You are asking a very loaded question about a fascinating topic that some scientists have spent their whole lives trying to answer. There’s no way then I can give you an answer that does this question justice in a few paragraphs, but I’d like to direct you to Dr. Paul Bloom, a psychologist who teaches at Yale and gives a wonderful lecture on this topic. IF you go to http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses scroll down to the science section toward the bottom and the part that says psychology. You’ll see “Introduction to Psychology” Paul Bloom. You can listen to the course via Itunes or watch on Youtube, all for free. The lecture that specifically addresses your question is #13: Why are People Different? I’ll give you a direct link to a video of the lecture below as well. You may find the last 30 minutes more helpful than the beginning.
Well that about sums up what affects personality. Aside from what we inherit from our parents and ancestors, what we are taught at home, where we live socially and geographically there isn’t much.
Biological inheritence can affect everything from a person’s disposition to their physical appearance and likeliehood of mental or physical ailments. This can have a dramatic effect on this person’s ability to function on a social level. Things like self-confidence, financial stability, education, and political environment also affect these things. Depending on who a person is born as is as important as where and when they are born.
If Mozart were born in the early 1990s he would have been pumped so full of ADD and ADHD medication as to render him ‘normal’ and robbed him of his ability to create his masterpieces. He was a product of his time as much as he was a product of his own genius and diligence. Hour to hour, the Beatles had simply logged more hours playing together than the vast number of successful bands making music at the same time. The Beatles were a product of their hard work as much as their natural talent and cohesion as a group.
Bipolar disorder (Formerly Manic-Depressive disorder) and Schizophrenia are two mental conditions that have a strong link to genes. However, having the gene does not necessarily mean that you will develop a disorder. Identical twins are a favorite subject for psychologists to study, and through various “adoption studies,” they have discovered several interesting things. For the most part, it appears that people develop more mental health problems when they are placed in a stressful environment. However, due to ethical issues in studying human subjects, we are limited in the types of stresses that we can inflict on study subjects. Therefore, it is very rare that psychologists can pinpoint something as the cause of a disorder. Here is once case in which a gene has been identified:
Early childhood experiences are especially important in shaping a person’s personality:
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