Factors Determining the Personality

Is the personality predetermined at birth itself? Or is it the result of individual's interaction with one's environment? Strictly speaking, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Different thinkers of personality have listed different determinants of personality. For example, McClelland has categorized them into four fundamental theories (i) Traits, (ii) Scheme, (iii) Motives and (iv) Self scheme.

People are very complex. They have different abilities and interests. Most failures on job, however, are not attributable to a person’s amount of intelligence alone but also to certain personality characteristics. Personality is an important factor influencing an employee’s behavior. The determinants of personality have been categorized by different author in different ways. Scott and Mitchell have classified them into heredity, groups and cultural factors. However, a general description of these factors may run as follows:

Determinants of Personality

1. Biological Factors

The general biological characteristics of human beings influence the way in which human being trends to sense external event, (data), interpret and respond to them. The biological factors include the following three important factors.

i) Heredity
Certain physical characteristics one inherited from parents to children transmitted through genes in the chromosomes. The heredity plays an important role in one’s personality. The importance of heredity varies from one personality trait to another. For instance, heredity is generally more important in determining a person’s temperament than values and ideas.

ii) Brain
The second biological factor is brain which is supposed to play role in personality. The structure of brain determines personality, though no conclusive proof is available so far about the role of brain in personality formation. In other words, researches in this filed have given indication that better understanding of human personality and behavior might come from the study of the brain.

iii) Physical Features
Physical feature is the most important factor that contributes to personality. An individual’s external appearance is proved to have a tremendous effect on his personality. For instance, the fact that person is short or tall, fat or skinny, handsome or ugly and black or white will undoubtedly influence the person’s effect on others and in turn, will affect the self concept.

2. Situational Factors

Apart from the biological factors, situational factors also determine personality development. The S-O-B model of human behavior considers the situation under which the behavior is occurring. In other words, the effect of environment is quite strong. Knowledge, skill and language are acquired and represent important modifications of the behavior. Learned modifications in behavior are not passed on to the children they must be acquired by them through their own personal experience, through interaction with the environment. According to Milgram, situation exerts an important press on the individual. It exercises constraints and may provide push. In certain circumstances, it is not always the kind of situation in which he is placed, that determines his actions. He demonstrated that situation may potentially have a very big impact on the behavioral expression of personality.

3. Family and Social Factors

The development of the individual proceeds under the influence of many socializing forces and agencies based on nuclear family to more distant or global groupings. Family and social groups have most significant impact on personality development.

i) Home Environment
Total home environment is a critical factor in personality development. For example, children with marked institutional upbringing or children in a cold and un-stimulating home have a much greater potential to be emotionally maladjusted than children raised by parents in a warm, loving and stimulating environment.

ii) Family Members
Parents and other family members have strong influence on the personality development of children. Moreover, parents have more effect on the personality development as compared to other members of the family. The study by Newcomb showed the high correlation between attitudes of parents and children with a further consistency in patterns. The relationship between parents and children was higher than that between the children and their teachers besides parents, sibling (brothers and sisters) also contribute to personality.

iii) Social Groups
Besides a person’s home environment and family members, there are other influences arising from the social placement of the family as the person is exposed to agencies outside the home, particularly the school, friend circle and other work groups. Similarly, socio-economic factors also affect personality development.

4. Cultural Factors

Cultural factors are very important determinants of behavior of a person. Culture is the complex form of beliefs, values and techniques for dealing with the environment which are shared among contemporaries and transmitted from one generation to the next. Culture requires both conformity and acceptance from its member. In spite of the importance of the culture on personality, researchers are unable to establish linear relationship between these two concepts ‘Personality’ and ‘Culture’.

There are also some other factors for determining the personality of individual. Scott and Mitchell have classified personality determinants into heredity groups and cultural factors. The some other factors that determine the personality of an individual are as follows:
  1. Heredity factors: Personality is the aggregates form of traits, qualities and features of human beings. Individuals have unique genes and chromosomes. Most of the characteristics of our parents are transmitted to us through genes and chromosomes. Thus, heredity approach says that personality is the muscular structure of genes.
  2. Environment factors: Not only heredity influence personality. But all our personality is influenced by environmental factors also. As for example, if someone were grown in open society that people have not feeling of shyness in talking with anew unfamiliar people. The children in urban area do not feel any hesitation in talking, discussing with a new unfamiliar people. This is due to the environmental factor. The urban's children are brought up in free society that's why they did not feel hesitation in talking with any one, where as rural children feel hesitate as they are brought up in narrow society.
  3. Situational factor: Another third factor affecting the personality is situation. Situation affects on heredity and environment traits of people changes as per situation. The features of some people changes as per time and situations.
  4. Experience in life: Whether one trusts or mistrusts others, is miserly or generous, has high or low self esteem, and the like is at least partially related to the past experience the individual has had. Imagine if someone come to you to lend him Rs. 1000 which has promised to return in a week's time and you gave it to him even though it was the last note you had in your pocket to cover the expenses for the rest of month. Suppose that the individual never again showed his face to you and you have not been able to get hold of him for the past three months. Suppose also that three such incidents happened to you with three different individuals in the past few months. What is the probability that you would trust another person who comes and asks you for a loan tomorrow? Rather low, one would think. Thus, certain personality characteristics are moulded by frequently occurring positive or negative experience in life.

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