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Nature or Nurture???

Photo Credit - Creative Commons: Freeborn

Psychologists bicker back-and-forth whether  humans are born innately innocent with a clean slate, if we’re selfish by nature or if it’s some kind of combination of both.

The discussion focuses around the core question if it’s our biology or our environment that plays a stronger role shaping our behavior.

It’s the classic discussion of “nature” versus “nurture.”

As a parent (and former child myself) I tend to believe that we don’t have to train our kids to be selfish – they manage to figure that out on their own.

Here’s a very brief and funny video, which persuasively suggests that nature plays a bigger role than some may think.

I had four siblings growing up and witnessed this type of thing all the time – demonstrated by me as well as my brother and sisters. Thankfully, my parents helped curb that  selfish cycle.

A cycle that my wife and I must be vigilante against in our own children.

Question: What do you think – are kids born selfish or do they learn it?

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  1. That’s NOT selfishness.
    It’s the desire to get the same reward for the same action. It’s why employees are ticked off at employers- when their work is not rewarded fairly; when a new employee is hired at a higher rate of pay than they are currently earning; when a teacher grades unfairly; when Mitt Romney says he made no earned income at all, since $ 350 K is “nothing” in his mind, and wants those making less than he to pay more taxes.
    Selfish would be having a bowl of grapes and your neighbor has none- and refuse to share with them.

  2. I think people are probably born to be selfish because it can aid in survival. HOWEVER, I believe (and there is obviously evidence for this) that it can be brought out in certain children and others may learn not to based on their punishments and other experiences.

  3. Carolina HeartStrings says:

    Haha. How does the cucumber monkey know that a grape is sweeter? Or is it just envious of the other monkey getting something diff? Very funny. Personally, I think we are born with our personality traits. Parenting can intensify or rectify. Just my thoughts.

  4. That is hilarious!
    I think Alicia said it best.
    Dr. Ackerman, perhaps the monkey didn’t exhibit selfishness, but envy? Nobody taught him that a grape was better than a cucumber.

  5. I never knew there were people filming me or I would have acted a little better. Where can I get a job handing over the same rock repeatedly for food? haha

  6. Donovan says:

    Quick reply to the comments below: the monkey did know that the grapes were sweeter because he had them before and they were his preference. You can watch the scientist explain the experiment here: http://www.wimp.com/moralbehavior/

  7. Definitely born selfish, sinful little critters. Having raised four and, like you said, having been one myself I have not doubt. Besides, the Bible does back that up.

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