The Nature vs Nurture debate is regarded as one of the most controversial topics in Psychology. For decades, Psychologist and everyday people alike tip towards one side of the scale. Do you believe a person’s traits, talents, and personality are determined by the world around them and their personal experience? Or do you believe everything is determined by your genes and family background? Nature vs Nurture is key when it comes to children: what is the role of Biology? Not just children, but hyperactive children, in particular.
Hyperactive children are kids who experience a lack of focus, trouble playing quietly, struggle in waiting their turn, and interrupting. In short, who is to blame for these symptoms? Could children behave this way due to their experiences and how they are raised, or is genetics with a background in hyperactivity simply just run in the family? With statistical evidence supporting both sides, one can assume it could be a little of both, that both who you are raised by and your experience coexist with genetics to contribute to hyperactivity in a child.
Causation of Hyperactivity: Nature and Nurture
In the article, “Biological and Rearing Mother Influences on Child ADHD Symptoms: Revisiting the Developmental Interface between Nature and Nurture” the piece claims there are studies that represent a correlation between negative parent-child relationship and symptoms of ADHD, writing, “Clinical and population studies, including longitudinal and treatment studies, have shown especially robust associations between negative parent–child relationships and child ADHD symptoms.” (Harold, Leve, Barrett, Elam, Neiderhiser, Natsuaki, Shaw, Reiss, Thapar 2013.) On the flip side, the article also notes, “genes may not only affect the specific index of psychopathology but may also affect the rearing environment that children experience.” Here lies the significance of both nurture—the relationship between the parent and the child possibly causing behavioral issues, and nature—the genes affecting the index of psychopathology as well as the environment the child lives in.
The Case for Nature
The role of Nature and Nurture in hyperactivity is a tough subject to follow in any case, with many arguments supporting each side. However, the best way to test the reason for hyperactive children are through studies of twins. With the absence of molecular genetic data, family studies cannot breakdown shared genetic from shared environmental factors. (Mueller, Tomblin 2014.) In “Diagnosis of ADHD and its Behavioral, Neurologic, and Genetic Roots” Kathryn Mueller and Bruce Tomblin break down the nature vs nurture debate. They write, “If genes contribute significantly to the risk for ADHD, the disorder should occur more frequently among the biological parents of children with ADHD than among adoptive parents.” According to their research, they note the difference between monozygotic twins—who share 100% of their genes, and dizygotic twins, who share roughly 50% of genes. In the study, the proportion of twins who are concordant for a disorder (such as ADHD) will be higher for monozygotic twins as opposed to dizygotic twins.
The Case for Nurture
In the Article titled “Nature vs Nurture in ADHD: The Conflict Continues” Douglas Cowan breaks down further studies that reflect both sides of the argument. During the research, he reached out to Child Psychologist Oliver James, a proponent that the causation of hyperactivity has to do with nurture. He claims the environment plays an important role when it comes to hyperactive symptoms in a child (Cowan 2015.) He believes that the primary cause of ADHD in children is “children being very stressed out” which results in high levels of cortisol being released into the bodies. He believes that parents can help their children to learn to deal with the stress and decrease the cortisol levels and therefore their ADHD symptoms. (Cowan 2015.)
Despite all the evidence supported, the debate still continues. It’s true hyperactive children need to be paid close attention to, especially for those who conduct research of behavioral studies in order to learn more about them. It’s clear the arguments that support each side is legitimate, with both the nature and nurture arguments ringing true in certain aspects of the study. It is safe to assume that the cause of ADHD might be both nature and nurture—both genetic and the environment you grow up in.
- Cowan, Douglas. (2015). “Nature vs nurture in ADHD: the conflict continues.” ADHD Information Library. http://www.citationmachine.net/items/confirm
- Harold, G. T., Leve, L. D., Barrett, D., Elam, K., Neiderhiser, J. M., Natsuaki, M. N., … Thapar, A. (2013). “Biological and rearing mother influences on child ADHD symptoms: revisiting the developmental interface between nature and nurture.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, And Allied Disciplines, 54(10), 1038–1046. https://doi-org.db02.linccweb.org/10.1111/jcpp.12100
- Mueller, K. L., & Tomblin, J. B. (2012). “Diagnosis of ADHD and its Behavioral, Neurologic and Genetic Roots.” Topics in Language Disorders, 32(3), 207-227. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264104/