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How DNA Tests Have Fueled the Nature vs Nurture Debate


Since Charles Darwin first expounded his theories on evolution, the nature versus nurture debate has been hotly raging amongst scientists, psychologists and sociologists. But can DNA testing change our understanding completely? Can the latest tests and science’s investigation into genetics, send us into a new chapter on the nature versus nurture debate?

DNA Testing

Tens of millions of dollars have been poured into testing, searching for behaviour genes to no avail. It’s true that we are not born to be alcoholics, violent offenders or manic depressives, but one team of psychologists in New Zealand discovered that we do have behavioural genes that can be triggered by the environment. DNA testing shows there are genes that can make us pre-disposed or vulnerable to certain behaviours with the right environmental triggers.


DNA tests can reveal if you have the gene that makes you susceptible to depression, although this is not the kind of test that is widely available to the public – yet. It reveals if you are prone to severe depression during difficult times in life.

Genes and Behaviour

The idea that DNA tests can reveal a link between genes and behaviour is changing the nature v. nurture debate. Through advanced DNA analysis, scientists have discovered a gene for violence that combined with a stressful childhood can result in jail for violent crime. The new thinking is that if DNA analysis discovers you have the gene and you are in a particularly difficult environment such as an abusive childhood, the two things combined will seal your fate. If a test reveals you have the genes that make you susceptible to violence say, or depression, this can be a powerful predictor of human behaviour. This could have massive implications on the legal system, on healthcare and insurance. What is to stop potential employers and insurance companies discriminating against people with the ‘wrong’ genes? As yet there is no specific legislation drafted to prevent discrimination based on DNA and genetic information.

DNA Testing In The Future

The implications that DNA testing will in the future reveal your genetic destiny are huge. Things that were once in the realm of science fiction could become real, ethical issues for society. In the 1997 movie,Gattaca, genetic engineering is used to ensure that all humanity is ‘perfect’. In the movie, the character Vincent is the product of natural reproduction and through this type of test he is genetically predicted to die aged 30. He is born into a society that discriminates against the genetically inferior through regular DNA testing to ensure everyone is in their ‘right’ place.
Vincent steals the genetic identity of a paralyzed athlete in order to break the status quo and discrimination and pursue his ambition to be an astronaut. The film challenges the morality of creating genetically engineered humans and the ability to overcome our biological predispositions. The movie tagline is: “There’s no gene for the human spirit.”

We may not become a discriminatory society based on genetics as in the movie Gattaca, but who knows what ethical and moral factors will come up for future generations.

Speak To International Bioscience 

International Biosciences offer a broad range of relationship and paternity testing services designed to provide indisputable answers to emotional questions. Whether you seek to establish paternity, prove siblingship or research genealogy, for legal definition or peace of mind, we are able to provide the appropriate DNA testing at competitive rates, professionally and confidentially. Using state of the art technology we are able to provide conclusive evidence on time, every time. Contact International Biosciences or click here to email us.

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