Friday, August 19, 2011

Nature vs nurture - Spin Cycle

I'm pretty convinced (from the value of my many years on this planet. Which is really a nice way of saying I'm freaking old) that the concept of nature verses nurture is not an either/or proposition. I'm more of a proponent of evolutionary anthropology & psychology. Put basically, as humans we do what we do  AND are what we are because over the evolution of time we've found that what we do and what we are works. 

From the Washington State University graduate program in Evolutionary Anthropology:
"Evolutionary anthropology may be defined as the comparative and historical study of the culture, genes, morphology, and behavior of humans and other primates conducted within an evolutionary framework. Evolutionary anthropologists use the conceptual and analytical tools of evolutionary biology to address questions such as:
  • Why do diurnal primates live in groups, and why has the size of human groups tended to expand through time?
  • How has climate change affected human biological and cultural evolution?
  • What impact has culture had on human biological evolution? In what ways does culture extend the properties of biology?
  • Why do male hunters share the meat they obtain; how do sharing arrangements for other goods and services evolve; and how are they maintained?
  • Why are some people able to drink milk while others get sick if they consume dairy products?
  • How can models of culture change be simulated? "
Adding my own questions:
  • What traits do women look for in a mate and why?
  • Where does altruism play in my life and why?
  • Why do children tend to look like their fathers at birth?
I have a several other questions that I'd wanted answered. Applying evolutionary anthropological theories has helped to solidify my thoughts on why we do what we do as humans. Then other times I throw my hands up in the air and declare; "They are effing crazy!" 
I never really gave this concept a lot of thought until I took a course in college titled Evolutionary Anthropology (it was part of my minor in anthro). 

There are some great books and articles written about this subject but my favorite is Human Evolutionary Psychology. So if you are at all interested pick it up. Don't be intimidated by the title or the fact that it is a textbook. It is written in a very down to earth way. 

Okay, class over. (can you tell that I'm getting into teacher mode? assigning textbooks and such?) Can you tell I hang out with historians and anthropologists for fun? Do you think I need a new set of friends?

Check out how others have address the topic of nature vs. nurture over at Sprite's Keeper



  1. Since I'm such a sociology/ psychology/ anthropology nut, I am totally gonna read that book!
    You're linked!
    (And for the record, Sprite looked nothing like John when she was born. I seriously thought she took after my side. Only when she started getting darker in skin tone, I thought, "Whoa, Cohen all the way.")

  2. Turbo looked like me from day one, but he had Nick's hands and fingers down to the nails.
    I believe the whole thing is like a scale. Heavily weighted by nature at first the slowly sifting to nurture as we grow.

  3. Why do certain people have dogs that look like them. It's almost a cliche that the owner of a pitbull will shuffle along with the same gait.

  4. I loved this post. And I am going to try and read that book.

  5. Then there are the dogs that look just like their owners....


  6. That made my head hurt just reading it. My kids both looked like PB and one still does.

    I did read an article the other day about how birth control pills mess up the way women would naturally select a mate, and that might be what is causing some of the rise in spectrum disorders. Food for thought.

  7. Vince & Linda, Dogs do not fall under the evolutionary psychology umbrella but it is rather strange that some dogs look like their owners.

    MB: That is food for thought. In the past women have chosen mates because they reprieve the men as having strong features, tall and brawny. All those attributes are associated with the ability to provide resources and a good gene pool (makes strong babies). Now, that function is not needed (birth control & womens ability to provide resources). It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  8. Actually this is kinda up my son's alley, so I'm gonna share this with him!

  9. I forgot what I was going to say cos i came here and saw Pseudo and Sprite and Blue....!! All my old bloggy buddies :)

  10. "They are effin' crazy!" 'splains it all! The remaing 300+ text book pages are just filler :-)