It is a matter of concern whether human behaviors and characteristics are determined by nature or nurture. If a person’s behavior is inherited directly from the genes of his/her parents or other biological factors, then it is the nature that determines his character. But if the environment that a person grew up in, affects his behavior, then it is the nurture that determines his/her character. It became a great matter of controversy among scientists, psychologists and sociologists. Previously, many people believed that human behavior was instinctive. It can neither be taught nor learned. But later some psychologists came to the conclusion that human behavior is learned throughout the lifetime which is not instinctive. I believe that it is the combination of both nature and nurture that determine one’s characteristics. Nature only or nurture only cannot be the determining factors for one’s behavior and characteristic. A person’s behavior is determined by the equal blend of nature and nurture.
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Brent Staples in his essay “Black Men and Pubic Space” proves that one’s character cannot always be determined by their race which is a biological factor or one’s upbringing and society. But both the nature and the nurture affect the way one behaves, “I grew up one of the good boys, had perhaps a half dozen fistfights. In retrospect, my shyness of combat has clear sources” (Staples 315). Although the society he lived in was not good, he became a good person. It might be because of his behavior inherited from his parents and the good manner he was taught by his parents. So both nature and nurture by his parents work here and the environment of bad people didn’t affect his behavior. However, he once says that “Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence” (Staples315). This makes the reader little confuse whether he himself is being racist, but he is actually trying to explain that particularly African American males commit crimes more than others because of the environment they grew up in and the choice they made. This may not be because of particularly being a black man, but because of the culture he has adopted since his childhood. Here he somehow takes the side of nurture.
Many black people are assumed to be criminals. People judge them just by their appearance and the impression black people have made in today’s world. But this does not always mean that every black people are criminals and it’s their biological factor that makes them do crimes. We can take the example of Brent Staple. Even though he was an educated and good person, many people and especially white women fear of him. But he was neither an uneducated person nor a criminal. He was brought up in a good family and properly nurtured by his parents. Therefore, nurturing became the factor for his behavior. Similarly, there are examples given by another author Amy Cunningham in her essay, “Why Women Smile”. Although she focuses primarily on a smile, she tends to explain the actual cause of one’s behavior. She explains that a smile or particularly a women’s smile comes from both natural happiness as well as the hope of people living around them, “The behavior seems to be an equal blend of nature and nurture” (Cunningham 190).
She further explains that both a normal baby and a blind baby smiles, although it may take a little longer for the blind one. It means that the smiles are natural and should not be taught in all cases. However, there are situations where people and especially women are social pressurized to smile and show a good behavior even if they don’t want to, “Evidently, a woman’s happy, willing deference is something the world wants visibly demonstrated” (Cunningham 191). It is both natural as well as nurtured along with the situations. For example: It is more likely for a child to be a doctor in the future if his dad is a doctor too. Nature plays an important role here because the intelligence of the child is inherited from his father. But if the child is not given proper care of his education or if the parents encourage him to be something rather than doctor, he may choose other professions too. If the child is given proper care and if he is psychologically prepared that he should be a doctor in the future, nature and nurture plays equal role. There are many debates still going on whether human behavior is affected by nature or nurture.
Many psychologists and scientists are still researching on whether it is one’s genes or the environment that affects one’s behavior. Yes, one’s genes affect their characteristics but the environment they are cultured in also affects the way they take actions. Since childhood, people are taught moral education at school and home. They learn how to talk, behave, act and respond. These all are nurture. If they are given good lessons, they will be able to be good in the future. But if one does not get proper guidance, he will turn out to be a morally bad person. These are the examples of human behavior affected by nurture. When we think about nature, different personality of people develops according to the genetics tendencies. For example it is likely for a person to have the habit of being aggressive if his father or his mother or any of his biological family has the same habit. Also there are many styles of talking, eating or walking that are inherited by one’s parents or biological family.
Paul Theroux somehow agrees the equality of nature and nurture. In his essay “Being a Man”, he explains how nature and nurture has affected a man to be like a man. According to him a girl since her childhood is encouraged to behave in a cute way but a boy is instructed to behave roughly or so called manly, “It begins with mother encouraging little girls to say (to other adults? “Do you like my new dress?” In a sense, little girls are traditionally urged to please adults with a kind of coquettishness, while boys are enjoined to behave like monkeys toward each other.” (Theroux177). This shows how a girl and a boy are nurtured differently which determines their characteristics. Healso takes the side of nature where some different behavior between men and women comes naturally, “Femininity- being lady-like-implies needing a man as witness and seducer: but masculinity celebrates the exclusive company of men” (Theroux177). We can know from this that not only a nature of a girl or a boy separates each other from their behavior but also their parents or the environment or the nurturer encourage them to behave separately. Therefore, the behavior is determined by both nature and nurture.
In conclusion, it can be stated that human behavior are both the result of nature and nurture. One can neither neglect the effect of biological factors one have on them nor disprove the behaviors that are affected by the environment one is living in. It is important for a person to have a good environment even if his biological parents are good in nature. Also, some characters are inherited from genes of one’s parents that might last forever although he is far from his parents. Therefore, both the nature as well as nurture has equal effect on determining human behavior.
Staples, Brent. Black Men and Public Space. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. Print Cunningham, Amy. Why Women Smile. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. Print Theroux, Paul. Being a Man. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. Print