Personalities

One simple question: Do personalities form more naturally or more as a result of your environment(people around/rasing you, condition of life, etc…)?

And also why?

I think that’s still a major point of contention in biology and psychology.

Haven’t you ever watched the Three Stooges? Nuture -vs- nature? :slight_smile:

I think there’s a bit of both. For instance, I have never done drugs, but my whole life I have been in opportunities where I could’ve done them easy way out. Even as a teen I didn’t. Something in my “soul” gave me the strength to resist. Other’s don’t have the will.

There’s a certain amount of personality that’s ingrained I think. For instance, my mother, brothers and sister were shy and retiring and my father was not. I am the only one that has that same outgoing personality. The thing is my dad, died when I was 11, my youngest sibling was 21. Yet my father’s influence never rubbed off on them. But I got it even though he died before I was a teen.

So it must be many factors.

I have taken two psychology courses in “Theories of Personality,” and there’s no agreement. There is some evidence that personality traits shown in infants hold true throughout a person’s lifetime. But other people disagree (they were probably disagreeable infants).

I will answer from my own personal viewpoint as a father of two boys, now young men. They are 14 months apart in age. #1 son was always active and the center of attention and always into something, a seeker. #2 son was quiet, with a sunny disposition, go with the flow type. Nothing fazes him.

They both experienced the same household environment at the same time. And the personalities that they have now are very similar to those they had as toddlers.

I have become a believer that a person is born with certain traits that define their personality. Experiences educate us, but basic personality is inborn.

Perhaps other parents could say what they think.

There’s some evidence that introversion/extroversion is tied to brain differences.

The problem with brain differences is that they can be learned/acquired just as easily as behaviors.

I think the best consensus of the research that’s been done is that nature provides a “default” behavior. When even a few experiences reinforce that default, you very quickly get a consistent behavior. “Optional” behaviors are the kinds of things that can (and generally will) be learned, but only after some repetition or consistent feedback. Looking at it from the perspective of unlearning a behavior, it may take a lot of repetition or consistently negative feedback to unlearn a default behavior, and yet only a few negative experiences to unlearn an optional behavior

As an example, an experiment was done with monkeys regarding their natural behavior toward snakes. A monkey with no exposure to snakes whatsoever tended to lack a fear response to them. They were then shown videos where other monkeys acted afraid of snakes and they picked up the fear response almost immediately. The experiment was repeated with flowers superimposed over the images of monkeys being afraid of snakes. In that case, the monkeys did not learn a fear of flowers.

I agree. 3 kids in teens, each unique early on. With 2 of them, there were differences before being born (when kicking, how they reacted when we pushed foot back), that appeared to carry through to personality. One would kick harder if we pushed on foot while kicking and that one has been more extroverted/aggressive/etc. than the one that would stop kicking if we pushed back on foot.

My mother’s personality was shaped a lot by the natural fact that she was bipolar. My sister, on the other hand, grew up seeing that as a personality style and ended up adapting that up and down style of behavior. It’s odd how the same personality style can be induced both by nature and by nuture.

I have a nephew who is a very fussy, particular boy. He cries easily and needs to have all things “just so” in order to have a modicum of comfort. He was a fussy and cry-ie baby in the hospital his first three days of life and not much has changed. (He is also quite lovely and charming in other ways which are irrelevant to this discussion . . .)

My daughter is tough as nails. She will walk into cold water without a hitch, and sit there playing and shivering while adults whine and jump out. It is often difficult for me to tell if she is in pain or not. She has never been a daily cryer - if she does cry, I treat it like a national emergency, because it happens so seldom.

She didn’t even cry to eat as an infant, even her first couple days of life. She made the sweetest little peeping sound, like a sandpiper on the beach. She’s been a difficult child in other ways, not much into sleep, for one. . . but she is tough as nails and clearly was born that way.

Now, if I hadn’t responded to her peeping, she would certainly have escalated to crying in order to get her needs met. And if she’d had to do that every time, she would naturally eventually have gone straight to tears. And if her needs had truly gone unmet on a regular basis she would almost certainly have quickly become anxious and/or demanding.

Fortunately, she had me.

So, I said all that to say this: It’s both.

I have a set of identical twin cousins who are older than me. And as they get older, they start to look a bit different and moreso as time goes on. Same genes, same environment. Very different personalities. I used to only be able to tell them apart by their behavior. This has been true of most identical twins I have known. Very different personalities.

That is not a simple question by any stretch of the imagination. It’s one with no known answer, and it’s hard to do any controlled scientific experiments that will illuminate the issue further.