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No two people have the same personality type. Some people have a happy, perky personality, while some others may have a gloomier outlook on life. While all these characteristics make each human unique, they do not make any single person less in the eyes of God. This paper will discuss the possibilities of whether or not if personality traits are genetically inherited or learned in early childhood.
Two theories that I believe are applicable to my life are the needs-hierarchy theory and the self-actualization theory.
Both of these theories can be linked back to my childhood. When I was growing up, every basic need was always met, no matter what. My childhood is growing me into what Carl Rogers calls the fully functioning person. I am still in the progress of becoming this person, but the way my parents raised me has shaped my future.
Abraham Maslow came up with a hierarchy of five innate needs, called the needs-hierarchy theory.
These needs are classified in order from the strongest needs at the bottom to the weaker needs at the top: physiological needs (food, water, and sex), safety needs (security, order, and stability), belongingness and love needs, esteem needs (from oneself and from others), and the need for self-actualization. Occasionally, the order of these needs can change based upon the situation in which one is involved. If basic needs go unmet in childhood, it causes the higher order needs to not be nearly as important to a person.
As a young child, my parents did the best they could to provide for me and my two older brothers’ needs. There was never a time in my life when I remember ever being without food or water. My dad had a good job and he was able to always provide food and water for us. He also provided us with a home that met our safety needs. We always felt secure and safe no matter what, even when my dad worked long nights and my mom stayed with us. There was no doubt in our minds that we would have to worry whether or not someone would try to come into our house. All three of us were loved and wanted by both of our parents. I have watched friends of mine go through their parent’s divorce and struggle with the issue of whether or not they were wanted by one or both parents, but I never went through that unfortunate process. I am still seeking esteem and self-actualization. I have always struggled with feelings of inadequacy despite how I grew up.
Self-actualization, according to the textbook used in class, is defined as “the basic human motivation to actualize, maintain, and enhance the self.” This encompasses all of our physiological and psychological needs. Rogers believed that this actualization tendency begins before a child is born, and it is responsible for the maturation of a child, ranging from development of the body’s parts to the noticeable difference during puberty. Rogers uses the term “fully functioning person” to describe the most desirable end result of the developing person. There are several aspects to the fully functioning person: they are aware of all experiences, they live fully and richly in every moment, they trust in their own organism, they feel free to make choices without constraints or inhibitions, they are creative and live constructively and adaptively as environmental conditions change, and they are in a state of actualizing.
Many children experience something that Carl Rogers called conditions of worth. They learn at an early age that they are only worthy of their parents’ love and approval when they do something that is pleasing or worthy of love.
Growing up, my parents always reminded me that there was nothing that I could do to make them love me any less. No matter what mistake I made, big or little, I never had a doubt in my mind that either of my parents would stop loving me. Because of their unconditional love, I truly believe that is why I love and enjoy being around children so much. They are loveable no matter what, and I never want to make a child feel as though he or she is inadequate or unworthy of being loved or cared for.
The textbook defines personality as “the unique, relatively enduring internal and external aspects of a person’s character that influence behavior in different situations” (D. Schultz & S. Schultz, 2017, p. 6). These characteristics are subject to change based on the situations we may find ourselves in. For example, when we go online to a social media platform such as Facebook, we want others to perceive us in the best possible light, so we highlight the good that is going on in our lives, such as a marriage or the birth of a precious new baby.
I believe that personality can be both learned and genetically influenced. According to Cherry, “personality traits are complex, and research suggests that our traits are shaped by both inheritance and environmental factors. These two forces interact in a wide variety of ways to form our individual personalities (2018).” Based upon reading this article, children are born with certain characteristics that are genetically influenced by their parents. Personality traits are inherited because a child’s biological parents supply genetic links. These genetic links are not only limited to personality traits, but also to increasing the risk for genetic diseases such as psychiatric disorders that will not be discussed as a topic of research in this paper.
On the other hand, say a child is given up for adoption at birth and has no contact with his or her birth parents after leaving the hospital. The biological parents are not fit to care for the child due to mental health disorders and drug dependency. This child is later adopted by loving, Christian parents who are able to properly care for the child and they are capable to meet all of his or her basic needs. The child that has been adopted has learned his or her new parents’ personality styles, which instead influences the child’s personality. The new family has now given this child an example of their outlook on life and certain personality traits. In a way, parents unconsciously influence and teach their children how to act and how to respond to certain situations.
Likewise, other people’s personalities can be influenced by others when they go off to college and live in a dormitory with roommates. For example, when I went off to college, I adjusted my personality to fit what I thought others would like more, but when I go back home, I try to portray myself as a more responsible and competent person. “Young adulthood is the period during the life span characterized by the largest, most pervasive, and most positive mean-level trait changes; the typical person’s personality improves substantially across these years (Klimstra et al, 2018, p. 1). According to this article, people improve their personalities a great amount when they are in college, probably due to the fact that they want to quickly adjust to their new environment and fit in with the students around them.
“Many studies show that most adults become more agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally resilient as they age,” (Soto, 2016). The changes talked about in this article goes on to describe that they are generally stable, but when they do change it is most likely for the better.
According to what God says in His word, He created us all uniquely. He created us of many parts that, all combined, makes up one human and their personality. “Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (1 Corinthians 12:14-18; The New International Version).
In conclusion, personality development is a tricky subject to grasp. Everyone has free will, so whether their personality is influenced by the environment in which they live or if it is solely dependent on genetic factors is a matter of how easily persuaded a person is. Personality can be changed by oneself, but often it is influenced by those around us, whether for the better or worse of our development.
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