Personality is a result of the combination of four factors –


  1. Physical environment
  2. Heridity
  3. Culture
  4. Particular experiences.


  1. Personality and Environment:


Geographical environment sometimes determines cultural variability. That the Eskimos have a culture different from that of the Indians is due to the fact that the former have geography different from the latter.


Man comes to form ideas and attitudes according to the physical environment he lives in.

To the extent that the physical environment determines cultural development and to the extent, that culture in turn determines personality, a relationship between personality and environment becomes clear. Some two thousand years ago, Aristotle claimed that people living in Northern Europe were owing to a cold climate, full of spirit but lacking in intelligence and skill. The natives of Asia, on the other hand, are intelligent and inventive but lack in spirit, and are, therefore, slaves.

Montesquieu, in the eighteenth century, claimed that the bravery of those blessed by a cold climate enables them to maintain their liberties. Great heat enervates courage while cold causes certain vigour of body and mind. At high temperatures, it is said there is disinclination to work and so civilizations have grown up where the temperatures have been average near or below the optimum.

The physical conditions are more permissive and limiting factors than causative factors. They set the limits within which personality can develop.

Thus, climate and topography determine to a great extent the physical and mental traits of a people, but it cannot be said that they alone determine human behaviour. Most kinds of personality are found in every kind of culture. The fact remains that civilizations have appeared in regions of widely different climate and topography. Peoples are monogamous in high altitudes and flat lands, under tropical temperate and arctic conditions. Men’s attitudes and ideas change even when no conceivable geographic change has occurred. Proponents of geographic determinism oversimplify the human personality and so their interpretations are to be accepted only after close scrutiny.




  1. Heredity and Personality:


Heredity is another factor determining human personality. Some of the similarities in man’s personality are said to be due to his common heredity. Every human group inherits the same general set of biological needs and capacities. These common needs and capacities explain some of our similarities in personality. Man originates from the union of male and female germ cells into a single cell which is formed at the moment of conception.

He tends to resemble his parents in physical appearance and intelligence. The nervous system, the organic drives and the duchess glands have a great bearing upon personality. They determine whether an individual will be vigorous or feeble, energetic or lethargic, idiot of intelligent, coward or courageous.


Likewise the nervous system and glandular system may affect the personality of an individual.

The nervous system affects the intelligence and talent of the individual. The hormones affect the growth of personality. Too many or too less of hormones are harmfulFor a normal personality there should be a balanced secretion of hormones.

Heredity can never be considered as charting a fixed and definite course of anyone’s personality.


Heredity only furnishes the materials out of which experience will mould the personality. Experience determines the way these materials will be used. An individual may be energetic because of his heredity, but whether he is active on his own belief or on behalf of others is a matter of his training.

Whether he exerts himself in making money or in scholarly activity is also dependent upon his bringing. It is, therefore, an individual’s heredity alone would not enable us to predict his traits and values.


  1. Personality and Culture:


There can be little doubt that culture largely determines the types of personality that will predominate in the particular group. According to some thinkers, personality is the subjective aspect of culture. They regard personality and culture as two sides of the same coin.

Personality is an individual aspect of culture, while culture is a collective aspect of personality.” Each culture produces its special type or types of personality.

Some studies have demonstrated that each culture tends to create and is supported by a “basic personality type.”

The culture provides the raw material of which the individual makes his life. The traditions, customs, mores, religion, institutions, moral and social standards of a group affect the personality of the group members. From the moment of birth, the child is treated in ways which shape his personality. Every culture exerts a series of general influences upon the individuals who grow up under it.

Ogburn as we noted above, divided culture into “material” and “non-material.” According to him, both material and non-material culture have a bearing on personality.. The American Indians who have no clocks or watches in their culture have little notion of keeping appointments with any exactness.

According to him, they have no sense of time. The personality of an American Indian differs from that of a white man in the matter of punctuality and this is because of differences in their culture. Similarly, some cultures greedy value cleanliness as witnessed by the saying: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” This trait of cleanliness is greatly encouraged by the technology of plumbing and other inventions that are found with it.

Cleanliness, therefore, is a matter not of heredity but of the type of culture. As for the connection between the non-material culture and personality, language affords an instructive example. one of the principal differences between man and animals is that he alone possesses speech.

Language can be learnt only in society. People who cannot speak exhibit warped personality. Since language is the essential medium through which the individual obtains his information and his attitudes, therefore, it is the principal vehicle for the development of personality. Moreover, speech itself becomes a trait of personality.


Another illustration of the influence of culture on personality is the relationship of men and women. In the earlier period when farming was the principal business, women generally had no occupations outside the home, and naturally, therefore, they were economically dependent upon their fathers or husbands. Obedience was a natural consequence of such conditions. But today hundreds of women work outside the homes and earn salaries.

They enjoy equal rights with men and are not so dependent upon them as they were in the past. Attitude of independence instead of obedience has today become a trait of women’s personality. With the growing realisation of the importance of culture for personality, sociologists have recently made attempts to identify the factors in particular cultures which give a distinctive stamp to the individuals within the group.

Ruth Benedict analyzed the cultures of three primitive tribes and found that cultures may be divided into two major types—The Apollonian and the Dionysian.

The Apollonian type is characterised by restraint, even temperances, moderation and     co- operativeness, whereas the Dionysian type is marked by emotionalism, excess, pursuit of prestige, individualism and competitiveness.

The personality of the Hindus in India differs greatly from that of Englishmen. Why ? The answer is ‘a different Hindu culture’. The Hindu culture lays emphasis not on material and worldly things, but on things spiritual and religious. In every Hindu family there is a religious environment. The mother gets up early in the morning, takes bath and spends an hour in meditation. When the children get up, they go and touch the feet of their parents and bow before the family gods or goddesses. The Hindu child from the very birth begins to acquire a religious and philosophical personality built on the “inner life.”

From the various illustrations cited so far it is thus clear that culture greatly moulds personality. The individual ideas and behaviour are largely the results of cultural conditioning. There is a great difference of ideas between the Hindu devotee immersed in religion and the Russian Communist who thoroughly rejects it.

However, it should not be concluded that culture is a massive die that shapes all who come under it with an identical pattern. All the people of a given culture are not of one cast. Personality traits differ within any culture, some people in any culture are more aggressive than others, some are more submissive, kind and competitive. Personality is not totally determined by culture, even though no personality escapes its influence. It is only one determinant among others.


  1. Personality and Particular Experiences:


Personality is also determined by another factor, namely, the particular and unique experiences. There are two types of experiences one, those that stem from continuous association with one’s group, second, those that arise suddenly and are not likely to recur. The type of people who meet the child daily has a major influence on his personality. The personality of parents does more to affect a child’s personality.

If the parents are kind, tolerant of boyish pranks, interested in athletics and anxious to encourage their child’s separate interests the child will have a different experience and there shall be different influence on his personality than the one when the parents are unkind, quick tempered and arbitrary. In the home is fashioned the style of personality that will by and large characterise the individual throughout his life.


Social rituals,’ ranging from table manners to getting along with others, are consciously inculcated in the child by parents. The child picks up the language of his parents. Problems of psychological and emotional adjustments arise and are solved appropriately by each child in terms of the cultural values and standards of the family. The family set up tends to bring the child into contact with his play-mates and teachers. What his play-game members are, and his school teachers are will also determine his personality development.

Group influences are relatively greater in early childhood. This is the period when the relationships of the child with his mother, father and siblings affect profoundly the organisation of his drives and emotions, the deeper and unconscious aspects of his personality.

A certain degree of maturation is needed before the child can understand the adult norms. The basic personality structure that is formed during this period is difficult to change. Whether a person becomes a leader, a coward, an imitator? Whether he feels inferior or superior, whether he becomes altruistic or egoistic depends upon the kind of interaction he has with others. Group interaction moulds his personality.

Away from the group he may become insane or develop queer attitudes. As a child grows he develops wish for response and wish for recognition. To his organic needs are added what are called ‘sociogenic’ needs which are highly important motivating forces in personality. How the idea of self develops in the child is an important study. The self does not exist at birth but begins to arise as the child learns something of the world of sensation about him.

Our view of self conception is usually based on the opinion of others about us. It does not. However, mean that we value all opinions about our conduct equally. We attach importance only to the opinions of those whom we consider for one reason or the other significant than others.

Our parents are usually most significant than others since they are the ones who are intimately related to us and have greatest power than others over us especially during the early years of life. In short, our early experiences are very important in the formation of our personality. It is in early life that the foundations of personality are laid.

The children brought up in the same family differ from one another in their personality; they have not had the same experiences. Some experiences are similar while others are different. Each child enters a different family unit.

One is the first born; he is the only child until the arrival of the second. The parents do not treat all their children exactly alike. The children enter different play groups, have different teachers and meet different incidents. They do not share all incidents and experiences. Each person’s experience is unique as nobody else perfectly duplicates it. Thus, each child has unique experiences exactly duplicated by no one and, therefore, grows a different personality.

Sometimes a sudden experience leaves an abiding influence upon the personality of an individual. Thus a small child may get frightened at the view of a bloody accident, and even after the accident he may be obsessed of the horror of fear. Sometimes a girl’s experience with a rapist may condemn her to a life of sexual maladjustment.

It may be referred that personality is a matter of social situations. It has been shown by social researchers that a person may show honesty in one situation and not in another. The same is true for other personality traits also. Personality traits tend to be specific responses to particular situations rather than general behaviour patterns. It is a dynamic unity with a creative potential.


Heredity, physical environment, culture and particular experiences are thus the four factors that explain personality—its formation, development and maintenance. Beyond the joint influence of these factors, however, the relative contribution of each factor to personality varies with the characteristic or personality process involved and, perhaps, with the individual concerned.

Genetic or hereditary factors may be more critical for some personality characteristics, while environmental factors, (cultural, financial), may be more important for others. Furthermore, for any one characteristic, the relative contribution of one or another factor may vary from person to person.

Also there is no way yet known to measure the effect of each factor or to state how the factors combine to produce a given result. The behaviour of a juvenile delinquent is affected by his heredity and by his home life. But how much is contributed by each factor, cannot be measured in exact terms.





Psychologists seek to measure personality through a number of methods. The most common of these methods include objective tests and projective measures.




An objective test is a psychological test that measures an individual’s characteristics in a way that isn’t influenced by the examiner’s own beliefs; in this way, they are said to be independent of rater bias. They usually involve the administration of a bank of questions that are marked and compared against standardized scoring mechanisms, in much the same way that school exams are administered.

Objective tests tend to have more validity than projective tests (described below); however, they are still subject to the willingness and ability of the examinee to be open, honest, and self-reflective enough to accurately represent and report their true personality. 

The most common form of objective test in personality psychology is the self-report measure. Self-report measures rely on information provided directly by participants about themselves or their beliefs through a question-and-answer format. There are a number of test formats, but each one requires respondents to provide information about their own personality. They typically use multiple-choice items or numbered scales, which represent a range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).



  1. Self-report

Self-report measures typically use multiple-choice items or numbered scales, which represent a range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).


Self-report measures are used with both clinical and nonclinical populations and for a variety of reasons, from diagnostic purposes to helping with career guidance. Some of the more widely used personality self-report measures are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Neo Pi-R, MMPI/MMPI-2, 16 PF, and Eysenck Personality Questionnaire.


  1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality. The MBTI is one of the most popular personality inventories used with nonclinical populations; it has been criticized, however, for its lack of statistical validity and low reliability. The MBTI measures individuals across four bi-polar dimensions: 


  • Attitudes: Extraversion-Introversion. This measures whether someone is “outward-turning” and action-oriented or “inward turning” and thought-oriented.
  • The perceiving function: Sensing-Intuition. This measures whether someone understands and interprets new information using their five senses (sensing) or intuition.
  • The judging function: Thinking-Feeling. This measures whether one tends to make decisions based on rational thought or empathic feeling.
  • Lifestyle preferences: Judging-Perceiving. This measures whether a person relates to the outside world primarily using their judging function (which is either thinking or feeling) or their perceiving function (which is either sensing or intuition). 



  1. Neo Pi-R


The Revised Neo Pi (personality inventory) is designed to measure personality traits using the five factor model. According to the five factor model, the five dimensions of personality lies along a continuum of opposing poles and include Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.


  1. Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI)


The Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI) is the most widely used personality inventory for both clinical and nonclinical populations, and is commonly used to help with the diagnosis of personality disorders. It was first published in 1943, with 504 true/false questions; an updated version including 567 questions was released in 1989, and is known as the MMPI-2. The original MMPI was based on a small, limited sample composed mostly of Minnesota farmers and psychiatric patients; the revised inventory was based on a more representative, national sample to allow for better standardization. 

The MMPI-2 takes 1–2 hours to complete. Responses are scored to produce a clinical profile composed of 10 scales: hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviance (social deviance), masculinity versus femininity, paranoia, psychasthenia (obsessive/compulsive qualities), schizophrenia, hypomania, and social introversion. There is also a scale for ascertaining risk factors for alcohol abuse. In 2008, the test was revised once more using more advanced methods; this is the MMPI-2-RF. This version takes about one-half the time to complete and has only 338 questions. Despite the new test’s advantages, the MMPI-2 is more established and is still more widely used. Although the MMPI was originally developed to assist in the clinical diagnosis of psychological disorders, it is now also used for occupational screening for careers like law enforcement, and in college, career, and marital counselling.


  1. 16 PF


The 16 PF (personality factor) inventory measures personality according Cattell’s 16 factor theory of personality. The 16PF can also used be used by psychologists and other mental health professionals as a clinical instrument to help diagnose psychiatric disorders and help with prognosis and therapy planning. It provides clinicians with a normal-range measurement of anxiety, adjustment, emotional stability, and behavioral problems. It can also be used within other areas of psychology, such as career and occupational selection.


  1. Eysenck Personality Questionnaire


The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire is based on Eysenck’s model of personality, and was developed from a large body of research and laboratory experiments. Eysenck’s inventory focuses on three dimensions: psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism.




Projective measures, unlike objective tests, are sensitive to the rater’s or examiner’s beliefs. Projective tests are based on Freudian psychology (psychoanalysis) and seek to expose people’s unconscious perceptions by using ambiguous stimuli to reveal the inner aspects of an individual’s personality. Two of the most popular projective measures are the Thematic Apperception Measure and the Rorschach test.


The advantage of projective measures is that they purportedly expose certain aspects of personality that are impossible to measure by means of an objective test; for instance, they are more reliable at uncovering unconscious personality traits or features. However, they are criticized for having poor reliability and validity, lacking scientific evidence, and relying too much on the subjective judgment of a clinician. 


  • Rorschach Test


The Rorschach test consists of ten inkblots, which were created by Herman Rorschach dribbling ink on paper and then folding over the paper to create a symmetrical design. During the test, participants are shown the inkblots and asked what each one looks like. The test administrator then asks questions about the responses, such as which part of the inkblot was linked to each response. This test can be used to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning, and is thought to measure unconscious attitudes and motivations. 



  • Simulated inkbolt  


This simulated inkblot is similar to those that make up the Rorschach test; a Rorschach inkblot would be filled in rather than a dotted pattern. 


  • Thematic Apperception Test


The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) consists of 30 cards (including one blank card) depicting ambiguous drawings. Test-takers are asked to tell a story about each picture, including the background that led up to the story and the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Like the Rorschach test, the results are thought to indicate a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

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