Describe what is meant by genotype and phenotype. Discuss how nature and nurture act together to influence our behaviour. This essay will describe two scientific terms believed to influence how humans behave and then progress into discussion on how nature and nurture act together to influence human behaviour. The essay begins by giving a explanation of the biological structure and definition of a genotype, followed by a description of phenotype and explains their relationship. Next it will look at whether biology alone can explain how humans behave and progresses into a discussion on how nature and nurture interact to influence human behaviour. The essay will then explore how people’s inherited biological status, qualities and features produced by the environment, influence how they conduct themselves by offering examples of behaviours influenced by nature and nurture working together. In discussing these issues this essay endorses a view that it is not nature alone that influences human behaviour, but its relationship with nurture, although it does highlight the importance of inherited genetic traits as a set standard for behaviour to develop.
A genotype holds a full collection of hereditary information within its biological cells that are passed to individuasl from their parents. This unique information determines the range of potential for different traits, such as colour of hair, eyes and temperament, for example. Genotypes are established when chromosomes within gametes are paired. A gamete is the egg or sperm cell (Toates, 2007.) Once paired, the genotype holds all unique and inherited genetic information required in establishing the biological make up of individuals and their physical characteristics. Biological, physical and behavioural qualities of new individuals are passed on the parents’ own genotypes, although not all may manifest, but can do so in following generations. Furthermore, traits that are inherited through genotypes manifest themselves to the observer and are referred to as phenotypes. The term phenotype refers to the tangible features born of genotypes, for example, the hair colour or personality traits. Although phenotype results from the main information held within genotypes, they are also influenced by the environment of the individual and as a result of their experiences (Toates, 2007). For example, an individual may me predisposed towards obesity through their inherited genes. However, the predisposition for obesity may only be realised should the environment contain easily accessible high calorie foods. This is also illustrated in Gottlieb,s model, (Gottileb 1998, as cited in Toates, 2007) showing how events in the body are reliant on the availability of nutrients.
In psychology the terms nature and nurture refer to genotype and phenotype respectively. Nature relates to the predisposed genes an individual inherits within the genotype and the range of potential. Whereas nurture refers to how environmental input has influence over how potential range is reached, either positively or negatively. Some biologists argue that behaviour is due to biological predispositions alone, as was the belief of Francis Crick (Crick 1994, as cited in Toates, 2007). Crick (1994) believed that human behaviour could only stem from the physics and chemistry of the brain. In the absence of structure to study he was perhaps unable to recognise other influencing factors. It should however also be considered as to whether human behaviour is perhaps learned through observation of others and the influence of the environment rather than inherited biological traits alone.
There are, however, many examples to support that nature and nurture act together to create an individual’s characteristics. Psychologists’ research suggests that depression is not inevitable even though the genes are inherited, but is dependent on whether the individual has a positive environment which cushions