The two factors that influence our personality that are constantly disputed over in psychology are:
1). Genetic Influences (nature)
2). Environmental Influences (nurture)
In the early 1900s, leading psychologist Thorndike claimed that the main determining factory is heridty
In 1925 however, John B. Watson claimed
“ Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist merchant-chief and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors”
Almost all psychologists who study personality regard biology and environment as interacting influences that shape personality
Genes – the basic units of heredity, are made up of DNA
These elements form chemical codes for the synthesis of proteins, which keep us functioning
Genes can affect the behaviours we call “personality” through their effects on an infant’s developing brain and nervous system
Three methods of studying genetic influence
The three main way researchers measure genetic contributions is:
1). By studying personality traits in other species (ie. Monkeys)
2). By studying the temperaments of human infants and children
3). By doing heritability studies of twins and adopted individuals
Other species and personalities
When we think of an individual that has personality, we often think of human beings – but even bears, goats, cats and more have personality
Think about your own pets – you can often describe them too as being shy or hyperactive
Ex). Researchers dropped a crab into a tank of octopuses, some of them would aggressively grab that dinner whereas others seemed more passive and waited for the crab to swim near them, some attacked the crab only when they weren’t being watched
Even the most recent of studies reveals that most of the big five traits (a test measuring personality traits that is used to wholly summarize the personality) can be found in 64 different species!
Factoring in heritability
Scientists have no way of estimating heritability of a trait or behaviour directly so they have to study this on two individuals that are genetically similar
That means twin studies!
Identical twins – develop when a fertilized egg divides into two parts that then become separate embryos
Because the twins come from the same egg, they share all the same genes
Fraternal twins – develop in the ovaries by releasing two eggs instead of one
Fraternal twins are just as similar as two other siblings, so half their siblings genes but not like identical twins that share full
So is nature more powerful or nurture?!
Findings from adoption and twin studies have shown that there IS genetic contribution to personality
Identical twins raised in separate places with different parents still have very strong similarities in gestures, mannerisms and moods
So, their personality is as similar often as how they look
Heritability is about 50% of a persons personality – this is true for many countries and cultures
Genetics are still not everything
A genetic predisposition does not mean you will necessarily inherit the trait
A person may be predisposed to depression, but without certain environmental stresses or situations, he/she still may never become depressed
Simplifying depression or shyness as just a genetic contribution is a problem because we would see the only solution to this to be medication
Social Cognitive Learning Theory
This theory represents that personality traits come partly from your learning history and partly from your resulting expectations and beliefs
Child that studies hard and gets good grades, attention from teachers, admiration from friends and praise from parents through learning expects hard work always pays off.
So, the child will become in terms of these traits, “ambitious” and “hardworking”
Social Cognitive Learning Theory continued…
The continual interaction between your qualities and the situation you are in is what this theory focuses on
The situation influences your behavior and beliefs, rewarding some behavior while getting rid of others reciprocal (mutual) determinism
You are in Ms. Seemi’s INCREDIBLE psychology class. This may inspire you to become a psychologist because you love the class SO much. Or this may also make you psychoanalyze yourself so much that you feel like you are going crazy, making you hate the class. All of these experiences work with your own interpretation, temperament and perceptions. So you will probably form an opinion about psychology as a result of how you feel about this class, your wonderfully patient psychology teacher and this school.
Parents and Friends
2 most powerful environmental influences in peoples lives
April 1999 – columbine shooting Dylan and Harris were 2 teenagers furious over the popularity of the school athletes and resentful about their inadequacies. They walked in one morning, killed 12 classmates and a teacher at the high school. They also took their own lives shortly after.
Parent’s fault for not raising them better? Should the parents have known?
Parental Influence continued
The belief that personality is mainly determined by how parents treat their children was quickly changed after the following:
1). The shared environment of the home has little if any influence on personality
2). Few parents have a single child-rearing style that is consistent over time and that they use with all their children
3). Even when parents try to be consistent in the way they treat their children, there may be little relation between what they do and how they turn out
1). Shared environment in home
Shared environment – family you grew up with and background/experiences you shared with your siblings
Nonshared environment – all things outside of your home on your own, such as being in my class right now
So in summary, this point is talking about how the family you’re raised in isn’t always the main thing, it actually has little to do with it, it has more to do with your experiences outside of the home and away from your family that shape you such as being in school and hanging out with your friends
2). Parents rarely have one way or raising their children
The way a parent is with their child depends on many factors such as their mood at the time, their stresses and problems, whether they are married or separated and also how happy they are with their partner if they are married.
3). Even if consistent, there is little relation between parenting and how children turn out
Abused children sometimes do not continue the cycle of violence and don’t let the abuse do them emotional damage
Some of the kindest and most nurturing parents are children of drug addicts and gang members.
Of course your parents do influence you in things such as religion, your ideas of masculinity and femininity, skills and values
Above all, parents affect the quality of their relationship with their children – whether their children feel loved, secure and valued or humiliated, frightened and worthless
Study on effects of parenting
Study done on children age 3-21
Impulsive, uncontrollable and aggressive at age 3 often become impulsive, unreliable and antisocial and more likely to commit crimes
What protected some children from being at risk was having parents who made sure they stayed in school, were supervised and received discipline
Influence of Nonshared environment
Once child starts preschool, parental influence on children's behavior outside of the home decreases
Nonshared environment or classmates, teachers, friends, events and situations take over