Is character traits a product of genetics, environment or both?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Bowser, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    The individual seems too complex to attribute her personality to only biological factors, but maybe it does play a role. I'm curious what you might think and would appreciate any links you might have to share.
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    The "nature versus nurture" question.

    Studies on twins have long sought to settle that question. The answer is, of course, both.

    "Identical twins reared apart are far more similar in personality than randomly selected pairs of people. Likewise, identical twins are more similar than fraternal twins. Also, biological siblings are more similar in personality than adoptive siblings. Each observation suggests that personality is heritable to a certain extent."

    Caveat: That is not a conclusive comparison since they mention "randomly selected pairs", instead of "randomly selected pairs with otherwise highly similar nurturing environments".
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  5. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    I also read that older couples look similar in facial characteristics--same lines and expression. The theory being that it is attributed to empathy. I wonder whether simply being around another person for a long period of time might also lend us to adopt their character traits, or at the very least, their mannerisms.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    All human characteristics - from height to IQ, from personality to family organization, from economic custom to immune system responses - derive from the nurturing of human nature. That's a given.
  8. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    too broad a brush
    certain personality traits are mostly inherited
    some others-not so much
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member


    Human nature is a vague term here.

    Do you mean not inherited? As in: height is not inherited?
    Do you mean inherited? As in: height is not affected by diet?
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Closest I could get. People seem to split things into categories - mental/physical, for example, or personal/social - and I wanted to lump them.

    Humans have a defined adult height, for example - it's a product of nature (the biological basis of human growth and development, including genetic heritage, epigenetic heritage, and various physical factors such as climate and feedback from exercise) and the nurturing regime (diet, stress, disease exposure, trauma and its treatment, maternal bonding, sleep quality, etc). These all mutually interact. To get an idea of the influence of nature, note that normal human height varies over a fairly narrow range - roughly 50 - 90 inches, or about double. To get an idea of the influence of nurture, note that John Komlos et al have pretty well established that the major human populations have about the same intrinsic median genetic height (Canadians and Chinese, say) and a predictor of the actual median in a given population is the level of income inequality in the larger society (the higher, the shorter). Or check out the identical twin studies: last I looked, the record for height difference in identical twins was nearly six inches - in a pair born in Germany or Poland (can't recall) just prior to WWII, one of whom was smuggled to the US and adopted into a comfortable home as an infant, the other of whom survived the war and its aftermath as an orphaned and homeless child in his large, bombed out city of birth. Their hair was different colors, their teeth grew in a bit differently, only genetic analysis established their kinship.
  11. pluto2 Banned Valued Senior Member

    It's probably a combination of both genetics and the environment.

    For instance, the food you eat has a large influence on your personality (among other things).

    But then again after studying a bit of genetics, neuroscience and biochemistry myself I think I can say that we don't know everything there is to know about how the human body works. Or at least we do know a lot but we still don't have the complete picture.

    For instance we don't know what consciousness is or whether it's related to the functioning of the brain or if there is more to it.

    However based on what I've read I think that if you want to be super-reductionistic we are nothing but carbon and electricity.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    There are "givens" - genetic factors - in every individual's physical structure, colouring, shape, size, etc, that can't be changed. Every trait, however, can be encouraged or inhibited to some extent by climate, diet and life-style. The temperament is also based on a set of genetic "givens", tendencies, proclivities and aptitudes. Each of those characteristics, too, can be enhanced and developed or thwarted and repressed.
    A quick-tempered, impatient child needs more firm handling and training in self-discipline than an easy-going child, who may require encouragement to make an effort, or a passive one, who needs his confidence bolstered. When a volatile boy is goaded on to action and self-assertion, he's likely to be come a bully; if a timid one is oppressed, he's likely to become a victim.
    The outcome is always more or less bad, whenever the natural self-expression is either denied or allowed to run wild.
    Parenting is a tightrope act.
  13. Xmo1 Registered Senior Member

    the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual
    the mind is what the brain does
    the brain is produced by dna - the mind is a function of the brain
    that's as close to a valid answer as you're going to get
    Character is a result of both nature and nurture.
    A trait is a distinguishing quality or characteristic, typically one belonging to a person.
    The medical lexicon would bring 'character trait' back around to nature and nurture,
    because that is reasonable.
  14. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I did read an article, some time back, involving the reproduction of flies. Females were raised in isolation until mature and then, after separating the necessary control groups, were coupled with large sterile males. Afterwards, they had their second sexual encounter with small potent males. It was observed, after ironing out all the control groups for comparisons, that those flies who had sexual encounters with large sterile males tended to give comparatively larger offspring (even though the offspring were a result from mating with the smaller ones).
    My googlefu skills can't seem to locate it (it did appear in the guardian, IIRC)

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