Factors Influencing Personality Development Introduction Various factors come into play in determining the personality of an individual. These factors may
be independent or interdependent. These factors include:
Heredity and environment
Heredity is the passing of traits to offspring. It is a biological process whereby genetic factors are
transmitted from one generation to the next and an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes
predisposed to the characteristics of its parent, cell or organism. Gene tic factors influence people’s
personality as well as the physical characteristics such as body size, height, weight, eyesight and
physical defects. These in turn influence an individual's behaviour, For example, some studies
have shown, that identical twins are more similar in character than fraternal twins, findings which
are attributed to die effects of genes. Identical twins have the same genetic make-up.
Since genes determine the characteristic traits of an individual, the environment plays a role in
shaping the individual. In this context, the environment means the sum total of all the surroundings
and conditions that affect, the growth and development of an individual. Both the environment and
genes are inter-dependent and form an inseparable process called nature (heredity) and nurture
(environment) determinism. The kind of environment where one lives, is socialized in and interacts
with, determines his other personality. Environmental influences include family gender, culture as
well as cognitive and emotional influences.
The family influence on a child's can be categorized personality in three ways:
1. Communication: The members of the family have direct communication amongst themselves.
This helps children to take note of verbal and nonverbal language, which in turn helps, them
acquire values, attitudes and beliefs that influence their personality.
2. Moulding: Parents shape their children's behaviour according to the familial
or societal expectations in order to conform and fit into the society. This can be facilitated by
parents, other adults and older siblings.
3. Identification: Children identify with the people they interact with, like, admire and love. The
first people are usually parents. Psychologist Sigmund Freud emphasizes identification as a
way of resolving conflicts especially at the phallic stage, and involves taking on of certain
roles, which facilitate gender identity.
The family is the first and dies strongest determinant of personality because:
a) The home environment is die first place (environment) where children are born and brought
up. This environment determines the behaviour the child acquires hence their personality.
b) The child spends a relatively long time at home with family members before he is
socialized into the outside world.