Determinants of Personality

Determinants of Personality


There are various determinants of personality and these have been categorized in different ways. McClelland has categorized these factors into four fundamental theories—traits (acquired propensity to respond), scheme (beliefs, frame of reference, major orientations, ideas, and values), motives (inner drives), and self-schema (observation of one’s own behaviour). Similarly, Scott and Mitchell have classified various determinants into heredity, groups, and cultural factors, both physiological and psychological which play important role in human personality. These factors are interrelated and interdependent. However, for the purpose of analysis, these can be classified into four broad categories:
1. Biological Factors
2. Family and Social Factors
3. Cultural Factors
4. Situational Factors.

1. Biological factors

It includes the following:
i. Heredity
Heredity refers to those factors that were determined at conception. Physical appearance, temperament, energy level and biological rhythms are the characteristics which are generally influenced by one’s Parents’ i.e., One’s Biological, Physiological and Inherent Psychological Make up. The Heredity approach feels that personality of an individual is the Molecular Structure of the genes, located in the chromosomes.
ii. Brain
Another biological factor that influence personality is the role of brain of an individual. Though some promising inroads are made by researchers, the psychologists are unable to prove empirically the contribution of human brain in influencing personality. Preliminary results from the electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) research gives indication that better understanding of human personality and behaviour might come from the study of the brain.
iii. Physical Features
An individual’s external appearance is proved to be having a tremendous effect on his personality. According to Paul H. Mussen “a child’s physical characteristics may be related to his approach to the social environment, to the expectancies of others, and to their reactions to him. These in turn may have impacts on personality development.” Similarly, a rapidly maturing girl or boy will be exposed to different physical and social situations and activities than will a slowly maturing boy or girl. Psychologists contended that the different rates of maturation will also influence the individual’s personality.

2. Family and Social Factors

The family probably has the most significant impact on early personality development .a substantial amount of empirical evidence indicates that the overall home environment created by the parents, in addition to their direct influence, is critical to personality development. For example, children reared in a cold, unstimulating home are much more likely to be socially and emotionally maladjusted than children raised by parents in a warm, loving and stimulating environment.
Parents play an important role in the self-identification process; which is important to the persons early development. During childhood, the parents or the neighbour’s behaviour is copied by a child. It is the family’s responsibility, therefore, to display an ideal behaviour on the part of all adults who come in direct contact with the child. The family molds the character of child through role models, reinforcements, rewards and punishment. The nature of the family’s influence depends upon the following factors also:
a) Socio-economic status of the family
b) Family size
c) Birth order and siblings
d) Race
e) Religion
f) Parents educational level
g) Geographic location

Social influences relate to a person’s interaction with other people throughout his life, starting with playmates during childhood. While the interaction with environment in the earlier years has a more lasting influence on patterns of behaviour and personality, the social contacts and group belonging in later years continues to have cocnsiderable impact on the person’s life. As it is said correctly, “A man is known by the company he keeps.”

Socialization is a process by which an individual infant acquires, from the enormously wide range of behavioural potentialities that are open to him at birth, those behaviour patterns that are customary and acceptable according to the standards of his family and social groups. Socialization process starts with initial contact between mother and her new infant. Later on, other members of the family and social groups influence the socialization process.
In addition to family members, such factors as friends, peers at work, associated, groups to which an individual belongs, all influence a person’s behaviour. A person’s personality is reflected by such behaviours, and social influences, both within the work environment as well as outside, continue to influence people’s personalities and behaviours throughout their lives.

3. Cultural Factors

According to Hoebel culture is the “sum total of learned behaviour traits which are manifested and shared by the members of the society.”it is a unique system of perceptions, beliefs,values, norms, patterns of behaviour and a code of conduct that influences the behaviour of individuals in a given society. The personality of an individual to a marked extend determined by the culture in which he is brought up. According to Mussen “each culture expects, and trains, its members to behave in the ways that are acceptable to the group.” In spite of the importance of the culture on personality, researchers were unable to establish linear relationship between these two concepts ‘personality’ and ‘culture’.
Individuals born into a particular culture are exposed to existing values, beliefs, and norms of that culture concerning an acceptable form of behaviour. Such cultures would also define the processes by which these behaviours are reinforced for example, a spirit of independence, aggressiveness and competition is rewarded by American cultural environment, while Japanese culture reinforces attitudes of cooperation and team spirit. Similarly, in America, the authority in organization is more impersonal and functional that is the result of cultural influences, while in Japanese culture, managers take active interest in personal lives of their workers.

4. Situational Factors

Everyday an individual has to interact with a number of situations, which do not remain constant. An individual’s personality, although generally stable and consistent, does change indifferent situations. The different demands of different situations call forth different aspects of one’s personality. Situation either encourages or discourages an individual to behave in a specific way. It consists of a large number of variables, like freedom, challenges, competition, encouragement, facilities, risk and uncertainties, participation, training, relations, support, leadership style, rewarding and punishing system, types of work groups, place of working, natural climate/ atmosphere etc. that affect one’s personality.