We have all heard of the ongoing debate of nature v. nurture. While I hate to be the one who takes the easy way out, I believe that both factors have an impact on one’s behavior. Let’s look at the nurture side of the debate. I have watched my fair share of criminal justice television shows (Criminal Minds tops the list) and it has been constantly repeated that children who are bought up in abusive environments are more likely to become killers as adults. Even though these television shows are works of fiction, the facts they present are nevertheless true. 40% of children who have been abused are arrested for violent crimes in adulthood (Nurturing A Serial Killer). It is important to notice that not all people who grow up in an abusive environment become criminals. However, this does not mean that this piece of evidence should be deemed faulty. There is a connection between behavior and nurture that cannot be ignored. Then, there is the nature side of the debate, which includes the discussion of genes. There is a gene called MAOA (‘warrior gene’), whose less active version has been proven to cause aggression in mice by scientists at the University of Southern California (Criminal Minds: Born or Made?). However, not all people who have this form of the gene are aggressive. So if not all people who grow up in an abusive environment become serial killers and not all people who have the less active form of the gene MAOA are aggressive, then what influences behavior: nature or nurture? It is unproven which one is the leading factor in behavior. However, new information is revealing that both play an important role.
An article in the Wall Street Journal states that there are two types of people: orchids and dandelions (California Academy of Sciences). Orchids are more affected by their environment than dandelions. The classification of people into these two categories is dependent upon the genes that regulate dopamine (neurotransmitter that helps control the pleasure centers of the brain) production. Orchids produce less dopamine than dandelions. Thus orchids benefit from positive environmental conditions and are hurt by negative environmental conditions. In this case, nature and nurture are both factors in an individual’s behavior. So are all orchids who experienced negative conditions during childhood serial killers? Maybe.
California Academy of Sciences. “How Much Is Behavior Based on Nature Versus Nurture?” KQED Education. KQED Inc., 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <http://blogs.kqed.org/education/2014/03/05/how-much-is-behavior-based-on-nature-versus-nurture/>.
Criminal Minds: Born or Made? Dir. NOVA. PBS. PBS, 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/criminal-minds.html>.
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“Nurturing A Serial Killer.” Arizona State University, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <http://www.public.asu.edu/~tlstanle/nurturingaserialkiller.html>.
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