Read the text and choose the YES if there is evidence of the statement in the text, NO if the evidence is contrary to the statement or NOT GIVEN if there is no information provided in the text.
Nature/Nurture: An Artificial Division?
Often in the news, we see stories asking the question, 'Is this due to nature or nurture?' Certain diseases, traits, and behaviours are said to be 'genetic', while others are due to 'environment'.
There is no doubt that specific genes cause particular problems in certain cases. Parkinson's Disease and colour blindness both run in families because of their genetic origins. But the news reports we see cover a much wider subject area. We wonder if some people have 'natural' talent in music or sports without which any training they receive is useless. Some people assert that children living with, a adults given to certain controversial behaviours will gain those ways from 'environmental influences'. The implication is always that behaviour is either genetic or environmental.
The concept of dividing everything into these two mutually exclusive groups is not the right way to think about diseases or ~ behaviours, because genes and environment are not independent. They influence each other greatly, and their effects can almost never be disentangled.
A creature's genes will in general cause it to seek certain environments and avoid others. That environment then influences the creature's development, and plays a role in whether or not its genes are passed on. Wild dogs, for example, live in packs because their genes tell them to organise that way socially. However, the pack is also where each dog learns proper dog behaviour, practises the skills to survive, and ultimately finds a mate. The pack - the dog's environment - is what makes it into a successful dog with a good chance of passing its genes on. So a well socialised, successful pack dog is the result of both genes and environment.
Humans are also social creatures. We seek other humans to live with, and, in general, do not like to be alone for long periods. Newborn babies respond favourably with lower heart and respiration rates to having people nearby. So we are 'naturally' driven to live in social groups, and these very social groups provide the environment that we need to become successful humans. Genes and environment work together.
In contrast, the environment can also influence which genes are expressed in a creature, and to what degree. Every organism has a unique genetic code. But a given set of genes doesn't determine exactly how a creature will be physically; instead, there is a range of possibilities. The environment plays a major role in determining how the genes will be expressed.
A simple example is the fact that height, a largely inherited trait, has been steadily increasing in humans over the past few centuries. Presumably this is due to better nutrition, since it is too short a time span for evolutionary changes to have occurred. So your height is a combination of your genes and various external factors.
A more complicated example involves brain development. Rats who live in dark, crowded, dirty cages grow fewer neural connections than rats raised in spacious cages with toys and varied diets. The disadvantaged rats learn more slowly and perform more poorly on memory tests, although the rats were related genetically. It is always dangerous to extrapolate from animals to humans, so I won't draw any sweeping conclusions, but at the very least, this experiment shows that environmental factors can produce very different outcomes from similar genetic materials.
So by changing purely external factors, we can influence which genes are expressed and to what degree. Your behaviour, likes and dislikes, and way of thinking are an inseparable combination of your genes and the experiences you have had growing up.
The genetic and environmental factors in a creature's life mutually influence each other and, except in a few very specific cases, cannot be separated or considered in isolation.
In summary, the nature/nurture debate is outdated. We now realise that the either/or choice is too simple, and continuing to think in that way will restrict our understanding of humans and limit our ability to solve the problems we face today. Next time you see a news story asking if something is 'genetic' or 'environmental', you will know the real answer is - both.
The claim that human beings need to live in groups is supported by the behaviour of newborn babies.