Genetics and Heredity
There is evidence available regarding that a child is similar in behavior to his or her parents. There have been debates on aggressive parents having aggressive children and agreeable parents being primary caregivers of their agreeable children. Most of the children have been raised up by their biological parents, and each of the parents has contributed 23 genes which form the 46 genes in the child, half from one parent and another half from another parent. But here along with the genetic makeup, there is an influence of the environment in which the child grew up (Diamond, 2013).
To prove these evidence, there are special techniques which are necessary. We need to separate environment from heredity and control one component while studying the other one. And the conclusion from using all the techniques led to the foundation of a new aspect. This proposes that gene affect behavior and the impact of genes and the genetic makeup cannot be ignored in the development of a child (Brandt, 2009).
Although the question regarding the role of genes was very much clear, still there was confusion. When any abnormality was seen in a child, the dysfunctional behavior was more related to the environment provided by the parents, rather than the fact that parents contributed the building blocks of life, genes. It was still not very evident until the few decades of 20th century, that gene affects the behavior and these are not the only environment caused (Judith, 2001).
Normally, not all of the physical traits are transmitted from the parents to the child, but mental and behavioral traits are inherited. An example could be that, any trait is more determined by genetics under a certain population in the study and in some other environment, it is mostly influenced by the surroundings (Kimberly, 2005).
Temperament of Child
Different researchers and theories have been put forth on the temperament of a child. Temperament is stable, and it has individual differences in its appearance related to the behavioral aspects and impulses. Since birth, a child begins to behave in different ways and there are many variations among the children of even the same age. For example, some children just cry for some time when they need food, but other tend to show tantrums and cries for longer durations and often even they have had the food, they still are not satisfied. Children have differences in their activity as well. Some are very active and tend to take chances and go with the one who caresses them. Others do not feel comfortable and just rely on what they had before and are not active. These all differences are of great interest as there is evidence that such traits and characteristics are determined by the genes (Brandt, 2009).
Impact of Genes on Behavior
Human behavior genetics have used different approaches to studying the concept of nature and nurture. The influences of both on the behavior of individuals are also important (Judith, 2001).
Some of the researchers used the study of twins. In the case of the adoption of twins, the twins were either 50% or 100% related to their environments and surroundings along with the genetic characters. But in the extended twin studies of fraternal and identical twins, there were more family members as the parents were more interactive with the family and friends, this formed new genetic relations.
The twins are more close and identical to those who share the same biological background rather than those who are adopted and have no blood relations in close. There are many influences of genes on one’s behavior. Obesity, sexuality, drug or substance abuse, personality factors, cognitive disabilities, values, dental care and many other psychiatric disorders which affect the normal functioning and behavior of the child (Michael, 2014).
Abnormalities and Effect of Genes
- The behaviors which are affected due to mental abnormalities have a different reason for the genes. A single mental disorder is not only due to an abnormality in one gene, but there are different chromosomes which are affected depending on the population (Kimberly, 2005).
- The penetrance can be termed as the effect which a certain gene produces on the specific population. The degree of penetrance is not same for every population. For example, we consider that the gene for schizophrenia has a penetrance of 30%, this means that 30% of the members of the certain family are at a risk for developing schizophrenia (Michael, 2014).
- Genes also interact with the family. If a child has inherited a gene from his or her father, and there are chances of alcohol abuse, if the family and peer groups are supportive and teach the child to solve problems and avoid/ cope stress, then he may not develop the habit of drinking alcohol (Diamond, 2013).
This is linked to more than one genes in the genetic makeup. It is basically a progressive mental degradation and decline of the brain which occurs either in the middle age or the old age. It is a polygenic disease as it affects more than one genes of the individual (Judith, 2001).
The behavioral problems are listed.
- Physical and or verbal tantrums
- Yelling, shouting etc. (Rose, 2000).
Like Alzheimer’s disease, it is also a polygenic disease. According to researchers, if a closer bold related family member is diagnosed with Schizophrenia, others have a 10% chance, but in the case of a twin, the other one is at 50-60% risk and a chance for developing Schizophrenia at any stage of life (Brandt, 2009).
Following behavior problems can be or are seen in Schizophrenics.
- Lack of control
- Disorganized speech
- Disorganized behavior
- Chances of self-harm or suicide (Michael, 2014).
Mental and muscular decline occurs in Huntington’s disease. It is a monogenic disease as only one gene is affected (Peter, 2006).
The behavioral issues are or can be
- Depressed mood
- Sleep disturbances
- Problem in grasping
- Issues in chewing and swallowing
- Difficulty in speaking (Diamond, 2013).
It is a neurodevelopmental disorder. The intellectual and cognitive skill is affected and the IQ of such an individual I below 70. Such an issue is passed on from generations to generations at times (Rose, 2000).
The problems of behavior in MR patients are
- Difficulty memorizing and collecting information
- Delayed speech
- Inappropriate language development
- Self-care neglected
- No social bonding (Peter, 2006).
- Cannot solve problems
Autism is present from the early years and one is unable to form relationships and harmony. Language development and the formation of logical and abstract reasoning is absent (Diamond, 2013).
Following behaviors are displayed by an autistic child
- Issues in communicating with others
- No or very less social interaction
- Sameness of attitude
- Repetitive behaviors
- Self-harm (Kimberly, 2005).
Feeling anxious about even the small things is not a normal behavior. There are genetic as well as individual factors in the development of anxious behaviors (Judith, 2001).
Anxious people have following problems.
- Negative self-talk
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty maintaining postures
- Restlessness (Michael, 2014).
Having a low mood most of the time and not talking to anyone, with decreased interest in different activities are a few signs of depression. Normally genes play an important role as these are mostly characteristics of parents and eventually the children develop it as well.
Behavioral problems for depression are outnumbered, a few are
- Sleep disturbance
- Reckless problems
- Weight changes and appetite loss
- Difficulty concentrating (Peter, 2006).
Personality is the basic component of the individual. It determines the capacities, potentials, and skills possessed by individuals.
As personality being the basic unit, following are found in those diagnosed with personality disorders
- Reckless behavior
- Sleep disturbances
- Impulsive behaviors
- Avoiding people
- Lack of interest
- Eccentric behaviors (Kimberly, 2005).
Substance Abuse Disorders
At times, the individual learns to smoke from his or her either of the parents or in the group of friends. But individual factors also play a role as they make one vulnerable for the development of a certain behavior (Diamond, 2013).
Substance abusers have following behavior problems
- Family relations are not close
- Health concerns
- Shortage of attendance
- Suspicious behaviors
- Mood swings
- Lack of motivation (Judith, 2001).
Brandt, M. (2009). Genotype and psychopathologic symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease. London:
Judith, H. (2001). Do genes influence human behavior? Retrieved from
Kimberly, J. (2005). Behavioral genetics and child temperament. Retrieved from.
Michael, W. (2014). Genes affect our behavior, but so does the environment. Retrieved from
Peter, H. (2006). General ability and its heritability. London: Sage University.
Rose, S. (2000). Neurogenetic determinism and the new euphenics. New York: Harry
Feature Image Credits: Epilepsy u