6.15.2016

Personality Development: Influences of Personality Traits

English: Similarities between lower-order fact...
English: Similarities between lower-order factors for ‘psychoticism’ and the low-order factors ‘openness’, ‘agreeableness’ and ‘conscientiousness’ (Data from Matthews, Deary & Whiteman, 2003) Category:Personality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Elizabeth Hall
Introduction
Personality theorists who believe in trait theory believe that there are genetic ties to personality development as noted by Cervone and Pervin (2010).  According to their broad school of thought people are born with traits that are inherently genetic that begin the basis of personality development. All trait theorists believed in the genetic aspect, the disagreement was in what traits seem important from the genetic standpoint and model utilized to treat and diagnose.  Benet-Martinez and Oishi (2006) maintain that personality expression and culture are closely intertwined because culture is defined as the societal rules that govern what behavior is acceptable for large groups of people, Americans for example.
Bouchard (1994) reports that findings indicate that roughly 40% of personality traits come from genetic ties with his work in twin studies.  Derryberry, Hershey, and Rothbart (2000) discuss the lifetime influence of stable temperament characteristics and what characteristics remain continual across time and situational experiences.  The most recognized of these diagnostic tools or scales in this field of psychology aimed at assessing personality traits is the five-factor model, openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (Srivastava, 2013).  In exploring the influence of personality traits we will discuss genes, the environment, culture, and the models of assessment including the five factor trait theory model, the biological model, and the temperament model and how inherited traits interact to form the individuality that makes us human. 
English: Leader Traits within Trait Category
English: Leader Traits within Trait Category (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bouchard (1994) conducts a study on twins which allows him to confirm among other things that the influence on personality happens roughly 40% at the genetic level, while also maintaining that environmental influence also affects people’s personality but just at a mere 7%.   The basic belief of theorists concerning the environment and personality influence remains that we are born with specific traits that may be affected as early as the womb by environmental factors such as stress on the mother during pregnancy. The influence of environmental factors continue as we grow to adulthood and shape the personality through negative or positive environmental influences.     
Personality Expression and Culture
Culture remains another factor that greatly influences behavior and personality expression (Benet-Martinez & Oishi, 2006).  Cultural influence comes from environmental influence, and refers to what large groups of people deem acceptable behavior by societal norms of the particular group considered, such as American culture.  Culture is what sets the framework for behavior as it guides our shared value system, setting the importance of how people of the groups act, think, and feel and what they believe.   An important aspect of culture stands that it is responsible for the perspective people take when experiencing environmental events (Benet-Martinez & Oishi, 2006). 
Twin Studies and Inheritability of Personality Traits
One of the ways that theorists can prove biological, causes and genetic traits comes through the study of both fraternal and identical twins says Bouchard (1994).  He goes on to report differences between earlier studies and more contemporary studies by roughly 10% due to the changes in study model due to the lack of measurability in earlier models of study. The effect of the environment on our personalities comes in at around 7%.  At the time of Bouchard’s (1994) study theorists concluded that genetics affect the personalities of people by 40%. 
Stable Temperament Characteristics- Lifetime Influence
Derryberry, Hershey, and Rothbart (2000) maintain that certain inherited traits remain persistent over the lifetime of a person.  These traits begin with the womb, changing over the course of a lifespan as humans react with physiological systems such as aging, and maturity, and at the same time react to environmental influences occurring in everyday life.  Carl Jung first envisioned this connection and theorized that humans have basic lifelong traits such as extroversion and introversion, and that they either fit into one or the other (Boeree, 2003).  Other sets of traits included sensitive or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.  Jung also saw these were traits consistent over time and situational contexts and judged temperament based on his research and where the subjects fell on the scale of traits.  Taking Jung’s theory a little further Myers and Briggs developed a test for personality that became the best known test for traits in the field (Boeree, 2003). 

Temperament, Biological Model, and Five Factor Trait Theory Adaptation
The temperament model of adaptation best exemplifies the work of Carl Jung and his first use of the temperament or trait set theory (Boeree, 2003).  It was his foresight that brought trait theory to the forefront of behavioral theory.  Another trait theorist using the biological model adaptation, Hans Eysenck expanded on theory by bringing science and math back to the problem (Boeree, 2003).  He used a statistical measure called factor analysis to determine what factors or sets of traits were the most influential to personality development.  He had introvert and extrovert, but also includes neuroticism, and psychoticism but unlike Jung, theorized that traits were dimensional and therefore people could fall into three categories, high, middle, and low.  These were the characteristics that Eysenck felt were consistent over time and situational events (Boeree, 2003).  The most current set of traits utilized, and considered stable in the field today are the five traits included in the five factor model consisting of extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientious, and neuroticism (Srivastava, 2013).
Srivastava (2013) ascertains that there are many tests using the five factor trait theory adaptation including the big five inventory, the international personality item pool, big five aspect scales, and the big five mini markers.  The big five inventory measures the five traits by using a self-report test in which the patient answers questions about their tendencies in relation to others including social, emotional, value based factors and how they generally react. In application this allows the researcher or clinician to decide the best course of treatment. The results according to Srivastava (2013) provide a map to syntax and where the personality falls within the five traits highest and lowest. 
Conclusion
Behavioral theorists after Freudian theory began to notice that humans have certain traits that represent their personalities over the course of a lifetime and persist through situational and time contexts.  Pioneers in the field such as Carl Jung, and Hans Eysenck proved scientifically that personality development begins in the womb with genetic traits and sets of traits that begin the basis of human personality. Contemporary behavioral theorists have come up with five sets of traits that are measurable and proven to last throughout the lifespan of a person. These include openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion and neuroticism and how a person typically reacts emotionally, mentally, and physically determine the basis of their personality type. 
Behavioral theorists recognize that genetic factors make up around 40% of traits that make us individuals and that environmental reaction plays into the equation around 7%.  The environmental factors build on the blocks the genetic traits start.  Cultural influences according to research does play a larger part than environmental influence, as these influences denote what behavior is acceptable by the groups we find ourselves associated in.  Further research into twin studies shows that previous attempts to define which traits genetically and environmentally influence personality were slightly inflated.  When mathematics became part of the process the research thanks to Eysenck, theorists were given statistical tools to measure trait frequency and tendencies more reliably.  Further research interests could hypothesize that the globalization of society and technology has changed the cultural influences to some extent.









References:
Benet-Martinez, V., & Oishi, S., (2006).  Culture and Personality.  Retrieved From: http://biculturalism.ucr.edu/pdfs/BM%26Oishi%20Culture%26Personality%2012-10-06.pdf
Boeree, C.G., Dr., (2003).  General Psychology: Trait Theories of Personality.  Retrieved From: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsytraits.html
Bouchard, T.J., Jr., (1994).  Genes, Environment, and Personality.  Science, New Series, Vol. 264, Issue 5166, pp 1700-1701.
Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Personality Theory and Research (11th Ed.).  Hoboken, xcNJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Derryberry, D., Hershey, K., & Rothbart, M.K., (2000).  Temperament and Personality across the Lifespan.  Retrieved From: http://www.bowdoin.edu/~sputnam/rothbart-temperament-questionnaires/pdf/stability-of-temp-in-chldhd.pdf

Srivastava, S., (2013).  Measuring the Big Five Personality Factors.  Retrieved From: http://pages.uoregon.edu/sanjay/bigfive.html

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