The nature versus nurture debate has lasted centuries due to the difficulty of separating genetic and environmental factors in humans. Studies on behavioral genetics measure similarity between subjects, but cannot locate its origin. For this, a control must be present, leading scientists to twin research. Identical twins have the exact same DNA, differing from fraternal twins with only 50% similarity, no greater than average siblings. Identical twins offer a natural experiment that allows researchers to separate the influence of genes from experience (Segal 87). A famous study conducted by the University of Minnesota reunited Jim Springer and Jim Lewis, identical twins separated from birth. Springer and Lewis were raised in entirely different household environments with no contact with each other. Both Jims had each been married twice, with first wives named Linda; their second, Betty. Their sons were named James Allan and James Alan. Each worked in law enforcement and had a dog named Toy. These striking similarities shocked the media, fascinating America with twin similarities (Segal 118). Further research at Minnesota compared twins reared apart to twins reared together, finding no significant differences in similarity. The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart now includes over 135 pairs of twins or triplets ranging in age of separation, adoptive family cultures, and years before reuniting. These factors seem to have little to no impact on behavioral similarities between the twins, leading some researchers to believe that genetics have a more powerful influence. (“Nature vs. Nurture - Twin Study Overview”)
A recent field of biology, called epigenetics, is rapidly transforming previous ideas on the impact of genes. The...
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Moore, David Scott. The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of Nature/nurture. New York: Times, 2002. Print.
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