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IB Psychology - To what extent does genetic inheritance influence our behaviour?

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Essay Question: To what extent does genetic inheritance influence our behaviour? A common saying goes, "You have your mother's genes, so you should be good at this!" This statement demonstrates that common belief dictates that our genes that we inherit influence our behaviour. Yet, how true is this statement? Genes are heredity processes that we receive from our parents that are a factor that determine our characteristics and behaviour. In layman's terms, they are the building blocks that define our coarse, rough behaviour, but fail to closely define our closer instincts and actions. That is where the environment comes in to play a role. Thesis: While genetics certainly do play and define a role in complex behaviours such as intelligence and aggression, they only do up to a limited extent; environment is the defining factor in such acts of behaviour. 2-3 Sentence Explanation: Twin studies and adoption studies point out that ultimately the environment is a defining factor within intelligence and learning potential, measured by IQ tests. Evidence from studies conducted on aggression suggest that the environment is a deciding factor in anti-social behaviour. ...read more.


Prime studies of this are the Minnesota Trans-Racial Adoption Study conducted by Scarr and Weinburg, which measured IQ testing scores of roughly a hundred children of minority ethnic groups who were raised under white families who were well off. The significance of this study was that in that era, children who were minorities as a trend often scored much lower than their white counterparts. Scarr and Weinburg attempted to demonstrate that the black children, regardless of the genetic makeup, would perform much better in intelligence if given the proper environment. Results, if taken rather broadly and generally, demonstrated that children who were adopted and brought up in such families performed better on IQ testing, which in conclusion suggested that the environment played a role in furthering their intelligence, rather than their genetic makeup. This is important because at that time children of minoric ethnicity performed poorly when in the regular situation with their own biological parents compared to similar children of minoric ethnicity who were placed in white households, demonstrating that the environment you are brought up in is as important, if not more, than your genetic makeup. ...read more.


Of course, the findings had limitations; the study had a narrow window of findings; in this case the environment, and not possibly other genetic factors other than the presence of the MAOA gene. However, this study again substantiates that the environment plays a major role in aggressiveness to an extent; and that in this case the MAOA gene plays in tune with the environment to demonstrate anti-social behaviour. We have seen from all the above studies and demonstrations that genes definitely do play a role in our behaviour. Yet, the role genetic inheritance plays is certainly overshadowed by the office our environment plays in our behaviour. Twin studies that demonstrate twins who were apart had different levels of intelligence, adoption studies that showed that children raised apart from their biological parents performed better, and studies demonstrating the role environment plays on aggression all point us to that while genetics are a decisive factor in deciding our behaviour, they are certainly overshadowed by that environment plays the major role of deciding what our behaviour will be in extent of intelligence and aggression. ...read more.

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