This health video looks at the nature Vs nature argument, whether our genes determine out personality or our environment.
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Dr. Judith Rich Harris: The similarity of children to their parents in personality is entirely genetic. Dr. Stanley Greenspan: If parents feel they have no influence and everything is genetically determined, then they may not do what they need to do to help the babies become flexible, healthy, good copers. Male Speaker: We are born with a set of genes that never changes and from generations there has been debate over nature versus nurture, and whether genes or environment influence behavior more. What does determine our destiny, is it in the genes? When we are conceived, two sets of genes are joined into one. From that moment DNA determines certain characteristics. The color of our eyes, the texture of our hair, our gender, our sex. But science has only begun to explore the role of genes play in human behavior. Dr. William R. Clark: Genes may very well, determine how we behave in given situations. Male Speaker: UCLA immunologist Will Clark says, genes help control how we interpret our environment. Dr. William R. Clark: You're dealt a particular hand of neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter receptors and again together, with other things of course in your biology and in your history, it's going to play out differently in different people. Dr. Steven Pinker: There has to be some kind of innate circuitry in place that allows us to create culture and acquire culture and do the learning. Male Speaker: But they don't operate without some input. Dr. William R. Clark: What you choose to learn, how hard you try to learn, and what you do with what you learn, you do have some responsibility. Male Speaker: The ability to modify our behavior is what allows us to overcome genetic predisposition. Dr. David Moore: Different genes are turned on and off in different circumstances. Male Speaker: Those circumstances thought maybe very subtle. Consider identical twins born with the same DNA. Nancy: Same height, same weight, all our lives. Male Speaker: Though raised alike, Nancy and Jenna are quick to point out they are individuals. Jenna: Nancy was always very pretty spirited. And I was a little bit more responsible. Male Speaker: And how much does our upbringing matter. Dr. Stanley Greenspan: Proper upbringing will depend on lots of nurturing interactions in your all years of life. Dr. Steven Pinker: Parents aren't the only aspect of the environment. There is also the surrounding culture. Male Speaker: Some believe the strongest social influences exist outside the home. Dr. Judith Rich Harris: Children live in separate worlds and each world is very important, but there is very little carry over from one world to the other. And what is carried over is whatever is genetic. Male Speaker: Controversial author Judith Rich Harris says, we get our genes from our parents but are guided by our peers. Dr. Judith Rich Harris: The children of immigrants, don't resemble their parents in the language they're speaking even in their culture. They resemble the people they grew up with. Male Speaker: A recent study backs this up. It found the greatest influence on whether teen drink or smoke, is whether their friends do. Dr. Judith Rich Harris: As long as you are within the normal range of parenting, how your child turns out is not up to you, is up to the child. Male Speaker: Child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan says, this attitude can create irresponsible parenting. Dr. Stanley Greenspan: We encourage parents to be either passive or hopeless or helpless in the phase of certain challenges that they were assumed are genetic. Male Speaker: He says genes and environment are like a dance, working together to make as who we are. Dr. Stanley Greenspan: Maybe the environment sets the constraints, just as much of the genes do. Dr. David S. Moore: If you throw Einstein in a closet, when he's a baby because he has some insane parent, he is not going to be smart, he is going to wind up like one of those tragic kids who get found in a closet. Male Speaker: So w