Personality (part-1)

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3 years ago

According to tradition, the child is a "chip off the old block.” The implication behind this traditional belief is that personality is inherited and not subject to change. This belief was widely accepted for centuries. Few people recognized the possibility that the child was like the parent because he had identified himself with the parent and imitated him. Thus the role of learning in per personality development was either ignored or given little attention.

Since the turn of the present century, with the growth of the testing movement, the spotlight of scientific attention has been turned on personality. The traditional belief about the dominant role of heredity has been largely abandoned; in its place has come evidence to show that learning plays a large and vital role. While it is true that even the most ardent environmentalists do not go so far as to deny the role of heredity completely, there is growing evidence that in personality, as in intelligence, physique, and other characteristics, the hereditary en dowment is subject to change and modification.

There is also growing evidence that changes and modifications can best be made during the early, formative years of life. While there is no deadline after which learning cannot bring about modifications in hereditary trait, there is evidence that the sooner they are made, the easier it will be for the child and the more lasting the effects will be.

Popular recognition of the important role personality plays in successful adjustments to modern life has given strong impetus to the scientific study of personality. In simpler cultures, personality is of secondary importance in social relationships, but in higher cultures, where social life is more complex, personality has a "marketable value." As a result, it is highly prized and eagerly sought after by all who want to make a success in life. Today's parents and teachers put great emphasis on developing personality patterns in children which will help them to make satisfactory adjustments both to the present and to the future.

Meaning of Personality.

What, one may ask, is this highly valued quality that is labeled "personality"? The term personality comes from the Latin word persona, meaning "mask.” Among the ancient Greeks, the actors wore masks to hide their identity and to enable them to represent the characters they were depicting in the play. This dramatic technique was later adopted by the Romans, and from them we get our modern term personality.

To the Romans, persona meant "as one appears to others," not as one actually is. The actor was creating, in the minds of the audience, an impression of the character he was depicting on the stage, not an impression of what he himself was. From this connotation of the word persona, our popular idea of personality as the effect one has on others has been derived. What a person is, how he thinks and feels, and what is in cluded in his whole psychological makeup are, to a great extent, revealed through his behavior. Personality, then, is not one definite, specific attribute; rather, it is the "quality of the individual's total behavior".

This popular concept of personality has two serious defects: First, it emphasizes only one aspect of the intricate pattern of personality—the expressiveness of the individual; and second, it emphasizes only the objective aspect of personality—its effect on other people—not the subjective or interior organization which is responsible for the expressive aspect.

In judging the personality of another person, one judges on the basis of the way the person expresses his thoughts, feelings, and emotions in speech and actions. These may reveal his true personality, but, on the other hand, they may not. A young child, for example, may reveal his real self through what he says and does, but even before he reaches school age, he learns to cloak motives, thoughts, and feelings that are socially un acceptable and to act according to social expectations.

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