Nature vs. Nurture: It’s Half and Half

Sociologists, psychologists, and criminologists have long debated whether an individual’s personal traits and health concerns owe more to genetics (nature) or the environment (nurture). According to a new comprehensive study published in Nature Genetics, it turns out to be almost half and half.

After analyzing five decades of collected data involving over 14 million different pairs of twins, researchers have concluded that the health diseases and personal traits experienced by these individuals are 51 percent owing to their environment and 49 percent owing to their genetics. The researchers’ meta-analysis covered over 2,700 individual studies examining 17,804 distinct traits.

Some of the traits researchers investigated include alcoholism, depression, metabolism, immunological function, heart disease, mental and behavioral disorders, specific personality traits, drug addiction, and intelligence. Certain traits, particularly strong psychological ones such as bipolar disorder, owe more to genetics than to the environment as Stephen Murray CCMP Capital points out. In the case of bipolar disorder, genetics contribute 70 percent. The meta-analysis was authored by Tinca J.C. Polderman and Beben Benyamin under the supervision of Peter M. Visscher and Danielle Posthuma.

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