Environmental Factors Of Personality

The term personality has been defined differently by different psychologists. According to Morton Prince. ‘Personality is the sum total of all the biological innate dispositions, impulses, tendencies, aptitudes and instincts of the individual and the acquired disposition and tendencies”.

Floyed Allport says ‘personality traits may be considered as so many important dimensions in which people may be found to differ.”

Watson opines that personality is everything that we do.

A ‘psychologist agrees on certain common basic characteristic. One of the quite common facts is that personality itself is unique. The second is that it is the product of its own functioning. It is an organized whole and not a mere loose and random combination of different traits. It is unity or a dynamic organization of all the various psychological and physical traits.

This means that both the mental as well as the bodily traits are combined dynamically in the formation of a personality, personality is not a something passive but a creative organisation playing an active role in making adjustments to the environment.

Thus, in brief, personality is a comprehensive concept that give importance on the growth and behaviour of the child as an organised whole. Factors Affecting Personality

As personality is developed within the social framework, as such, many factors contribute to its development. For an easy understanding, the factors that affect personality are classified into two groups:

  • Biological Factors
  • Environmental Factors Biological Factors

The biological factors are of biogenic by nature and include those of heredity, endocrine glands, physique and physical condition, nervous system, etc. A vivid description of these is given below:

1. Heredity:

Heredity is indeed, an important factor in personality development. Almost every form of personality has been attributed to heredity. Today it is believed that hereditary traits are transmitted through the genes. This can be clearly understood according to Mendel’s theory of dominant and recessive genes.

According to Mendel, genes are the carriers of hereditary traits in the sense that they maintain integrity, particular constitution and properties in unaltered form from one generation to the next.

The traits and skills acquired by the parent may not modify the genes but just pass on to the children just as they are whichever genes carrying hereditary trait is dominant, the trait will pass on to the children from their parents just as it is. For instance, the child inherits complexion, physique, intelligence, etc. from his parents.

2. Physique:

Physique refers to the relatively enduring, biological makeup and liabilities of an individual resulting from both genetic and environmental influences which determine his reactive potentialities.

Since ancient periods, it has been accepted that physique effects personality. Kreschmer and Sheldom are credited for their contribution in predicting general personality and behaviour patterns on the basis of mere physique.

3. Endocrine Glands:

The endocrine glands are characterized for interaction and interdependence. These glands secrete hormones. Any over-activity or under-activity of these glands can cause increase or decrease in harmones resulting in personality disorder as given below:

  • Thyroid:

Thyroid gland secretes thyroxin. Any excess of the hormone leads to tension and unstableness, whereas its deficiency takes one to imbecile level.

  • Parathyroid:

This gland is responsible for calcium equilibrium in the body. Over-activity of this gland causes irritation, emotional instability, etc.

  • This gland secretes sarnatotropin. It controls the other glands of the body. The excess of this hormone causes aeromegaly whereas its deficiency causes midget.
  • Adrenal:

This gland secretes cortin and adrenin. Cortin deficiency results in increased fatigability, anaemia, loss of appetite, etc. While adrenin is discharged in times of great emotional stress.

  • Gonads:

This gland secretes testosterone and andresterone that are responsible for growth of male sex organs and estrogens and progestins in females promote sexual maturity.

4. Nervous System:

Nervous system too influences personality development. Mental abilities, sensory-motor skill are also determined by the nervous system. The autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system are responsible for personality development.

5. Environment Factors:

The environment is everything that affects the individual except his genes. The environment of an individual consists of the sum total of the stimulation which he receives from his conception to birth. As a matter of fact the following environmental factors have to be taken into consideration.

  • Home:

The effect of home in personality has been accepted by everyone. Home has much bearing on the personality development of an individual. Parentsbehaviour and attitude, their expectations from the child, their education and attention to the child, influences the child’s personality.

Mischel found from his study that absence of father effects the socialization of the child. Hurlock pointed out from the basis of his study that “even though children from small and medium sized homes are often played with sibling rivalry and jealously, parental overprotection and suspicion of parental favouritism, they generally make better adjustments to life and are happier than children from large families.’ In the same way economic status of the family also influences child’s personality.

  • School:

After home school is the next socializing agent, by the fact that the child spends most of his time with his peers. Hellersberg found from his study that after parents the most influencing factor on a person’s personality is the school.

In school he comes in contact with his teachers whose personality influences and he adopts his teachers style of life, etc. He sees the teacher as his ideal. His personality is also to a great extent, influenced by peer interaction. His peers whom he like influence him and he tries to adopt whatever he likes in them.

The school atmosphere, discipline of the school, etc. also influence the student’s personality.

  • Maturation and Personality:

Personality is also influenced by maturation. Maturation improves the coordination of numerous relationships. Maturation provides raw material for learning and determines to a large extent the more general patterns and sequences of child’s behaviour.

  • Early Experience:

Personality is also influenced by one’s early experiences. If a person suffers bitter experiences, he is often is subjected to undue thwartings at the early stage of life, regress to interests from outer to inner spheres and become self-centred.

  • Success and Failures:

Success and failure also play a key role in the determination of personality. This influences one’s adjustment and self-concept Success motivates the individual for more attempts and success in future. It heightens one’s level of aspiration and makes the individual about his abilities whereas failure leads to the development of negative traits, i.e., inferiority feeling, low aspiration, escape and blame, etc.

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By Hassham

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