Sara Hoffman

Pierre Briand

Sara Andrade

Personality Panel

Glass, J. (2004, March).  Nature or Nurture?  Baby Talk, 69(2), 52-54.


            Many parents believe that the greatest influence in the development of a child is nurture.  This is how the parent loves, disciplines, and cares for their children.  At a conference on infant brain development, it was said that the way children turn out is in the parents hands.  The most important time is during the first year and words and eye contact are of greatest influence.  A book written by Rich Harris called The Nurture Assumption challenged this notion by stating that children’s personalities are the way they are due to peers and genes primarily.  Obviously this led parents to be confused and anxious.


            For many characteristics, no one gene is responsible for what is seen.  Physical traits are usually influenced by many genes.  The studies suggest that temperamental and behavioral tendencies and 30 to 50 percent genetic.  Extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness to experience (the Big 5) show the strongest influence from genes.  Kimberly Saudino, Ph. D states that genetic influence occurs on three broad personality traits in the first few years of life.  These are activity, task orientation, and extroversion.  Babyhood

personality traits are more influenced by the environment than in adult personality traits, which are shown to be more genetically influenced.  The bottom line is that influence of genes increases as one gets older.


            The IQ was shown to have 80 percent genetic influence in old age, as discovered by behavioral geneticists.  Thus, there is a limit in how one’s IQ can be effected.  Parents are told to be loving and responsive to allow one’s child to show his/her talents.  With personality, environment seems to have more effect than genes.  As Saudino stated, “It’s the different ways you interact with each child as an individual that are very

important.”  (Glass, 2004, pp 54).  The way to raise one’s

child(ren) is to observe, encourage, and indulge, without being to absent or resigned.


Article: Baby Talk. New York: Mar 2004. Vol. 69, Iss. 2; pg. 52

Author: Julia Glass

Outline: Nature or Nurture?

I. The Author Stands in Nurturist Camp to Begin With

            Author's nurturist beliefs

                        1.Heredity rules over basic looks and susceptability to diseases

                        2.Habits, foibles, values, and virtues are all developed through nurture

II. New Theories Are Put Forward

            A.A conference on infant brains development puts forth the idea that:

                        1.Babies nueral pathways become more complex when they are exposed to singing and talking i their first year of life

                        2.Love is important, but eye contact and words have more impact

            B.The Nurture Assumption (a book by Judith Rich Harris)

                        1. Genes and peers have a huge effect on personality developement

                        2. Parents matter alot less then they think

III.Do Genes Have a Greater Effect on Children Then Their Parents?

            A.Basic genetics

                        1.Each parent offers 23 chromosomes, making for 46 total

                        2.That adds up to roughly about 100,000 genes

                        3.Genes travel in pairs so the dominant gene is the trait that shows

                        4.For a recessive gene to show you must inherent the gene from both parents

                        5.Other traits only show when genes are codominant

                        6.Traits such as eye color are effected by many diffrent pairs of genes

            B.Roots of personality

                        1.30-50% of behavoiral tendencies are genetic

                        2.There are 5 major personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticisim concientiousness, and openess

                        3.Some minor personality triats include: alturisim, shyness, accident-proneness, and self-esteem

                        4.Kimberly Saudino Ph.D. conducts studies on infant and todler twins and her findings suggest that in the first few years genetics influeneces there                   traits:

                                    i.activity(energy, vigor, movement)

                                    ii.task orientation(attention and presistence)

                                    iii.afled-extroversion(emotionality and socioability)

                        5. Since adult traits show about 50% genetic influence, and the babies characterictics are only 20-40% heretable, babyhood personality is more                        influenced by environment

                        6.Not all genes effect a person from birth, influence of genes increases with age, genes involved with sexual developement dont take effect until the              early teens

            C.Brain power and intelligence

                        1.IQ shows the most genetic influence of all traits

                        2.Testing show that IQ has a hereditiy component for:

                                    i.20% in toddlers

                                    ii.50% in older children and adolescents

                                    iii.60-80% in older adults

                        3.As far as nurturing IQ Nancy Segal Ph.D. has this to say, "What you do in those early makes a diffrence-but not in the way you may think.                                  Providing a warm, responsive environment is your most important job, because it allows your child's tendencies and talents to flourish, but there's a                        limit to what you can do to affect actual IQ."

IV.Nurture through Nature

            Can a parent affect a child's personality?

                        1.Genes only provide a range of possiblities, they do not dicide on a person's exact personality

                        2.Most social scientists believe that the unfluence of home is minor in child developement

                        3.Parenting-personality is alot less important then we cone believed it to be

                        4.Responding to the child as an invdividual and helping them develope their naturaly talents is the best affect a parent can have

                        5.It is good to keep a balance between setting limits for your child and letting them develope naturally

                        6.From all this information the author developed the new mantra, "Observe, encourage, indulge."