Culture and Personality Development

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Culture and Personality Development
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Culture refers to the belief, customs of a particular society or community. It can also be said to be the way of thinking, behaving or working in an organisation. From the definition above, we can see that culture does have a major influence on how we learn, live and conduct ourselves. Some theorists have said that culture influences how personality is developed. There is the assumption that most people who are born and raised under the same culture usually share similar personality traits.

Personality development on the other hand is the process by which a pattern of behaviour, attributes and attitudes are developed in an individual. These attributes are distinct and make that individual different from others. A whole lot of factors are put into consideration when we talk about personality development because no two individuals are the same. They may look the same or may have had similar experiences in life but each person is unique and their reactions, learning process will always be different. Close friends or even relations that are brought up in the same household will always have their own peculiar pattern of reacting and responding various situations they face. It is even said that identical twins may look alike physically but they are still different and unique in their own way. When we talk about personality, we refer to those attributes of a person that makes him or her special.

When a child is born, there are various factors which

affect his personality from birth until he enters adulthood. These are environmental influences which include culture; parental influences; peer influence; and character.

Some Theories on Culture

One expert, Franz Boas who is regarded as a pioneer of Psychological Anthropology which is the study of the relationship between culture and personality stated that personality is obtained through culture and not biology. He propounded a theory that gave a comprehensive insight into the underlying relationship that exists between the two. His student, Ruth Benedict, carried out research work on the effect of personality by studying various cultural patterns and themes. She observed that primitive societies located in the remote areas have preserved their values, beliefs and rituals over the years. Another student of his, Margaret Mead went further to extend knowledge in culture and personality. She visited Samoa where she found that they have a uniform value system and also share similar personality traits. In the culture of the Samoans, until individuals reach the age of 15 - 16, they are not given significant roles socially. They are mostly ignored by parents and the society until they reach puberty. Their female girls are taught to relate with boys as enemies and the effect of this part of their culture tends to make their children aggressive or eager for attention while some may be passive due to lack of affection.

It is clear that there is obviously a relationship between culture and personality development in individuals. It is observed that traits vary from culture to culture based on different value system, needs and beliefs. Culture determines what traits may be viewed as negative or positive because what is seen as a positive trait in one culture may be seen as negative in another. There are evidences of this. For example, if you compare what is known as individualist cultures (that of European, North American and Australian cultures) and collectivist cultures (that of Asian African and South American cultures). People that live in individualist cultures believe more in competition, personal achievement and independence while those in collectivist cultures view social harmony, respect and the needs of the group above all individual needs. These cultural values ultimately will affect personality development in various ways.


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and its effects

Another angle to the understanding culture is that we have different cultures which include: professional, personal, corporate, educational, national, religious, generational, family, gender and sexual orientation. All of these cultures influence us in one way or the other and it is good to understand that we all see the world through our cultural lenses. In certain situations, certain cultures prevail over another, depending on the situation. For example, generational culture usually dominates over gender culture; religious culture dominates over sexual orientation.

Culture has a lot to do with how personality development of an individual turns out. It helps to lay the first foundation for the individual's belief system and how that person lives his life. It even has an effect on how a person talks or acts and when it is said or done. Each culture has its rules that must be obeyed. In cultures, where freedom and equality are part of its fabric, people there are much more likely to pursue and reach their goals no matter how high they may seem. In cultures, for example where there is inequality between sexes, each group already has his or her path in life decided already by the culture. It does have a great effect on the individual from childhood, through the various stages until he becomes an adult. It is a powerful influence on personality development as it actually shapes our thoughts and aspirations. Our dreams, vision and goals will be within the confines of the culture we have been raised up in.

The culture we are born into determines what is acceptable or unacceptable. It affects our dressing, eating, drinking, and talking habits so you can see that it has a very powerful influence on personality development. Culture influences how we work, our behaviour; our use of language; how we go about solving problems, challenges and conflict; how we negotiate and create relationships.

The culture of a place can also influence men to devalue women. There are societies today where women are seen as lesser beings than their male counterparts. They are not allowed to go to school but remain in the house and most times married out at very early ages. In this way, women are never allowed to maximally develop their personalities because it will be seen as competition with men.

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