Monthly Article Archives: February 2000

Differences from Birth – Part IRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

As a clinical psychologist I have often been asked questions about the nature-nurture issue, that is, “Are our personalities determined primarily by inborn, biological factors or by environmental factors?” Most people now recognize that both biology and environment are very influential forces in shaping who we are, how we think, and how we behave. However, when we interact with others we sometimes are guided by assumptions that fail to consider how each of these forces has an impact. For example, I can think of many instances in which parents and teachers have said to me that they know children are different from each other at birth, but a few minutes after making this statement they noted, “I treat each of my children (or students) the same. That’s the fairest thing to do.” Yet, if children are different from infancy, then is it fair to have the same expectations for all of them? On the other side of the coin, at least one popular book in the past year has minimized the impact that parents have on their children’s development, placing the dominant influence first on innate factors and later on peers. One of the main questions I am asked pertaining

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