Factors in the Development of Personality

 

None of us exist in a vacuum, therefore all of us have things that have affected our personality development. There are several factors that influence the development of one’s personality across the lifespan. These influences include; family, environment, culture, gender. In this paper I will discuss the effects of culture, gender and family on the development of personality. While it is generally accepted that each of these things influences the development of personality, it is difficult to tell which factor causes which changes. Since one cannot isolate a human being for years in a lab, the study of personality can be exceedingly difficult.

Culture

All of us grow up with cultural influences. According to McCrae & Terracciano (2005), the culture you live in does affect your personality. The study took representative samples from various cultures and gave each subject personality tests. The study also used observers from within the culture and outside it to verify the results of the personality tests. The study found that there are distinct differences between cultures. This includes those that are close geographically and between those who speak the same language (McCrae & Terracciano, 2005). It would stand to reason that if the differences generalize across the culture and are different between cultures, that the culture is likely responsible for the difference in personality.

In my professional experience as a project manager I have worked with many people from other cultures. The primary non-western culture I interface with regularly is Indian culture. I have worked with teams of Indians located both in America and in India. This has allowed me to observe the personalities of these people and make some assumptions about the affects of the Indian culture on their personalities. For example, I find most Indians to be conscientious and hardworking. Many of the Indian employees would work overtime without reporting it in order to finish a project on time or to make changes to their work that they deemed necessary for quality. They could have reported the overtime and gotten paid to do it. As their manager I encouraged them to do this, but they would often continue to ‘forget’ to report the work. The American workers did not do this. They reported their overtime consistently, and often complained when they had to work long hours. I could not guess which parts of the Indian and American cultures caused this difference in behavior, but to me, it is obvious that the difference exits.

Gender

It would seem to me that gender is an important part of personality development. After all, every culture has gender roles and these roles are passed on from generation to generation. According to one article, “In brief, gender differences are modest in magnitude, consistent with gender stereotypes, and replicable across cultures.” (Costa, Terracciano & McCrae, 2001 p. 328). This means that while gender roles are similar in different cultures, the differences between male and female varies much less within a single culture than one would think. Women were found to score higher in negative moods and feelings, were found to be more submissive and nurturing and were more feeling than ideological (Costa, Terracciano & McCrae, 2001). It was also found that gender differences are greater in Western, individualistic cultures (Costa, Terracciano & McCrae, 2001). This fact was surprising as these types of cultures tend to at least give lip service to equality between the genders. It is almost as if focusing on the fact that there should not be a difference between the genders makes one over-examine the concept and come up with a completely different answer.

In my own experience, I believe that some people really fit their gender stereotypes but others simply do not. I have observed that many of those who do not fit the stereotype tend to be found in jobs that are also non-traditional for their gender role. I often think that the variances from the norm in the gender roles come from rebelling against the traditional role. For example, many feminists will take on exceedingly masculine characteristics while claiming to both be equal to and have disdain for the male gender. It also often surprises me that gender roles can be so polarized, even with those who are taking on the role of the opposite gender. I know many gays and lesbians who take the opposite gender role to an extreme. I know very few women as feminine or as diva-like as a few of the gay queens I’ve met. I believe they are not only rebelling against the stereotype of their own gender, but also internalizing the media’s over-done stereotypes of the opposite gender.

This is a fairly interesting topic to me, as I am a female in a non-traditional role. I am an aggressive, tenacious and extremely interested in ideas. I work for a large corporation as a Project Manager, a field that is still mostly male. My fiancé, however, stays at home and home schools the children. He is extremely emotional and nurturing. Not to say that those roles have completely flipped, as I tend to be prone to anxiety and a bit neurotic whereas he enjoys some of the more male competitiveness found in sports and video games. I have noticed, however, that both of us have more respect for the parent of the opposite gender, and rebelled quite a bit against the one of the same gender. I would be interested in seeing studies done on the issue of role-reversals in Western cultures.

Family

The study by Branje, van Lieshou & van Aken (2004)supported the idea that the family is a system. When one family member changes how they act or react, it changes the way others in the family act and react to them. Over the long term, it is believed, this can effect reactive personality changes on family members (Branje, van Lieshou & van Aken, 2004). It seems that these changes are not quick, and can take many years to form. Also, once a pattern of reacting is established in a relationship, it is very difficult to change it (Branje, van Lieshou & van Aken, 2004). Since changes happen most often at times for high stress for a family, it would seem that it is often these events that cause the changes in family dynamic, and therefore in personality (Branje, van Lieshou & van Aken, 2004). For example, the death of a parent can sometimes cause drastic changes in the personalities in the family system. According to the article, this is likely due to the difference in perceived support. Where the child was accustomed to having support of both parents, now they only have the support of one.

In my own experience, I can see how families can affect each other. There is nothing like the horror stories of the child who was molested or whose parent was a severe alcoholic to bring this into sharp focus. On the other hand, it is also very apparent to me that everyday interaction can introduce subtler changes. When I got a new set of in-laws, my daughter also got a new set of grandparents. The morals and values of the new grandparents are not the same as mine, and have resulted in severe family conflict. They have also, in my opinion, resulted in drastic changes in my daughter. She said she felt caught between me and her grandmother, and often was punished by both parties when she’d done a perceived wrong. Unfortunately, the perceived wrong was often something that was thought of as right and encouraged by half of the family. After trying to work through these situations amicably, I finally limited contact between my children and their grandmother to once a week. Changes were apparent within a couple weeks. They were less cranky and much more open and loving. The article mentions familial stability being a large factor in personality stability, and I wholeheartedly believe this. I have been living in a different state for a month, and the changes have become more pronounced. I believe this is due to the lack of conflict in their lives and the fact that rules and regulations have become much more stable.

It is difficult to tell what causes a person to act and react the way they do. It is obvious that certain things such as family, culture and gender leave a lasting impression on our personalities. It is, however, difficult to tell which factors cause which changes. It is often very much a chicken and egg issue. Does the personality change cause the change in environment, or does the environment cause the change in personality? Personality theory is still in its infanthood compared to other sciences and I’m sure that more of these questions will be answered as its study progresses.

References

McCrae, R. R., & Terracciano, A. (2005). Personality Profiles of Cultures : Aggregate Personality Traits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 89(3), pp. 407-425.

 

Costa, P. T., Terracciano, A, & McCrae, R. R. (2001). Gender Differences in Personality Traits Across Cultures: Robust and Surprising Findings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.81(2), pp. 322-331.

 

Branje, S. J. T., van Lieshout, C., & van Aken, M., (2004). Relations Between Big Five Personality Characteristics and Perceived Support in Adolescents’ Families. Journal of Personalityand Social Psychology. 86(4), pp. 615-628.

What is love?

A construct is a concept that everyone in a field agrees exists but is not directly observable. To measure a construct, one must decide what criteria by which to judge the presence or absence of the construct. As love is not directly measurable, it is a construct. In order to measure a construct we must first define it. My definition of love for this work will be taken from Robert J. Sternberg’s article Triangular Theory of Love. This theory states that love has three components, intimacy, passion and decision or commitment. The amount and type of love that one receives depends on the amounts and proportions of these qualities relative to each other. These amounts and proportions give rise to 8 different categories as is referenced in the following table.

 

Taxonomy of Kinds of Love

 

Component

Kind of Love

Intimacy

Passion

Decision/Commitment

Nonlove

Liking

+

Infatuated Love

+

Empty Love

=

+

Romantic Love

+

+

Companionate Love

+

+

Fatuous Love

+

+

Consumate Love

+

+

+

Note: += component present; -=component absent

 

Resources:

 

The Evaluation of Love : Simplified Version of the Scales for Yela’s Tetrangular Model Based on Sternberg’s Model  . Yela, Carlos; European Journal of Psychological Assessment. Vol. 22(1) 2006. pp. 21-27.

 

Dimensions of the Prototype of Love  . Aron, Arthur; Westbay, Lori; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 70(3) March 1996. pp. 535-551.

 

A Triangular Theory of Love  . Sternberg, Robert J.; Psychological Review. Vol. 93(2) April 1986. pp. 119-135.

 

Product Liability: Was Ford to Blame in the Pinto Case?

Introduction

This is an opinion paper on Part 4 Issue 12 of the textbook Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Business Ethics and Society (6th ed.) by Lisa H. Newton and Maureen M. Ford. In this paper I will discuss my reaction to the issue “Product Liability: Was Ford to Blame in the Pinto Case?” The text discussed both sides of this issue. Mark Dowie took the “Yes” position in his paper Pinto Madness. Ford Motor Company took the “No” position in the closing argument for State of Indiana v. Ford Motor Company, U.S. District Court, South Bend, Indiana (January 15, 1980) by Mr. James Neal. I will give my opinion on the topic as it relates to the discussion in the text.

 

DAN: a bit confused here. Isn’t Neal the author here. he was arguing on behalf of Ford.

 

Body

In his paper, Dowie took the position that not only was Ford to blame in the case, but that they knew that the Pinto was a death trap before it went into production. He cited evidence that Ford had crash tested the car prior to release and found that in rear-end collisions of over 25MPH, the fuel tank ruptured every single time. He also alleged that the shortened time frame demanded by Lee Iacocca for the Pinto’s release ultimately helped lead to this failure. He also states that the lobbyists in Washington are as much to blame as Ford and Iacocca for the gas tank failures because they helped to block legislation that would have required higher safety standards for subcompact cars.

 

Dan: OK, so he is arguing that the values at work here were the profits of the company held greater weight than the safety

 

In his paper, Neal took the position that Ford was not responsible for the problems with the Pinto. He pointed out in his closing statement that the Pinto adhered to the same safety standards as the other subcompact cars on the road at the time. He also mentioned that the engineers responsible for the Pinto bought the car for family members. He believed that if the engineers believed the cars to be hazardous, they would not have purchased them for their loved ones. He also made the point that the crash being discussed in the case would have had the same or similar effects on other cars in its class because they all had relatively low safety standards compared to cars in other classes.

 

After reading both sides of this story, I do believe that Ford had a moral obligation to put out as safe a car possible for the money. I think this because I believe in the sanctity of human life. To me, anyone who knowingly risks someone else’s life without warning them not only violates this, but also takes away their free choice. I believe Ford was negligent in not using current technology such as the rubber bladder in the gas tank and the plastic shield to make the car safer. I believe this because they knew that there was a problem with the gas tanks and knew it could be prevented. They calculated the loss of human life and found it negligible. I also believe they were no more negligent than the other manufacturers of subcompact cars that were in production if they also knew of the flaws with their vehicles. In my opinion, it would have been fine for them to sell the car as-is if the public were warned of the safety issues. That way, the consumer could choose whether or not to risk their lives in the vehicle or not. In my opinion, this would have negated Ford’s responsibility and put it directly on the consumers who purchased the vehicles. I also think Ford could have done a better job of warning the public once the recall was issued. In my opinion, sending a recall letter was inadequate in this case. They could just as easily put out a press release discussing the issues with the car. It may have decreased their subcompact sales, but if they included a statement on the relative safety compared to other subcompacts on the market then this would be less likely to drop their overall market share. They could also have provided warning labels in subsequent vehicles comparable to the roll-over warnings that are in most SUVs today.

 

To me, what ford did was equivalent to a drug company putting out a flu medicine that would cause death in 10% of children under the age of 16 carrying the influenza virus. While adults would take the medicine, parents would be unlikely to give it to their children. This has been proven by the Reye’s syndrome cases caused by Aspirin. If the drug company was negligent in putting warning labels on the product, then I believe they would be negligent.

 

Conclusion

While both of the authors made excellent points, the second was more of a legal statement than an ethical one. Neal made an excellent case as to why Ford was not legally responsible for the Pinto deaths, but this did not address whether or not the company was morally responsible. From the points that Dowie made, I believe his view of Ford’s ethical responsibility, while not completely correct was closer to my own views.

Should Concern for Drug Abuse Overrule Concerns for Employee Privacy?

ntroduction

This is an opinion paper on Part 3 Issue 10 of the textbook Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Business Ethics and Society (6th ed.) by Lisa H. Newton and Maureen M. Ford. In this paper I will discuss my reaction to the issue “Should Concern for Drug Abuse Overrule Concerns for Employee Privacy”. The text discussed both sides of this issue. Michael A. Verespej took the “Yes” position in his paper Drug Users – Not Testing – Anger Workers. Jennifer Moore took the “No” position in his paper Drug Testing and Corporate Responsibility: The ‘Ought Implies Can’. I will give my opinion on the topic as it relates to the discussion in the text.

Body

In his paper, Verespej took the position that concerns for drug abuse should override the privacy of the employee. To support this point, he showed data that people are less worried about inaccurate tests and that the majority of employees support testing.

In her paper, Moore took the position that concerns for drug abuse should not override the privacy of the employee. She believes that employees have moral privacy rights and that drug testing almost always trespasses on these rights. She believes that while corporations can be held responsible legally and morally for an employee’s actions on the job, that they should not have the right to require drug testing.

I did not find Moore’s paper to be well written. Often I had to go back and check if I was reading the “Yes” or “No” paper because it was not clear from reading. That said, I agree with Moore that corporations should have a moral right to prevent harm or damage caused by their employees. I also believe that if they should only be held morally and legally responsible for that which they can control. Corporate responsibility, in my opinion, should be something that every company practices. To this end, I see no problem with a corporation requiring employees to be drug tested in order to gain employment with a firm. An employee may have a moral right to privacy if they wish it, but what moral right does the employee have to a job with a particular firm? Many people trade off their right to privacy on a daily basis for jobs in the government sector as many of these jobs require a security clearance (as well as drug testing). I believe the amount of privacy to give up should be the decision of the employee. If they do not wish to give up that privacy, there are other jobs.

As Verespej noted, most employees have no moral issue with drug testing and the majority even favor it. In jobs where safety is an issue it makes workers feel more secure. In jobs where security is a must, it helps to prevent data leaks due to impaired judgment. The burden of cost for the testing is on the employer, so it is not keeping poor people from getting jobs. If the employees as a whole have no moral issue with the testing and the employers are for it, this should constitute the moral norm.

In her paper, Moore also did not offer any alternatives to drug testing. If drug testing is an infringement on employees, then how can we make sure they are drug-free in the workplace without invading their privacy? I would love to see some studies on using drug-sniffing dogs or chemical sensors to tell if employees have been using drugs during company hours. If methods such as these are viable and not cost-prohibitive it could change the way we view drug testing in the workplace.

Conclusion

I see no moral reasons why compulsory drug testing by employers should be discontinued. I believe it makes the workplace safer and helps companies fulfill their responsibility to their employees, their clients and society as a whole. I would wholly support any viable alternative to the current method of testing. Until such methods are available, I believe that drug testing in the workplace is the right thing to do.

Should Casino Gambling be Prohibited? An Ethics Paper

Opinion Paper – Should Casino Gambling be Prohibited

 

Introduction

This is an opinion paper on Part 2 Issue 7 of the textbook Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Business Ethics and Society (6th ed.) by Lisa H. Newton and Maureen M. Ford. In this paper I will discuss my reaction to the issue “Should Casino Gambling be Prohibited”. The text discussed both sides of this issue. William A. Galston and David Wasserman took the “Yes” position in their paper Gambling Away Our Moral Capital. William R. Eadington took the “No” position in his paper The Proliferation of Commercial Gambling in America. I will give my opinion on the topic as I think some important points were missed by the authors.

 

Body

While reading the articles I noticed a couple issues that were not addressed that I thought should be. First off, no one mentioned internet gambling. Second, no one mentioned whether or not the government had the right to prohibit gambling.

 

According to (http://gsulaw.gsu.edu/lawand/papers/su01/feldman/), the first online casino opened in 1995. Since then the industry has grown by leaps and bounds. For this reason, gambling is just a credit card or a PayPal account away. I wondered why neither author mentioned internet gambling revenues in their figures. I’m certain they are substantial. This also pushed the morality of gambling into the realms of other issues. Regulating the internet is a nightmare at best and considered by some an infringement on freedom of speech.

 

My personal political and moral leanings lean toward lack of government intervention in the personal lives of it’s citizens. For this reason I do not believe gambling should be prohibited. The issue of government sponsored gambling such as lotteries is another story. I can see both sides of this issues, however. The poor pay little to no taxes. They do, however, buy a disproportionate amount of lottery tickets. Some may say this is exploitation of the poor, but I tend to disagree. Unless someone is a compulsive gambler, they do not spend their rent money on the lottery. They spend what they consider to be their entertainment income. If the lottery was not taking the money, where would it be spent? What about the compulsive gamblers? They’ll find another outlet. I know a woman who had to go to Gamblers Anonymous due to her bingo habit. And failing that, there are always the riverboat and the internet.

 

Conclusion

While many people have moral objections to gambling I don’t think it’s a force that can be stopped. Even if someone convinced me that it was a rot on our society I would not want to see the government regulate it. Gambling should be left as a personal choice.

Reaction Paper on A Practical Companion to Ethics

Perspectives on Ethics

Reaction Paper on A Practical Companion to Ethics

Introduction

This is the Reaction Paper on the textbook A Practical Companion to Ethics by Anthony Weston. In this paper I will discuss my reaction to the textbook A Practical Companion to Ethics, by Anthony Weston. As there are five chapters in the book, I will cover the text in five sections, one section per chapter.

Body

The first chapter of the text is entitled “Getting Started.” This chapter discusses the basic tenets of ethics and introduces us to the terminology we need to know in order to discuss it. The chapter starts out with a discussion of what Ethics actually is. To do this, it also states what Ethics is not. Ethics is not morals. It is, however the study of morals as well as an analytical thought process that allows us to develop our morals and values as well as to coherently defend them in a discussion. Toward this end, the text asks us to change our attitude and our actions in several ways. First, it asks us to think about situations instead of just responding based on our feelings. It asks us to not rationalize, but to use valid logic to think about or morals and values. Finally, it asks us to think critically about our own morals and values instead of just thinking of them as being set in stone.

The second chapter of the text is entitled “Thinking for Yourself.” This is a philosophy that I wholeheartedly agree with. The text makes the point that we cannot fail to make decisions. I believe this is correct. Even deciding not to make a decision or follow the crowd is a decision. The chapter discusses the appeals to authority that each of us makes those to social norms, those to authority and those to God. The text goes into the most depth about appeals to God. I believe this is a good example and one that most people can identify with. Even those who do not believe in God are effected by other’s beliefs in a higher power. For example, the recent case of the Judge who was suspended for failing to remove a monument with the 10 commandments from government property. For him, this was a case of religious persecution. For an atheist, however, it may have been a case of being able to live their live without the influence of another’s religion. Even if we choose to follow the rules of God or society, this is a choice. It does not negate us of our personal ethical responsibility.

The third chapter of the text is entitled “Creative Problem-Solving in Ethics.” This chapter deals with ways to find new options to solve ethical problems using creativity. The part on expanding options uses many of the methods that I have learned in my Project Management training such as brainstorming and free association. I was most interested in the part on reframing the problem. Looking for opportunities in problems is not a new idea, but it is an often forgotten one. Thinking preventatively also seems to be a new trend. More and more businesses are looking at preventing problems instead of dealing with them as they are solved. For instance, companies such as Motorola have introduced 6-sigma training to prevent product flaws. These flaws would normally either cost the company money to fix, or cost them customer goodwill if they refused to fix them. The moral dilemma is almost completely eliminated when the company puts processes in place to make sure their products are 99.99997% defect free. With luck and training, maybe many of today’s ethical problems can be eliminated through creativity.

The forth chapter of the text is entitled “Don’t Polarize — Connect.” This chapter discusses the tendency to make moral dilemmas into black and white, two sided constructs. This makes it easier for us to choose and make our point of view seem right and the other point of view wrong. The text suggests that we use strategies to integrate our values with those of others. For instance, if our values are very different from those of another we can often find a compromise that will work for both. We can examine different values to find ways in which they are compatible instead of seeing them as being completely divisive. We can also work from the common ground of shared values. For example, people who are for and against gun control both value safety. They just believe in different ways to get it.

The fifth chapter of the text is entitled “Ethics with a Heart.” This chapter discusses the tendency for people to be closed-hearted. This is taken to mean that one sees others as less important or not as completely human as oneself. It is easy to be closed off when you spend much of the time being self-centered. It is not as easy when you constantly think about others and the way in which you affect them. One of the strategies in the text was to be mindful. Being fully in the moment and aware of your actions can help you to treat others in ways in which we would like to be treated. In other words, it helps us to treat them like human beings.

Conclusion

I liked this text book very much. It was short, concise and filled with interesting examples and parables. The issues and controversies discussed such as racism, sexism, homosexuality, and ecological responsibility were current and applicable to today’s society. It not only showed us what ethics was, but how to study ethics, how to learn from those who disagree with us, and to get along with them. Finally, it taught us strategies for being a better person through ethical thinking. I believe it was an excellent book for an introduction to Social Ethics.

Acceptance

One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is acceptance. At points past I’d been a bit of a pushover in my friendships. People would do something that was messed up and then use the ‘you have to accept me for who I am’ card. Trying to be open minded I would believe it.

Lately, I’ve grown up. Yes, I do have to accept people for how they are. However, that means something much different than many people think. I have to accept their right to be themselves without trying to change them (I had that part down ok). However, I don’t have to enjoy their company or allow them in my life.

I’m glad I’ve grown up enough to realize the difference. Besides, it allows me more time to spend on you cool people.