Personality Traits are a Result of Nurture or Environment

Personality traits are not inherited but are indeed taught and learned through nature and the environments an individual is exposed to. This makes people different and sometimes similar to their friends and family- when they are raised to be a certain way or grow up with a certain group.
No two people are the same, so personality traits can be similar but not identical.


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Bandura's Theory Albert Bandura was born in Mundare, Alberta on December 4, 1925. He attended the University of British Columbia and the University of Iowa, were he became a psychologist. He took a position at Stanford University and has been working there ever since, up to this day. He is known for the classic Bobo doll experiments and many other social learning theories (Bernstein, Cramer, Fenwick, & Fraser, 2008).


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One such example of behaviour being determined by external influences is in a documented case of two twin boys, Jared and Adam, both being genetically identical, but one twin exhibited clear signs of childhood gender non-conformity. Michael Bailey, psychologist professor at North Western University and a leading researcher in the field of sexual orientation, who is interviewed throughout the video then goes on to explain that children who exhibit these signs usually end up being homosexual later in their development. Two twins both being genetically identical, but with a different sexual orientation. The video then goes on to explain that the variation in these children has to be due to external influences that may have come up throughout their life.

The second half of this video discusses hormones in rats. Two examples of which are a female rat that is given a large amount of testosterone at birth. After which she adopts typically male rat reactions of indifference to sexual advances from the male rats, instead of the typical "presenting" a noral female rat would do. Where as a male rat, that has been neutered at birth and is deprived of testosterone will exhibit habits when mounted by other male rats usually characteristic of female rats. This study weighs heavily that behaviours such as homosexuality may in fact not be controlled by genetics but may, in fact, rely on hormones.

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Julian Rotter
Julian Rotter was born on October 22, 1916 in Brooklyn, NY; he was the third son of his parents who were Jewish immigrants. Rotter became interested in psychology when he went to high school and read books by Freud and Adler. He attended Brooklyn College where he earned his undergraduate degree. He then earned a Masters degree at the University of Iowa. He then earned a doctorate in 1941 at the University of Indiana. Throughout his education, Rotter was influenced by Adler, Hull, Skinner and Tolman, all famous sociologists and psychologists. He was an adviser in the Army during the Second World War, where he taught and served as the chairman for the psychology program in the clinic. Juilan Rotter later went to Ohio State and then the University of Connecticut where he stayed for the rest of his career. His work was later published in 1954 called Social Learning and Clinical Psychology. Rotter has served as president of the American Psychological Association's divisions of Social and Personality Psychology and Clinical Psychology. In 1989, he was given the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Contribution award. He was married to Clara Barnes, whom he had met at Worcester State, from 1941 until her death in 1985 (Mearns, 2009).




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The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do

While it's true that Genetics may gift you with a predetermined set of potentials or aptitudes, the exact shape those skills take or to what heights those aptitudes reach is very largely due to the factors that occur throughout your life time. Factors such as friends, families, drugs, and basic life tragedies can take the wisest and most benevolent doctor to be and turn him down the path of a lazy, hardened drug dealer. This can be done through an accumulation of small life influences or perhaps one very large life altering influence. Studies have shown that a child's personality may in fact be shaped not by genetics but more influenced by their peer groups and that a parent's influence may have little to no impact on their child's overall personality. Peers can impact almost every aspect of life, from literature, to preference in music and even stress management.

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A Monster is made
The argument of Nature vs. Nurture, is an issue that has even managed to find its way into our literature and pop culture. There are clear examples of this in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. The creature created by doctor Frankenstein. With its creation comes into the world unnamed and a blank slate. It's believed that this is done to convey a feeling of honesty. The creature's first experience is that of witnessing daughters kindness towards her blind father and with this mixture of envy and witnessing of love the creature claims "This is pain and pleasure that like I have never felt before". This shows growth and the emergence of rational thought. From the witnessing of love and the pain of never becoming human himself. By doing this he was able to overcome his animal like behaviours and through nurture was able to evolve his personality. The book is ripe with such examples. From his first step to the first time the creature kills each behaviour is learned from past experiences, whether they are witnessed or taken from a book the creature's personality has been influenced by past experiences. This novel while factious is by no means intended to be educational is a rich resource for examples for personality influenced by nurture. Some of the examples may even be applicable to our own life experiences.

Animated cartoon, Frankenstink (Frankenstein) sitting on a toilet reading a newspaper
Animated cartoon, Frankenstink (Frankenstein) sitting on a toilet reading a newspaper
Animated cartoon, Frankenstink (Frankenstein) sitting on a toilet reading a newspaper



George Herbert Mead 1863-1931
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George Herbert Mead is a major figure in the history of American philosophy, one of the founders of Pragmatism. He is responsible for publishing numerous papers throughout his life time and is responsible for the production of several books after his death. His students published a few books in his name. Mead is well known for his theory of the emergence of mind and self, out of the social process of significant communication. It is this model that has become the starting point for some schools of sociology and psychology. With his contributions to philosophy of nature, the philosophy of science, philosophical anthropology and many others, Mead has gained a high amount of recognition and respect from his peers. It is Mead's fourth theory on the Temporal Structure of Human existence that alludes to the fact that human behaviours are shaped through experience. The first portion states how events shape and mould our behaviours.


How We Become What We Are

In the paper How We Become What We Are, Author Winifred Gallagher a psychologist, describes his interest in temperament and behaviour. He has many Pit Bull Terriers and was greatly interested in how temperament is a manner of behaviour and reflects back to someone’s personality- both biologically and hereditarily. Gallagher goes on to explain how his dogs temperament is the result of a cross bread between the English Bull dog and the English Terrier hundreds of years ago. This created a fearless, determined fighting machine in the nature side of things. In turn this dog requires a different sort of nurture then other dogs that have been bred for compliance. He explains how he cannot enforce harsh treatment since that will create a vicious animal but passiveness or neglect would create an uncontrollable animal. The psychologist describes many interactions with the aggressive type, with interviewing many criminal behind bars and comparing their attitudes and behaviours to heroes. He describes how psychopaths and hero’s are on the same path, both trying to see the unknown, map the world and make a name for them. He also states how ‘nurture is the best predictor of good or bad behaviour’ and compared this to his dogs and how nurture can turn out aggressive or passive Bull dogs. The author goes on to quote a psychologist, Lykken, who uses the same theory of nurture on children. He states,
“Across the land but mainly in the inner cities, thousands of children aren’t being brought up by, but only domiciled with, parents who are indifferent, incompetent, or unsocialized themselves. We’re running a crime factory that turns out little sociopaths.”
The reason this theorist thought this way and spoke out about this issue, especially with black people, was because his grandchildren where two African American males and he believed they would face a higher risk of violence because of their ethnicity. He said that this was a problem that no one was willing to talk about.
The author then talks about the two main ideologies in the 1940s that created such an interest in the biological dimensions of personality. The first one he talks about is Freud and how he pushed the importance of personal history in determining character. Second was during the Second World War and Nazism revolution, proclaiming inferior and superior genetics while pushing democratic ideas to get everyone to focus on racial equality and also the importance of environment.
Gallagher also incorporates Pavlov’s interest in temperament and refers to him as ‘the dark king of conditioning’. Pavlov observed his dogs as well and determined that their activity and ultimate behaviour was in his opinion, the end result of environment and the changes it brings about.
Recent changes in ethics have made the insight into temperament more socially allowable and many more experiments have been done in recent years. Jerome Kagan, A Harvard psychologist and author of the Galen’s Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature, describes how he works as “because my training, politics and values, in my work I once muted the power of biology and maximized the environment.” This shows how more and more psychologists are incorporating the nurture side of development instead of mainly the nature side.
One real life situation that Gallagher compares this too is the ‘fight or flight response’ where naturally people will decide to stay and fight or run away from the situation. His dogs, he says, would most likely stay to fight since that is how they deal with stress. The author explains how a person has to have certain emotions taught to them but also genetic factors make them respond to pleasure and opportunity, danger and loss. The differences in how we respond to stress is what makes us how we are.
Gallagher then goes into explain some of the ‘nature versus nurture’ experiments that he uses to support his idea of nurture. For example, in Minnesota’s Centre for Twin and Adoption Research, scientists have learned the traits as compared by pairs of twins, both genetic and fraternal who had been adopted separately and raised apart. In the end, the few observed differences in the identical children’s personality had to have been caused by environment, since they were raised apart.

In conclusion, Gallagher goes on in his paper to talk more about temperament and how it relates to humans both in nature and in nurture. The main point he tries to push to the front of everyone’s mind is that environment can be a major factor in determining someone’s overall personality. He does try to convey the point that genes do have some influence in someone’s predisposition, but environment has just as much, if not more influence on someone and how that person will turn out. More research should be done on the matter to see if it’s the factor of the environment or genes develops a personality and to what extent, so the author really tries to convey this in his writing using experiments and former theorists on the matter (Gallagher, 1994).


external image 32606-004-2C77968F.jpgCharles Horton Cooley
Charles Cooley was born August 17, 1864 in Ann Harbour Michigan where he lived his life till he died in May 1929, at the age of 65 from an unknown type of cancer. Most well known for his famous "looking-glass self" sociological theory. He was known as a founder of the America Sociological Association, which he helped create in 1905. Cooley helped create numerous associations and organizations, while writing several books about sociology and how it affects everything in life (Soylent Communications, 2010).