GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Nature vs Nurture


Deciding whether or not to step into the character changing booth is another one of those questions that can peel back the layers of your attitudes, opinions and beliefs once you start to unpack it.

It infers, for example, that people CAN change their character if they just put their mind to it

Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People” has sold over 15 million copies since it was released in 1936. That’s a lot of people prepared to buy a book booth they can step into that will claims to magically transform the readers life by changing how they are perceived.

Or do you think that such self- help courses are waste of time and agree with Popeye when he says “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam” and there is nothing you can do about changing your character ?

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Me ?
I’m not in the Popeye camp.
While I think our personality ( if that’s what we take to mean by the word ” character”) is partially wired- in at birth, I do think that much of who we become is formed in the family booth and the school booth which is why it is so important for us to support these institutions.

While I know of many adults who have consciously turned their lives around I also know through my criminal investigation work that there are some individuals who are so incorrectly wired and dangerous that prison is the only solution we have for them.

But I suspect a very, very small percentage of prison inmates fall into that category. For the vast majority of inmates we have to do a lot more in supporting their transition back into society if we hope to reduce the recidivism rate over 50% (after 5 years)

While I think that who you are is largely up to you , it’s also up to all of us (the society booth) to help you become whatever you want to become.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Change, whether it be for personal satisfaction of want or for greater enjoyment of common good features largely in the motivation for looking at change.

    Those focused on self seldom seek greater common good.

    Hence we have a strengthening of inequity and poverty.

    What people proclaim publicly and what they do in fact is a guide to their worth to the community.

    Nurses do more for community than bankers yet remuneration does not credit that.

  2. The way we express ourselves, what Freud named the ego, is just what it is.
    Our inner beliefs, values and ultimate decisions (superego) is the real issue in question here. It’s logically possible that anyone’s belief system and ideological choices can be altered through experience and new information.
    Easier said than done for some no doubt, in cases where the notion of ‘backing down’ from one’s convictions is more abhorrent than any pledge to live one’s truth no matter what. Nevertheless, change can and sometimes even does occur.

    • Nik the makeup of each person is different to others but some basic patters can be observed.

      The beliefs and values held individually can be used to influence others and depending on what may be held in common and the authority position/s held, some adoption of new values or beliefs may occur.

  3. Marketing, family and peer pressure have a huge influence on how a person thinks, acts, believes.

    Not to mention government influence that when seen to be trustworthy can change a whole country’s thinking for the better.

    Shame that interests against that are so powerful and influential and market their backward, greedy and despotic message so well through channels like media and ‘wolves in sheepskin clothing’ think tanks, (NZ initiative/Bus roundtable and koch tentacles), the chance to bring advantages to all not just some is severely weakened.

    Like caged chickens, the real agenda is always hidden away.

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