Individual Differences and Personalities

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Individual Difference and Personalities

1. Personality
a. Definition
Personality is the particular combination of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral response patterns of an individual. Different personality theorists present their own definitions of this the word based on their theoretical positions.

Personality is the sum total of all the behavioural and mental characteristics by means of which an individual is recognized as being unique. b. Shaping of Personality
* Biological Factors
Biological factors determine the individual's "temperament", the group of personality characteristics that seem to be present in some form from early life onward and that make us consider people as having individualized personalities. Temperamental characteristics are expressed in different ways as the person matures, but are always there, no matter whether experiences tend to encourage or discourage them. One example of a temperamental factor is activity level. This does not refer to so-called "hyperactivity" in a pathological sense, but simply to the preferred amount of activity with which an individual feels comfortable. This can vary a good deal within a normal range, with both quite active and quite inactive people as examples of normal variations. Another is mood quality, with normal differences of cheerful or morose dispositions appearing not just when good or bad things happen, but in neutral situations.

Some hereditary factors that contribute to personality development do so as a result of interactions with the particular social environment in which people live.  For instance, your genetically inherited physical and mental capabilities have an impact on how others see you and, subsequently, how you see yourself.  If you have poor motor skills that prevent you from throwing a ball straight and if you regularly get bad grades in school, you will very likely be labeled by your teachers, friends, and relatives as someone who is inadequate or a failure to some degree.  This can become a self-fulfilling prophesy as you increasingly perceive yourself in this way and become more pessimistic about your capabilities and your future.  Likewise, your health and physical appearance are likely to be very important in your personality development.  You may be frail or robust.  You may have a learning disability.  You may be slender in a culture that considers obesity attractive or vice versa.  These largely hereditary factors are likely to cause you to feel that you are nice-looking, ugly, or just adequate.  Likewise, skin color, gender, and sexual orientation are likely to have a major impact on how you perceive yourself.  Whether you are accepted by others as being normal or abnormal can lead you to think and act in a socially acceptable or marginal and even deviant way.

* Socio-Cultural Experiences
There are many potential environmental influences that help to shape personality.  Child rearing practices are especially critical.  In the dominant culture of North America, children are usually raised in ways that encourage them to become self-reliant and independent.  Children are often allowed to act somewhat like equals to their parents.  For instance, they are included in making decisions about what type of food and entertainment the family will have on a night out.  Children are given allowances and small jobs around the house to teach them how to be responsible for themselves.  In contrast, children in China are usually encouraged to think and act as a member of their family and to suppress their own wishes when they are in conflict with the needs of the family.  Independence and self-reliance are viewed as an indication of family failure and are discouraged.  It is not surprising that Chinese children traditionally have not been allowed to act as equals to their parents.

Despite significant differences in child rearing practices around the world, there are some similarities.  Boys and girls are socialized...
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