Personality Development Paper
Personality can be defined as the characteristic feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that contribute to a person’s individuality. Healthy personality development is dependent on certain traits reliant on gene environment interactions, cultural influences, temperament, cognitive, and emotional attributes. Psychological observations, such as twin studies aim to understand how these attributes impact development and the consistency of these characteristics. The theory that genetics play a role in personality development is a strong belief among theorists, therefore determining the importance of genetics is significant.
The biological model, trait theory, and temperament model have proven useful to theorists in the pursuit of personality development knowledge. Understanding how these theories, methods, and traits influence personality development improve treatment methods for those suffering from personality disorders. Gene Environment Interaction
Personality is influenced by both environment and genes; psychologists focus on what extent traits are inherited or learned. This debate has long been referred to as the nature nurture controversy. Theorist who believe psychological characteristics, mental abilities, behavioral tendencies, and personality attributes are present before birth lean more toward the nature or gene side of the controversy. As stated by (McLeod, 2007), “nativists also argue that maturation governs the emergence of attachment in infancy, language acquisition and even cognitive development as a whole.” On the other hand; theorist who lean toward the nurture or environmental influence believe personality traits, characteristics, behavior tendencies, abilities, and attributes are learned. Even if genetics do not directly influence personality, they do affect how people view themselves and are perceived by others thus is an important factor in personality development. Biological Model
The theory that suggests psychological issues derive from physical and chemical problems within the brain or central nervous system, attempts to explain how mental illnesses emerge and provide insight into potential treatments is explained by the biological model. As the nature nurture controversy inquires about what aspects of personality are formed from genetics the biological model can help explain what influence genetics play in this role. “Newspaper reports announce that scientists are on the verge of discovering (or have already discovered) the gene for criminality or for alcoholism, (McLeod, 2007, para. 14). Through biological models the possibility for finding cures for criminality tendencies and alcoholism are more likely. Cultural Factors
There are several perspectives to consider during the study of psychology such as the indigenous, cultural, and cross-cultural perspectives, (Triandis & Suh, 2007). Often personality test were developed in one culture and therefore usually insensitive to cultural differences. Therefore, a convergence of these three approaches was viewed as more valid and reliable. This helps fulfill the need for qualitative and quantitative research methods increasing the comparability across cultures while remaining sensitive. Five-factor Trait Theory
The five factor trait theory suggests that the domains of personality can be grouped into five categories; openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Triandis H. C. &. Suh E. M., (2002) describes, a case which parents from seven countries describe their children; and the Big Five Theory provided the most comprehensive and important categories for the classification of these descriptions. This shows the ability of the Big Five Theory to be reliable cross countries and relatable between cultures. However, many theorists argue the limit of five factors oversimplifies the traits across cultures therefore generalizations still require caution. Twin Studies
Determining the hereditability and environmental influence on personality has proven to be a difficult task for researchers. Although many personality factors may appear in several members of the family, one has to take into account that many families also share the same environment; therefore environment can be a larger factor than given credit for. Many theorist believe that, “psychological characteristics reflect the physical structures of brains and because genes contribute to those physical structures, there are unlikely to be any psychological characteristics that are completely unaffected by DNA,” (Kaufman, 2008, para. 2). An approach to forming genetic behavior relationships is twin studies that compare the degree of similarities between identical twins, fraternal twins, and non-twin siblings, (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).
These studies help explain which factors are influenced through environment by exploring the differences in identical twins personalities. If the siblings experience the same environment but differ genetically the differences are often assumed to be genetically influenced. The similarities between siblings without a complete gene match show environment is responsible for these traits. Researchers use these findings to help gauge how much genetics influence personality development. Determining correlations between twins raised together, twins raised apart, and adopted siblings, have found some fairly strong support that some of personality is inherited; such as intelligence, introversion-extroversion, and neuroticism, (AllPsych, 2011).
Characteristics of Temperament
The aspects of personality individuals are born with and endure throughout time, are referred to as temperament by psychologists. Three aspects of life that tend to remain stable throughout life are anxiety levels, eagerness, and friendliness. Whereas; feelings like self-esteem and morale tend to change through an individual’s lifespan with his or her environment. Although these temperaments are present at birth, environmental influences will strengthen or weaken the impact of these temperaments have on each individual. This allows individuals to vary in degrees of intensity at different periods in their lives.
A highly emotional child is likely to exhibit strong emotional responses during adulthood. Highly active children are more likely to be physically fit, choose more physical careers, and be highly social. Highly interactive adults in social settings usually were highly sociable as children as well. These temperament traits often have a large impact on people’s career choices, relationships, hobbies, and self-perceptions as adults, (AllPsych, 2011). Temperament Models
The three main aspects of temperament that remain relatively stable over time and contribute to adult personality are emotionality, activity, and sociability. Therefore; the Emotionality, Activity, and Sociability (EAS) temperament model was developed, (AllPsych, 2011). Another widely used temperament model is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Myers Briggs measures temperament across four domains; extroversion-introversion, senses-intuits, thinks-feels, and judges-perceives. Because these temperament qualities are believed to influence adjustments throughout life scoring extreme on either end of a temperament model would be cause for concern. These models have helped to explain how temperaments affect adulthood choices. Conclusion
As a theorist it cannot be ignored that genetics and environment play a role in personality development, the question is how much. Twin Studies have helped determine correlations between twins and other siblings, increasing the understanding of genetic and environmental influence. Discerning the genetic and environmental influence is made even more difficult when taking into account the differing cultures. Determining an absolute concerning the development of personality is unlikely, and impossible to eliminate partiality. One thing that is apparent is that a person’s childhood influences personality traits throughout life. However, some changes are certain to appear as environment influences each individual.
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