Study of Personality

What is Personality? It is the combination of qualities that form an individual’s unique character and make them different from other people. Personality is made up the characteristic patterns of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Personality becomes apparent from an individual’s early age and remains consistent throughout his / her lifetime. Cloninjer (1999), believe that people are born with four specific temperaments ( harm avoidance, novelty seeking, perseverance, reward dependence) which have a crucial role in forming the personality and how we get along with our family and other people.
There are numerous theories about how personality develops and they focus on difference approaches. For instance the Freudians and the Behaviorists argue that personality is developed by ones interactions with their environment and by studying behaviors that can be observed and assessed. The humanists theory focuses on the importance of free will and individual experience in the development of personality.
The two issues I selected that are of interest to me are Free-will vs Determinism and Cultural Determinism vs Cultural Transcendence. Free-will vs Determinism. With this issue, the focus is on finding out if genetic and environmental events have a bearing on our personality? Can we shape, direct and control our character development and destiny? The notion of free will argues that we are conscious human beings and as a result are free to make undetermined decisions in situations where we can and are able to do so.

Determinism on the other hand argues that things or events that happen are as a result of things/events that happen in the past. Cultural Determinism vs Cultural Transcendence. The question here is that to what extent does our cultures shape us to become who we are? Just like the Free-will question, can we transcend cultural differences by rising above it? Should it so happen that we can transcend cultural difference, how can it be done, and how easy or difficult will it be to do so?
I am inclined to believe that the culture in which we were born and raised shapes who we are emotionally and behaviorally, however the environment has a commanding influence. Many cultural studies conducted during the last decade on issues such as self- processes, emotion, and personality traits have firmly established the following: culture is a key determinant of what it means to be a person (Diener, Oishi & Lucas, 2003; Markus & Kitayama, 1998).

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New York University
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