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Human Nature : Nature or Nurture?
Written by Dahyung Kim | Published. 2016.02.28 13:41 | Count : 1981

     Is a genius born or made? This has been a long, fierce debate in human society between the people who think that an individual's behavior is the result of innate genes and the people who think that it is a result of nurture. Does "education" influence behavior most, or do genes?

image retrieved from lofalexandria.com

 In fact, the idea that an individual's character and ability are the result of inborn nature is very familiar to us. There has been many stories and folk tales in which a child of noble birth is tragically abandoned but uses his or her innate ability and extraordinary talent to become a hero and be praised by many people. This shows that there is a long tradition of seeing inborn traits as dominant variables in people's lives.

  Behavioral genetics is a field of study devoted to finding relationships between gene expression and individual behaviors. Historically it developed act of the study of eugenics. Eugenics scientists conducted experiments to verifying and promoting superior traits with the human species. The concept of eugenics goes way back in time, but Sir Francis Galton was the person who specified it academically. In the 20th century, Gregor Mendel's genetics were rediscovered and eugenics spread rapidly within the Western Powers.

  However, eugenics became extreme with the race engineering of the 1930s, and then it went out of fashion. The voices of those who emphasize the effect of nurture increased. Their beliefs are based on the 17th century "tabula rasa"(empty tablet) theory of the Britain empiric philosopher John Locke, who compared a human as paper. The experience and education received after birth writes the story.

  Pavlov's famous experiment on his dog scientifically backed up the importance of nurture. In a similar experiment called the "Little Albert" experiment, 9-month-old baby boy named Albert initially had no fear of various stimuli -a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, and various masks- at all. However, he was afraid of a loud clinging sound that was made when a hammer struck a metal bar behind his back. After repeatedly showing Albert a rat and then making a sound with the hammer, he associated the animal with the sound. The seventh time he was shown the rat, he immediately burst into tears even without the noise.

images retrieved from Slideshare.net

  As a result of this long debate, nowadays, people are slowly agreeing that they see nature and nurture having a complementary relationship. We can say that humans are born with different capacities, like different shapes and sizes of bowls. It's hardly ever possible to change the shape and size of "the bowl" through a change in one's educational environment. However, whether to fill those bowls up or to leave them empty does depend on the environment.







Dahyung Kim
11th grade
Seoul Scholars International


Dahyung Kim  dh069@dherald.com

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