During one our classes, we learned about the infamous nature vs. nurture argument. I have heard about this argument since I was in high school, but I learned more about how behavior can be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors in this class. For example, I thought that genetic and environmental factors influenced different behaviors but not the same. However, in Dr. Dick’s research paper on “Genetic Influences on Adolescent Behavior”, the results of smoking behavior in adolescents showed that genetics played a bigger influence in early adolescents and as the kids grew older environmental factors started to have a greater influence.
I also learned how even though genetics account for 50% of human behavior, intentional activity (environmental factors) can help make changes in our behavior too. For example, in our first reading, we learned about Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health and Flourishing. I have never heard of this model until this class. Part of the study showed that people who did not have a mental illness and were languishing had higher percentages of mental disorders than people who were moderately mentally healthy and flourishing. In our first discussion, we talked about how genetic and environmental factors can relate to Keyes Model. Even though a person could be considered languishing doesn’t mean that they will forever stay in that category. Environmental factors could help them move into the flourishing category.
The genetic and environmental factors could also apply to the VIA Strength Surveys. In class when Dr. Walsh showed us her results after every year, some of her top five character strengths were consistent throughout the years but some new strengths also showed up every year and she talked about what how her environment possibly developed these new strengths. Even though I did not take strength surveys every year, I had taken one last semester. My top five this semester were gratitude, judgment, prudence, perspective, and love while last year was judgment, perspective, spirituality, prudence, and appreciation of beauty and excellence. By comparing the results, I would assume that judgment, perspective, and prudence were probably more genetic influences than environmental influences. This would make sense because I believe most of my family members carry these strengths as well. However, gratitude, love, and appreciation of beauty and excellence were ranked very differently since the last semester. Even though, I only took this twice, this makes me wonder if this was more of an environmental influence and if so, what changed in my environment to make this difference? In the previous semester, I didn’t feel like I had that type of connection with my friends or family. However, over the summer, I took an internship in another state. Even though I lived alone and didn’t know many people around the area, a lot of my friends and family came to visit me or check on me. This made me realize some of the connections I had with extended family members and friends that I didn’t realize last semester, which could be the reason why love became a top five this semester.