You have a unique and special personality that belongs only to you, but you might be surprised to learn that there are only 4 main elements that determine how you became your unique self. When you are born, you are just beginning to learn about the world and you rarely think ‘Who am I?’ until you are a little older. It is around the ages of the terrible twos that we begin to understand ourselves as separate from our parents and we begin to reveal our own personality.
Psychologists Reveal The 4 Main Elements That Determine Your Personality
Between the ages of 2 to 6, we start to develop our own unique sense of self. It is then that these 4 main elements of personality begin to take shape and help us become who we are meant to be. Not all of our personality development takes place in our childhood, however, and we will look at the main elements that form our early and later personalities.
1. Your genetic makeup
Your biological genetics are one main element that determines about 40% of the makeup of your personality. The genes that were passed on to you by your mother and father are the part that you have no control over. But, don’t feel like you can’t change negative personality traits if you want to. The whole field of psychology is devoted to helping people change themselves for the better.
So if you are born with an angry and aggressive personality, does that mean you’ll never be able to change? The short answer is no. Personality is not a constant throughout your lifetime. Researchers looked at the stability of personality traits from childhood to old age and found that while only about 30% of personality traits are stable during childhood years, this increases to 54% during college years, and up to 74% between the ages of 50 and 70.
2. Your environment
The environment that contributes to your personality can include where you live, cultural and spiritual influences, your economic security, and family, friend, and work experiences. Your social experiences help shape your personality because they help you learn what different looks like. In other words, you may see someone who is selfish or angry and think to yourself that unlike that person, you are generous and calm.
Researchers at King’s College London and University of Wisconsin and University of Illinois at Urbana studied the workplace experiences of young adults and how these experiences helped shape their personalities. They found that ‘measures of personality taken at age 18 predicted both objective and subjective work experiences at age 26.’ In other words, the scientists could predict if a person would like a job or not based on their personality and the type of career field that they chose. The research also found that work experiences were related to changes in personality traits from age 18 to 26.
Also interesting from this research, the personality traits that were most likely to make people choose certain careers were also the same traits that changed in response to those work experiences.
3. Shared family personality
Even identical twins only share about 50% of their personality traits. They may look identical, but they act like two different people. Fraternal twins only share about 30% of their personality traits, and siblings are usually only about 20% similar in personality. If you have non-genetically related family members in the same household, for example, step-brothers or adopted siblings, you only share about 7% of your personality traits.
Your family may develop traditions that you carry on, for example, charitable giving or volunteerism, which help you to determine the element of generosity for your personality. Similarly, your family may have a tradition of being conservative and these values have been passed down to you. As a result you may be a more conservative personality type in that you have a lower comfort level for risk and change.
4. Life experiences
Traumatic experiences early on in childhood, or even as you are developing a personality in your teen years, can have an impact on determining your personality. We develop fears early in life and these are sustained until they are disproven by our experiences. For example, if you are afraid of spiders but then have a good experience with someone’s pet tarantula, you may change your mind about them.
The traits of introvertedness or extrovertedness are believed to be determined early in life by how we interpret feedback from peers. If we are ridiculed for our attempts to make friends, we may become more of an introvert. Similarly, if we are rewarded with smiles, hugs, and offers to share and play when we try to make friends, we may become an extrovert because we gravitate toward the rewards of friendship.