What are the four main factors that affect the development of personality?
How does isolation in childhood affect development?
To social scientists, personality is the sum total of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values that are characteristic of an individual.
Our personality traits determine how we adjust to our environment and how we react in specific situations.
No two individuals have the same personalities. Each individual has his or her own way of interacting with other people and with his or her social environment.
People’s personalities continue to develop throughout their lifetimes. Specific traits change at different rates and to different degrees.
Some personality traits seem to remain constant throughout a person’s life, while others undergo dramatic changes.
Personality development is more obvious during childhood, when people are experiencing rapid physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.
At adulthood, personality traits change at a slower rate. However personality development varies form individual to individual.
Nature vs. Nurture
Sociologists debate what determines personality and social behavior.
Some argue that it is heredity – the transmission of genetic characteristics from parents to children.
Others suggest that the social environment – contact with other people – determines personality.
This debate is usually referred to in terms of nature versus nurture, or inherited genes versus environment and social learning.
The Nature Viewpoint
Since the 1800s this viewpoint states that much of human behavior is instinctual in origin.
An instinct is an unchanging behavior pattern. Instinct is most often applied to animal behavior. (Ex. Birds building nests)
Supporters of this viewpoint claim biology as the basis for human behavior. They claim that instinctual drives are responsible for practically everything – laughing, motherhood, warfare, religion, even the creation of society.
The Nurture Viewpoint
From this viewpoint a person’s behavior and personality are the result of his or her social environment and learning.
The work of Ivan Pavlov helped this viewpoint gain acceptance. He found that supposedly instinctual behaviors could be taught. (Ex. Dog Experiment)
Sociologist John B. Watson suggested that what applied to dogs could apply to humans. He claimed that he could take a dozen healthy infants and train them to become anything he wanted – doctors, lawyers, artists, beggars, or thieves.
The emergence of sociobiology – the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior – emphasized the nature viewpoint.
Sociobiologists argue that such varied cultural characteristics and behavioral traits as religion, cooperation, competition, slavery, envy, etc. are rooted in the genetic make-up of humans.
In general sociobioligists argue that most of human social life is determined by biological factors.
Blending of factors…
Most social scientists assume that personality and social behavior result from a blending of heredity and social environmental influences.
They believe that environmental factors have the greatest influence.
Heredity, birth order, parents, and cultural environment are among the principal factors that social scientists see influencing personality and behavior.
Everyone has certain characteristics that are present at birth. (body build, hair type, eye color, and skin)
Heredity characteristics also include certain aptitudes. An aptitude is a capacity to learn a particular skill or acquire a particular body of knowledge.
Example: a natural talent for music and art would be considered an aptitude.
However, some aptitudes can be learned and developed because of environmental factors.
Example: Parents encouragement
Heredity provides you with certain biological needs, but culture determines how you meet those needs.
Our personalities are influenced by whether we have brothers, sisters, both, or neither.
Children with siblings have a different view of the world than do children who have siblings.
The order in which we are born into our families also influences our personalities.
People born first or last in a family have a different perspective than do people in the middle.
Example: first born are likely to be achievement oriented and responsible. Later born are more likely to be better in social relationships, affectionate, friendly, or rebels and risk-takers.
Parents influence their childrens’ personalities. The age of the parent can be a bearing on the children’s development. (EX. Younger vs. older)
Other parental characteristics like level of education, religious orientation, economic status, occupation, and cultural heritage can and often do influence a child’s personality and their social behavior.
Culture has a strong influence on personality development. The cultural environment determines the basic types of personalities that will be found in a society.
Each culture gives rise to a series of personality traits – model personalities – that are typical of members of that society.
EX. U.S. personalities are competitive, assertiveness and individualism.