personality, personality meaning, personality determinants


The term “Personality” is most commonly applied in day to day conversation.
We casually make interpretations about others and say
“She is a quiet lady”
“She seems to be a confident woman”
“Mr. XYZ has a warm personality”
“She appears to be outspoken”

Why does this happen? One is loud or aggressive while the other is quite? The answer is “PERSONALITY”

But before we get into the more complex aspects of Personality let us first simplify the term and understand…

 “What is Personality?”

According to the author Stephen P.Robbins “Personality is the sum total to ways in which an individual reacts and interacts with others.”
Stephen P.Robbins

Definitions by Psychologists:

Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of the psychological systems that determine his unique adjustment to his environment; Allport, 1937.

Personality is the stability is People’s behavior that leads them to act uniformly both in different situations and over extended periods of time; Felman, 1994

Personality refers to individuals’ characteristic pattern of thought, emotion and behavior, together with the psychological mechanisms – hidden or not – behind those patterns; Funder, 2001

According to Cambridge Dictionary:

 “Personality is the type of person you are shown by the way you behave, feel and think”

According to Oxford Dictionary:

 “Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s character.

Thus we can say…

Personality comprises of various innate psychological characteristics that combine together and determine how we behave and respond to our environment.

These combinations of characteristics are fairly distinctive and remain quite consistent over the life time of an individual.

Yes! We can say Personality defines who an individual is for example – Extrovert or Introvert.
We can say Personality


When people are so different in terms of their personality few question that arise at the very first stage are:

What leads to the formation of Personality that becomes the identity of an individual?
What forms the basis of any Personality?
What determines Personality?

This means we need to identify the factors that lead to the formation of Personality.

We call them as Personality Determinants.

The early debate among the psychologist centered around – Personality was either determined by Heredity or Environment.

Advance researches conducted later proved that Heredity and Environment both determined Personality.

Further it has also been confirmed that Heredity leads Environment.

Heredity and Environment are completely two different aspects but still let us further understand the explanatory difference.


Heredity - Personality Determinant

We can say Heredity refers to characteristics that are established at the time of commencement of human life even before the human is born.

The facial features, skin color, eye color, physical stature all these are either completely or partially given to us by our biological parents.

This is one reason why we have most of the time seen others trying to bring a similarity between us and our parents.

True! This is all because of heredity.

It has even been proven the Personality that we carry is also primarily the result of heredity.

Heredity determines personality because of the molecular structure of the genes located in the chromosomes (Stephen Robbins & Timothy Judge).

The impact of heredity on Personality was further confirmed by the various studies done on twins separated at the time of birth and reared away from each other. Once they grew up their choices, tastes, behavioral aspects were nearly similar to each other. Not much difference was seen in terms of their personality despite of the fact that they never met each other and were brought up in completely different environments.

So it’s true that Heredity as a determinant has a major impact on Personality.


Environment - Personality Determinant

Another factor considered to have an impact on the kind of Personality the individual has  after heredity is Environment.

Just as Heredity is internal to an individual Environment is external.

Environment as an external determinant involves a number of elements:

Determinant 1: Family

This is the primary environmental factor.

The size of the family along with norms and values of the family have an impact on the individual’s personality.

Of extreme importance here are the children training practices that are applied in the family.

 For example parents who continuously train their children to socialize with other’s in school and society help shape up an extrovert and people friendly personality.

It is also important to mention that children learn to imitate their parents or other family members so if they observe a loud, aggressive or a nervous temperament they will try to imitate the same and eventually with practice it becomes a part of their personality. 

On the other hand if they see their parents working hard, solving daily problems easily, handle issues with calmness, or see their parents socialize or see how their parents set goals for themselves and how do they achieve them, children will also learn same practices and eventually turn to be extrovert and self dependent personalities.

So remember children learn by observing their parents therefore if they only observe nervous and anxious behavior they will also turn out to be the same. On the other hand if they be with and observe warm, loving and intellectual parents they develop same traits where they become more social, intellectual and show warmth and affection towards others in the society.

Determinant 2: Society

This environmental factor is similar to an individual’s immediate Family.

Society can be considered as a larger family that an individual is part of. 
Here also what people experience and observe determines what kind of personality that will form.

People who have experienced Social Acceptance since their early childhood and have easily been accepted as a member of various social groups will turn out to have a social and outgoing personality.
They tend to love and care about others in the society they will exhibit traits of being flexible and risk taking. They look for social acceptance and social mingling all throughout their lives.

Social Acceptance

Contrary to social acceptance Social Rejection also has a huge impact on the kind of personality an individual develops.

We all love to be part of some social group or the other. But if an individual has faced social rejection in the early childhood it will lead to the feelings of resentment as the child is left alone by the group(s). If these experiences become common over a period of time the feelings of anger, hatred and jealousy accelerate over time and the individual develops a personality that is introvert, less social, full of negative thoughts and feelings and if this gets sever it might even lead to depression.

Along with this since their childhood if people do not experience Social Interactions or are Socially Deprived later in life they turn into adults that are socially isolated.

They are not able to handle social interactions well and in turn others form a negative opinion about them which further isolates such individuals completely.

If these feelings crystallize people with such socially deprived personalities can later become harmful for others in the society by getting involved into criminal activities.

Therefore since childhood social deprivation should not be allowed to enter into an individual’s life.

Determinant 3: Culture

Impact of Culture on personality is just unquestionable.

The norms, values, customs, traditions that form a part of the culture all have a huge impact on the development of personality of an individual.

It is also obvious that individuals rared under the same cultural context will develop  similar personality traits (still maintaining the relative differences).

Culture where joint families an relationship ties are emphasized might project people who give more importance to group needs in-comparison to individual needs and give more importance to social compliance. Whereas a culture where nuclear family system is preferred will  consists of people who would rather be high on competition, personal goal achievement and independence.

Cultural Impact on Personality

Its been evident that people belonging to one culture are different from the other because of the impact of value system and practices maintained by the culture.

Norms related to communication where people are trained to exhibit their thoughts and feelings clearly through the combination of words and body language will lead to the development of outspoken personality which clearly knows how to conduct a fruitful communication.

On the other hand use of fewer words with neutral facial expressions and restrictions on movement of hands for example would generate people who do not make effective communication.

Language and style of communication that prevails in the culture has a grate input in personality development of the individual belonging to that culture.

Of great consideration here is the gender significance that prevails in the cultural aspect.

Cultures that emphasize more on the all round development of males (since birth) in comparison to females breed men with a more authoritative and extrovert personalities whereas most of the women in such societies are submissive, shy, dependent and introverts.

Certainly, cultural changes in the society also impact the overall personality changes that happen with respect to its natives. 

For example over the years India has slowly witnessed a cultural change where equal importance is being given to the overall development of both the genders - equal rights and equal empowerment to both males and females (since their childhood). Such changes have had a major impact on the personality of women belonging to the recent era whereby now they are more confident, self dependent, extrovert and self assured.

Determinant 4: Education

 Most of the parents while selecting a school for their kids are very particular as they very well know that the school environment, teaching methodology, disciplinary techniques, academics and extracurricular activities and school reputation all together have a great impact in the personality development of kids.

Along with this if the child adjusts well and has a positive attitude towards her school and college where she enjoys the student - teacher relationship, feels good as being part of the school peer group, benefits from the academic environment which in turn positively impacts her grades and also learns morals and ethical values this will all together lead to the development of confident, self assured, intellectual and sociable personality.

On the other hand if the environment of the educational institution is punitive, discounts the talents and skills of students, academic delivery is poor that does not help the child build on her grades and lack of healthy student-teacher relationship will all lead to development of low self confidence, low self esteem, reduced motivation and poor self-evaluation.

Educational institutes play a vital role in the personality development of an individual through their systems, environment and values.

We can conclude:

Personality is a unique identity of an individual that is reflected in his feelings, thoughts, behavior and actions towards elements external to his environment. Personality is determined highly by heredity followed by environmental factors that include – Family, Society, Culture and Educational aspects.

“You speak fast, eat quickly and are aggressive but the other person you know is quiet, calm, and takes enough time to finish tasks.” Neither of you are good nor bad it’s just that both of you are two different people based on your personalities.

Keertika Sharma - Personali Progressio

Keertika Sharma

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