“Nature versus nurture” is a debate that refuses to die. This is perhaps due to the perceived political ramifications of the debate, but our understanding of the genetic basis of many behaviours has expanded markedly in the last 10 years, and there is now very good evidence that many seemingly complex behaviours can have relatively simple genetic underpinnings. We also know that behaviours, and other traits, are influenced not just by genes and the environment, but also by the statistical interaction between the two. This is the major contribution of quantitative genetics (the study of phenotypes with a polygenic basis) to evolutionary biology and explains why, even with genetic underpinnings, behaviours are not deterministic – a major fear of the anti-“genes determine behaviour” camp.
This book will weigh into this debate, provide an up-to-date synopsis of where we are, how far we’ve come and what’s next, with the aim of ending nature versus nurture by showing that behaviours are nature and nurture and the interaction between them, and by showing that single genes can explain some of the variation in behaviours even when they are seemingly complex.