Social Question

Pandora's avatar

Can behavior be inherited?

Asked by Pandora (27816points) March 31st, 2010

When my son was 3 months to 9 months his father was deployed and yet there were expressions and reactions that were extremely similar to his dad. He was only with his dad for the first 3 months.

Over the years he has taken on other similarities but I figure those are from nurture. But in his early months his hand gestures and facial expressions where spot on to his fathers. Now he has changed and is a mix of several people in behavior and expression. One being my brother. There are things that remind me so much of my brother and the way he views the world. So much so that for many years I would say my brothers name when calling my son and vise versa. Just so you know. My brother only lived with us for a short while for a total of 10 months on and off when my son was young, and when he didn’t live with us he lived states away.

Can an infant of 3 months or less pick up these gestures from watching or is it genetic and one of natures ways to get father and son to bond?

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23 Answers

Mikelbf2000's avatar

No, Behavior is learned.

Pandora's avatar

@Mikelbf2000 So you think that my son was able to understand behavior, habits or physical responses that his dad made by the age of 3 months?

Mikelbf2000's avatar

not at 3 months but he will absorb what he sees.

The_Idler's avatar

Behavioural tendencies are genetic.
These can and will be overridden, to some degree or another, by learned behaviour.

For example, a baby will not crawl over a glass floor, because it looks like a precipice, and such behaviour would be genetically disadvantageous (organisms, whose young do walk off cliffs tend not to survive so well).
But it can and will eventually learn that the glass can support it.

JeffVader's avatar

Well, the current psychological theories suggest that genetics can contribute to predispositions for things, but that behaviour is learnt. Altho at 3mths a child’s visual abilities are so limited that the chances of him accurately mimicking his dads gestures are pretty tiny. Chances are you were kinda seeing what you wanted to see because it’s rather cute. Like when people say, “oh, he’s got his mothers nose”, or whatever.

Pandora's avatar

@The_Idler So do you think the 10 months he was with my brother he was drawn to my bothers behavior and adopted it. As an adult he is probably 30 percent my husband, 40 percent my brother and the remaining 30 is his unique qualities.

Pandora's avatar

@JeffVader At the time I thought that possible but everyone who knew my husband and myself always said he looked just like me but his behavior was exactly like his dad.

JeffVader's avatar

@Pandora Hehehe, yeh, people always say stuff like that….. even me :)

The_Idler's avatar

oh yeah, what you’re talking about is probably just subconsciously attributed to him by yourself.

But what I said, WRT main question, is true.

Pandora's avatar

@JeffVader, If people have a tendency to see similar behavior in children to their parents wouldn’t it mean its possible that its actually true and not always what people simply want to see? No one ever accused my daughter as behaving like myself or my husband. At least not till she was a teen. By then it was probably nurture. I saw a little of my sister in her when she was little but those who did not know my sister thought my daughter her own uniques self. Nothing like her dad or myself. Not in looks or behavior.

JeffVader's avatar

@Pandora Certainly could be…. I’m only aware of the research second-hand via the psychologist next door, & it’s only a theory after-all. I only throw this in to play devils advocate, but I suspect people say it more because they know it’ll make the parents happy, rather than because they are actually seeing something. I’ve certainly told people the child looks like them when in all honesty, I couldn’t see any resemblance. Kinda like when a lady asks a man how she looks & he say ‘great’ without ever looking up from the TV.

Pandora's avatar

@JeffVader LOL, Yeah, I know people who say that. Like some people would say my son looked like his dad. He looks nothing like my husband. However when I would walk into a school many teachers would stop me to ask me if I was so and so (don’t want to use my sons name) mom and he would not be with me at the time. They would say our similar looks was uncanny.
I would never agree about a kid looking like their parents unless they actually did. I think it comes from meeting a guy who thought my sister and I were twins. I couldn’t help but think him an idiot for thinking we would buy that. My sister is fair skin with redish brown hair and light brown eyes. I’m olive complexion with black hair and dark brown eyes. Her nose is straight and mine is rounder, well you get the idea. The only thing we have in common is our height an we are both females. She looks like my moms side of the family and I look like my dads.

slick44's avatar

@Mikelbf2000 .. you are right, monkey see, monkey do!

DarkScribe's avatar

There have been numerous account of twins separated at birth who are found – once reunited – to have had identical mannerisms and expressions. No one can quite explain why – but it is a matter of record. A Psychologist called Peter Myer wrote a couple of books on the phenomenon back in the late seventies. He interviewed several dozen separated twins and their families,

JeffVader's avatar

@Pandora Hahahahaha…... what a chump, but an important lesson for all us stupid men :)

Cruiser's avatar

At birth the first thing a baby sees are the facial features of it’s parents and those images are forever etched in that babies mind. So your boy for 90 days got to see these expressions of his father. Look and study anything for 90 days straight and I expect you will remember and incorporate much of that into your life.

xRIPxTHEREVx's avatar

I have no idea but I strongly believe that behavior can be inherited.

wilma's avatar

I think it’s a combination of both inheritance and nurture.

nikipedia's avatar

Yes. There’s an entire field of research called behavioral genetics.

Dog's avatar

My oldest daughter exhibits many of the personality traits of my first husband. It is eerie to see because she has no real memories of her father because he was killed when she was tiny.

Sometimes she will say or do something and I will stop in my tracks. She even exhibits the same nervous habits. She speaks and reasons in a way unique to her father and nothing like anyone else she was ever exposed to.

I think genetics most certainly play a role.

Pandora's avatar

@DarkScribe, I totally forgot about the twin study. Good Point.
@nikipedia Thanks for the proper name and link. ( I went to several sites and found that its still pretty much a mystery because they can find exactly which genes carry what traits for behavior. If I understood most of most of it, it seems heredity, evolution and nature all seem to play a part only they don’t know by how much.)

thriftymaid's avatar

According to twin studies, yes.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes and no. There are examples for both.

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