How does the environment impact personality traits?



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    This question has been debated for quite a while  (since, apx the 13th century) in various incarnations.  In psychological circles, generally referred to as the question of “nature vs. nurture.”  That is to say: are we shaped more by our genetic makeup or by our environment/upbringing.  The phrase was coined by a gentleman by the name of Francis Galton — but major players in the debate include Freud, Darwin, the Nazis, Marx and Gregor Mendel, just to name a few.

    We see similar questions coming up in philosophy: the idea of the “tabula rasa” or “blank slate” is something that goes back to the days Aristotle.  The same idea was later taken up by John Locke.

    So, in direct answer to your question: nature vs. nurture (or “how the environment impacts personality traits”) depends on your view of the ultimate question.

    Studies show that twins separated at birth end up with similar personality traits, but how much of that is genetic is questionable.  Since those particular twins were raised in different environment the argument seems to suggest that environment doesn’t affect personality to a great degree.  Common sense seems to dictate that environmental factors (psychological, emotional, physical abuse, availability of health care, educational opportunities, socialization) do affect personality.

    Hope that helps!

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