How does where you grow up impact who you become?

Dr. Dorsa Amir

We often hear about nature vs nurture, but did you know that science can pinpoint specific personality traits that can be traced to the environment we grew up in? How much of our adult personality has its roots in not who we were born, but where?

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What's your earliest childhood memory? For many of us the memories of our early life are a bit of a blur, but scientists are starting to prove that the environment we were in during that time has lasting effects on our personalities all the way into adulthood.

We often think about qualities like patience or risk-taking as a function of our nature: something innate about us that we're pre-disposed to before we're even born. But the work of Dr Dorsa Amir, an anthropologically-minded psychologist at UC Berkeley in the US, is suggesting something very different: that lots of the behaviours we think about as the essence of "us" are not down to who we are, but where we are.

Dorsa's research explores the impact of culture on the developing mind, and how children develop and behave across diverse societies. She's investigated these dynamics in both industrialised societies (like India, Argentina and the US) and forager societies, like the Shuar people in Amazonian Ecuador. She's joining us in The Garden to help us work out: how would we be different, if we'd grown up somewhere different?

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Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

Dr. Dorsa Amir

Dorsa is an anthropologically-minded psychologist, whose research explores the impact of culture on the developing mind. She's currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, in the US.

Thank you notes from Garden members

Growing Up & Growing Old Collection

"It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it," said Mark Twain. But do we, really? Our crack team of Garden Fellows are thinking differently about growing up and growing old, and they're here to help you do the same.