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What kinds of evidence do researchers draw on when considering the effects of nature and nurture on personality?

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Introduction

DSE212 TMA 02 Question 1 What kinds of evidence do researchers draw on when considering the effects of nature and nurture on personality? Personality is best described as what makes up a person, their traits and individual differences that make them unique. There has been much research undertaken as to what actually causes a personality to develop whether it is nature (genetically inherited) or by nurture (the environment) research has shown that it is a combination of both and this will be examined in this essay. Human society is complex and this presents researchers with difficulties in measurement of the environmental effect and to define exactly what causes personality. Psychologists and behaviour geneticists have tried to estimate contributions made by genetics and the environment to individual differences through heritiability. Heritability is when research has been carried out to establish the contributions of genetics and the environment to a population sample. This is based on knowing the birth relationship (genetic relatedness), measuring the trait in question and making comparisons between groups with differing levels of genetic relatedness. The amount of variability in a trait or physical measurement within a population is accounted for to show how much has been inherited (genetically) and the percentage remaining is the environmental contribution. ...read more.

Middle

Pederson et al (1988) used samples from Swedish Twin Registry ensuring that twins really did not know each other. His sample was made up of 328 twins of which 99 Monozygotic reared apart and 229 Dizygotic reared apart and 372 twins of which 160 Monozygotic reared together and 212 Dizygotic reared together. He also matched variables ie age, gender & country of birth. From this study the estimate of neuroticism in heritability was 25%. Twin studies have often used different measures of person, therefore the results may be unreliable unless the same measurement is taken each time. Pederson used the short form of Eysencks personality inventory and used less accurate than measurements used in other research so estimates may be unreliable. Eaves et al (1989) re-analysed all twin studies up to 1976 and found that the estimate of heritability of neuroticism to be 29%. Loehlin & Nichols (1976) studied 800 twins and found heritability of neuroticism to be 53%. Loehlin reanalyzed all the findings from around the world that used behaviour genetic designs to assess heritability of the five factor personality traits and found heritability of neuroticism to be 31%. Extraversion most commonly gave the largest estimate of heritability. Other research in families involved examining differences in relatedness between other family members ie siblings, half-siblings, cousins, parents and children. There have also been adoption studies. ...read more.

Conclusion

The above is a good example of a mother trying to construct her sons personality. Personalities can change dependant upon the situation that the person is in. Hartshorne & May discovered that some children would cheat when it was to their advantage to do so, despite having knowledge of what is right and wrong. The Stanford Prison Experiment (1999) is an example of a social experiment where volunteers undertook new roles. Twenty four were selected after various tests to rule out medical, psychological and other tendencies. They were told that the research was to study the psychological effects on prison life, the experiment took place in a mock prison environment within the university. The experiment was cut short because prisoners became demoralized and showed signs of stress, depression and others lost touch with reality. Guards behaved in authoritarian and aggressive way, some became sadistic. Zimbardo himself became authoritarian and aggressive. The research here showed that social situations have powerful effects on behaviour. Researchers have used various forms of evidence that seem to indicate that personality is developed through an interaction between genetics and the environment. Differing situations should be accounted for when comparing the results, to date it has been difficult to define what the exact ratio of heritability - environment is, research has shown heritability to be approximately 30%. ...read more.

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