Nature versus Nurture, an age old argument focused on assessing the road to ruin taken by individuals who stray from the social norm. In principle the argument is based around what factors lead the individual astray, their natural mindset they were born with or behaviors learned from life experiences. At first glance the argument may seem to be about a definite cause when in reality it is geared more towards which factor or set of factors were the most prevalent in the development of an individual; the answers are not black and white thus we must look deep into each side to truly understand what makes a person behave in certain ways.
On the nature side of the spectrum it is believed that every individual is born with specific innate behaviors hardwired into their biological chemistry; the body constantly regulates hormonal distribution based on the genetic makeup of an individual (McLeod). When unbalanced, hormones cause behaviors to fluctuate wildly, most notable during puberty during which the body produces and must regulate new hormone patterns that correlate with physical changes brought on by puberty (Wikipedia). Every individual processes hormones differently, and changes in diet, age, etc. may cause slight variations in the body’s production of hormones. Another main cause of hormonal variation is the result of every individual, with the exception of identical siblings, being genetically different from one another thus everyone processes hormones differently; science has proven through genetic research that certain genetic defects may also cause a disproportionate chemical balance in the body and brain which in turn affects the individual’s behaviors in a variety of ways; of course the average individual may not have such defects, which is where the spectrum drifts into the nurture side.
On the nurture side of the debate, the focus of criticism related to how environmental stimuli affect an individual’s mental processes. Sociologists and psychologists alike have studied the effects of one’s upbringing on their social behaviors for decades; a term used frequently by sociologists is socialization which is the process by which an individual learns the ins and outs of the social setting they are born into (McLeod). Through the study of socialization a few key periods of development have been noted, each with key “agents of socialization” responsible for teaching behaviors, these include: the early developmental period in which the immediate family takes priority over teaching the basic life lessons including speech and basic social behaviors, the childhood phase starts and persists through the early days of an individual’s school life where teachers and peers begin to factor in to the socialization process, the adolescence where puberty takes hold and the biological aspect begins to factor in and cause the individual’s body and mind to begin maturing, this period is where the individual is must vulnerable to influence, finally the individual’s biological factors begin to stabilize as they enter maturity, this is where the results of the previous periods really begin to show (Hayes). When combined, both nature and nurture factor in with the development of an individual’s behaviors in society, but what about cases where average individuals with average socialization fall onto the road to ruin?
Despite the best of upbringings it seems impossible to predict if an individual will delve into territory that prods at the social norm, some prod harder than others and face harsher repercussions as a result. While nature may play a part in how one behaves it is the nurture aspect that teaches an individual how to control their natural behaviors; similarly to how, despite years of domestication, some dogs retain and express their aggressive, primal tendencies if they are raised improperly while other dogs can have behaviors trained out by corrective training. Along the same lines as the dog similes a conclusion can be drawn; similarly to how some breeds of dogs naturally display certain behavioral tendencies more often than others due to their biological chemistry. If an individual were to become corrupt early in their socialization periods but were caught early, in most cases by an agent of the legal system such as the police or social workers, than they could potentially be reformed with a correct mindset through social control facilities offered by the state. Behavioral control is a trait learned through the socialization process and refined as one ages; it is with this in mind that makes nurture the dominant factor in an individual’s development while a person’s nature is a constant battleground of hormones that have the unfortunate side effect of behavioral manipulation, this constant struggle for control is the truth behind the nature vs. nurture argument and only by examining the past influences of both may we truly understand criminal behaviors.
McLeod, Saul. “Nature Nurture in Psychology.” Simply Psychology. N.p., 2007. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
“Nature versus Nurture.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Hayes, Brian. “The Nature vs Nurture debate or Controversy- Human Psychology.” Age of the Sage. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.