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Genetic and Environmental Influences and Its Impact on Personality and Behavior Development

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 2785 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Genetic and Environmental Influences and Its Impact on Personality and Behavior Development 

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Methodology

3. Results

4. Analysis and Discussion

Nature versus Nurture Debate

What extent does personality and “personality traits” are products of genetics vs environment?

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Substance Abuse




This research paper will seek to investigate how “genetics and environmental influences” has an impact on “personality and behavior” development. The role of “genetics” is argued to have an impact on “personality traits” and behavior development. The “environment” can significantly influence personality and “personality development”. On the other hand, “genetics” can also impact “personality traits” which can also cause mental health issues such as temperament, alcoholic abuse and abnormal behavior. The paper will debate the nature versus nurture controversy based on “genetics and environmental” impact on behavior and “personality development” in adolescence and children. The paper will give more insight on the personality traits of twins grown together and twins grown separate and apart as well as how the environment may influence individual’s personality and behavior development.

Keywords: substance, abuse, personality, behavior, genetics, environment, nature- nurture

1.    Introduction

The goal of this research paper is to debate the nature versus nurture controversy based on “genetics and environmental influences” on behavior and “personality development” in children and adolescence. The paper will argue the age-old debate based on the perspectives of personality theorists and their view on the issue in relation to associated mental health concerns such as depression alcohol abuse and anxiety.

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According to Schultz and Schultz, based on the nature–nurture controversial topic, Rogers place major significance on the impact the “environment” has on “personality traits”. Despite the fact that the actualization tends to be inborn, the emerging process is impacted more by social compared to biological forces. Research has shown that experiences from childhood have some influence on “personality traits”, however, experiences later on in life have a greater influence. (Schultz and Schultz, 2016)

The “environment” can influence our behavior and our “personality traits” and there is increasing evidence that “genetics” is also associated with behavior and “personality development”. According to Kandler, “personality development” and “personality traits” are commonly defined as broad, comparative and dispositional features of psychological characteristics. (Kandler, 2012)

Attachment theory stresses the influence of parental attachment and the role the “shared environment” plays in shaping behavior. A Behavioral Genetic Study gives a general understanding of personality and personality theory based on the impact of “environmental factors and “genetics”. This issue deserved great attention because it goes to the core of what personality theory is all about and how the “environment” can play a key role in shaping personality. The article places emphasis on parental sensitivity and attachment security. Attempts to close the gap have been made by assessing attachment security and parental sensitivity during observational sessions in a natural setting. However, Parental behavior tends to stimulate similar developmental patterns across genetical linked siblings of shared “environment” seemed to be quite difficult to find.

Research on twins provide a more in depth and direct way of studying the effects of heredity on personality and behavior. It gave me a better understanding on the (dis)similarity of siblings’ attachment relationships relate to behavior.

Based on research we can safely say that intelligence and behavior are affected genetically, and an individual is able to maintain their mind’s ability solely through what they are born with. I believe that “genes” are vital to the influence of “personality and behavior”, however, I believe that the “environment” can play a more significant function in shaping behavior. According to Sarason and Sarason, as in the case of triplets as well as the family “environment”, affects children in the family differently. Children growing up in the same household do not all have the same experiences. (Sarason and Sarason, 2005)

2. Methodology

The research will seek to provide a brief description of the age-old debate on nature versus nurture issue and its relationship with behavior and “personality development”. The research will highlight the role “genetics and environment” plays on behavior and “personality development” in children and adolescence will then move forward to address piracy and how it affects innovation in various sectors of the industries mentioned.

  • Data analysis will be based off academic journals.
  • Assessment of “Genetics and Environmental Influences” will be evaluated to determine the impact it may have on Behavior and “personality development”.

This study uses qualitative analysis from various sources and publications. Data for this paper which was collected by using knowledge of existing topics to select relevant material from various academic e-journals and books. On-line search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo were searched by using keywords pertaining to the subject matter.

3.    Results

According to Dick and Meyers, states that “twin” studies showed that the heritability of addictive substances ranges from 40% to 60%. Heritability was in the range of 30% to 60%. (Dick and Meyers, 2010)

Figure 1. shows frequency of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis use by years. (Source: Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott, 2008)

According to Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott, the participants in the study (Fig. 1) shows the proportion of clients that reported use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis the age range nine to forty years. Caffeine use began first and was consumed by more than ninety percent of clients. Nicotine use followed and reached a maximum consumption of forty-five percent. Alcoholic use began a bit later than nicotine but rapidly overtook it, achieving maximal use by more than eighty percent of clients. Cannabis use was the latest and is the most infrequent, never being used by more than twenty seven percent of the subjects in that particular year. (Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott, 2008)

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According to Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott examined the observed changes in the significance of “genes” and it influence on the “environment” as it relates to substance usage from the onset of early adolescence to the middle of adulthood. The research lends support for a model for the cause of alcohol and substance abuse as it relates to “genetics” in which early patterns and initiation of use are more strongly influenced by family and social “environmental influences”, while the later levels of use are mainly influenced by genetical factors. The “environment” plays an important role and researchers have theorized to reflect the important influence of family and social structure that characterizes developmental issues during adulthood. (Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott, 2008)

(Source: Ducci, Goldman and Oroszi, 2008)

According to Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott in a Virginia “twin” cohort, accounted for seventy one percent of the genetical liability to alcohol abuse and sixty seven percent of the inheritance of vulnerability to dependence on illicit and dangerous drug abuse. Data relating to other “twin” studies, including a large population sample and a small population sample of “twin” that were grown separate and apart, also showed the connection between anti-social personal disorder alcohol abuse. Research from another study outlined alcohol abuse and antisocial personality disorder were observed to be genetically linked. (Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott, 2008)

According to Ducci, Goldman and Oroszi, as shown in table 1, addictions are said to be one of the most genealogically linked symptoms of psychiatric disorders, based on larger studies conducted, has rigorously characterized “twin” cohorts. It is important to note that genealogical studies are basically carried out within populations and cohorts that share a similar likelihood of exposure.  (Ducci, Goldman and Oroszi, 2008)

4.    Analysis and Discussion

Nature versus Nurture Debate

The nature versus nurture is an age-old debate concerning how the “environment” can influence our “personality traits”. Personality theorists have not come to a consensus on what is personality because of so many different and varying views as it relates to personality. The debate on “genetics” and the influence of the “environment” on “personality traits” centers around the contributions of genealogical inheritance and the impact of environmental factors on human behavior and “personality traits”. According to Feist and Feist Personality, in short, is basically encapsulated by both nature and nurture. (Feist and Feist, 2008)

According to Cherry, Nature has to deal with all of the “genes” and ancestral factors that impact us as individuals as a person from our physical attributes to our individual personalities. Chery went on further to define nurture as everything that has to deal with environmental factors that influence us as individuals, including experiences from early stages of development and how we are grown, our social relationships as well as our culture. (Cherry, 2018)

What extent does personality and “personality traits” are products of “genetics vs environment”?

A Behavioral Genetic Study gives a general understanding of personality and personality theory which was based on the impact of environmental influences and “genetics”. These two factors play an important role in the development of behaviors, “personality traits” and attitudes. The experiment conducted is relevant for the understanding of personality. According to Feist and Feist, the how and when of personality behavior “personality traits” are influenced by our cultural and social circumstances. (Feist and Feist, 2008) The “Five-Factor Theory” otherwise called the “Big Five” has been used as a tool to conduct assessment of personality and “personality traits” in different cultures across the world.

According to Schultz and Schultz, outlines that data shows increasing evidence that many “personality traits” are inherited.

There is increasing evidence that learning is associated with significant role in influencing and virtually impacting every aspect of our behavior, not just personality and “personality traits” but our important life goals as well. Most, if not all of the social and environmental influences that shape personality does so by the techniques and strategies of learning. (Schultz and Schultz, 2016)

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Substance Abuse

According to Dick and Meyers, substance use is another area in which dramatic changes in the relative importance of genetic and environmental effects across development are apparent. This finding has been documented in data from our longitudinal Finnish “twin” Studies, in which the authors have found that the importance of genetic effects on drinking patterns increases dramatically from adolescence to young adulthood.

Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott posit that adolescence to early adulthood, the importance of genetic factors in the etiology of Psychoactive Substance Use (PSU) typically increases; during the same period, shared environmental factors (which reflect family, peer, and community influences)

decrease in importance. (Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott, 2008)

Cocaine and opiates, are among the most addictive of substances and are among the most likely to be hereditary. However, hallucinogens are among the least addictive, and are also the least heritable. Major advances in research associated with neurobiology of addiction have led to the identification of some underlying “genes” and have allowed the actions of certain risk loci to be further understood. Genetic loci that have defined its importance in addictions include substance-specific “genes”, such as the alcohol metabolic “genes”, and loci, such as the serotonin transporter that alter liability to different addictions and other psychiatric illnesses. (Ducci, Goldman and Oroszi, 2008)

5 Conclusion

This research has added to my understanding of personality theory because it has given me a better understanding of how “genes” and the environment can affect behavior. It helped me to understand that the environment can play a significant role in the shaping of one’s personality. Either nature determined a certain behavior or nurture did.

Based on the investigation on this topic some researchers hold a more strident viewpoint, arguing that “twin”, whether reared together or grown separate and apart, will be alike in all facets of their “personality” regardless of family situation, suggesting that the “genetic effect” far outweighs the “environmental effect”. (Feist and Feist, 2008)


  • Aggen, Kendler, Schmitt and Prescott. (2008). Genetic and Environmental Influences on Alcohol, Caffeine, Cannabis, and Nicotine Use From Early Adolescence to Middle Adulthood 
  • Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Bokhorst, C. L., Fonagy, P., IJzendoorn, M., H., Pasco Fearon, R. M., Peter and Schuengel, C. (2003). The Importance of Shared Environment in Mother–Infant Attachment Security: A Behavioral Genetic Study. Child Development Volume 74, Number 6, Pages 1769 – 1782
  • Cherry, K. (2018). The Age-Old Debate of Nature vs. Nurture. Retrieved on December 8, 2018 from: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-nature-versus-nurture-2795392
  • Dick, D. and Meyers, J. (2010). Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors for Adolescent-Onset Substance Use Disorders. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am.; 19(3): pp. 465–477.
  • Ducci, F., Goldman, D. and Oroszi, G. (2008). The Genetics of Addictions: Uncovering the Genes. Nature Review Genetics vol. 6
  • Feist, G. and Feist, J. (2008). Theories of Personality. 7th Edition McGraw-Hill
  • Kandler, C. (2012). Nature and Nurture in Personality Development: The Case of Neuroticism and Extraversion. Association for Psychological Science
  • Sarason, B. and Sarason I. (2005). Abnormal Psychology. The Problem of Maladaptive Behavior. Pearson Prentice Hall
  • Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2016). Theories of personality (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


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