Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Why Are We the Way That We Are? Answer

Passing this info along as it might be helpful--especially if you're like me and can't stop thinking about what shapes us more--nature or nurture?

I had no idea there is a nature vs nurture debate until my psychology class my senior year of high school.

In my early 20s I assumed it was mostly nurture--we are the way we are because of how our parents raised us, the environment we were raised in, etc.

These last several years I've been leaning towards nature--we are the way we are because of our genes, basically.

It goes without saying it's a both/and...but what's the breakdown, what's the percentage of each?

I've been trying to get insight on this question for almost 20 years--and this last year I finally read a book that went further than anything else I've ever discovered to give me peace on the answer to the question of what makes us who we are. Here were my takeaways--


  • Our personalities are shaped 50/50 by nature/nurture--BUT, it seems that nature is more of a driver (i.e. we were "born this way"), and while nurture does seem to play a part in shaping us, it's still pretty mysterious/unclear how exactly that works.
    • We know this in large part to twin studies--put identical twins in two very different families and they'll turn out largely the same (that's rough, I'm going from 6 months old memory, but it was something very close to that).
  • This has caused me to be more compassionate for people--the way they are is largely beyond their control, their genes did it to them, they're probably not going to change, so I need to appreciate their strengths, and minimize their weaknesses. This has made for a happier marriage. And I manage people for a living, so it helps a lot there, too.
  • There is a positive and a negative to EVERY trait--I myself am nice to a fault and very low in neuroticism (negative thoughts/feelings). It seems to me that that is ideal--but neuroticism has strengths...can't exactly remember them right now, but they're in the book. Read the book.



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