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Is personality heavily determined by genetics?

Most people would dismiss this question as ludicrous. And sure, there are people of all different races, sizes, looks, and features who have unique personalities, but there is one quality of a person's personality that is more important than any other.

That quality is sociability, or however you want to put it. There have been a lot of studies that suggest that being a social person (having good relationships with lots of friends) has the closest correlation with "happiness" and that factors like income, race, sex, and sexual preference are negligible.

When babies are born they are typically set into a certain type of temperament. Some babies constantly cry and crave attention while others are very quiet and seek independence. These qualities are clearly innate and typically match the type of personality that the man or woman has when they mature.

My dad is very calm and a little anti-social. So am I. As a baby I was very quiet and shy. To this day I am very quiet and shy (even though I try not to be, I still very much am). My brother constantly cried as a baby and craved attention. Now he is very sociable and has a short temper, like my mom.

I'd be willing to bet money that genetics heavily determine ones personality as far as sociability goes. There may even be a social gene.

It's not so crazy, there has been an "anxiety" gene and a "risk taker" gene found. Unfortunately I think some of us are doomed to be loners while the lucky majority will be social.

What do y'all think?

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    Jun 25 2011: I would say the array of potential personalities you might have is determined by your genes while the actual personality (or personalities) you adopt through life is a mix of just about everything else.

    However, I would say that saying that a babie's temperament is clearly innate is a bit of a hasty conlusion given that parental care can have a crucial effect from the first moment onwards. Also you must take into account the huge differences that might arise during the developing of the embryo (those differences are responsible for some of the unique characteristics twins may notshare between them)

    I think you should be careful when talking about genes, you might think is for something when in fact it rather plays a part in something. That's totally different as you can have a gene that plays a part in a behavior but that gene is never called upon for that kind of behavior.

    I can also provide a counter-example to your personal story. My parents like to remind my sister of how much of a happy quiet baby she was because she's the total opposite now.
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      Jun 25 2011: The prenatal phase is indeed something that many people overlook. Just because the birth is a big deal for everyone, it doesn't mean that the change is as important as it is visible. Quite the opposite is true: As long as the baby is still physiologically connected to the mother, according influences have the most profound effect.
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    Jun 23 2011: I have to admit that and as far as i can go back in memory, i have not read much about links between genetics and personality; having said that, i know that i have a (identical) twin brother and the difference between our respective characters and personality is just huge !
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      Jun 25 2011: Is that your personal view or do others come to the same conclusion? The brother of a classmate sounds exactly like his father on the telephone, and he is frequently confused with him. Still *he* thinks that he sounds quite different than his father ;)
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    Jun 24 2011: When it comes to intelligence, I always say: "100% of your intelligence is determined by your genes, because if you were an amoeba, it would be impossible for you to pass an IQ test." The ability to process input and adapt to it is part of our genetic program. So how could one *not* come to the conclusion that all of our characteristics stem from our genes?

    When scientists talk about percentages of IQ heritability, they do not mean intelligence as a whole. Instead, they refer to *differences* in the population. Many of our abilities are very stable; for example, the proper development of your liver is not dependent on the color of your nursery. So if we compare those two variables, we surely won't find a connection. That indicates a strong genetical disposition that can hardly be influenced by education. Other abilities won't develop if not trained: No person is born a literate, we all needed to learn it. That indicates a strong dependance on nurturing.

    One should always keep in mind that our adaptability is genetically determined as well. But the input we receive is decisive for how we use that talent. And since we are reflecting beings, we can choose our input in order to shape ourselves. So when studies indicate a significant genetical predisposition not only for intelligence, but a wide variety of issues, even going so far as whether you are opposed or in favor of death penalty, that doesn't render our adaptability inexistant. And this is what counts.

    So let me put it this way: When I am stronger then everyone else, then that give me the option to oppress them. The mere possession of this advantage may pose a strong incentive to make use of it. But I will still have to decide whether I want to do it. A villain in Harry Potter believed that this question is answered automatically: "There is only power, and those too weak to seek it." However, I side with Albus Dumbledore instead:

    "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
  • Jun 23 2011: My friend, I know the study of which you speak, and you've been led astray. "Happiness" as Western society defines it reflects extroverted characteristics. What introverts experience is more like the Eastern concept of inner peace - something lower-level, but more stable and long-lasting. If you're miserable, it's not because of your innate temperament; it's because you've subscribed to someone else's definition of what it means to enjoy life.

    Remember, nature doesn't do anything wrong, and therefore there's nothing wrong with you. It was other humans who decided that the way extroverts think is "right" and the way you think is "wrong." You can struggle to fit their ideals, or you can create your own definition of happiness.
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    Jun 23 2011: It's hard to say. I would think most personality traits depend on your environment but than again look at Williams Syndrome.