medical issues is not for me to post about openly without her knowing. We're just very different in our personalities and...genetics I guess you could say? I'm just kinda babbling now, sorry.
 
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Onnes

Member
It's extremely difficult to avoid the consensus that personality is influenced by both genetics and life history. Just consider the wide array of hereditary disorders that affect behavior, often severely. While these tend to be rather dramatic examples, they strongly imply that heredity plays a significant role in personality. My extended family lost an entire branch due to multiple suicides, over three generations, and it's hard not to see the role of the genetics in that.
 

Xenke

Member
Yea, I'm definitely seeing that it's probably some of both, thanks guys! GREAT TALK.

The twin example is a good example for this theory, because they stay identical for a while, and while it maybe the way you wrote it, and its because they live together and grow up together it could aslo be an identical base in how their brain works. And thats why they become diffrent later, because they see the world diffrently and that is two diffrent ways of how their brains develop further from this base pattern.

I think the biggest difference (but certainly not the only one) I saw when I knew those twins is that one was more rational and the other was more reactionary. It was interesting that when they got in trouble that one would own up to what they did (or try to explain otherwise if they didn't) and the other would have a fit.

Genetics give you a deck of cards. Nurture determines with cards gets played. That's how I look at it. Genetically you get certain things from your parents. If those things are not nurtured they may not become what the could. Some other things you just can't nurture away. For example you could be raised by just your mother in a good environment but still have the aggression issues of your father even if you never met him and never lived around or played with people who had these kinds of issues. Obviously genetics plays a part in behavior, there is no denying it. It's not an excuse though for bad behavior. That can be worked with to make it so it doesn't get in the way of living.

So, your view is kind of like you're born being more prone to certain traits and then the environment you grow up in helps influence which of those actually manifest themselves? I can see that.

Yeah, but the point I'm trying to make is that to a certain extent maybe my point of view is predetermined or influenced before I can even process it.

That's actually an interesting thought. It kinda ties in with how my mom and I often reach the same conclusion about stuff in similar ways. It's scary, every time I think "I want to order pizza tonight" she comes home and says "what do you think about ordering pizza tonight?"

I don't think you have to look any further than animal husbandry to see why. For example, border collies are known for being high energy and having the instinct to herd other animals; greyhounds are known for being low energy and extremely prey-driven. This is almost purely a result of a breeding. You can raise a greyhound puppy among border collies, and it's still going to act more or less like a greyhound. Same thing vice versa. You see it in other species/breeds too. Arabian horses are known for being high strung, clydesdales are known for being docile. White leghorn chickens are known for being anxious, bantams are known for being good mothers. There are exceptions, sure, always, but these are safe things to assume about the breed because it's been bred for it, because it's genetically prone to it. The whole process of domestication, really, is just a way to influence an animal's behavior mostly by way of genetic manipulation.

Hmm, I hadn't really thought about that, it's a good point! Tying in with the second part of your post, It's really not that hard to see that genetically passed, more instinctual, behaviors could form a sort of core of how we think, but then our environments work to construct how we use this 'core' in more complex thought. Whether or not we should trust more of out gut instincts or if we ignore them for whichever reason we choose.

It's both. I recently watched a really good documentary on the BBC about this. Turns out, scientists know that killers have a very specific set of differences in their brain activity than 'normal' people, and that coupled with a few high-risk genes which pre-dispose you to violence can set you off to be a serial killer and psychopath. However, it takes an abusive or traumatic childhood to activate these genes and differences most of the time. This break through happened when one of the scientists working on the brain scans and genetics discovered he held the exact combination of abnormal brain activity and high risk genes that the serial killers did. The only difference is that he had a very excellent childhood and so the psychopathic tendencies never resulted in him killing. When they interviewed all the killers they'd studied, all of them had been abused as kids.

Definitely both.

I'd very much like to see this, if you can find a copy of it posted online or something.

So it's a matter of going case by case and figuring out which genes are responsible for what and what environmental factors trigger or don't trigger them. In other words, it's a complete mess.

It's probably better this way. I don't think it would be a good thing for society to be able to determine what sort of behaviors someone may be prone to, or even what kind of person a newborn could grow up to be.

Not so much that this kind of stuff may or may not be potentially helpful or important, I just see that it could be used in a bad way. Like "oh, you're more likely to get mad and beat people up, we're going to preemptively force you to go to anger management despite the fact that you've done nothing wrong" and of course more extreme examples.

And then of course there the manipulation of environmental factors to try to raise "the perfect child".

Of course, I could just be being paranoid. :p

Our parents didn't play favorites; it's not like she got everything she wanted and I got nothing, or vice versa.

I haven't know people this has happened to, but I've heard stories where one twin was favored over the other. It's kinda of sad, especially with identical twins. [noparse]:([/noparse]

-stuff about twins cut for space reasons-

Overall, I don't have much to add to/say about this post, I just wanted to say I liked it a lot.
 

sunandshadow

Impractical Fantasy Animal
I definitely think personality is partly genetic. By the time I was three teachers were commenting on my extreme creativity, very assertive personality, and analytical problem solving style; that's not really a lot of time for nurturing to have affected me. I have a personality quite similar to my mother's, except for introversion from my father, while my sister's personality is quite similar to my father's except for extroversion from my mother. The people on my father's side family mostly run to temper tantrums, which can be clearly traced to my paternal grandfather. I have a common Italian trait: frustration and anger cause the physiological response of crying.
 

Ricky

Well-Known Member
Do you think that your behavior is dictated by 'nature', or by 'nurture'?

It's not a question; it's both.

If you're asking how much of a role one plays vs. the other then I haven't a fucking clue and would differ person to person anyway.

Just as conditioning can be a factor in learned behavior, physical traits and hormones can, too.

I'm not sure I can really say one is more of a factor than the other.
 

Rakuen Growlithe

Banned
Banned
It's definitely both. If you look at any work in psychology you'll see that how you raise and treat someone will have major effects on how they grow up. If people are abused they are more likely to be abusive. If you raise a child well they go on to be good adults. It's not perfect every time but most of the time it is. Genetics also plays a role. As Ramsay pointed out there are genes that when present will greatly increase the risk of someone committing violent crimes. I think it's the same gene actually has been studied in mice and found to have huge effects on their social structure. In one mouse species they have poor expression of the gene (I think) and are solitary creatures. In the other mouse species they have lots of expression of that gene, are sociable and mate for life. Diseases, notably brain tumours, will also cause major changes to people's personality. So it's certainly not one or the other but a mix.
 

ramsay_baggins

WINTERFELL!
I'd very much like to see this, if you can find a copy of it posted online or something.

Unfortunately stuff on BBC iPlayer only stays up for a week, and it's gone. Can't remember the name <=[
 

Gryphoneer

20 Quatloos on "disruptive"
The jury's still out whether or not it's 100%, but apparently sexual preference is to a considerable part genetically predetermined. Aside from the scientific potential, just think of the one for trolling. You could organize an LGBT march to a Westboro Church branch under the motto "It's the will of God that we're gay/bi/etc."
 

Sarcastic Coffeecup

Hand. Cannot. Erase.
I don't think genetics have too much to do with behaviour. It's the environment and nurture that make us who we are. Though genetics make our brains, we shape them more than genes.
 
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