Personal Perspective on Theory of Personality
How much do you think of personality is biological?
Personality is commonly used to describe another individual's characteristics and how they describe us. A person who reads or studies a significant amount more than another may be described as studious. Another may always be the center of attention and have no trouble meeting new people and may be termed as being an extrovert. Personality is the consistent patterns of a person's behavior that originate from within their personality.
My view is that personality is mainly a biological aspect, but that it can be molded by your environment and expierences. Personality traits may be seen as young as infancy and provide a baseline of how our personality will develop over time. In fact, 40% of personality is biologically based. Even during pregnancy, a fetus can be more or less active than another. After the child is born they tend to exhibit the same behavior of being more or less active as infants. If the child is a very active child during pregnancy, the chances are high that the infant will be more active as well. The children within a family have a personality that is going to be similar to a parent, grandparent, or other relative.
Throughout childhood, personality will evolve and develop as the environment has an impact as well. Parent's attitudes and personalities can impact their child's similiar trait. I believe if a child exhibits the parents same trait they grow to be more self-confident and consistent in those specific behaviors. In a situation where the child and parent have opposite or conflicting personality traits this would not be the case. Often as parents we will not like or understand a behavior and we will try to change it. We may have negative feelings about that behavior or trait that rubs off onto the child. They will not be as confident in themselves in regards to the parts of their personality their parents aren't in approval of. This is expecially true if the parent punishs, yells, says deragatory things, or uses sarcasm.
My father isn't very outwardly emotional. He is very in control of his emotions and reactions, especially in front of another person. I was always told to be "in control" and he meant everything. I didn't understand how you could be "in control" completely when it came to how or what you felt. I was confused because emotions are not just feelings, you also have physiological responses to the emotion and that you can't control. So whenever I would cry, if I was hysterical, if I was too animated or excited etc. he would always address it, make negative comments, and sometimes yell at me. He still does this because he doesn't think that its normal, his normal his controlling every aspect. I grew up afraid to let others see my emotions, I let them build up and eventually I started having emotional blowups. I didn't feel confident in myself and I felt there was something wrong with me. I went so far as to seek help thinking I had a serious mental disorder and turns out I was fine. My mom was the opposite and she was the same way and around her I didn't feel any of those things. I felt normal, I felt validated, and I felt more confident in myself.
Lecture on Environment and Personality
Role of the Environment
The environment plays a significant role in the development of personality characteristics. However, this was challenged in my Theories of Personality and Therapy college class when my Professor cited evidence to the contrary. Apparently, through studies on this subject they found that no matter what you do in raising our children as a parent, you can't change their personality. That it is only significantly changed in matters of abuse or trauma. So, how comforting is that as a parent? Nothing I do will rid my child of less desirable personality characteristics. In fact, my professor also stated that their peers have more of an impact on that than we do as parents.
It is my own view that we can help shape the traits that the child already has. If an environment is more of an outgoing one, the individuals that are extroverted will have a comfortable, positive and more rewarding experience. They will have a more positive self-image if surrounded with people that are like they are. It helps establish positive attitudes and they will be more likely to naturally be outgoing and not try to suppress that trait and try to be more introverted.
If an introverted individual is in that same environment, they would have a possible negative experience. They may feel intimidated and become less likely to feel confident and not as secure. It has potential to impact them and pull them further into being timid or shy. That's not to say that it can't have the reverse affect.
Even when an introvert learns to feel comfortable in an outgoing environment and exerts themselves, it is still natural for them to be more shy and timid. It would be a positive experience where learned behavior was to be more outgoing when the situation called for it, but overall the instinct wouldn't be so. Their first instinct and behavior is to be an introvert.
People may be aware of prominent personality characteristics or obvious behaviors, though they will be unaware of many others. Unconscious reactive responses creating a behavior may not be what the individual is consciously aware of. Someone may be naturally a caring and passionate person and you only witness the abrasive and sarcastic side of his personality. External behavior may conflict with the internal feelings and further defining a different personality externally than is accurate.
This happened to me a lot growing up and apparently a lot in high school. One thing was even though I am very outgoing, when I am in a new environment I am really shy and I don't like to approach people. I smile normally all the time, I talk to anyone and everyone if its in the places that I feel are "my" places. I do this in my hometown grocery store, at my school, at the playgrounds. Put me in the city over in their grocery store and I don't. I am nervous and anxious in that situation. So much so, I won't ever stop and ask for directions if at all possible. One time I wouldn't even ask for a box of tampons at Walmart when I couldn't find them. So when I act at odds with my over exuberant personality and am quiet, reserved, and withdrawn people have called me a snob, stuck up, and other judgmental things. In high school, I had this misconception (thought I didn't know I did until the last year or two and Facebook has kindly connected me with the entire student body) that I was not someone that boys wanted or liked "that way." I didn't pick up on the boys cues that they were trying to "hit on me" or that they were serious when I did notice. I would think it was a joke. I didn't "give them the time of day." That is what dozens of them, now grown men and haven't seen in 15 years, say about me back then. One of them has turned into a really good friend and we talk almost daily and he is blown away at the difference in my personality. The only difference is I wasn't in a situation that I felt I could be myself and I took on other traits or showed the ones that weren't in alignment with my real personality.
Have you ever called someone a snob? I bet more often than not you misjudged their personality.
Freud's Theory of Personality: Socialization
Change and Personality
Is it possible to change what 40% of was predetermined by your genetic code? According to studies done on this, there is significant evidence to suggest that changing your personality is nearly impossible. Our consistent behaviors my not match our intentions. We can possibly change one behavior; in turn, changing another's perception of our personality. Instinctually and biologically we carry that same trait of our personality and become conscious that in certain situations we need to alter that behavior.
Changing that behavior does not change our motivation.
I had an experience that this happened to me. When I was in my early 20's I had been going back to college at a local community college in Central California. I had dropped out of the University, gotten married and had some kids and was finally able to go back to school. I was very interactive, outgoing, loved to debate, played devils advocate with even the instructors, and overall a very powerful energy to say the least. If someone said something I didn't agree with I challenged it. College was a place of learning anyway so isn't that what we are supposed to do? Ten years later I find myself at yet another college in hopes of finally getting my Bachelor's degree in Psychology and that first semester back I was timid, shy, and barely spoke if they spoke to me even.
Before I had started classes again my father was very clear that he didn't want me to embarrass him by the way I tend to discuss and debate things and he never approved of the way I was when it was over things that involved discussions and not agreeing with someone. He didn't see it as passionate he saw it as aggressive and combative. Since he knows everyone there I really didn't want to have him embarrassed that I was his daughter if anyone asked. I didn't even tell two of my professors until one was halfway through the term and the other I never did. My father saw him at a college event for the graduating seniors and he gave up the information. Even when I knew the answer in class or had some input I could contribute, I didn't raise my hand. If I was called upon I kept it as short as possible. I didn't even talk to any of my classmates.
Halfway through the second term I am back to being the me I was except I am still guarded at how and what I say. I remember when my professor in my Personality class had read one of my journal assignments and wrote back, "You were a high school competitive cheerleader? You don't seem like someone that did that at all, but it was 15 years ago I suppose." This term I had him again for Research Design and Statistics and I think he must have been pondering how I was actually the same person. My professor even formed a different view of my personality than was accurate.
The unconscious personality traits I would argue you can't change what you don't know is there.
Changing something about yourself, if at all is possible, has to be what that individual wants to achieve. It is like when someone tries to quit smoking. If they are doing it because their husband quit a year ago and is now complaining every time he kisses her but she secretly loves to smoke, the attempt might not be very successful. When someone wants to quit smoking and is determined to do so, they end up quitting for good and never relapsing.
I think if its possible to change, it may not be as big a change as was expected or hoped for because you can't change any more than 60% of your traits. To truly even change that much, its necessary to "look at yourself in the mirror" and be brutally honest with oneself and that is very hard for people to do. Truthfully, you can't change who you were born to be. Half of our genes virtually comes from our genetic code that is predetermined at conception. Change what you can, accept what you can't and be certain you know the difference.
© 2012 Abigayle Korinne