Factors that May Affect Personality

Dealing with people or students involves dealing with personalities. Everyone has a unique personality that has varying degrees of similarities and difference from others. Those post will introduce some commonly proposed factors that shape and influence personality.


There is evidence that our personality is affected by our genetics. Thomas Bouchard published a paper on twins separated at birth and found that despite never meeting each other, the twins had very similar personalities. Indicating that there is more to personality than common family experiences.

It is no longer a question of if genetics influences personality but rather how much genetics influences personality. This has led to the controversy called nativism-empiricism, which is a scholarly term for nature vs nurture. Nativists believe that personality is primarily genetically determined whereas empiricists believe that personality is primarily determined by experience. 


Traits can be defined loosely as consistently displayed or performed behaviors. For example, some people show the trait of a love of sweets while others do not. The person with the trait for loving sweets will consistently enjoy eating sweet foods.

Traits are developed one of two ways. One way is through learning. For example, a person who loves sweet food may have been exposed to sweet food since they were born. Thus, the acquired a taste for it.

The second way is by genetics. For example, some people display are more emotional than others regardless of their background. One explanation of this is that their emotional character traits are a result of their genetic makeup.


Culture influences personality through prescribing what behaviors are acceptable. For example, different cultures have different rules in regard to marriage, raising children, food, money, etc. These norms restrain and promote various behaviors.

Again the argument here is not whether or not culture plays a role but rather how much of a role. Some personality theories believe culture is significantly important such as Erickson, Alder, and Horney.

Strange Assertion

Some of the more unusual proposed determinants of personality include the existential-humanistic considerations and unconscious mechanisms. Existential-humanistic considerations believe personality is shaped by how people give meaning to the situations they find themselves in. In other words, the individual shapes their own destiny by how they answer the big questions in life such as why am I here?, what happens when I die?

Unconscious mechanisms assert that personality is shaped by unconscious forces in childhood. Uncovering these forces involves the use of such techniques as hypnosis and dream analysis.


This post provided some explanations for how personalities are shaped and formed. Naturally, there are many more reasons for why people behave the way they do. However, the information provided here provides an introductory insight into why people act the way they do.

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