We find uniqueness in every person. Some persons
are criminals and others law abiding citizens, some
alcoholics and others teetotallers, some maladjusted
and others well adjusted. There are certain principles
underlying personality development and functioning,
which enable us to understand the variation in the
pattern of behaviour. They involve the influences of
heredity and environment.
A) Biological Factors
These factors include genetic factors and hormonal
factors. Let us examine these factors in some details.
Genetic Factors: Each individual receives a genetic
endowment from his parents which provides for physical
equipment–muscle, glands, sense organs, nerves and
so on. All these parts are essential for one’s development
into an adult human being. Heredity not only provides
potentialities for development but is an important source
of individual differences, as it influences the
determination of certain traits more than other. The
physical features and various constitutional factors
such as sensitivity, vigour, susceptibility to disease,
and intelligence are most clearly influenced by
heredity. Genetic factors may influence the overall
functioning of the organism and lower the individual’s
resistance to physical disease. The most unique aspects
of man’s inheritance are reflected in the brain which
is the most highly organized apparatus in the universe.
The brain produces a fantastic communication network
with tremendous capability for integrating the overall
functioning of the human organism, for interpreting
and ‘storing’ new experiences and for reasoning,
imagining and problem solving.
Hormonal Factors: There are a number of hormonal
factors which influence the development of personality.
Some of the important ones are described below.
1) Endocrine Glands
These glands secrete directly without any tube. The
secretion of these glands is known as harmones which
affect the personality.
i) Pancreas Glands: This gland is related to a tube of
the deudenum. This gland secretes digestive
juices. Insulin is secreted in the body by these
cells, which neutralize blood sugar.
ii) Thyroid Gland: The secretion of this gland is called
thyroxin which influences the rate of physical
iii) Parathyroid Gland: The main function of this gland
is to control the quantity of calcium which makes
the development of bones and teeth smooth, if its
secretion is smooth.
iv) Adrenal Gland: The secretion from this gland is
called ‘Aderin’, which shapes personality. The
secretion stimulates the blood supply and
influences liver. As a result, fatigue is reduced
and the wastes of the body are released.
v) Pitutary Gland: The harmone secreted from the
anterior part of this gland controls the secretions
of various glands and the secretion from its
posterior part stimulates the petuterin muscle.
vi) Gonad Gland: The secretion from these glands is
called gonadal harmones (Progestin, Androgens
and Estrogens). Due to these secretions males
have masculine traits and females have feminine
2) Physique and Health
A person’s worth increases by good physical structure.
Also, if the physical structure is defective, the chances
are high that he/she would suffer from a number of
3) Body Chemistry
The various chemical changes taking place in different
centres of brain and body have an important effect on
a person’s personality. If the chemical changes are
not in proper order the person suffers from various
problems. Thus due to deficiency of glycogen in the
muscles a person will exhaust soon and will appear
lazy, depressed, frustrated and irritated.
4) Maturation and Personality
Maturation decides how and what a person will learn.
The development of many personality traits depends
upon learning. If the maturation is not smooth then
his learning and personality will be adversely effected.
5) Genetic and Somatic Factors
The characteristics of a child are often found to be
like their parents. It is because of heredity of the
child and the environment created by the guardians,
in which the child is brought up. There are several
studies of twins which show that personality
development is effected by heredity. It is also observed
that during pregnancy activeness of mother, her diet,
fetus, requirements, emotional status of mother affect
the personality of a new born child.
B) Environmental Factors
The psychological development of a person is constantly
shaped by the forces in his or her environment. Even
people with similar inheritance show different
characteristics. The sociocultural environment
influences the development of individuals even more
dramatically through the learning of the language he
speaks, the customs he follows, the values he believes
in, and the competencies which he develops to deal
with life’s problems. We find that groups of people
foster specific culture patterns by the systematic
teaching of the younger members of their groups.
Such practices tend to make all members of the group
somewhat alike, or as Linton (1945) has put it, to
establish, “the basic personality types.”
According to Mead (1949) people reared in societies
which do not sanction violence will settle their
differences in nonviolent ways. In New Guinea two
tribes of similar social origin, living in the same general
geographical area, were found to have developed
diametrically opposed characteristics : the Arapesh
were a kindly, peaceful, cooperative people; the
Mundugumor were warlike, suspicious, competitive and
vengeful. These differences emerge in the social
Each individual belongs to a somewhat unique pattern
of sub groups and experiences a unique pattern of
interpersonal relationships. Participation in the sociocultural
environment may vary across individuals. It
may be said that the socio cultural environment is
the source of differences as well as commonalities in
personality development. The environmental factors
may be divided into two categories
i) Geographical Factors
ii) Social Factors
A brief description of Social factors are as follows :
1) Parental Factors
i) Importance of Mother: Certain studies conducted
in this field point out that, out of all environmental
factors, the person is affected most by his relations
with mother during early period. Harlow (1966)
conducted a study on baby monkeys and indicated
that due to lonely early development the baby
monkey fails to establish healthy social relations
with its companions. Similar results were observed
by Spitz (1949), and Yarrow (1963), in the studies
conducted on human babies. Early maternal
deprivation is found to be related to pathology in
ii) Importance of Father: Like mother the presence
and absence of father affects the personality of a
child. Mischel (1958) saw that the child’s
socialization and development was influence by
the absence of father. In particular the fatherchild
relationship influences the nature of future
sexual relationship of the child.
iii) Other Family Members: It is observed that if the
members of the family are affectionate to the
child and help her to fulfill the requirements,
teach her good habits, then such things definitely
help the child to develop positive aspects in
iv) Size of the Family: The size of the family also
affects the development of personality. If there
are more members in the family then language
and other mental abilities of the child develop
faster. Contrary to it, in the case of an only child
in the family, due to more care, love and affection,
the child becomes obstinate and pampered.
v) Economic status of the family: The economic
condition of the family also affects the personality.
The children of a poor family may develop a feeling
of inferiority and insecurity. Similarly, due to
lack of facilities and nutritious diet, their physical
and mental development is arrested.
2) School and Peer Groups
The neighbourhood is an important factor affecting
personality development. Children learn certain habits
and behaviours from children of neighbourhood with
whom they interact. Their intellectual and emotional
development is also affected. After a few years the
child goes to school and experiences patterns of
adjustment within the school and community setting.
The child in school is affected by teacher’s behaviour
and school environment. Child’s self perception is
often found significantly related to the quality of school
experiences. Child’s social and emotional development
is shaped by the school atmosphere and peer group.
3) Cultural Factors
The culture to which one belongs is an important
factor which affects the child’s behaviour and
development. There are cultural variations in different
societies and the pattern of personality of children is
shaped by the various features of culture. The pattern
of child rearing, values, norms and incentives vary
from culture to culture. Consisting of shared meanings
and practices, different cultures help development of
different traits of personality.