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To be genetically predisposed to anything can be scary, but are there other factors that make you more or less susceptible to the condition? Find out as we discuss biological and behavioral issues as they relate to nature and nurture.

Definition of Genetic Predisposition

To have a genetic predisposition to something means to be susceptible to it or more likely to encounter it due to inherited genes. People can be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses or behaviors. Genetic predispositions are passed down through family histories.

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For example, if Lisa’s mother and grandmother suffered from breast cancer, she is more likely, or genetically predisposed, to get it. Although she may never suffer from it, she is more susceptible than someone who has no family history of the disease.People whose family histories have a prevalence of bad teeth, baldness, or diabetes are more likely to develop the conditions themselves due to the genes that they inherit. These are biological conditions. Some believe that people can be genetically predisposed to behave a certain way. For example, drug or alcohol addictions or even personality types, might be genetic predispositions.

If Lisa’s mother had a bad temper, she is more likely to have a bad temper herself. Does this mean that any family history of biological or behavioral conditions means that we are going to suffer from the same issues that our ancestors had?

Nature vs. Nurture

Nature vs. nurture is a longstanding argument between the influence of biology and environment. There are people who believe that ‘nature’, or genetics, determine most of how we turn out.

They believe that no matter how much Lisa tries to be nice, the fact that her mother was poor-tempered will make Lisa snap. There are others who argue that ‘nurture,’ or the environment in which a person is raised, has a lot of influence on how a person will turn out. For example, they believe if Lisa grew up with others who were pleasant and kind, that she would turn out pleasant and kind as well, despite her mother’s personality.Let’s look at another example – if Don has a family history of diabetes, but eats well and exercises, he may or may not develop diabetes. If Lisa has no family history of diabetes but eats unhealthy items and lives a sedentary lifestyle, she may develop diabetes.

Both Don and Lisa had chances of being healthy or developing diabetes. Since Don is careful, he may not get diabetes even though he was genetically predisposed to it. Without modifying her behaviors of poor eating and no exercise, Lisa is more prone to diabetes, and other issues.There are issues that cannot be modified, though. If someone is born with a mental illness or sickle cell anemia because of their genes, their environment may not alleviate the issue completely.

If they are in supportive, loving environments, however, they are more likely to succeed. With advances in technology, this may change in the future.Both nature and nurture have influence on many issues.

A psychologist named Grainne Fleming wrote a psychology review on childhood obesity that discussed how the condition was attributed to both nature and nurture. While children that came from obese families were more likely to become obese due to genes, Fleming reviewed their habits, including the types of food they ate, how much they ate, and if they got exercise. If children are around families who eat large quantities of unhealthy food without exercise, they too, can develop these poor habits.

If they are taught to exercise and eat healthy, portioned meals, they will probably maintain a healthy weight – though they might have to be more attentive to these habits than those who are genetically predisposed to be extremely thin. This review indicated that both nature and nurture are at play when it comes to weight.

Lesson Summary

To have a genetic predisposition to something means to be susceptible to it or more likely to encounter it due to inherited genes. People can be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses or behaviors since these dispositions can be passed down through several generations. This has been shown to range from a disposition for certain kinds of diseases to even personality types, ie- biological and behavioral issues.

The idea of genetic predisposition has become central to nature vs. nurture debate, which is a long-standing argument between the influence of biology and environment. However, while there are those that might suggest that your genetic predisposition to obesity means you will become obese, research has shown that that is not really the case. It is that you are more susceptible to obesity, but not fated to it, since many types of environments and behaviors, nurture in this case, can account for things like obesity and diabetes.

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