This assignment requires that at least four additional scholarly research sources related to
this topic within the past 5 years.
Psychologists have often asked themselves, which is the main factor that determines
personality: is personality genetically inherited or developed gradually through experience
in the social environment? This is a central question in the study of personality. In this
assignment, you will argue whether it is genetic factors, environmental factors or a
combination of both that determines personality.
Argue whether it is genetics, environment, or a combination of both that determines
personality Include the following in your paper:
- A summary of the arguments for genetics, environment, or a combination of both as the
determinant of personality.
- An evaluation of these arguments that culminates in the statement of a position on the
Personality: Inherited or Determined
Psychologists for centuries have sought to explain whether personality of individuals is
either determined or inherited. Some of the psychologists and scientists hold the view that
peoples’ personalities are developed by their genetics and therefore are inherited what is
normally known as nature theory of human behavior. However, others believe that people’s
thinking and behaviors are as a result of the environment in which they are raised, and oblige to
nurture theory of human behavior. Both sides of the debate have merits as indicated by the
human genome. Nature plays a fundamental role in endowing people with inborn abilities and
traits while nurture takes over from this and molds the genetic tendencies as people learn and
Research conducted has shown that personality is both determined and inherited.
Specific genes encoded in every human cell determine traits such as hair color and eye color.
This is supported by the nature theory which states that abstract traits such as aggression, sexual
orientation, intelligence and personality are encoded in the individual DNA and therefore are
inherited. These arguments are substantiated by an experiment done on twins. In a study
conducted at the University of Minnesota the personality of the twin children was found to be as
PERSONALITY: INHERITED OR DETERMINED 2
a result of hereditary factors with a smaller percentage attributed to the environment (Goleman,
2012). Amongst the traits found to be strongly determined by hereditary included leadership
and obedience or traditionalism to the authority. Other traits that were found to be more than 50
percent determined by heredity included; alienation, a sense of well being and zest of life,
fearfulness, resistance to stress and vulnerability. The study further found out that; the need to
achieve, including the need to achieve organizational goals and ambitions were genetically
influenced but more than half of the traits were determined by the life experiences (Shelton,
2009). This study therefore demonstrated that some of the personalities are genetically inherited
while others are determined by others.
Other studies have attributed environment to be the determinant of people personalities.
Researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Hamburg (Rowe, 2013) conducted
one of the studies that support this argument. They used zebra flinches to carry out their
investigations on how personality is transferred from a generation to another (Powell, 2012). In
this study, they found out that foster parents had a greater influence on the personalities and
characters of those fostered offspring as opposed to the genes that are inherited from their
The 17th century French philosopher by the name Rene Descartes has held contrary
views by claiming that human beings have in-born ideas which underpinned their approach to the
world. Contrary to this opinion, the British philosophers John Locke and Thomas Hobbes
emphasized on the role of environmental and experiences as contributing factors to the
development of behaviors and personality of an individual. Locke went ahead to argue that at
birth, human beings are complete but are receptive blank slate also referred to as tabular rasa or
scraped tablet on which experiences are imprinted to form their knowledge. Therefore, going by
PERSONALITY: INHERITED OR DETERMINED 3
all these views and findings, it is evident that personality is inherited and at the same time, it is
determine (Age of the sage. Org. 2013, para. 3). There are certain attributes in human beings
such as knowledge or affinity to certain traits or behaviors that are transferred from generation to
the other generations. Likewise, people learn new experiences from the environment they come
from which contributes in the formation of their knowledge and opinions about life.
The way parents raise their children matters and contribute to their personalities. For
example a child whose parents have taught them to be respectful and to say words such as
‘thanks, yes sir’ and those that have lived in environments where such traits are not taught. There
will be significant variations in behaviors and personality of these two categories of children.
This therefore indicates that indeed environment does play a role in the personality of an
individual. Furthermore, in line with the twins study, it is also true that genes are inherited and
play a role in people personality (Nestor, 2009). For instance, the twins who are separated from
one another may exhibit some variations in behaviors but they will always exhibit similar traits
which indicate that these traits are inherited. Furthermore, in a family context, children may
exhibit different behaviors, as some may be shy and quick tempered while others may not and
yet they are raised by same parents and in same environments. Such behaviors indicate that
some of the personality traits may have been inherited from their parents or grandparents.
These illustrations therefore, indicate that people’s behaviors and personalities are
developed from these two sources; they are inherited as well as are leaned from the environment.
There is no way an individual behavior or personality can solely be shaped by genes or the
environment. These two must play a role in the personality of individuals.
PERSONALITY: INHERITED OR DETERMINED 4
Age of the sage. Org. (2013). The nature vs nurture debate or controversy- human psychology,