Obviously the question: Does nature set in stone mean that I am unchangeable arises when the nature versus nurture debate comes up, right? Although the data available now contains more information, we still have missing spaces. One specific study which plays across all venues in the discussion of nature is the Twin Studies in Personality Research.
These studies suggest that the heritability for various personality traits is about 50%. Although the other half of the variance our environment determines.
The percentage sits between 30% and 60%, but those numbers have variation ability. Gene-Environment interactions and relations between personality and parenting play a significant role in the direction these take.
Does nature set in stone mean that I am unchangeable?
As we witness the nature of children, we can see their personalities early on in temperament. Whilst temperament and disposition influence personality, they can be quite different. Nature set in stone means that I am unchangeable – cannot stand alone.
A person’s temperament can determine how they will interact with the world. The type of initial reactions they will attach to when faced with worldly experiences. Temperament affects behaviour and interaction with the environment. On the other hand, personality develops through numerous experiences, thoughts, beliefs, etc., as we grow.
The five main traits of hereditary temperament.
It is widely suggested amongst professionals that personalities are made up of different broad traits. Subsequently, they narrowed it down to a spectrum of five. One very familiar trait is extraversion, the range between extroversion and introversion.
A spectrum means that we can be anywhere between those two depending on which characteristics or sub-traits we develop and practice more. Even though we may be genetically more inclined to a certain temperament, we can choose its strength and how it shows up within us. Furthermore, how these clusters of genes interact to form forces of these traits shows immense complexity. Subsequently, we might be
wondering where does that leave us in our growth and expansion of self?
When looking at the three basic temperaments of children, easy, difficult or slow-to-warm-up. We cannot help but wonder how much of this influences personality later and how much carries influence by experiences. If we push further, we can ask how much power the three traits have on our perception of
What nature is set in stone means that I am unchangeable – determined by the
other four broad traits.
Psychologist Gordon Allport once created a list of four thousand terms for personality traits. Unquestionably, if we have to name some to describe ourselves, it will be thousands more. A trait is described as a relatively stable characteristic that causes individuals to behave in specific ways.
The five traits are:
- Openness – happy to try new things, creative, and open to thinking abstractly.
- Neuroticism – worry a lot, sadness and moodiness inclined, emotional instability.
- Extraversion – Excitability, assertiveness, sociability and talkativeness.
- Conscientiousness – high levels of thoughtfulness, reasonable impulse control and goal-directed behaviours.
- Agreeableness – trust, altruism, kindness, affection and other prosocial behaviours.
Most of the traits you may use to describe your character will fall under one of the above. Moreover, suggested research says that heritability explains about 50% of the variance in this big five broad trait spectrum.
Does this mean I have no choice in the way I was meant to be by genetics?
A broad spectrum between the above five traits is much room for growth and changeability. Also, 50% gives us the bases or structure from which we perceive the rest of our personality adaptations and choices. This happens through the other environmentally influenced 50%. So perhaps in a family, we are given the same home structure, but how we arrange the furniture, decorate and design the touches can be ours to choose from. Importantly, we must not forget the factors of influence regarding finance, location, ethnicity and elements which are systematically in place that affects our outcomes.
We can be low in some traits and high in others but mostly somewhere between moving along the axis.
What does this mean concerning my unchangeable aspects?
A person’s personality is not solely a product of environmental forces. Those forces act “from the outside” of our person. Apart from this, personality also carries the results of a genetic blueprint. Finally, this blueprint can lead us to seek out and interpret outside environments in unique ways actively. Indeed they play a role in how we internalise and react to external stimuli in experiences.
Ultimately throwing in unfavourable, joyous and traumatic experiences plays a significant role in which sub-traits we choose to develop further. Most often than not, those will be traits that have served us in our survival in a more vulnerable state of our lives.
People with extreme views are called nativists and empiricists. Particularly, nativists take the position that all or most behaviours and characteristics are the result of genetics. Unlike, empiricists who believe that all or most behaviours and characteristics result from learning.
These groups further divide when this argument comes up about intelligence or social studies.
If we were all purely driven by nature, what is the purpose of encouraging change? Furthermore, if it is as it is exactly, why focus on the hope of a growth mindset and self-betterment? Right?
Do changes happen concerning the core five traits foundation?
As we age, evidence shows that inner personas become more reserved and calmer. Indeed with age, a choice of direction towards introversion happens. This does not change the core trait you have in your genes but gradually moves low on the spectrum as time and experiences pass.
Furthermore, we must believe that, in some way, we can encourage this movement along the axis to thrive earlier on in life as we choose to. To develop roles, identities and adopted characteristics that better serve us in our lives.
These core traits are not solidly set in stone. Because, as humans, we are also evolving. Undoubtedly, our brains are plastic, and our beings are susceptible to growth and change. Besides, where would hope come from if nature held a large part of the way we were with majority influence? I began my self-awareness interests to build on this hope.
To Conclude – Does nature set in stone mean that I am unchangeable or not?
Not, absolutely not, because what hope will we have to make a difference and better ourselves or heal from less favourable and traumatic experiences?
We can heal because we can change. Even though about 50% genetically tell us from which level of the core traits we function. Whereas the other half plays a great role in how we interpret, act out, develop and show up concerning the complexity of those core traits.
Knowing one’s default personality compass allows us to discover where on the spectrum our core traits are. Moreover, what they are, and how much room we have for expansion, change and growth in other areas and characteristics.
Never let go of hope. Because we are healing, growing and evolving beings.
Read Part 1 of this blog here. And subscribe to my blog for Part 3 and more conversations regarding complex things in easy-to-digest ways. Here we can begin to understand and put into practice these things in our daily lives to thrive and grow.
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Lots of love,
Lim, A (2020, June 15). The big five personality traits. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/big-five-personality.html