Personality can be described as the collective, qualities, characteristics, disposition and values of a person which distinguish him from others and which will affect the manners he reacts toward or interacts with other people and the environment.

Determinants of Personality
The  Major determinants of personality can be grouped into five  categories:

  1. Biological Factors
  2. Social Factors
  3. Cultural Factors
  4. Situational Factors
  5. Physical Factors

Biological Factors

The basic characteristics of the human biological system determine how human beings absorb external stimuli and react to them.

The contribution of biology in the field of personality development is divided into the following three major categories:

1) Heredity: Heredity is the transfer of features from predecessors to the next generation via chromosomes found in germ cells. Heredity influences the physical, emotional and mental states of an individual.  As heredity has an impact on the nature of an individual, hence it causes variation in personalities. Heredity factors are the tendencies and attitudes that are passed on from parents and they determine a person’s nature

While performing studies on twins it was discovered that heredity plays a vital role in personality. Identical Twins (same genetic composition) have more common personality traits than Fraternal Twins (different genetic composition). If identical twins are brought up in different families, their personality traits would be more common than fraternal twins brought up in the same family. Hence, a study on twins suggests that inherited personality traits are nearly half of total personality traits.

2) Brain: Another important factor that plays a vital role in personality is the brain. It is believed that its structure defines personality. However, no concrete evidence is found yet to confirm its relevance in personality development.

3) Physical Features: Physical features and maturity rate also determine personality formation. This is because physical features influence others and also the self-image.

Social Factors

The personality of an individual is affected by numerous social factors such as nuclear families and remote and universal alliances. Family and social background have an immense impact on personality development. The following factors affect personality development: 

1) Home Environment: The environment where a person is born and brought up has a huge impact on his overall personality development. 

For example, children brought up in a very strict and uncaring atmosphere are more inclined to be emotionally imbalanced than children who are brought up in a loving and caring atmosphere. 

2) Family Members: Parents and other members of the family also have a significant impact on the personality development of an individual. Parents and children share a stronger bond than the bond between children and teachers. Apart from parents, even siblings play an important role in personality development.

3) Social Groups: Society also influences an individual’s personality e.g., the school where a child studies, the friend circle, colleagues at work, etc. Further, certain socio-economic factors are also responsible for the development of personality.

Cultural Factors

Culture is one of the most important factors in shaping the personality of an individual. It decides what the person actually is and what he is learning. It also determines the behaviour and attitude of a person towards freedom, hostility, rivalry, and collaboration. The members of a culture are expected to act in a manner that is acceptable to the cultural group. Even though culture is immensely responsible for developing personality, yet, a linear relationship between personality and culture could not be developed.

Cultural factors influence the personality of an individual. The reason is that people need to develop their personalities within the cultural environment. On the whole, culture is the combination of beliefs, values, traditions, customs, habits and attitudes that the person gets from society. These cultural factors help in giving shape to the features and attributes of one’s personality. Customs associated with a culture also determine the personality of an individual. Hence, the cultural surroundings of a person should be considered while estimating his personality.

Situational Factors

The personality formation of an individual also depends on situational factors. Situational factors are dynamic and change with the social conditions. People come across various situations that change their perspective toward things. 

For example, a strict teacher might not be strict towards his family members. The behaviour of an officer might be different towards his subordinates than compared to his family. It is not a single factor that shapes personality but a collection of different factors. A person displays his attitude when he comes in contact with the environment, culture, society, parents, friends and others.

A particular situation might have a huge impact on a person. It might be restrictive or motivational. The person might not behave as per his nature, but as per the situation he is facing.

For example, a person with dominating personality might get irritated in a bureaucratised work condition and behave violently and lethargically.

Physical Factors

The physical environment also influences the personality of an individual. Environmental factors comprise land, river, mountains, hills, forests, plains, atmosphere, etc., which determines if the personality is good or bad, strong or weak. Every feeling, emotion, idea, attitude, habit, behaviour and body structure is the result of the physical environment that surrounds the person.

For example, the colour, health and physique of people belonging to rural areas differ from people belonging to urban areas. Their personalities differ due to the different environments in which they are brought up. Urban people enjoy all the modern facilities and lifestyles which results in delicate bodies and minds. Rural people, on the other hand, lack such facilities and hence their lifestyles and mindset are totally different.

Determinants of Personality
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