Human Personality Development Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1749 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

¶ … Human personality development is one of the greatest mysteries in the field of psychology. Decoding the unique combination of traits that makes us who we are as individuals goes beyond genetics. Environmental factors, social learning, and biological factors combine to turn us into the people that we will be. Our personality consists of our reactions and feelings when presented stimuli from the world around us. It is our reaction that defines our personality. A recent article in Time Magazine presents research that indicates that more goes on in-utero than was first thought, and that the time we spend in the womb can have an effect on our personality throughout the rest of our lives. This research will explore how the first nine months of our lives shape the personality that we will develop later on as we grow older.

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According to the article in Time Life Magazine, genetics go beyond simple inheritance from our parents. Many things can happen that can damage or change the genetic code that we inherited. When out genes are altered by things in our environment, disease can develop. We might inherit a certain tendency from our parents, but that is not the end of the story. Perhaps that most surprising finding was that poor nutrition during a mother's pregnancy was linked to obesity and the development of diabetes in the child (Paul, 2010). The finding that famine in the mother could cause schizophrenia suggests that many other mental illnesses might have their origin in the prenatal environment as well (Paul, 2010). The article went on to suggest that the mental health of the newborn should begin to be a priority before they are born, with the treatment of the mother. This article suggests that the prenatal environment and mental stress of the mother can have an effect on the personality of the child. The following will examine the current body of research regarding this claim.

Current Research

Term Paper on Human Personality Development Is One of the Assignment

Current academic research supports the premises laid forth in the Time Life Magazine. The study of the affects of maternal mood and stress on the child have become a popular topic in recent years. Braungart-Rieker, Hill-Soderlund, & Karrass (2010) found that the fear and anger response is present as early as 2-3 months in newborns. It is present when their world is uncertain, or their expectations are not met. The fear and anger responses continue to be refined as the child grows. According to the authors. They learn to intervene and control that which bothers them, but in some cases, they are set from before they were born to be anxious, depressed, or fearful adults.

It has long been established that mental illness is the result of genes and environmental issues. Genetic research has revealed that certain gene combinations makes a person predisposed towards certain conditions such as depression or schizophrenia (Schmidt (2007). Evidence now supports the role of environmental issues in the development of mental illness. For instance, a person who experiences a loss or who has a sense of danger, and who is predisposed genetically to such conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia, might develop mental illness as a result of environmental stressors (Schmidt, 2007). The net result of these studies was that persons with a predisposition could be identified through the use of genetics. It also suggested that by preventing or altering the conditions that could lead to the expression of those tendencies, that the development of the associated mental illness could be prevented. If we know the risks and the risk factors, then interventions can be developed.

The suggestion that maternal malnutrition could be linked to schizophrenia in the child is supported by several models that link maternal nutritional deficiency to child mental health. Wachs (2009) found that nutritional deficiencies during the prenatal period could e positively linked to mental health problems. When one considers the biological and nutritional basis for the chemicals that create our brain reactions and that are responsible for the development of brain and nervous system of the fetus, this seems to be a logical connection. Lozoff, Beard, & Connor et al. (2006) found that iron deficiency in infancy was linked to long-term neural and behavioral effects.

The nutritional basis for behavioral consequences during infancy have been a widely studied area. Several mental health issues have been linked to poor nutrition during infancy / for instance, zinc has been found to have an impact on maternal and child mental health. In this study, a zinc supplement was given to mothers and children with mental health problems and they were found to improve with continual dosages (DiGirolamo, a. & Ramirez-Zea, 2009). A study by Corapaci, Calatroni, & Kaciroti et al. (2010) found similar results in a longitudinal study that spanned 19 years.

These post-natal studies and others, demonstrate the connection between nutrition and mental illness. Once this connection is established, it is not difficult to extrapolate the connection between maternal nutrition and mental illness in the mother and child. If nutrition affects the infant soon after they are born, and can have far-reaching consequences through the developing years, it is not difficult to extrapolate that the nutritional status of the mother can have implications for the neural and brain development of the child. Hence, maternal malnutrition can produce mental illness in the infant. However, the Time Life Magazine goes farther than this. It suggests that the emotional state of the mother and the chemical bath that this produces in the womb can have an effect on the personality of the child.

When one begins to explore research into the effects of the emotional state of the mother on the personality and emotional well-being of the child, they will find that this is not a new topic. Serious research into this topic began as early as 2004. In 2004, Silk, Shaw & Skuban et al., studied the emotional regulation strategies of children of Childhood-onset depressed mothers. This study found that children of depressed parents were more likely to struggle with problems of emotional regulation. However, this study was unable to account for social learning theory as a possible source of the results. Social learning theory has been found to play a significant role in the development of personality and coping strategies of the child that carry over into later adulthood.

Thus far, the premise for the emotional state of the mother and its connection to the mental health and personality of the child was alluded to in the research. However, until recently, the academic world has not taken that step. Recently, research has begun to address the issue of the prenatal environment and its ability to affect who we will become. The study discussed earlier by Schmidt (2007) is one of the first to suggest a direct connection between the mother's stress level and the emotional state of the child. However, the precedents for this leap are established by years of research into the affects of other factors of the prenatal environment on the child and the adult they will become.

Our understanding of the biology of emotion has led to the logical leap that if nutrition and other factors affect the emotional state of the developing child, then the chemical bath that they receive from the emotions of the mother would have an effect on the child as well. The research presented in the Time Life article culminate with the concept that eventually research will lead us to understand the connection between the effect of maternal serotonin levels, hormone levels and cortisol levels just as we have come to understand the importance of nutritional compounds such as zinc and iron on the eventual emotional state of the child. This is certainly not an unforeseeable leap in the future. Neither is the concept that the emotional state of the mother needs to be attended during her pregnancy, as much as we attend to her nutritional and other health needs.


Recent research into the connection between the emotional state of the mother and the development of emotions in the child are connected by a biological synergy could lead to new frontiers in the prevention of not only physical defects, but also in the prevention of mental illness. This could be politically shaky ground, as we suggest that the regulation of emotions in the pregnant women has consequences. However, we have already gone that direction on the issue of drug use, smoking and alcohol consumption by pregnant women. As research progresses, this will only add another layer to the concept that parental responsibility begins before a child is even born.

The possibilities that this new frontier in research open are exciting, particularly when one considers the potential for heading off major mental illness before a person is born. This is not to say that this area of research can prevent all mental illness, but it has many possibilities for the future. The Time Life Magazine article presents this new area of academic research with a flare of optimism. When one… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Human Personality Development" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Human Personality Development.  (2010, November 29).  Retrieved January 16, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Human Personality Development."  29 November 2010.  Web.  16 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Human Personality Development."  November 29, 2010.  Accessed January 16, 2021.