Personality has been associated with one’s behavior and characteristics and has not yet found a true definition of the word. However, it can be defined as a supreme realization of the natural habit of a living being (Eliasz, Hampson & de Raad, 2006). Personality determines whether one is energetic, happy, dull, smart or apathetic and thus majority of people have been led to define the term as a collection of psychological parts incorporating emotions, thoughts and motives (Burger, 2007).
It is also the entire mental organization of an individual at any phase of his growth and development. Daily interactions with others enable people to assess and interpret personalities around them. Personality is an individual’s wholeness that incorporates traits, attitudes and qualities which forms one of the basic foundations of the study of Psychology (Eliasz, et al., 2006).
There are a number of characteristics associated with personality that enhance positive development and growth for instance honesty where one is open in the way they behave as well as the attitude they have towards their work. Intelligence is yet another characteristic that is perhaps considered as the most basic of positive personality traits and is highly valued in a human being (Burger 2007). This particular trait usually leads to others respecting someone.
A person who also shows the ability to be helpful, courteous and empathic is also welcomed by the society and garners him respect (Eliasz, et al., 2006). In order to determine one’s personality majority of psychologists give tests based on five key traits making up the essence of one’s personality and these include extraversion, openness, neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness (Eliasz, et al., 2006).
The Latin word ‘persona’ connotes the term personality meaning a mask worn by actors while playing key roles on stage. This therefore means that one’s personality should be a reflection of style of behavior or pattern of that individual revealed through their internal and external properties (Burger, 2007).
When studying the behavior of people it is important to keep in mind that they are different and thus possess distinct characteristics and traits which define their unique personalities. These differences in personality are great determinants of how people behave, react or act under corresponding stimuli (Eliasz, et al., 2006).
In the past modern psychological studies have revealed that there are factors that tend to influence one’s personality and thus have a lasting impact on them. Some of these factors include dreams and ambition, which shape one’s personality in a manner to facilitate their objectives and goals in life (Burger, 2007). Additionally, every one views him/herself differently from what other people may view or think of them and therefore self-image breeds personality characteristics that are within this image (Eliasz, et al., 2006).
Freud, a psychoanalyst restored the science of the mind in as far as the objective conscious and subjective unconscious are concerned. He continues to transform traditional cognitive psychology of conscious processing that establishes a barrier between the life of imagination and life of reason (Burger, 2007). Theories of personality development are closely intertwined with those of cognitive development where adulthood and aging are viewed as phases of qualitative discontinuity or transformation of early life patterns (Burger, 2007).
Past experiences also have got a lot to do with shaping one’s personality as they tend to affect a person positively or negatively. While bad experiences may make one exhibit characteristics of distrust and lead to isolating themselves from the rest, good or positive experiences may lead to motivation to work towards achieving the same results in future (Eliasz, et al. 2006).
The environment is also one of the major influences of one’s personality in that people are brought up in different environments and it is no wonder one observes that those individuals brought up in violent- and poverty-stricken regions tend to be tougher than their counterparts who grew up in peaceful and wealthy neighborhoods. Additionally, those born from single families or are orphans tend to be more responsible and self-reliant as they are aware that their fate are dependent upon their efforts in life (Burger, 2007).
Evolutionary, biological or genetic and environmental factors can result in the development of an aggressive personality, for instance, those children brought up in violent or poverty stricken areas tend to be more hardworking in matters of education and learning as they believe that once they are successful in their education, they would manage to secure good jobs that will improve and enhance their livelihoods (Burger, 2007).
There has been an overwhelming amount of evidence to prove the fact that individual differences are greatly influenced by genetic factors that establish one’s personality. The main reason as to why majority of scientists have dedicated more efforts on studying genetic influences on personality is because they need to better understand the manner in which things work (Eliasz, et al., 2006).
It is also widely believed that genetics are the key determinants of one’s personality. They also agree on the fact that environmental factors relate with genetic ones to develop personality and proposed theories emphasizing on genetic influences on personalities have also been established (Eliasz, et al. 2006).
It was previously thought that environmental factors were the only factors generally influencing personality but this has been proved otherwise in the course of the years where it has been discovered that genetic factors also influence personality after numerous tests were carried out on twins. Parents tend to directly or indirectly influence a child’s personality development in the course of their years.
Experiments recently carried out in Japan have also revealed that personality is influenced by blood-type where it makes personality highly distinct and is used for hiring practices and divisions of work in Japanese companies (Burger 2007). This is attributed to the fact that personality is genetically passed down from parents to children and therefore personalities exhibited by the parents will be similarly exhibited by their children (Burger, 2007).
Self-efficacy refers to a belief held by a person that they are capable of performing in a particular way to achieve specified goals and aims (Eliasz, et al. 2006). It is quite possible for people to be able to identify objectives they want to accomplish or things they would like to achieve or change in the course of their lives. Self-efficacy plays a key role in the manner in which challenges, tasks and goals are approached (Burger, 2007).
Perceptions of self-efficacy are situation specific and subject to presented opportunities to past experiences, attitudes, skills or abilities or even social/cultural norms (Eliasz, et al. 2006). Self-efficacy is part of a person’s personality and since it is a belief, it can be learned unlike personality itself which is mostly inherent. Developmental changes or personality exhibited in adulthood are manifestations and results of political, economic, social, biological, cross-cultural and historical intersections and experiences (Burger, 2007).
In other words they are as a result of both nurture and nature even though the overall personality may have been influenced by hereditary or environmental factors. Personality is also influenced by self-efficacy in that individuals with a greater sense of control are more likely to choose effective strategies as compared to those with a weaker sense of control or suffer from lack of confidence (Eliasz, et al. 2006).
Personality is a representation of who one truly is their characters, shortcomings, traits and therefore makes people unique. As aforementioned, this is usually shaped by a number of factors that include cultural, parental influences, family and to some extent religion. It is therefore important for families and the general society to ensure that children are brought up in positive environments that will enhance and nurture their personalities for future.
Burger, J.M. (2007). Personality. Belmont, C.A.: Cengage Learning.
Eliasz, A., Hampson, S.E., and de Raad, B. (2006). Advances in Personality Psychology, Volume 2. Philadelphia, P.A.: Psychology Press.