Western Governor’s University
Table of Contents
Case Study Comparison
The nature- nurture debate is a controversial topic. Studies are done to determine if genetics or environment affect an individual’s physical and behavioral traits. This paper discusses the basics of the nature-nurture controversy as well as the reasons the nature-nurture debate is so controversial. Two studies on this topic are compared and contrasted to determine if genes or personal experiences determine which influences a person’s personality traits and behaviors more.
Nature versus Nurture
Many studies have been completed on the controversial topic of nature and nurture. The nature-nurture debate stemmed over the question of what makes a person who they are. Theorists questioned if a person’s behaviors and personality traits come from influences of their surroundings or if the person is born that way. Nature is a person’s natural qualities, referring to biological factors, or the traits that an individual inherits in their genes. Nurture refers to childhood experiences or the way an individual is raised. Nurture is personal experiences involving social and environmental factors (Risch, 2002). The nature-nurture debate is controversial because some theorists believe that a person’s personality traits and behaviors come strictly from inherited genes, while other theorists believe personality traits come only from childhood experiences or environmental influences. Many other theorists believe that both biological and environmental factors play a role (Bouchard, Lykken, McGue, Segal & Tellegen, 1990).
Case Studies Two case studies on the topic of nature versus nurture were examined to find the similarities, differences and to determine the conclusions reached in each case. In the first study, twin boys named Bruce and Brian Reimer were studied. Shortly after birth, Bruce Reimer’s penis was destroyed during circumcision. A psychologist from Johns Hopkins University became involved in the case and suggested to the boy’s parents to raise their child as a girl instead of a boy. The parents agreed and Bruce Reimer was castrated at 21 months. The boy was renamed Brenda, raised as their daughter from that point on, and never told that he was born a boy. As Brenda aged, she rejected typical girl activities, toys and clothing. Brenda imitated her father much more often than her mother. Brenda expressed multiple times that she looked like a boy and acted like a boy. Brenda and her twin brother, Brian, showed very similar personality traits and behaviors despite being raised as members of the opposite sex. Brenda was teased in school and got into numerous fights. The psychologist encouraged Brenda’s parents to have gender reassignment surgery to construct a vagina from Brenda’s damaged genitals when she was nine. Brenda objected and threatened to kill herself. Brenda continued to be in conflict with her femininity, continuing her destructive behavior and attempting suicide several times. At the age of 14, Brenda’s parents were convinced by a different psychiatrist to reveal the truth about her birth. Brenda immediately began living as a male and named herself David. David had genital reconstruction and testosterone injections to restore masculine body features. David lived the rest of his life as a male. This study evidenced a strong case for the nature theory as this child always identified with being male even though he was raised as a female. The conclusions of this study are that nature is the strongest influence, as a male child was raised as a female, but retained a strong male identity, personality traits, and behaviors (Schillo, 2011). In the second case study examined, siblings were studied to determine whether environment or genetics have the biggest influence on intellectual development. The