The dominant view in the field of personality psychology today holds that personality emerges early and continues to change in meaningful ways throughout the lifespan. From this perspective, evolution introduced variations of the how to develop personality pdf mind and natural selection acted on these by choosing which were the most beneficial and which led to a greater fitness.
Due to human complexity, many opposing personality traits proved to be beneficial in different ways. The evolutionary perspective traces personality and individuality back to when the early humans were learning how to function in complex social groups. Many specialists from different fields have a general agreement that early humans saw themselves as a part of the group to which they belonged, rather than seeing themselves as individuals with independent personalities. In terms of personality at this time, the whole group was identical. A member of the group associated themselves as one with the tribe and therefore the responsibility rested in the group and not the individual.
Kropotkin explained the importance of this by stating that because the primitive man identified his existence with the existence of his tribe it has allowed for mankind to reach the remarkable level present today. A small step of differentiation that later led to personality and individuality was the division of labor. This differentiation was necessary in order for the group to function in a much more efficient way. This differentiation became adaptive since it increased the groups functionality. These early humans then continued to develop personality and individuality, which stemmed from their group and the social interactions they encountered.
Individual life, and thus individuality and personality essentially arose from collective life. Currently, lifespan perspectives that integrate theory and empirical findings dominate the research literature. This interactional model of development emphasizes the relationships between an individual and her environment, and suggests that there is a dialectic between continuity and change throughout the lifespan. Large-scale longitudinal studies have demonstrated that the most active period of personality development appears to be between the ages of 20-40. Personality grows increasingly consistent with age and plateaus sometime around age 50, but never reaches a period of total stability.
Although change is less likely later in life, individuals retain the potential for change from infancy to old age. Personality traits demonstrate moderate levels of continuity, smaller but still significant normative or mean-level changes, and individual differences in change, often late into the life course. 6, with a mean of . But a given genotype will lead to a certain phenotype only under the right environmental circumstances.
Ultimately, emerging evidence suggests that genetic and environmental influences on personality differ depending on other circumstances in a person’s life. What these findings suggest is that shared family environment has virtually no effect on personality development, and that similarity between relatives is almost entirely due to shared genetics. The weakness of shared environmental effects in shaping personality came as a surprise to many psychologists, and spurred research into nonshared environment, or the environmental influences that make siblings different from one another instead of similar. Non shared environmental effects encompass the variability in behavioral outcomes that is not explained by genetic and family environmental influences. The non shared environment may include differential treatment by parents, individually distinct reactions to the shared family environment, peer influences, and experiences that occur outside the family, as well as test error in measurement. In adults, nonshared environment also encompasses the unique roles and environments experienced after leaving the family of origin.
Interactions between genetic predisposition and the environment are a major factor in personality development. Personality development across the life course: The argument for change and continuity”. The development of personality traits in adulthood. New York, NY: Guilford Press.