Preface: I’m not a big fan of the nature vs. nurture debate because the nature of the question makes it seem that it should be one or the other. Also, when people attempt to address the issue, they make it seem as if there is only one right answer. I always wonder: Why do we insist on making it nature versus nurture? Why can’t it be both? (I really like the nature via nurture idea.) The debate seems to involve way too much drama for my taste. However, for the first time, I enjoyed a nature-nurture discussion in our seminar last Tuesday. I usually don’t offer my 2 cents on this issue, but I did at our discussion. And now I want to (re)extend my 2 cents on the nature-nurture debate to you because it probably won’t again happen for a while (unless I’m forced to in a class.)
When I was younger, my aunts and uncles loved to play around with me because I was the youngest out of all my cousins for a while. My family gave me a Filipino nickname that translates to “cry baby” because (as you can probably infer from the nickname) I cried a lot. And I mean a lot. But I had good reason to cry most of the time (and for the record, I’m not a cry baby anymore . . .) One of the pranks my family tried to pull on me was telling me that I was not my parents’ real daughter. They developed a very elaborate story on how my parents’ “real daughter” and I were accidentally switched at birth, which was not actually necessary because I was bawling 10 seconds into their “revelation”. Of course, my parents comforted and assured me that I was their real daughter and my aunts and uncles had their laughs. However, the possibility that I was not my parents’ real daughter stuck with me for a while. I asked my best friends and classmates if I looked like my mom or dad. My face gleamed with pleasure and satisfaction when my mom’s co-workers told me that I looked like a mini-version of my mom.
Things have changed over the years. I no longer seek confirmation that I am the fruit of my parents’ loins. In fact, in the past couple of years it has come to my attention that I greatly differ from my parents, especially my mom. My mom frequently makes subjective decisions, while I tend to be more objective. My mom is introverted, while I am extroverted. My mom is generous, while I am quite stingy. On the other hand, things were the other way with my dad. My dad and I are very alike and it is a tad creepy. We have similar idiosyncrasies, the same sense of humor, and identical approaches to problem solving. Of course this all makes sense because my dad is my dad . . . but what if I were to tell you that I didn’t grow up with my dad? I actually didn’t get to know my dad until my junior year of high school. Interestingly, I didn’t have a hard time adjusting to living with him and getting along with him because of our alikeness.
Because I was not brought up by my father, it seems that genes explain our strong nonphysical resemblance. Indeed, twin studies show the power of nature (Connectome, Seung, pg. 100–102). However, I find it difficult to fathom that nature carried so much weight in my situation, probably because I want to believe that nurture is as equally or even more powerful as nature. What other factors could possibly explain my strong similarity with my dad?