What Drives Development? Nature, Nurture, and Reciprocal Relationships (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Adoption studies also show a strong genetic component in IQ. Studies of children who were adopted as young infants have shown that these children's IQs at age 18 are more similar to the IQs of their biological mothers than to the IQs of the adoptive mothers who nurtured them (Loehlin, Horn, & Willerman, 1994; Scarr, Weinberg, & Waldman, 1993).

The impact of nature, or genetic inheritance, is obvious when children are born with genetic disorders such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis. Research also has shown genetic links to conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, and severe obesity. The role of nurture, however, also emerges in many of these same studies. For example, inheriting genes linked to schizophrenia, depression, or obesity does not guarantee that a person will actually develop the condition. Many people who inherit these genes do not develop the condition. Nurture certainly also has an impact on traits such as IQ. IQ scores for identical twins, for example, are more similar when the twins grow up together than when they are raised in separate families (Bouchard & McGue, 1981). Both identical and fraternal twins show similar patterns of emotional attachment to their parents, indicating that shared family experiences (nurture) play a larger role than genetics (nature) in establishing attachment patterns (O'Connor & Croft, 2001). Rather than arguing about whether development is controlled completely by nature or completely by nurture, thanks to the results of behavior genetics research, we are now beginning to understand the interactive roles played by both of these forces.

Children are influenced by nature and by nurture, but children also influence their own development. To some extent, children are free to make their own choices, and these choices can have consequences for development. When parents ask children to clean their room, for example, children can choose to obey or not. Their choices can then influence how their parents respond to them. And think of the larger choices children make as they grow up: whether to fight with bullies or find peaceful resolutions, whether to try drink\king alcohol or abstain, whether to drop out of school or continue on to college. Choices such as these can be influenced to some extent by the basic personality characteristics the child inherits (nature) and by the supports and pressures in the child's life (nurture), but they are also often made by the child's own freedom to choose different options. And the child's choices can then influence how other people respond back to them resulting in a reciprocal relationship—people influencing children and their development, and children making choices and influencing other people. It goes both ways.

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