Why are we so different? What makes us so?
It’s not just the way we look and our physical characteristics but also the way we are, our personality and character that differentiates us. Because we are not just what we appear to be, we are more than that. The determinants of personality shape us.
Before we discuss the determinants of personality, let’s think of human emotions, feelings, thoughts, and imagination, there’s a huge universe in human nature. Don’t you see a difference in personality between two people with two different types of eyes? different types of voice or different types of hair?
Think of how amazing and how interesting you are, how distinct, how unique are you, wonder what makes you like that? What are the factors that influence the personality of an individual? What are the determinants of personality?
We all are born an individual and as we grow we develop into a personality. We are designed and crafted to be one unique personality. Right from our genes to everything we come across has a role to play. We all have a story, a story that makes us what we are. Let’s see the factors that determine our personality.
Does the environment affect personality?
You must’ve heard about the nature vs nurture debate, for which one is the determinant of personality. But the abundant facts from both sides turned out to be inconsistent with the “all or nothing” view.
Can you look at the child and say what career will suit him best? Or can you take random 10 children not of your choice and train all of them for a particular profession? Would you expect them all to do almost equally good, or say fit in the role? Let me ask you this, are managers born or made? Your answer may not be what everyone agrees with as I said.
We believe and see that experience teaches us a lot. Difficulties and challenges make us tougher and comforts and liberties make us soft. We also cannot deny that some kids are born tough and some are born soft.
This difference in human behavior and human nature appears to be vivid even before the child starts to speak. Parents are generally very picky about the school, neighborhood and friends as these all leave a lasting impact on the child’s personality. Why? Because the environment is one of the determinants of personality.
Can you merely look at a child and say that he will be a very good doctor if he happens to be one?
Or can you produce a team of doctors if I give you 10 random infants? Can they all be equally good doctors? I leave the decision on to you, the conclusion may vary and everything you or I say might be debatable. As to which is more effective, nature or nurture.
“a person’s pattern of habits, attitudes, and traits which determine his adjustment to his environment.”
G. W. Allport
Experience as a determinant of personality:
Remember when someone said that experience is the best teacher? I don’t know about being the best but it certainly is a teacher. And if not best then certainly a good one. The only condition which I think is that the learner shall have a zeal to learn. It’s how you maintain your mental state during the situation that teaches you the lesson.
Don’t the teachers in a classroom keep asking for attention and concentration? If you don’t concentrate on a real-life situation, the only lesson experiences will teach you is to not do it again.
And those indulged in self-pity and overthinking the situation get so over occupied that they never see what the situation taught them. These are the last benchers in the classroom of life. You know why experience counts so much.
Well, it also remains a fact that life comes up with special plans for some of us. And some such comes in disguise of unpleasant experiences.
And despite that, we don’t want ourselves in that situation or we are reluctant to experience that. We never have a choice. Such events leave a huge impact on the future from there on, some leave invaluable lessons, some leave not heal-able scars.
Some shocks are hard to recover from, and some make you stronger than you ever were. That’s life, full of surprises. We never know what lies ahead, but we plan, and that’s how you learn to deal with it.
One’s personality can be understood from the people they mingle with.
No matter if you are a visual learner which 65% of the population is, or auditory learner, you learn from society. Everyone and everything that goes around us, what we see, hear and feel around us acts as a determinant of personality we are turning into. And then the impression we create based on our previous knowledge or perception we conclude.
It’s also the culture factor, we all belong to a culture and the world is a place of a hugely diverse set of cultures. If you grew up to be in a particular culture that consolidates in you or you get yourself blend in that, then you happen to shift to another part of the world in some stage of your life then imagine the situation. It isn’t just about the language that differs which too must affect the human personality as I believe, but it’s more than that, isn’t it?
It’s everything that changes in a culture, you feel it when you are surrounded by a new culture, a strange one for you, where you feel like an alien. Why would you feel that way? Because of the huge difference, you observe between yourself and everyone else around, despite the similarity we have in our physical characteristics.
Otherwise even the physical characteristics differ. Asians, Africans, Caucasians, and Middle easterners think of the possibilities when these people interchange their places. We see it now more that it even happened before.
Family as a factor:
A child’s social environment also acts as a determinant of personality. The first thing that impacts his personality and personality development is within his house, family and family friends. A child’s first teacher is the mother, she initiates the teaching process for a child knowingly or unknowingly, she does it.
Then as the child grows everyone around the child is showing him what to do and how to do it. Especially parents and siblings as they are his world at that moment. He sets an ideal whom he mimics for everything and admires and wants to be like, a father or mother whoever influences more.
It’s also the affection towards these family members that drives the child to be like them. Generally, at this age, we teach the child how to respond to situations, aggressiveness or sympathy. The child learns from how grownups respond.
But the moment a child enters the school or steps out of home, he is exposed to a new world. The new people he sees around and starts to realize what he missed being at home. The world wasn’t that small after-all, wait till the child goes out.
He finds friends, new adults around with different natures and behavior than his parents and the new environment. And from there on he starts learning new things, which sometimes the other members learn from him too.
Elders anyhow bring the culture foreign to their home already, or even the new family members or friends do it. Hence it’s directly or indirectly, we can’t escape what society has to offer for our development as an individual.
“There is nothing more attractive than a great positive personality. Its beauty never fades away with time.”
The influencers in our life as determinants of personality
Remember your first ever role model? Human beings are very good followers, but we need an example. An example always makes things simpler for us, in every aspect, it helps us understand and set goals particularly. Parents are the first ones generally as they’re the only ones around in the initial stages of life when the character is shaped.
This also in that sense is a family determinant of personality though. But since sometimes it may not be restricted, I felt the need to isolate it.
Then you have siblings and other family members as you go on. Not to forget the friends, acquaintances and even those whom you never met but might have seen, heard or read about.
A question in every head.
The First Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? I bet no one would have asked you this question while you were just a kid, but you had it in your brain already. And you subliminally kept asking yourself, as to how do you want your personality to be?
You might or might not remember but you might have seen answers in people around you. That person normally and for the obvious reason is a father or a mother. An aunt or an uncle maybe or an elder brother or sister, someone whom you saw regularly, closely and admired. Know why children imitate their parents? This sometimes goes wrong too which you might have seen yourself in certain unfortunate cases.
The hereditary factor:
Do you trust your instinct when you see someone and feel skeptical or suspicious for a not very obvious reason? What do you think made you take that decision or build that opinion regarding someone you never saw before or even spoke with? Sixth sense huh? Gut feeling? Alright, even if it’s that, what helps your sixth sense and gut feeling create that impression?
There has to be something with the physical features, don’t you think so? Can you define this determinant? And then if it’s the case there should be more hereditary aspects of consideration which would impact our personality.
Of the factors that influence personality, this is the one you are born with. Like the biological determinants of personality, it’s the one you get even before early childhood, in the prenatal period. Too early aye? Try to guess a type of personality or traits of personality by looking at the face of a newborn, can you? Maybe you could if you work on it.
Does your physical appearance affect your personality?
People have done numerous research on physiognomy. Physiognomy is a meticulous observation and study of the physical traits of an individual. Each physical characteristic determines a personality trait of that individual.
Don’t you look at a personal and get an impression about the nature of the person, which often turns out to be right. You sometimes decide to approach a person or not based on his or her physical appearance, don’t you? We can distinguish the soft people from not so soft ones by looking at them. Your facial features determine your personality too.
Culture and personality
Some consider culture and personality so closely related that they consider them two sides of a coin, claiming personality as an outcome of the culture.
The influence culture has on a personality is undeniable and strong. And this makes it a strong determinant of personality.
Culture as a whole in itself has traits, every culture in this respect is distinct. And every individual living in that culture, especially if he or she grows up in it then they acquire a lot of traits from it. You might be able to identify the cultural background of a person after meeting.
Personality is a patterned body of habits, traits, attitudes and ideas of an individual, as these are organised externally into roles and statuses, and as they relate internally to motivation, goals, and various aspects of selfhood.
Theories of personality
Numerous researches have carried out trying to find and explain what a personality is and how is it shaped and formed. These are the four personality theories:
Put forth by Sigmund Freud which focuses on the formulation of characteristics of an individual by some unseen forces namely id, superEgo and Ego.
These according to Freud are components of the mind that make an individual based on his rational and conscious thoughts. The Id is the part that seeks and demands immediate gratification of needs, especially the biological ones. Super Ego is like the part which learns the social norms and morals and gives it the priority, often going against Id. And the Ego is more like a rational conscious part which is to balance between Id and SuperEgo.
This theory highlights the human interaction with society. How society shapes the individual both being interlinked. How everything in a society like family, religion and wealth determines a person’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
This theory focuses on the intensity of an individual’s traits as to which dominates and which does not. The habitual patterns of human behavior which comprises emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
According to psychologist Carl Rogers, the self-theory is composed of several perceptions of “I” or “me” and the perception of relationships between “I” and “me” to others. Hence it’s about what an individual perceives himself or herself as a personality in both his view and in other’s view.
The good news though is that if you understand the determinants of personality then you can select your determinant of personality and tweak it. This will eventually help you with your personality development.
Related: 10 Personality Development Tips