“XI. Measuring Personality [Hans] Eysenck believed that genetic factors were far more important than environmental ones in shaping personality and that personal traits could be measured by standardized personality inventories.”
Eysenck he’s right, but I would like to read more about where he drew the line between these two factors. If a person’s intrinsic personality traits (genetics) are at odds with accepted norms of a given culture (environmental), where do we consider the resiliency of those traits against the social tide? If said person also has the trait of persistence, rebelliousness or at least stubbornness, could these traits “come to the rescue” of other traits?
It would seem to me that we end up needing to consider so many environmental factors in the shaping of personality. However, if genes are the stronger force in ultimately determining an adult personality, then in any given culture will their be natives to that culture who feel ‘freer’ (the genetic personality is a better match to the cultural values) than ‘constrained’ (an ongoing disharmony between the genetic personality and cultural pressures to conform)?
Given that we accept Eysenck’s statement above, is it not a mystery that genetic personalities come and go, but culture remains? Culture changes, but that change is slow, and people are born and die without seeing considerable change in a culture. Is there not enough variety in possible personalities? I hope you’ll agree that is not the case. Thus the rough-and-dirty conclusion is that the average person does not seek change does not forcefully seek change in his/her culture. Why is that? Is it only to gain or maintain social acceptance?
I’m trying not to confuse ‘self-concept’ with ‘self-expression’, but I find that difficult to do, and I don’t even know if making that distinction leads to any better understanding. So for now, I’m leaving my statements as-is, but I welcome anyone to direct me to a source that could alter my views.
The top line: You probably do know what people think of you
But it’s likely you don’t know any one person’s assessment. “We have a fairly stable view of ourselves,” says Bella DePaulo, visiting professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “We expect other people to see that same view immediately.” And they do. On average there is consensus about how you come off. But you can’t apply that knowledge to any one individual, for a variety of reasons.
For starters, each person has an idiosyncratic way of sizing up others that (like metaperceptions themselves) is governed by her own self-concept. A person you meet will assess you through her unique lens, which lends consistency to her views on others. Some people, for example, are “likers” who perceive nearly everyone as good-natured and smart.
I dunno. My view of myself seems deeply influenced by my mood, but if that’s what she thinks is within the realm of “fairly stable”, I guess I’ll go along with it.
I asked my wife if I seem like a nervous person. She said no. I was surprised. I told her that a lot of times I feel like a nervous wreck, and then she was surprised. She assured me that I don’t come off that way. I believe her when she says that. I’d know if she were only trying to make me feel better, because I know her so well.
I do agree with the above statement that we each have “an idiosyncratic way of sizing up others” according to our self-concept. People expect me to hold opinions of them that are not what I caught on to when I met them. Then I wonder what kind of face I was making when I met them. I was probably aloof, off in my own head, trying to think of something clever due to my ridiculous desire to say something funny to make them laugh, because that’s what I think will have the best chance of making them like me and not think I’m boring.
If I get to know them well enough, we’ll probably agree. Or at least I will have addressed the disparity in their expectations and the actual outcome of what kind of person I believe they are.
As an infant scans his mother’s face he absorbs clues to who he is; as adults we continue to search for our reflections in others’ eyes. While the parent-child bond is not necessarily destiny, it does take quite a bit to alter self-concepts forged in childhood, whether good or bad. People rely on others’ impressions to nurture their views about themselves, says William Swann, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. His research shows that people with negative self-concepts goad others to evaluate them harshly, especially if they suspect the person likes them—they would rather be right than be admired.
If you don’t mind, read that last sentence again for me. Does this explain assholes? I’ve been puzzling this out for years and years, and this is the best explanation I have heard. Another way to say it, without putting words in the mouth of the author, is that because people who have negative self-concepts may also value being true to themselves, “being right” and being awful is being a real person, and being admired is “selling out”. It’s a matter of pride to show resistance to mass pressure. I can understand non-assholes having a tough time understanding that someone’s idea of a better choice is to be a worser person, but that’s the topsy-turvy logic of someone who feels like their existence is not a benefit to the world, and yet still has a shred of integrity.
In order to change such a mentality, one would need to admit how wrong one got it, come back to human and face the fact that they’re not so smart after all. In effect, they’d have to take back all they’ve said and done in the name of showing their contempt for themselves and for the lack of understanding they’ve received from others. They’d have to abandon the sinister vines they’ve wholeheartedly nurtured in the garden of pride and defense.
When we talk of someone’s idea of conviction and standing their own ground, it is hard to give up and change, no matter who you are, or in which direction.