Before Listening

Are we shaped by the environment we live in? Or are our personalities already determined by our genetic heritage?

This is often called the “nature vs. nurture” debate. Those who are in the nature “camp” assume that our DNA and our genes determine who we are. Others focus on “nurture” – the belief that we are influence more by our surroundings and our upbringing.

People who ask such questions about human nature have long been interested in twins. If identical twins were raised in different places, how similar would they be?

Most people in the US would agree that it would not be ethical to separate twins just to find answers to these questions. Yet not long ago, there was a series of such experiments. In this story you’ll hear about two young women – identical twins – who were separated at birth, and who did not discover they had a twin until they were adults.

Before listening, consider these questions:

  • Have you known a pair of twins? If so, in which ways were they alike? Were they different in any ways?
  • What side would you take in the “nature vs. nurture” debate?
  • What do you think it would be like to meet someone who looks exactly like you?