Did You Know?

Among all the great apes, Orangutans are humans’ most distant cousins. The researchers found that the Human and Orangutan genomes are 97 percent identical. No wonder, we are always so jumpy, restless, playful, sometimes solitary, and attached to our young. Humans share at least 28 unique physical characteristics with orangutans but only 2 with chimps and 7 with gorillas. For instance, thickly enamelled molar teeth with flat surfaces, greater asymmetries between the left and right side of the brain, an increased cartilage-to-bone ratio in the forearm, and similarly shaped shoulder blades. So the next time, we see an orangutan, let’s be Respectful!

Well, last week, I initiated the Nature-Nurture angle to understanding who we are, shall we drill a little further to see where it leads us? John Watson, the founder of Behaviourism, said that if we gave him a dozen healthy babies, he could take any one of them at random and train him or her to become any type of person—that he could mould people’s interests, motivations, emotions, abilities, and traits into whatever he chose. The idea that people are born more or less as a blank slate, and gain their personalities through experience and learning, from the environment dominated the early studies, but fizzled out soon…Wondering why?

Let me put it this way. It’s like asking what factors are important in baking a cake—the ingredients, or how the ingredients are prepared (nature) and the process of baking (nurture). You can’t have a cake without both ingredients and a high temperature, and you can’t have a personality without both genetic factors and personal experiences that occur within certain environments. So what have we learned so 

far, more than 99% of every person’s genes are identical to those of every other person and us also share about 97% of our genes with Orangutans, but that 1% of our genes are the genes that make each of us look and act differently from other people. Those genes underlie differences in people’s personalities, our characteristics, our traits, our experiences, our practices and that is where the story of Character Development begins!