Your Behavior, is it Biological, or Environmental
Jan. 30, 2018
You got your dimples from your mom and your blue eyes from your dad, but where did
you get that tendency to withdraw in social situations, or the occasional bursts of anger? Were
these learned behaviors from your parents and your environment, or is your conduct
predetermined by your genes? Let’s talk about influence of environment vs. genetics and
discover whish of the two plays the bigger role in determining human behavior.
You may have heard the catch phrase, “nature vs. nurture” sometime in your life. This
term dates back to the thirteenth century and describes the roles of both heredity and
environment in the development of human behavior. So which is it, nature or nurture that molds
human behavior? Though our biology does play a large role in how we act and who we are,
research shows that personality traits and behavior are influenced slightly more by external
factors and environment, rather than by internal genetic makeup.
“You inherit your environment as much as your genes” (The Human Script). To illustrate
the idea that we “absorb” the environment we are placed in, I did a little experiment. I took 3
white carnations that were essentially of the same genetic makeup in just about every way. Same
look, same solid plain white color. However, I wanted to see what happened to the flowers if I
placed them in different “environments.” Would they stay the same? Or would they absorb
some of the properties of whatever external influences are placed upon them? The first flower
was in plain water, the second water was in colored water, and the last flower was in pickle juice.
Not surprisingly, the flowers that had external environmental influences, absorbed those
properties and became very different from the untouched counterpart. The flower in colored
water absorbed the dye and the petals changed color, while the flower in pickle juice absorbed
the scent of pickle juice and the stem completely withered and dried up, because it couldn’t live
in that environment.
Just as the carnation absorbed its environmental influences and changed as a result,
humans also “absorb” traits from their environment that ultimately influence both their
personalities and their behavior. American psychologist John Watson, best known for his
controversial “little Albert experiments” with a young orphan named Albert, demonstrated that
the acquisition of a phobia could be explained by classical conditioning. A strong proponent of
environmental learning, he said: "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own
specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to
become any type of specialist I might select... regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies,
abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors” (Powell).
We do know we take genes from each parent, like hair or eye color, and whether...