Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Effects of Heredity and Culture on the Personality

Personality Development

Man develops his personality while living in society. Social interaction in various groups and playing various roles in various social situations shape the man into a ‘Persons’. This is his personality. Human behaviour requires certain conditions in which it is learnt. These conditions give him a social life.

1. Heredity – Young and Mack defined it as the transmission of genetic characteristics from parents to their offspring. It is the structure of body which man receives at his birth. This is unchangeable by learning processes of social life. Most of the traits inherited at birth remain the same in the whole social life. These traits are the basis of his personality.

2. Environment – Young and Mack defined it as those forces, situations, or stimuli which affect the individual from outside. It is in which the individual is born. It consists of buildings, tools, clothes, art, science, religion and other man-made ways of doing things. Environment is of several types.

(i) Natural Environment – It consists of physical and biological environments. The physical is inorganic like stone, dust, sand water, etc. The biological environment is organic like plants, trees, flowers, animals, birds and trees etc.

(ii) The Cultural Environment – It has three elements which combined together called social. These are psycho-social, physio-social and physio-biological. The relationship between two types of institutions produce cultural environment.

3. Culture – What we receive as social heritage from our ancestors is called our culture. We make changes in it by performing our roles and leave it for the coming generation. Cultures are the guiding star of our social life. What we lean and how is our life is the answer of our culture. Culture teaches us how to behave and pay certain role in a certain social situation.

4. Social Group – The individual with the above three factors come in contact with others and develop social group. He learns the social norms in his group and becomes ‘social’ thus he becomes a member of society.

Heredity and Personality

The traits and characteristics received by birth by an individual affect the type of role performance. Personality traits depend upon learning capacity in society. This capacity to learn cultural traits differs from individual to individual due to heredity characteristics of brain, endocrine and ductless glands and nervous system in the same environment. A pair of twin brothers born and brought up in the same environment with equal facilities and protection of parents will behave differently due to difference in their personality structure. What are the factors responsible for his difference? The answer lies in the structure and nature of organism especially of brain, glands and nervous system which are inherited by birth. Some characteristics which are inherited by all human beings are given below:

1. Physical Structure – how tall or short one is, one has long nose long ears, organs of body put together in what way.

2. Intelligence – capacity to learn.

3. Temperament – exciting, lethargic, extrovertive, introvertive or offensive.

4. Reflexes – direct responses to stimulus such as blinking of eyes when something approaches it; and

5. Innate drives – impulses to act based on physiological tensions, instincts, as hatred, anxiety, feeling hungry and thirst

Culture and Personality

Culture and personality interplay within each other. Culture will lose its significant ‘dynamic’ characteristic if not modified, changed or replaced by unique individual and group experience of the people. This dynamic character of culture is fundamental for its continuity and fulfilment of the needs of society for all times and space. On the other hand the personality of the individual is farmed in this or that frame of reference of cultural environment. Hence both have a bearing upon each other. Let us have a review of both the aspects.

Bearing of Culture upon Personality

It is the culture in the lap of which we shape curselves as Aslam, Iqbal, Jameel and Saleem. We come across variety of people in daily life besides those who are members of our family. This variety is so varied that none of them is the same in shape, voice and other behaviours within the same society. This vast aggregate of different people is the product of culture. These people interrelating themselves in various cultural bonds following various norms differ from the people of another culture. There is difference sin all the walks of life due to the difference in cultural conditions. Every culture has its own value-system oriented upon its people. The language and gestures used in communication develop a special type of mode in interaction. Values develop certain rituals, ceremonies, etiquettes, manners, sentiments, emotions, interests, style and other customary ways of living; and the technological development provides varieties and alternatives in human need and their satisfaction. Hence every culture has its speciality visible in the personalities of its members as Pakistanis, Iranians, Turks, Americans, Andamanese and Australian aborigines due to variation in language, value system, and technological development.

Merrill is of opinion that the human being at birth is very plastic and can develop in many directions, depending upon cultural setting. The personality takes shape under the impace of socialization in a particular cultural environment.

A tree grows out of the soil – an inorganic; an animal out of the organic matter and similarly an individual develops himself within the super-organic that is cultural conditions.


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