The Psychosocial Effects on Personality: Social Markers to Follow in Early Personality Development

The Psychosocial Effects on Personality: Social Markers to Follow in Early Personality Development By Hena Jawaid, MBBS, FCPS
~ 3 min read

People in the form of arrows.The environment has its own impact on the development of an individual’s personality. The relationship between parents and between parents and their children matters a lot, as each person who is present in our environment contributes in modeling our personality in one way or another.

Every relationship of life has something to tell us, as relationships are like a mirror, which facilitates us to see a reflection of our attitudes, opinions, and most importantly how we are seen by others 1. Why people like us? What makes them hate us?

These questions arise when we think about how we appear to others, i.e., What do people think of me? How trustworthy are my attitudes?

Multifactorial Theories

There are many factors that one can evaluate before assessing an individual’s personality. Some are thought of as predisposing factors. Early relationships with siblings, the social response to mischievous behaviors or non-compliant attitudes, our friends’ attitudes towards us, bonding, social approval or persistent rejection in the family or outside-family settings — these are all factors that can lead one to make basic templates in his or her mind 2. All these components shape the way we think or see the world. From early times in life, these reactions, which we receive frequently from outside sources, shape these templates in our brains. By the time we grow up, these templates make us react, think and feel in an automatic fashion among different people and in different settings. We harbor fears and use defense mechanisms in accordance with the feeling of self-security 3. The state of insecurity that we feel within ourselves leads us to decide whether to trust others or not.

There are some pertinent maladaptive behavioral courses which need intense psychological scrutiny. These particular behaviors are precipitated earlier due to some common risk factors in life. These risk factors include parental discord or separation, poor parent-child relationship, history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, lack of appreciation and praise, or poor bonding in outer circles (friends, relatives, and neighborhoods) 4.

Behavioral Outcomes

These behaviors include persistent angry outbursts that are not in proportion with the trigger, repeated self-harming attitudes (i.e., in the form of wrist slashing, overdosing on sedatives or other measures that can harm a person himself or others), manipulation in trivial matters, difficulty in setting boundaries in relationships, which are manifested by enmeshed bonding alternating with episodes of love and fierce hatred for the same individual (idealization and devaluation), impulsivity, unable to stick to one decision, prone to verbal or physical abuse, difficulty in showing consistent behaviors for the constructive or engaging activities, too much demanding attitude and coercing others through extreme measures of self-harm. There is a constant shift among friends’ circles; instability in relationships and mood swings. These mood swings render one to think or act irrationally 5.

These individuals have problems in keeping themselves away from maladaptive coping strategies. During stressful times, as a way to deal with a particular situation, they are prone to acquire poor coping techniques and incline towards addiction, substance dependence, antisocial or reckless behaviours such as rash driving, gambling, sex games, truancy, teenage pregnancy and perversions 6.

Recognition and Assessment

Identification of these behaviors should lead parents or caretakers to seek psychological assistance as soon as possible. Behavioral reinforcements by teachers, parents, elders, and guardians are first-hand methods in today’s world to deal with poor conduct or defiant attitudes 7.

But before all these measures can be considered, it is crucial to inspect retrospectively the predisposing social, environmental and developmental factors.

Sometimes, merely the correction of some triggering attitude by a family member eliminates the consequential bad behavior in a teen. So it is not always the fact that youth are wrong. Many times their behaviors represent a response to stimuli 8. In most of these cases, behavioral management takes a major role, as compared to medication alone.

Conclusion

In the case of children and adolescents, most of their problematic behaviors reflect their environment. Their coping mechanisms are devised as a function of ego. Strong self components (self-esteem, confidence, and self-awareness) can facilitate ego to utilize more mature defense mechanisms as well as effective coping strategies when stressed. Good and nurturing parenting styles can fill this deficit and raise a healthy generation for the future.

References:

  1. Horner, A. (1995). Object relations and the developing ego in therapy. Jason Aronson.
  2. Clausen, J. A. (1966). Family structure, socialisation, and personality. Review of child development research, 2, 1-53.
  3. Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2006). The psychology of self-defense: Self-affirmation theory. Advances in experimental social psychology, 38, 183.
  4. Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin, 110(1), 26.
  5. Kernberg, O. (1967). Borderline personality organization. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15(3), 641-685.
  6. Tremblay, R. E. (2000). The development of aggressive behavior during childhood: What have we learned in the past century?. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24(2), 129-141.
  7. Rutter, M. (1971). Parent‐child separation: psychological effects on the children.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12(4), 233-260.
  8. Dishion, T. J., Nelson, S. E., & Bullock, B. M. (2004). Premature adolescent autonomy: Parent disengagement and deviant peer process in the amplification of problem behavior. Journal of Adolescence, 27(5), 515-530.

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