Personality is one of the three components of human psyche. Our attitude is outermost layer and it is the reflection of our personality and character. It is more exposed to people than our personality and therefore we see that people who are inherently warm and honest often show opposite behavior when they interact with other people. Personality evolves with two factors: environmental and biological.
Society has a strong influence on personality formation because we meet so many people on a regular basis and these people directly or indirectly leave an impact on our psyche. These changes could be positive or negative and therefore it is often said that, you are known by the company you keep.
You may have an agreeable personality but if you meet with people with opposite traits, those features may start to reflect in your personality after some time.
Personality may reflect our overall state of mind, which could be sanguine or active and talkative, choleric or extroverted, melancholic or introverted, and phlegmatic or relaxed and easy-going. These are also known as temperaments, and they help to study and understand different personalities.
In this article, we will look at how does society influence personality formation by exploring in detail the big five personality traits and how they are connected with society.
How Does Society Influence Personality Formation?
When a child is born, he or she is exposed to a society that has its own morals, principles, and insecurities.
According to the Big Five, also known as OCEAN, the most common personality traits are:
- Openness to experience – this quality leads people to learn from their environment and by interacting with people around them;
- Conscientiousness – this personality trait makes a person organized and self-reliant;
- Energetic – this characteristic makes a person outgoing and more prepared to meet and confront others;
- Compassionate – people with this trait are more agreeable and friendly and hence they have a lot of friends in their social circle;
- Sensitive – these people are not confident, rather they are nervous and confused in the middle of a gathering.
Does Society Influence the Big Five?
All these traits are influenced by the society and how we interact with people. These traits are often studied to understand social and academic behavior. There are people who are curious by nature; these people are willing to experience new things. They are more open and hence more creative.
When given sufficient opportunities, these people are able to be very productive. Then there are self-disciplined people who like order and organization in everything. They are reliable but some people may also perceive them as stubborn and inflexible.
An energetic person is outgoing and ready to purse all sorts of outdoor activities without any trouble. These people are also known as extroverts, and they enjoy interacting with people. A social gathering is made up of both extroverts and introverts but the former is more dominant in such groups.
They talk a lot and like to assert their opinions on others. Agreeable or compassionate people are interested in others, and they are always ready to empathize with them.
And finally, there are people in society who are influenced by negative emotions and circumstances. They often get depressed and suffer from anger, frustration and anxiety. They worry a lot about all sorts of things, even those that are not in their control.
How to Maintain Social Harmony?
All these types of people are important to maintain a social harmony. In case there are no introverts to listen to what extroverts have to say, it will affect the personality of the talkative ones. Similarly, if there are no compassionate people in our society, those who are in need of care and attention will be left unattended. If there are depressed or negative people in a society, they must be consoled or counseled by positive, energetic people.
It has been tested and proved through research that attitudes and behaviors are not stable or consistent. They can change under stressful conditions, especially emotional stress. It is not easy to predict behavior based on personality traits because society plays a role in bending our behaviors.
These ideas make us infer that personality is a sociocultural concept. We may have a natural temperament but it gets affected by the environment we live in. If we are surrounded by favorable conditions or elements, we grow and prosper psychologically. On the other hand, if our qualities are met with discouragement and downcast, we often become selfish, insincere, and insensitive.
Socialization results in personality evolution and this is how society contributes to personality formation. We interact with sociocultural factors with our temperament as well but those factors cannot easily change the features of our character. When studying personality traits, temperament is often kept separate because of this reason.
Personality traits are often formed in childhood and adolescence and it is usually difficult to change those qualities once a person is way into adulthood. However, psychological intervention may help to change some negative elements of a personality.
Man needs to live in a society to interact with and benefit from other people, build relationships and live a happy and fruitful life. Within a society, there are communities that form because people belonging to those groups share the same values, interests and ideals. Our personality is shaped as we continue interacting with the people in a society.
If our society as a whole encourages dishonest behavior, it will eventually reflect in our personality especially if we don’t have any strong or deep-rooted values. In this article, we looked at how does society influence personality formation by exploring three main components of human psyche: attitude, personality and character. Interaction with people can affect our personality but not our character.
Personality has been termed as a product or outcome of socialization, while temperament is something that a person inherits. Societal interactions may change your personality, but they can’t change your temperament. That is why the society has a strong influence on the personality of an individual because it can either make or break it.
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