You are on page 1of 11


Personality Is Highly Influenced By Nurture Randy Formaran De La Salle University

August 26, 2012


Personality is a crucial part of the whole being of a person, it makes a person who he or she is. Personality refers to a persons enduring or consistent thoughts, emotions and behavior in a given situation. It is how the person thinks of the objects and situations around him or her, it is the emotional feedback of the person when involved in a given scenario and it is also the reaction of the person towards a given situation (Santrock, 2005). These traits are somehow connected to each other in many ways and will also function as a whole and form the personality of a human being.

There are two major sources that form personality. First is by nature, according to psychologists, people genetically inherit parts of their personality from their parents or ancestors. It is said that human beings do not only inherit physical factors such as eye color and skin color from their parents but also their personality and mental abilities, the way they think, feel, reaction in certain situations and also their intelligence. The second major source is personality being influenced by nurture. It is claimed that environmental factors shapes a human beings personality such as families, religion, friends, culture and even profession. The everyday lives of the people since the day they were born shapes their personality (Ridley, 2003).

There are many types of personality. Each psychologist has their own explanation of the types of personality. Personality can be portrayed as a dish; a dish is composed of different ingredients. Just like a dish, personality has ingredients or

components. These components of personality are abbreviated as O.C.E.A.N. The letter O means openness. It is the willingness of a person to try new experiences.


The letter C means conscientiousness. It is the capacity of a person to be responsible and organized. Next is the letter E which means extraversion. It is the persons willingness to join a group of people. The letter A stands for agreeableness. It is the ability of the person to maintain positive interaction with others. Last is the letter N which means neuroticism. It is the tendency of a person to experience negative emotions (McCrae & Costa, 2001 cited in Santrock, 2005). These are the components of personality; each component will have their own measure and this is what creates the difference of the personality of each human being.

Most psychologists believe that the personality of a person is formed by nature and nurture (Santrock, 2005). That may be right but there is a flaw in the influence of nature in personality. Can the people really conclude that they are born with the personality they have? Babies arent born with personalities, they are raised and their personalities are formed in their process of growing (Gurian, 2009). The people can now conclude that personality is highly influenced by nurture because human beings have adaptation abilities, cognitive abilities and social interests.

Adaptation has an important role in shaping a human being's personality. Humans learn from their experiences and gain it to their advantage in life. Morphology and behavior comes together. The environment molds the whole being of an animal.

The physical appearance of animals also affects their behaviors (Roe, 2002). According to Burrhus Frederic Skinner, human beings and animals have the


same methods in shaping their personality. Skinner's operant conditioning theory of personality explains that the personality of human beings is shaped by the environment's social agents. These are the subject's parents, peers, religion, media, and culture. Parents influences their child by teaching them as they grow, they are the first teachers. However the parents style in raising their children determines the personality of the child as they grow into adults. Next is the peer of the person. Peers are the people whom the person shares their time with and however the peers act will influence the personality of the person. Another one is the religion. The religion is an environment that the person adapts in. Whatever practices they do in the religion will influence the personality of the person. Next is the media, the media is an important factor in influencing the personality of people. The actors serves as role models to the viewers which make them very influential to the people that are watching them. Lastly is the culture of the person. The culture influences the personality of the person in the same rate as the religion. Whatever practices that are done will influence the personality of the involved person (Santrock, 2005).

As human beings evolve through time, they adapt from certain scenarios that crossed their paths. Each scenario will give knowledge to the human beings whether it is positive or negative. These experiences in the scenarios factor in the forming of the

behavior. The behavior determines who we are. It considers our constant actions, emotions, and even our way of thinking (Bandura, 2001 cited in Santrock, 2005).


According to Ivan Pavlov, the connections we make between objects and events form personality. A connection can be made with almost anything. These items may be food, gadgets, and experiences. There are two ways to make a connection. First is by constant repetition. Every time an object is associated to a person, the constant repetition of the activity may be reinforced to the person. One example is Ivan Pavlovs theory of classical conditioning. Pavlov conditioned a dog to salivate when a bell is rung by constantly giving food whenever a ringing sound is heard by the dog. The second way is by the occurrence of strong emotions. These may be unforgettable events or even traumatic events. An example is being involved in a car accident, a fear of riding cars may occur due to this experience (Pavlov, 1941 cited in Santrock, 2005). Adaptation is not a genetic factor; it is the ability to learn from the environment and scenarios. This factor is a crucial part in the development of human beings. Learning is an aspect in adaptation. People learn from certain scenarios that they came across to which is now known as adaptation.

In the process of adaptation, an important field in psychology was created. That field is called as cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is the study of how human beings think. It is the process of converting gathered information into useful

knowledge. This process is also known as learning (Groome, 1999). Information is gathered and then converted into knowledge that human beings can perceive. For example, when a person is burnt when that person touched a stove for sure he will feel pain. The person will connect the pain with the action of touching the stove resulting to never touching the stove again. That process is called learning. Every person has


the ability to think and perceive certain scenarios. One theory that explains this phenomenon is the schema theory. The schema theory explains our cognitive ability. It says that there will be a comparison between the frequent and the familiar perceptual input. This includes colors, shapes, activities, scenarios and such. This is also known as schemas which contain a number of sensory patterns and concepts (Barlett, 1932 cited in Groome, 1999). The human mind is an amazing part of the human body; it controls everything that the human beings do. It controls even their hearts and even the flow of their blood. Thinking is a very powerful ability that human beings achieved. It determines if the action to be done by a person is right or wrong. Thinking is also a powerful tool that human beings can use. The cavemen in the Paleolithic period used thinking by making certain strategies in hunting, fishing, and how to survive in the dangerous wilderness. The simple action of creating strategies can be done by the process of thinking.

In the process of learning, knowledge is stored in the human mind and therefore will be remembered by the person whenever he or she is involved in a certain scenario. Every time the person is involved in that scenario, he or she will remember what or

what not to do. This process is a behavioral reply to the given scenario. According to the Russian behaviorist Ivan Pavlov, whenever an object is associated with a person to a particular experience, that person will elicit a certain stimulus which will then lead to an unconditioned response (Pavlov, 1941 cited in Santrock, 2005). For example, a rat is shown to a child. The child elicits a positive response to the rat. The experiment will have to give a negative response with the


child and the rat so every time the rat is presented to the child, a loud sound is emitted. This process is done repeatedly until the child now emits a negative response with the child. This experiment was done by Buhhrus Skinner with the child named Little Albert. This shows that a behavior can be made or prevented through the process of learning.

Social beings also influence the process of creating the personality. According to the Australian psychologist Alfred Adler, it is the nature of the environment which molds a human beings personality. In a community, social aspects greatly influence a mans personality. It is the nature of man to find acceptance from other human beings. Acceptance helps a person to overcome obstacles (Adler, 1923 cited in Mitchell, 2011). It is the nature of man to blend in with the society. Without the society, human beings will have no goals in creating their personality and even knowing who they really are. There will be no entrepreneurs, businessmen, housewives and even students. A persons personality will affect the persons outcome in life since that is who they really are. A persons personality will shape a persons whole being.

Whatever the societys effect to the person, a certain response is gained, whether it is negative or positive. For example, bullying, most children that are bullied are converted into introverts because socializing with other people is now terrorizing for them. The victims are now conditioned to a negative response with other people because of bullying.


It is the human nature to seek acceptance from other people. People will conform to the social interest of the majority. According to Alfred Adler, future goals affect the present personality of human beings. All people have goals for themselves. This is known as the ideal self. The ideal self guides the persons behaviors and shapes their personality. To understand a certain person, one must know his or her future goal. All human beings start to be inferior in life; all people are born weak and incompetent. As people grow up, compensation is done. Weakness is converted into strength in order to get closer to their ideal self (Adler, 1923). For example is a childs goal to learn how to write and read. When a persons goal is achieved, the inferiority feeling is depleted and they are now closer to their ideal self.

In the psychology books, it is said that both nature and nurture influences the personality of a person. Psychologists argued about which between nature and nurture has a high percentage in human development. That debate no longer seems productive

(Tamarin, 2002 cited in Santrock, 2005). This paper argues that nurture is more influential than nurture.

Personality influenced by nature always presents that the genes of a person is passed to the persons descendants and personality is included in that gene. How can a human being have his or her personality in the day that he or she was born? There are only few logical claims in personality being influenced by nature. The claim that personality is influenced by nature is blurry. It is not logical to claim that the genes of


a human being are turned on at the period of birth. This one of the few claims of personality being influenced by nature (Commoner, 2002 cited in Santrock, 2005).

On the other hand, personality being influenced by nurture has more stable claims. In nurture, there are more evidences that stabilize the nurture and nature debate. The claims in nurture are practical and are more logical. A person can apply the claims of nurture in their everyday lives. The actual development of human beings depends on the beings experience in their environment. As children grew, they form or construct their cognitive world through their environment (Piaget, 1960, cited in Santrock, 2005). Environmental influences range from a set of factors under nurture such as parenting, peer, and neighborhood to biological factors such as birth complications (Santrock, 2005).

Personality is greatly influenced by nurture because all human beings adapts, learns and compensates to their environment which states that since birth, human beings are striving to create their personality in order to achieve their goals or ideal self. According to The philosopher David Hume, the mind is like a blank slate on which experience could be written. (Hume, 173940). Each experience of a person in his or her everyday life will be remembered and compiled to form the persons personality.



Adler, A. (1927). The practice and theory of individual psychology. Totowa, N. J.: Littlefield, Adams. Groome, D., & Dewart, H. (1999). An introduction to cognitive psychology: Processes and disorders. London: Psychology Press. Gurian, M. (2009). Nurture and nature: Understanding and supporting your child's unique core personality. Jossey-Bass. Mitchell, G. (2011). Alfred Adler and Alderian individual psychology. Retrieved from Ridley, M. W. (2003). Nature via nurture: Genes, experience, and what makes us human. Harper; 1 edition. Roe, A., & Simpson G. G. (2002). Behavior and evolution. London: Psychology

Press. Santrock, J. W. (2005). Psychology 7th edition. Dallas: University of Dallas.