The 3 Differences Between Shared Environment And Non-shared Environment

Differences between shared environment and non-shared environment

Since it was founded, Psychology has been a science that has tried to explain human behavior.

Since its founding, Psychology has been the science that has tried to find explanations why people behave in such different ways.

After decades of research and heated discussions about whether genetics or environment are more influential in shaping a person’s personality and behaviorthe now more than famous ‘nature vs nurture’ debate has been overcome, giving both factors more or less the same prominence.

Some of the causes that make us look more like our parents than the neighbor are found in our genes, but, at the same time, the neighborhood in which we live or the region where we live also influence our behavior.

Once the debate was over, we tried to understand something that happens in all families. Although the brothers look quite similar, there is always something that differentiates them. Their genotype, although not exactly the same, cannot be. Nor should the environment be, because all family members receive the same influences from it, right?

In this article we are going to address an aspect that has often not been taken into account when it comes to understanding how the environment influences each of us with respect to our family members. Let’s see how the shared environment differs from the non-shared one..

Differences between shared environment and non-shared environment: a summary

Although tragic, the study of behavior, intelligence and personality in identical twins separated shortly after birth has been one of the most beneficial situations to understand to what extent certain phenotypic traits are heritable and which depend on the environment in which one is raised. The premise is that if two monozygotic twins, that is, two genetically speaking clones, live in different houses, those aspects they share will be due to their genetics, while those in which they differ will be due to the environment and/or their interaction with the genotype. of these people.

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Thomas Bouchard is an American psychologist and geneticist who has studied pairs of twins separated at birth.. In their project, the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart investigated how genetics and environment influence the personality of twins reared apart. In this type of studies, genetics is given a lot of importance, but it can be seen that the environment influences how people behave.

The environment is understood as the set of aspects external to the person that may or may not exert some type of influence on personality, cognitive ability and behavior of the individual. Bouchard-style studies assume that growing up in different homes implies different environments, while growing up in the same home tends to mean growing up in the same environment.

However, for some time now and even raised in Bouchard’s own study, the possibility has been raised that living in the same home and, therefore, growing up with the rest of the biological siblings, does not have to mean that the same environmental influences. The reason for this is the obvious fact that siblings are not equal in terms of behavior or abilities.

It is true that siblings from the same family have not inherited the same genes, each and every one of them, otherwise we would not be talking about siblings, but rather identical twin brothers. However, the genetic basis is there, and that should imply that there are very few differences between siblings, which is rarely the case.

Even between monozygotic twin brothers raised in the same home there are differences. The differences must necessarily be explained by the environment, but having grown up in the same home, how is it possible that behavioral differences also occur?

This is when we talk about the shared environment and the non-shared environment, two factors within the concept of environment or environmental influences that allow us to understand the differences and similarities of the members of the same family. Let’s address in more depth what these two concepts mean.

Shared environment

On many occasions, it has been assumed that living in the same family, home, or neighborhood implies receiving the same environmental influences.

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Actually, this definition corresponds to what is understood as a shared environment, also called family, that is, those aspects from the environment that are shown in the same way to all members of the same family and that, therefore, make them similar. more between them.

To understand it more clearly, An example of a shared environment would be the home in which the siblings live.. By living in the same house they all receive the same influence from it.

Another aspect that is considered a shared environment would be living in a bilingual region and, therefore, the brothers knew how to speak two languages ​​with the same fluency since the environment demands it. By mastering two languages, they would all have the same type of cognitive stimulation from the environment in which they have grown up.

As a third example, it would be the socioeconomic level of the family. If it is the case that you live in a wealthy family, none of the family members will suffer any type of situation in which there is some type of nutritional deprivation due to not being able to buy food.

Given that all family members remain in the same environment, which is why it is shared, it is not possible to explain with this type of environment why there are differences between siblings.

Non-shared environment

The non-shared environment, also called the individual environment, is understood more in terms of influences than the environment itself. It would be the set of factors external to the person that are interpreted in a different way depending on each member of the same family.

Returning to the case of monozygotic and, therefore, genetically identical twins, The non-shared environment would be one that would explain why two twins with these characteristics, raised in the same place, can behave differently..

There are several environmental aspects that can influence siblings in different ways. For example, a twin brother may have suffered more flu throughout his life, or may have been in a car accident.

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Also, as a non-shared environmental factor there is the different treatment by parents that can be given. It is not uncommon for pairs of twins in which one of the two calls themselves the older of the two and, due to that small detail, behaves more maturely or believes that they should have more rights over the other, and the family environment behaves promoting this.

Another very important aspect, always taking the case of monozygotic twins as an example, is education. Although at home they receive the same discipline, at school it is common for them not to go to the same class and, therefore, have different classmates and teachers.

Family events can be experienced differently between siblings. For example, the death of a family member, something that is sad in itself, can be experienced much more painfully by one of the siblings compared to the rest and affect more deeply.

Beyond biology and genes

Both shared and non-shared environments, in addition to genetics, are behind how people are. Although, it should be noted that the research indicates that The influence of the two types of environments is different depending on the evolutionary stage. During childhood, the shared or family environment takes on a fundamental role, being something that strongly shapes the person. With the passage of time, the influence of the family environment collapses, and the non-shared or individual environment becomes more important.

In fact, as an example of this, a very general view among adults when asked what they believe has the most influence on a person’s way of being is that Genetic inheritance, along with one’s own experiences (often leaving aside how one was raised) are factors that must be taken into account. that explain the behavior of each one.

Obviously, this does not mean that extremely harmful childhood situations, such as situations of abandonment and abuse, do not influence how a person may end up being as an adult. However, leaving aside extreme cases, greater importance is usually given to heritability along with the individual stimuli that have been received throughout life.

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