How environmental factors affect Personality & Intelligence BY sadists Describe and evaluate the ways in which environmental factors can impact on the development of an individual’s personality and intelligence. The discussion in this essay entails the extent to which environmental factors impact an individual’s development of personality and intelligence. Development can be defined as ‘improvement in function’ which would imply that it occurs with the progression of age.
Personality has been found to have a substantial genetic influence however economic and social factors have en found to effect the development of personality traits such as stereotypes. On the other hand, the development Of an individual’s intelligence has much supporting evidence stating that environmental factors such as education have a greater effect than genetic influences. “It is not nature vs.. Nurture, but the interaction of nature and nurture that drives development” (Frontbencher 1992).
This supports that both environmental factors and genetics interact together in order to form an overall context of a child’s development. Personality is defined as “An individual’s pattern of psychological processes arising from motives, feelings, thoughts, and other major areas of psychological function” (Mayer, 2005). This can be expressed in an individual’s social behavior. The overall consensus is that both nature and environmental factors play an important role in personality. Some psychologist such as Essence (1997) stated that genetics are the primary determinate of personality yet later suggested conditioning plays a role.
According to his personality theory, all traits can be reduced which “are three broad personality factors, named neurotics, extroversion-introversion, and Catholicism” (Essence 1997). These factors were supported with research; however his theory paid very little attention to environmental factors which was regarded too simplistic to fully describe personality. Studies on twins and siblings have shown many individual differences which explain that environmental factors must have an effect on traits such as outgoing/shy. Characteristics that have been found to have a strong genetic effect also show variability.
These individual differences can be explained as individuals inherit different versions of the same gene (alleles). Family studies have also purported the view that “many of the core dimensions of personality are genetically influenced” ((Lanolin 1 992, Palomino 1994). For example, the introvert-extrovert personality types would suggest that if parents had shy, quiet traits then most likely, a child may also have these traits. The ‘choice’ to behave in a shy and quiet manner at a party however is where environmental factors play a part in shaping personality.
A later contribution stated that there are five primary traits which are “extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neurotics and openness”, known as the “Big Five” hero (Costa & McCrae 1987). This generated significant levels of further research into the development of personality. Nevertheless, researchers disagree on the labels and the five factors as other research has taken into account situational factors which affect personality at a given time. As these traits rely on context, the traits cannot predict behavior nor explain why people develop traits in the first place.
Studies on sociability showed that “temperament is inherited” as identical twins were found more “alike than fraternal twins on behaviors such as smiling’, (Freedman 1974). Behaviorism would question the findings from twin studies supporting the heredity influences on personality and state that personality is ultimately developed from a change in response characteristics. “It is accepted that there is no major gene for personality, research has suggested that multiple genes are related to traits” (Malady, Day, Mainsails 2010).
The evidence described in this essay implies that biological traits are present in an individual’s genes; however their experiences within the environment during early childhood predict the tendency that certain traits form personality. For example, a person who would be described as an extrovert who has lively trait may experience extreme poverty leading to changes in their character therefore new traits may be portrayed in their personality. Behavioral genetics explains the development of personality and intelligence by emphasizing the role of genes in guiding our behavior in a particular context or environment.
In today society, children within an institution may score differently on assessments, even when the teaching provided is the same. This questions if intelligence is Innate. Other factors such as health, Emily circumstances, access to technology, wealth should also be considered. Research suggest that “if we were to provide all members of a population with an environment that is uniform” in regards to intelligence, then “estimates of genetic influences would increase” (Broody 1992). Biological explanations show that differences in the male and female brain suggest differences in intelligence between the sexes.
However, generalizing that intelligence is based on the structures of the brain would be an over simplification and attitudes to learning and environmental influences would give a better understanding. Intelligence is not simply ones IQ result but can be referred to an individual’s “intellectual functioning” (PAP 2013). Environmental factors affecting intelligence are many such as nutrition, education and the environment lived in as well as having an effect on religion, culture and interests. Many twin studies have supported that environmental factors have an overriding effects to genetics. Identical twins reared apart have Sis’s that are less similar than identical twins reared in the same environment” (McGee et al 1993). Intelligence can be defined in many different ways with many types such as motional, social and mental intelligence. Biological explanations include that of functioning of the brain and evolution such as language evolving in order for enhanced communication. Stereotypes are another factor affecting intelligence. A stereotype is “a fixed, over generalized belief about a particular group or class of people” (Careered 1996) which can be unconscious or automatic.
These begin at a young age such as preferences with toys, clothes and the parent’s attitudes towards behaviors. At school, children develop their personalities by responding to the environment in what they feel appropriate as classroom interactions. It is found “certain situations inhibit intelligence while certain habits can increase it” (Aaron’s 2009). Poverty is another issue and in some areas would limit the amount of food available, nutrition and the resources one could access in regards to education.
This has been found to have a negative effect on intelligence. The “achievement gap” is the belief that children living in poverty are more likely to have low academic performance than children from financially secure families (Taylor 2006). Another strong view opposing the biological influences by Watson (1924) stating “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select”.
This supports the behaviorism view, showing importance to experience and that diversity in individual personality and intelligence are not solely based upon hereditary influences. As Pigged (1972) mentioned that “Intelligence develops in all children through the continually shifting balance between the assimilation of new information into existing cognitive structures and the accommodation” into new information. The extent to which a person can hold new knowledge and how deep their understanding is can be affected bathe genetic temperament.
Research shows that there is no specific gene for intelligence or personality. However some genes do control the development of the nervous system, which in turn controls behavior. While no significant figure has been found to state the extent of environmental influences on behavior, it can be concluded that both have an equal but different role in forming ones personality. From the evidence in this essay, it is clear that both existing genes and environmental actors have an impact on the development of an individual’s personality and intelligence such as experiences, wealth, education and culture.