Tuesday, January 03, 2006

How We Become What We Are - Questia Online Library

How We Become What We Are - Questia Online Library: "Many aspects of our personalities, it now seems clear, are inborn and resistant to change--a fact, ironically, that makes the role of environment in our lives all the more important
An offspring of Cry Havoc and One Tough Cookie, Slick Willy is the second bull terrier fortunate enough to belong to David Lykken, a psychologist interested in temperament. Temperament, which is reflected in a creature's manner of behavior, is personality's biological, enduring, and heritable aspect. It greatly contributes to but does not entirely explain personality, much as innate intelligence contributes to but cannot entirely explain ability. Willy's temperament originated when the English bulldog wa s deliberately crossed with the white English terrier, almost 200 years ago. The nature of the resulting fearless, tenacious fighting machine requires a different sort of nurture than that of dogs bred for complaisance. When Willy can't resist chomping through a plastic jug with his powerful jaws or taking a few extra laps before responding to a summons, Lykken mostly just grumbles, reserving sterner measures for more serious infractions. Harsh treatment would render the feisty animal vicious; permissiveness or neglect would produce an uncontrollable bully. Willy's good behavior depends on an appreciation of his innate disposition and a judicious balance of carrot and stick. "

--the nature v. nurture debate


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