A lot of philosophers, psychologists, and social scientists have long debated on human personality and the factors that contribute to its formation. Many have proposed theories where genetics (nature), the environment (nurture) or their mixture play a major role in human development. In my opinion, it is a combination of nature and upbringing that shapes each person although nurture takes somewhat a bigger part. Interactionists’ theory presents evidence that genes influence behavior and attitudes while the surrounding environment shapes and allows to comprehend the connection between genetics and external stimuli.
In order to understand the origins of personality formation, one must go to the most basic and starting point of a human being formation. Even before the fetus starts growing, genetic information of the father and mother is united into a single formation – zygote. Biology has shown that each parent cell carries an equal amount of chromosomes and genetic information, which is then combined. As such, when the fetus starts growing, there is already a certain information, which determines the height of a child, gender, color of their eyes, inborn instincts, and predispositions (Bukatko, 2011). Even though some philosophers have proposed that a child can be raised to be anyone and develop any talents if they are properly trained, it has been proven that if someone does not have an innate ability towards a specific task, it would be difficult to make that person as good as someone who has talent. This genetic predisposition has been proven by modifications that have been made to certain genes. Also, in the studies of twins and birth order research, there has been significant evidence where each person has unique qualities while they are suscepted to a similar environment (Bee & Boyd, 2007). Each individual develops personal traits and learns information which is then passed to an offspring (Bee & Boyd, 2007). It is important to note that genetics determines a reaction or an immediate response to the surrounding stimuli, while the conscious mind receives the information and begins to interpret it in accordance with the learned information. As a result, the environment greatly shapes the way a person behaves and thinks.
The mind is specifically made to remember, store, and retrieve information that has been learned. Anything that a person encounters since birth and even before it is recorded and later used to form opinions, knowledge, and understanding. Things like the fear of heights, certain reaction to pain, fight or flight response are all genetically determined; however, in order to trigger any response, the environment must determine the situation (Bee & Boyd, 2007). For example, if someone stands on the edge of a cliff, the person will feel an adrenaline rush, fear, or anxiety; however, this response by the organism would not appear if there was no cliff. The same can be said about pain – if someone places their hand into the fire, there will be a physical reaction, which would not have been there were it not for the proximity of fire. An identical process takes place in human personality. If a person is constantly suscepted to a harsh environment, they will become stronger, the endurance will increase and the muscle mass will grow (Messerly, 1996). These are all environmental responses.
Another great example is the theory of evolution. The survival of the strongest and smartest can only be possible when a living organism experiences the exterior environment, learns to behave in accordance with the surrounding conditions, stores the received information, and uses it to his/her advantage. A practical illustration of how environment shapes one’s personality can be observed through the difference between a child raised in a strict family and a child who is constantly spoiled. Both children will adjust to the surrounding stimuli and respond according to the conditions. A child from a strict family will know the rules of social behavior and use their conscious mind to remind themselves that being offensive or loud in public is impolite. On the contrary, a child who was spoiled will learn that a lot of things will go unpunished, so his/her behavior will be much different (Rogers, 2013).
In trying to discern personal information and personality, independence has been the predominant trait. From the genetic point of view, it is obvious, because most our ancestors have been living in conditions which favored independence. From the stories told by the closest relatives, the jobs that previous generations had were based on the ability to work independently without relying on others. The type of the information which was passed down genetically has formed a behavior determined by the strength of character, strong analytical skills, self-confidence, and the advantage of high self-esteem. Analyzing the personal characteristics that have been acquired during the learning and socialization processes, it is obvious that the nurture of the family and friends has played a greater part. Judging on the way my mother and aunt have acted towards me, it can be concluded that the environment greatly shaped and supported my predisposition to independence. One of the deciding factors was the fact that every time there was a personal need for something, my mother would say that it has to be done independently. Even if the task was difficult, she would find ways to point to the right direction, assist in understanding and using the information which was present in the environment. This nurtured my ability to imagine different outcomes and calculate which one would be the most beneficial. My aunt was also very helpful in shaping my independence, because she was very confident that I will be able to find a solution myself. The encouragement and support of the family have shown that reassurance and understanding can help develop independence.