This paper will deal with the question of whether or not neurosciences and neuroanalyses would provide scientists and researchers with a clue about one’s personality, and why one does the things that he does. Can neuroscience provide an answer to how psychological capacities develop and function in the social world? The paper will also talk about the fact that the nervous system of the human being is confirmed in one’s personality, and that today, it is possible to tackle personality as a scientifically backed concept, rather than as a philosophical mystery that nobody can really comprehend.
Neuroscience of personality
Most scientists and psychologists alike feel that personality, and the study of human personality and behaviors occupies a strange and lowly position among the annals of human psychology, despite the fact that the topic of ‘personality’ and ‘traits’ crops up quite often during the course of even a normal conversation between two adults.
As a matter of fact, the study of personality changes even induces disdain among some individuals, perhaps because of the extremely subjective nature of the subject, and also because of the historical tendency to describe the structure of personality rather than the intrinsic nature of personality. However, with the development of neuroscience over the years, it may possible at last for the study of personality to undergo a ‘scientific makeover’, and to study the human brain through imaging, in the hope that the molecular genetics causing variations in human neuro-transmission would be able t provide an idea into the most pressing questions that exist today on human personality. (Pickering D Alan, Gray A Jeffrey (1990)
The question here is whether or not neuroscience would be able to provide the answer to the critical issue of the manner in which a typical human personality develops and functions in the social world. Caspi, Berr and Elder (1989) provide important research on the relationship that exists between personality and socio economic conditions, and one interesting example was the personality changes observed in people who happened to grow up during the years of the Great Depression.
Most of these people exhibited a tendency to temper and great anger, aggression, short temperedness and so on, and further research revealed the astonishing fact that economic outcomes during one’s childhood would influence one’s personality through the years, and one would show ill temper if one had been economically deprived during one’s childhood. This would also influence their occupational status as they matured, and it was found that those individuals from higher class households would in all probability enjoy a higher occupational status when they were adults, while those who grew up in a deprived atmosphere would display a lower occupational tendency when they were older.
Recent research has revealed the fact that within a social situation, a human being will at first interpret the situation, before he responds to it, and this in itself would explain the ways in which his psychological capacities develop and function in the social world, rather than a study of the anatomy of the brain as in neuroscience. The importance of a particular social situation may differ from one individual to another, and it is important to remember that many situations do not have a fixed meaning; the meaning would depend on the person within the context.
Take for example a situation in which a person tells jokes: while it may be fun for one person, it may be an anxiety provoking situation for another, while for another; it may be some sort of competition. Those personality theorists who work within a psychoanalytic, behavioral, and trait-theory context may find that they are able to successful identify certain principles of personality functioning that would transcend the social circumstances in which the individual finds himself, in much the same way that a biologist may make an attempt to identify the basic principles of human anatomy and physiology that would transcend social circumstances. (Pervin, Cervone and Oliver (n.d.)
Katherine Kalliel states that in their book ‘Neurodynamics of Personality’, authors Grigsby and Stevens discuss the commonality to be found between personality development and neurosciences and neurodynamics, and she also states that the authors offer the opinion that “personality reflects the emergent properties of a dynamic, hierarchically ordered, modular, distributed, self-organizing functional system, the primary objective of which is the successful adaptation of the individual to his or her physical and social environment”. (Kalliel, M Katherine Ed.D (2000) This would bring one back to the question, “Can there be neuroscience in personality?”
The answer, in all probability, appears to be ‘Yes’ in today’s situation and given today’s modern research and growing interest in the subject. In my own family, this may well manifest itself in my behavior at times of stress. While it is wide knowledge that stress would cause numerous health problems in an individual, like for example, elevated blood pressure and a suppression of the immune system, it is with the help of neurosciences that this aspect of human behavior has been analyzed, and a solution found.
Today, when I feel my stress coming on and increasing because of a particular situation, and I am able to feel my personality changing as a result, I can believe that neuroscience has helped me cope with a situation over which I may have no control, but for the knowledge that it is my own behavior that is elevating the stress levels in my body, and that it is I who must learn to control it successfully. (Navasaria, Neha (1998)
This in effect is what neuroscience has been able to achieve, in its research on human personality and on personality changes.
1.Pickering D Alan, Gray A Jeffrey (1990) Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research Google Book Search Retrieved on January 14, 2008
2. Pervin, Cervone and Oliver (n.d.) Theories of Personality Retrieved on January 14, 2008
3. Kalliel, M Katherine Ed.D (2000) Neurodynamics of Personality American Psychiatric Foundation Retrieved on January 14, 2008
4. Navasaria, Neha (1998) The Understanding of Behavior and the Brain Serendip Retrieved on January 14, 2008