The factors and influences that shape our values and beliefs are primarily based in two areas. These are the environment that surrounds us and our internal wiring and thought process, nature vs. nurture. This debate has been going on since the beginning of the study of the mind and people are taking a stance on which one has a larger impact on the way we think, feel, and act. Let’s talk.
In my opinion from the early stages in your life the split is almost identical. I think that your environment and your genetics play an equal part in shaping your values and your tendencies. I think the shift begins as you get older and you’re more likely to be influenced by your surroundings. One case study I want to look at is about the Reiner twins.
Bruce Reiner was born along with his twin brother in January of 1965. They were both healthy young babies until one day they started to have some medical complications. The doctors advised that a simple circumcision would help alleviate some of these problems. The doctors had decided to utilize a different method to the surgery and ended up having a botched result. The boy was scarred for life. Due to this disfigurement it left the family in confusion as how to move forward with their son. The doctor, without any scientific backing, claimed that nature was the significant factor in determining gender. He proposed they raise Bruce as a girl.
There were a few key elements in making this experiment a success. First they must not ever tell Bruce that he was born a boy. They also had to allow the boy to take estrogen and other medications to help the transformation begin. During the early stages of his life he had taken on some tendencies of normal young women, playing with dolls as well as being more neat and clean in his daily life. Yet, while showing these traits he still had a lot of “tomboy” tendencies. By the age of nine Bruce had become very unstable. His masculinity side began to show more and more and he became very rebellious. He could not make friends with people at school and even began contemplating suicide. A few months later the parents had decided to cave in and they told Bruce that he was born a boy.
He eventually took on the persona of David. He later got married and took on three stepchildren and began a family. The story does not end there. David later finds out that his upbringing was a part of medical research and had been deemed the roadmap for young boys who had similar situations. This led him down the road of depression and eventually suicide at the age of 38. So what does this mean and what implication does this have?
As stated before I think that nature and nurture play an equal role in your early childhood years. I believe this was shown in the case of the Reiner family. Although they were attempting to shape his environment to the results they wanted, his natural instincts took over. It is hard to impact the mind at such a young age with environment. We have instinctual tendencies as youth that rely more on nature than nurture. The shift happens towards the end of high school and into college. I believe that your environment becomes a more important role as your parents step out of the picture. You have your initial value sets and beliefs instilled in you early on as well as your genetic disposition on decision making and predispositions. It is in those early adulthood years though where your friends begin to challenge those initial values and beliefs. I also think this is why you see so many people delaying college or delaying a full time job to “find” themselves. They go out and test their beliefs and challenge themselves to see what is truly important to them and see what they can learn from other cultures and environments.
Life is never set in stone. Just because I believe this doesn’t make it true. There are people all over the world that have different opinions and theories on this topic. I challenge you do some deeper diving yourself to find out what you believe. It is a topic that is extremely important as a leader in all of your respective companies. Control the things you can control. As a leader you need to know that environment shapes behavior. Get the environment right to receive the results you desire.