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Personalities Case

Essay by   •  May 1, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,128 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,143 Views

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A contemporary definition for personality is offered by Carver and Scheier (2000:5) saying 'Personality is a dynamic organization, inside the person, of psychophysical systems that create a person's characteristic patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Each individual's personality can be compared to a fingerprint as we all have different and unique personalities. In this essay an attempt will be made to argue the point that personalities are not inherited and that they are indeed learnt from childhood experiences and one's surroundings define and mould that person's personality.


Personality is derived from the Latin word "persona", meaning "mask" thus meaning that the study of personalities could also be referred to as the study of the masks people wear around and what those people portray themselves to be like. No two personalities are identical and that shows that a child cannot inherit their parents' personality because inheritance according to Burger (1993:37) is 'the particular characteristics or qualities which your family or ancestors had and which you are born with' so if an individual's personality is inherited then everyone in the family would probably have the same personalities and that, in most instances, is not the case.

According to Adams (1954, cited in Schultz & Schultz, 1994) personality is 'I'.

Adams argued that we get a good idea of what personality is by listening to what we say when we use "I". When you say I, you are, in effect, summing up everything about yourself - your likes and dislikes, fears and virtues, strengths and weaknesses and if personalities were inherited then the word 'We' would have to replace the 'I' as a child would have more or less the same personality as their mother, father and siblings and no longer be classified as a unique individual.

The word I is what defined you as an individual, as a person separate from all others. (Schultz & Schultz, 1994:8). Identical twins may be the spitting images of each other but their personalities are, in most cases, very different yet they shared a womb for 9 months and were probably raised by the same parents yet they grow up to be so different, Why???? It is because personalities are learnt from one's surroundings as an adolescent and what information one chooses to intake or associate themselves with.

Research has shown that most individuals adapt a steady personality during or towards the end of their higher education years because the transition from high school to university is like the transition from being a teenager to a young adult. Peers and classmates influence the way in which we act and behave in such a way that it could be said that most teenagers' personalities are molded partly by their peers because the more you hang around people is the more you will tend to act and behave like them.

To support my argument 'Dr. McIntyre & Prof. Sheen' two psychologists from the United States conveyed an experiment to come up with an overall conclusion to whether personalities are inherited or learnt from one's surroundings. Two children, a 5 year old boy and his 6 year sister of which were brought up in the same household in the same manner and evidently had more or less the same personalities were taken from their homes, with their parents' consent, and put through a number of personality tests of which they scored an amazing 88% similarity then they were taken to two completely different households where they spent a full year apart. The year passed and the two children were brought back together where exactly the same tests were conveyed and the results



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