Is our personality something we were born with? Something we cannot control? Or is it developed overtime, something which grows as we grow?
I don’t know about you, but when I look at new born babies I just see them asleep, they’re cute, but they don’t really do much do they, in fact it is proven that babies don’t start showing signs of a personality until they are around 4 months old.
The Nature VS Nurture debate is one of the most revised and adjusted psychological debates to date. It is very controversial and new opinions are constantly being formed. Nature is defined by the inherited characteristics of an individual, this side of the debate coincides with biological theorist, while the behavioral theorists agree predominately with the Nurture side of the debate. This debate first begun with theories provided by leading psychologists, who either supported the nature debate or the nurture debate, there was no in between, but now, as the research becomes more thorough and precise, people are starting to wonder whether it could be a combination of both. There is a well known quote which people are starting to use “Genetics load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.” Meaning that psychologists are beginning to think that some people could have certain genes for example, violence, but if their environment is calm, maybe they live in an isolated Buddhism camp it will never be triggered, therefore, will not display violence.
The Nature VS Nurture debate can be related to the book Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley because Victor’s creation can be used as an ideal example of how nurture affects and shapes an individual. The creation was a combination of chemicals and genetics from many people and potions made in test tubes, his genetics were extremely muddled. To begin with, the creation was a calm and friendly individual, but when he grew and it got harder for Victor to hide him the environment became tense and unlovable which is arguably the cause as to why the creation ended up with a personality of a psychopath.
Psychologists Plato and Descartes supported the nature side of the debate, they were nativists and believed that behaviors were inherited and no matter what your environment is like, each behavior which are genetically predisposed too will be displayed at some point in your life. Psychologists who supported this view believed that inheritance is an evolution and as humans our bodies would develop the resources and behaviors necessary for survival by following genetics.
VOICE OF PLATO Frankenstein created an individual by quite literally sticking parts together. Genetics and DNA are not something to be messed with in the means of an experiment, what Frankenstein did was foolish. DNA cannot be combined in such ways and create a normal individual, in Victor’s case the result was a disaster, the combination of genetics was chaotic and the predisposition of behaviors were many vile traits, combined, they created a psychopathic demon. The environment which this individual existed in helped to reinforce the behaviors he already knew and remind him how to use them to the highest possible level, resulting in numerous murders.
John Locke was a behaviorist who believed that all actions and behaviors were developed through learning stages and the environment of the individual. He was a Nurture supporter and believed that no matter who your parents are and no matter what you genetics look like you have the potential to turn into whoever you want however you want, and he, like all the other supporters of the nurture debate, believed that you could change your personality if you are engulfed in a different environment and different situations.
VOICE OF JOHN LOCKE Every new being is born as a blank slate. Every behavior is learnt and the ones which stick are the behaviors which were encouraged by positive reinforcement, everyone makes mistakes and those mistakes usually receive punishment and not many people make them, this is how innocent individuals develop behaviors. Frankenstein’s creation was unlucky in the sense of upbringing, his ‘guardian’ was not respectful or loving, and this type of early nurture was imprinted permanently as ways to treat other individuals. Help was rewarded with people fleeing, shouting and attacking, and enforced to the creature that he may as well not be nice as the result is disrespect and violence. These types of behaviors were shown to the creation frequently, and he followed them, a stage of learning, mimicking behaviors, this resulted in a permanent trait which stuck with the creation for life, and ended up resulting in numerous casualties.
In my opinion Nurture plays the biggest role in behavior development, this is because people learn languages by coping other people, it is not completely genetic. A child who has two Chinese parents and is adopted into New Zealand and grows up speaking English will struggle to learn Chinese as well. However, I do believe in the saying ‘Genetics load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.’ So maybe the Chinese born individual who has Chinese ancestors and genetics will find it easier to learn the language. In the case of Frankenstein’s creation, I belive that it was a combination of nature and nurture which structured him for who he was, however I am swayed towards believing nurture was the bigger influence. As the creature was a complete mish mash of genetics he was probably fairly biologically disadvantaged, resulting in certain behaviors being picked up easier than others. I think that as he was exposed to many violent and rude comments and actions, his innocent mind was plagued with these behaviors as normal and acceptable, and as his genetics were a bit of a disaster it ended up becoming a living disaster.