Is it Nature or Nurture?

It’s probably both. Human biology is incredibly fascinating: sociobiology is the study of social mechanisms influenced by biological drives. Our minds are as complex as our bodies, and the study of psychology reveals many answers, and then many more questions after that.

There are things that we know on the surface: I am hungry. I need sleep. I want friends and a mate.

And there are things we don’t know, but which influence our behaviour in many ways. Gary Paul Nabhan describes, in his book Some Like It Hot, why and how certain ethnic groups prefer hot foods, and how others are biologically unable to process alcohol or milk products.

Experiments on domesticated foxes and rats have proved that there are genes that control sociability and hostility; the domestication genes are also linked to distinctive physical traits, such as spots, floppy ears, larger eyes and curly tails. Basically, if you breed silver foxes for one trait only–fondness for humans–you end up with foxes that look like border collies and act like house pets after several dozen generations.

Gender is hardwired from birth. The expression of gender is affected by culture, but the orientation of a person’s gender is fixed, as is sexual orientation.

Depression is also partially hereditary. It can be altered by drugs to fix the chemicals absorbed in the brain–if you have the money and realize that it’s a chemical process; depressives often go untreated because they assume that their depressed state is normal.

This doesn’t mean that people are determined solely by their genes and biochemistry. But it is a huge factor in why people make choices, and which choices they consider.


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