Personality is made up of many components, some of which are objective-observable and measurable and others of which are subjective and therefore less easily studied and measured. Among the objective components of personality are physical characteristics, such as body size and physique and factors in the mechanics and chemistry of the body which influence the speed and strength of movements; aptitudes and talents, both physical and intellectual; and traits, habits, behavior patterns, and modes of action. The subjective components of personality include motives, aspirations, feelings, ideas, and attitudes regarding self, convictions, commitments, and purposes that give direction to the individual's way of thinking, feeling, and acting.
The personality pattern is made up of traits, or specific qualities of behavior or ganized and integrated into a whole. These consist of reactions to frustrations, ways of meeting problems, aggressive and defensive behavior, and outgoing or withdrawing attitudes toward other people. The "core," or "center of gravity," of this pattern is the concept of self—the picture the individual holds of himself, his abilities, his characteristics, his worth, and his relations to the world about him.
The distinction between the normal and the abnormal personality pattern is to be found in the degree of organization that exists. The normal, healthy personality is a highly correlative, structured pattern; the abnormal personality shows disorganization in varying degrees. The severity of the abnormality is directly related to the degree of disorganization.
Three factors are responsible for the development of the personality pattern: the hereditary endowment, early experiences within the family, and events in later life. The pattern is inwardly determined and closely as sociated with the maturation of the physical and mental characteristics which constitute the individual's hereditary endowment. While environmental factors determine the form the personality pattern takes, it is not controlled from without but evolves from the potentials within the individual. The importance of the hereditary foundations in determining the form the personality pattern will take has been stressed thus by Rainwater:
Personality is formed from the interaction of significant figures (first the mother, later the father and siblings, later extra familiar figures) in his environment with the child.
Environments outside the home, where his status will be markedly different. The degree of integration of primary and secondary selves will, in turn, affect the degree of adjustment the individual achieves.
The home environment is important in maintaining ego strength. Any break in the family may have serious effects on the child's concept of self. Not the parents alone but every member of the family group contributes to the child's developing concept of self. The relationships the child has with his parents and other family members are more influential than the experiences he shares with them.
Statements made by his parents—their praise or blame-contribute to the development of a concept of self. From this basic concept, the child develops further concepts of self. How people outside the home treat him, what they say about him, and what status he achieves in the group strengthen or modify the self-concept learned in the home environment.
The child's relationships with people outside the home are more important than the experiences he shares with those in the home. The various influences that affect the child's concept of self. By the time the child reaches adolescence, the self-image is firmly established, though it may be revised later as the individual under goes new social experiences.
Concept of "Ideal Self." Every child has an ideal self, which is generally a concept built up from contacts with people, from reading, and from movies or television shows. Very few children are satisfied with themselves as they are. The ideal self thus fills a need and acts as a guide to behavior.
Studies have shown that the child's ideal changes as he grows older and that his experiences outside the home influence the direction of change. For the most part, the ideal comes from the child's immediate environment and is derived from his contacts, either directly or indirectly, with people he admires and would like to resemble.
The young child first selects as his ideal a parent or some member of the family. By the time he reaches the second grade and his contacts have broadened, his ideal is his teacher or some acquaintance outside the home or school. Many of these early ideals are used in the child's dramatic play. From then on, there is an increasing interest in ideals from remote sources, such as history, contemporary affairs, movies, television, or even the comics.
As the child approaches adolescence, his ideal is likely to be a young adult whom he admires, such as an athlete, a movie actor or actress, or a politician. Very few ideals are taken from literature, fiction, or religion; they are far more likely to come from television, movies, or the world of sports, and they are almost always American.