Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Role of Heredity in Personality Development

The personality pattern is founded on the individual’s
hereditary endowment, but it is not inherited. It is
the product of learning during the course of prolonged
social relationships with people both within and outside
the home. As Anderson has pointed out, personality
is organized around nodal points or experiences which
have received specific emphasis.
At the moment of conception each new human being
receives a genetic inheritance which provides all the
potentialities for his behaviour and development
throughout his life time. This endowment includes
potentialities for an individual’s bodily equipment, for
the development of specific skills, abilities and kinds
of behaviour and for patterns of growth and change
throughout a predictable life cycle.
The Mechanics of Heredity
At Fertilization, the male and Female germ cells unite
to form a fertilized ovum containing about 46
chromosomes, half from each parent. The chromosomes
are minute, threadlike structures containing many
hundreds of ultramicroscopic particles called ‘genes’,
which are the real carriers of a person’s heredity.
Together, the chromosomes probably contain from 10
to 15 thousand genes, of them a complex molecule
consisting of thousands of atoms in special
arrangements. The genes carry the blueprint for an
individual’s development and direct his growth from a
one-celled unit to an adult. Within this inherited
structure, lie the potentialities for behaviour.
Role of Heredity
The personality pattern is inwardly determined by
and closely associated with the maturation of physical
and mental characteristics which constitute the
individual’s hereditary endowment. Although social
and other environmental factors affect the form a
personality pattern takes, it is not instilled or controlled
from without but evolves from the potentials within
the individual. The principal raw materials of
personality-physique, intelligence and temperament
are the results of heredity. How a person will develop
depends on the environmental influences within which
a person grows.
The significance of hereditary foundations in
determining the personality pattern has been stressed
by many researchers. It is generally held that
personality is formed from the interaction of significant
figures (first the mother, later the father and siblings,
later extra familial figures) with the child. The child
brings to this interaction biological constitution, a set
of needs and intellectual capacities which determine
the way in which a person is acted upon by the
significant figures in her environment.
In the course of interaction of hereditary and
environmental factors, the individual selects from his
environment what fits his needs and rejects what
does not. Thus personality pattern develops through
interactions with the environment which an individual
himself has initiated.
One reason for stressing the role of heredity in the
development of personality is to recognize the fact
that personality pattern is subject to limitations. A
person who inherits a low level of intelligence, for
example, cannot, even under the most favourable
environmental conditions, develop a personality pattern
that will lead to adequate personal and social
adjustment, than a person with high level of
adjustment. Thus heredity sets limits to a person’s
Furthermore, recognition of the limitations imposed
by heredity underlines the fact that people are not
totally free to choose and develop the kind of personality
pattern they want. Using intelligence again as an
illustration it may be said that a person with a lowgrade
intelligence cannot develop the personality
pattern of a leader even though he wants to do so and
even though he has a strong motivation to try to

develop the personality traits essential for leadership.