Over the decades, different scholars have defined personality in diverse ways. However, there is no central definition to describe personality based on what contributes to the development of an individual’s personality. A generalized definition suggests that an individual’s personality entails the patterns of thought and responses that make one act in unique ways. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing debate about what defines the personality of a person. Some theorists argue that biological factors such as genes dictate one’s personality. Other theorists suggest that the social environment is the basic factor that dictates people’s personalities. DeRobertis (2016) believes that personality is nearly entirely shaped by the environment. Some hereditary factors that add to personality development do so due to the interactions with certain social factors in which individuals dwell.
Lewis (2015) insists that there is a strong case in what the environment contributes to shaping one’s personality. For instance, despite the huge variations in child upbringing practices across the globe, some trends are common (Lewis, 2015). Young boys and girls are exposed to different socializing practices whereby they receive varying signals from their families and society regarding what is expected of them in life (Hibbard & Walton, 2014). Children are cultured to fit into particular roles defined by gender. Boys are encouraged to prepare for physically challenging roles while girls are motivated to learn to tackle domestic chores. This assertion points to the existence of unique environments and social events that contribute to one’s personality.
In the light of this understanding, this paper emphasizes that despite the significance manifested by genes, environmental factors are dominantly attributable to human personality. Besides, whereas plenty of studies have concentrated on the influence of genes on personality development, little research has focused on the potential of the social environment that shape personality. According to Haber-Curran, Allen, and Shankman, (2015), current anthropologists believe that most studies supporting environmental determinants have gone too far in their claims of socio-environmental significance and they discredit the role of heredity in shaping personality. In this light, it is essential to engage in further research to clear the existing controversies and support the idea that social environment forms the basis for an individual’s personality development. The humanistic school of thought can be used to explore this topic.
Scholars such as Carl Rodgers and Abraham Maslow spearheaded the humanistic psychology approach. According to these scholars, understanding one’s personality contributes to better decisions to develop strengths and defeat weaknesses (DeRobertis, 2016). Rodgers defined a complete individual as someone who is consistently pursuing self-actualization. Regarding personality, this person is self-driven and s/he trusts his/her environment. Rodgers’ humanistic perspective emphasized that the main factor that one would attain self-actualization is the social experiences one encounters during development. Every child requires care, acceptance, and love from others (Bradea & Blandul, 2015). These external factors provide a significant effect on the individual’s character.
To address this topic, the research questions to be addressed include
- Why are social environment factors on personality development superior to hereditary factors?
- Why are social environment indicators more critical during early childhood development?
The humanistic approach links to the personality development in various ways. First, the approach emphasizes that human interactions and relationships play an important role in the shaping of a desirable personality particularly during early childhood development (Cicchetti & Crick, 2009). Second, the humanistic approach focuses on the good in the human character. This good entails care, love, and interactions that shape an individual’s personality to a conforming desirable state.
Bradea, A., & Blandul, V. (2015). The impact of mass media upon personality development of pupils from primary school. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 205(1), 296-301.
Cicchetti, D., & Crick, N. (2009). Precursors and diverse pathways to personality disorder in children and adolescents. Developmental Psychopathology, 21(3), 682-683.
DeRobertis, E. (2016). On framing the future of humanistic psychology. The Humanistic Psychologist, 44(1), 18-41.
Haber-Curran, P., Allen, S., & Shankman, M. (2015). Valuing human significance: connecting leadership development to personal competence, social competence, and caring. New Directions for Student Leadership, 5(145), 59-70.
Hibbard, D., & Walton, G. (2014). Exploring the development of perfectionism: the influence of parenting style and gender. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 42(2), 269-278.
Lewis, D. (2015). Evolved individual differences: Advancing a condition-dependent model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 84(1), 63-72.