The topic I would wish to delve on is personality. It is a set of individual characteristics, which includes patterns of thinking, feeling and acting (Bleidorn, Hopwood & Lucas, 2018). Personality, therefore, tends to be permanent and therefore can be used to describe an individual because a consistent behavior is expected of him or her under specific circumstances. There are a number of influences on personality. Looking at the textbook, many psychologists were of the view that personality is shaped right from when one is young.
I do feel that the environment has a lot of influence on the personality of the individual. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood, and a common characteristic was that there was a lot of violence on the streets. Over time, my friends and I also become violent. For instance, we could easily pick fights with children from other neighborhoods over minor disagreements. I do not remember if we inflicted any serious injuries on the others, but I felt that the violence was justified. Therefore, the aggressiveness made me become a bully in school. I am thankful that one of my teachers identified this behavior and my parents were involved in helping to address it. Therefore, I do believe that the environment rationalizes certain behavior and situations, and one’s reaction will eventually influence one’s personality.
On the other hand, I am of the opinion that attributing the personality of an individual solely to the environment is superficial and misses the bigger picture. For instance, I have come across people who lived in a privileged background, and are equally rough and aggressive. These are attributes you do not expect of people from such background, because there is always an assumption that in such backgrounds, people are civilized, and do face significantly fewer threats compared to those who live in rough neighborhoods where criminality is common. It is the same thing with individuals who are likely to commit horrible crimes. Some of them grew up in good families, which we’re loving, and frequently went to church. Hence, it is not expected that they will go off the rails that easily. Therefore, while the environment is a major predictor of one’s personality, its influence is tempered by other inherent factors which ultimately shapes an individual (Mischel, 2013).
I also feel that as adults, we do also impact the personality of our children. I have seen this with my child. In one of the parenting classes I attended, the speaker expressed the need to build confidence and trust in our children by affirming them. That effort should be appreciated, even if it falls below expectations. I started doing that with my son. I make him understand that I am his friend, and he can count on me. I have provided an environment in which we can share anything. I am also conscious to ensure that what I do is in tandem with what I say. For instance, I strongly believe in the power of prayer, and I always make time to pray with him in the morning and before he goes to bed. I have noticed that he has responded positively to these influences. Over the last two years, his confidence has grown, and teachers have also communicated the same to me. For instance, his class teacher noticed that he is more outgoing and likely to lead the class in activities. Therefore, I do believe that parents, through their action and environment they create at home, has an influence on the way children express their personality.
Culture is also a major influence on personality. In fact, I feel that culture has a strong influence because it talks to our minds and gives us an identity. I think that culture brings about a need to belong, and this may sometimes be felt strongly by some people. I feel that my Christian roots have been instrumental in shaping my personality because I always strive to live my life according to the teachings of the bible. For instance, if I do something that is against my Christian faith, it haunts me. It, therefore, becomes a push and perhaps a challenge to me to carefully think about my behavior. I can admit that over the years, it is a part of me and I no longer struggle. I feel it is because I have done the same things over and over again. It gives me an acceptable standard of behavior which I must strive to meet. Besides, I have molded a character is a bit hard to change due to external influences and factors.
I feel that there are a couple of things that shape the personality of an individual. It is therefore not accurate to attribute the personality influences on one or a few things. It is also important to understand that some people have their inherent drives, which also impacts behavior. For instance, people living amidst violence may not necessarily become aggressive or violent. Hence, personality is a totality of many influences on the behavior of an individual.
Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., & Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life events and personality trait change. Journal of Personality, 86(1), 83-96.
Mischel, W. (2013). Personality and assessment. Psychology Press.