HSP3M Grade 11 Anthropology – Heredity, Personality, Sex vs. Gender

Section 5.1—Development of Self

The Influences of Heredity and Environment

  • environment and heredity play a part in shaping us
    • psychologists wonder if there’s always a part of us that is always inherited and another part that’s determined by our experiences (environment)
  • the formation of who we are has both heredity and environmental influences
    • ex: you are likely born religious or not, but environment influences which religion you worship



  • heredity is the physical characteristics and aspects of personality and behaviour that are passed down genetically from your relatives
  • for example, if both your parents are left handed, chances are you’ll be as well
  • the Human Genome Project identified all 3 billion DNA subunits and determined that humans share 99.9% of the same structural units of DNA
  • our personalities and behaviour aren’t 100% based on our genes—environment plays a factor as well



  • many factors in your environment can influence your development—family, peers, and socio-economic status
    • if a child grows up in an environment where reading occurs often (parents read at home), child is more likely to enjoy reading
  • the Edith experiment was created by Aaron Stern, and he tried to prove that the right environment could create a genius
    • his daughter Edith was the subject of the experiment
    • Stern played classical music and showed flash cards to Edith since birth
    • by 5, Edith could read the encyclopaedia Britannica, and had a PhD by 18


Twin Studies

  • twins are two people who are born in the same pregnancy—the can be identical or fraternal
  • psychologists study both identical and fraternal twins to understand the influence of environment and heredity
  • the theory for identical twins was that any difference could be explained to environmental factors (since all twins have the same genes)
    • however, new research shows that’s not the case—in female twins, each twin has two X chromosomes, and in females one chromosome is more dominant than the other (chances are, twin females have different dominant chromosomes, meaning they’re not genetically similar)


  • twins that were raised apart are used to determine what aspects of personality are inherited (because they were raised in different environments, similarities could only be from genetics)
    • in one example, the “Jim” twins had much in common—they both drove the same car, had the same interests, named their dog the same, married women of the same name, vacationed in the same places etc.


  • there are limitations to twin studies—behaviour involves many genes, and it’s difficult for researchers to determine which behaviours have genetic tendencies
    • research shows that some characteristics are more likely to be inherited—height, weight, shyness


The Roots of Intelligence Testing

  • Sir Francis Galton (Charles Darwin’s cousin) was determined to find out if intelligence runs in families
    • by applying Darwin’s theory, he believed smart people should only mate with smart people, in order to produce smart offspring
    • he developed various ways of measuring intelligence, but wasn’t successful
  • Galton’s work influenced Alfred Binet to create the Binet Intelligence Test
    • Binet’s test was modified by Lewis Terman of Stanford University, and it became known as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test
  • the Stanford-Binet is a standardized test—it’s first given to a representative sample of people and the results from the sample are used to compare those who take the test
    • majority of people have IQs between 85 and 115, with the average being 100
    • superior intelligence is above 120, while developmental disability is below 70
  • twins tend to have the same IQs—but it’s hard to determine if intelligence is environment or genetics because twins have the same genetics and are raised in the same environment typically (the same house)
    • however, twins who were raised apart still have similar IQs
    • adoptive children have more similar IQs with their biological parents than with their adoptive parents
  • environmental influences can affect IQ scores—the type of schooling, housing, nutrition
    • in the USA, IQ scores are on the rise, and since the genetics haven’t changed, it must mean that the environment Americans are being raised in are better (high quality homes, smaller family sizes, nutrition)
    • also, twins raised together have much more similar IQs than twins raised apart (meaning environment is a big influence)


Romanian Orphans

  • Romanian orphans are usually housed in large institutions (many orphans in one big building)
  • in this experiment, selective orphans were placed in foster homes
  • the results are that despite adequate nutrition in the large institutions, children in institutions have smaller head circumferences and less brain activity than foster children
    • foster children have normal IQs, while institution orphans have developmental disability IQ scores
  • this shows environment along with genes make a difference in intelligence












  • each of us have a distinct personality that shows our characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting


Categorizing Personality: Hans Eysenck

  • Hans Eysenck believed there two be two dimensions to personality:
    • if a person is more extroverted or introverted
      • extroversion: directing one’s interests outward (especially toward social contacts)
      • introversion: directing one’s interests inward
    • a person’s neuroticism
      • stable
      • unstable
  • Hans would ask patients a series of questions to determine their combination of dimensions:
    • extroverted + stable—sociable, outgoing, talkative
    • extroverted + unstable—touchy, restless, aggressive, excitable
    • introverted + stable—passive, careful, thoughtful, peaceful
    • introverted + unstable—moody, anxious, rigid, sober, quiet
  • research shows that Hans was wrong—his dimensions rarely predicted how people react to situations


Predicting Personality: Big Five Factors

  • psychologists organized personality traits into the Big Five factors of personality
  • the Big Five have grouped personality traits, and they are:
    • openness—imaginative/independent (not practical/conforming)
    • conscientiousness—organized/careful (not disorganized and careless)
    • extroversion—outgoing/energetic (not shy and reserved)
    • agreeable—friendly/helpful (not cold and unkind)
    • neuroticism—anxious/insecure (not calm and secure)
  • predicting aspects of someone’s personality is complex—there is no definitive tool to predict personality
  • psychologists typically use factor analysis—subjects respond to a series of questions to ask how they would react in scenarios
    • the psychologist looks at patterns that form from the answers to predict their personality and behaviour



  • introverted people prefer to be alone or in fairly small groups
  • they prefer to communicate through email, text, social networks than on the phone or in person
  • we live in a society of extroverts, therefore introverts are frowned upon (“loners”)


Highly Sensitive People (HSP)

  • estimated that 15-20% of people are HSP
  • 70% of HSP people are introverted
  • HSP need minimal auditory stimuli (can’t have background music while studying)
  • extremely sensitive to other people’s moods
  • prefer to be in small social gatherings with friends than in large groups with many strangers



  • people who are shy are anxious or nervous around other people
  • shyness in adults begin very early in life (childhood)
    • shy babies: when exposed to unfamiliar stimuli (loud noise, new person), are highly reactive and will cry and thrash their limbs (they’re most likely to become shy adults)
    • if a shy child has parents who are protective, their shyness are more likely to be enhanced
    • if a shy child has parents who encourage their child to be more outgoing, their child won’t be as shy in adulthood
    • the role of the parent plays an environmental factor in shyness



  • an aspect of personality that can be both positive (helps a person achieve excellence) or negative
  • perfectionists tend to set unrealistically high expectations of themselves and when they fail, they’re overly critical
    • believe that if something can’t be done right, better not to do it at all
  • the cycle of perfection
    • 1: “I must be perfect in everything I do.”
      • unrealistic expectation of perfectionism
    • 2: “I can accomplish anything”
      • taking on too much
    • 3: “How did I get into this mess? It’s too much!”
      • failure to reach goals leads to procrastination
    • 4: “This could have been better.”
      • self-blame, guilt, shame, lowered self-esteem
    • 5: “I am what I do.”
      • self-definition based on performance
    • 6: “I know if I try harder, I’ll do better”
      • demand for higher standards and sets themselves up for step 1 again (the next step is step 1—cycle starts over)
  • perfectionism typically develops at an early stage
    • often it’s related to significant events or responses from parents (the child’s parents want straight A’s)
    • perfectionism can also be because they’re first in the birth order
    • children who are perfectionists are prone to depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, low self esteem
  • perfectionism is an issue in young athletes
    • perfectionist athletes are more prone to anger fits and demand too much of themselves (typically because of coaches and parents’ expectations)
    • research shows it’s helpful to guide the athlete into setting reasonable goals, and giving praise whenever the child is working hard (not just when they reach their goal)
  • perfectionism can be changed
    • remembering everyone fails, remove guilt from failure, use hardships as learning opportunities. take small steps



  • common in perfectionists (procrastination part of perfectionist cycle)
  • procrastination is the decision not to act; everyone does it at some point
  • chronic procrastination is typically due to lack of confidence or fear of failure
    • people procrastinate because they’re stressed, and then become more stressed as they have less time to complete their tasks
  • research shows the most effective way to avoid procrastination, is to break a task into smaller parts


Birth Order

  • the order in which a person is born into their family can effect personality
  • Alfred Adler was the first to examine birth order in the 1920s
  • personalities due to birth order:


PERSONALITY responsible, reliable, organized, perfectionists, critical, high achievers, leaders compromising, diplomatic, avoid conflict, loyal, many friends, feel forgotten, secretive attention seeking, manipulative, charming, love people, affectionate comfortable with those older and younger than themselves, self-motivated, through, high achievers
LIKELY CAREER jobs which require high education jobs with mediating skills (law, nursing) jobs in the outdoors or arts related jobs which require high education



  • birth order is highly variable (for example, the age difference between siblings—15 years apart won’t follow birth order as much as 2 years apart)













Sex and Gender Differences

  • a person’s biological sex is genetic: males have X and Y chromosome; females have two X chromosomes
  • some people are born with both male and female characteristics (intersexed)
  • there is a difference between gender and sex
    • a person’s sex is genetically determined
    • a person’s gender (the way they are viewed as male or female) can be influenced by biological and social factors


The Influence of Biology

  • neuroscientists believe the difference in the brain of men and women, explains the differences between personalities and behaviour of men and women
  • men and women think and behave differently, because their brains aren’t the same
    • men have larger cortex, women have larger frontal and temporal lobes, men have more neurons
  • the idea that any perceived difference between men and women are due to the brain difference
    • we need to keep in mind that we still have so much to learn about how the brain affects the mind (personality)
    • if we look at the brain too much, we’ll forget that social context, place, and historical period influence behaviour; if we look at brain too much, we won’t take responsibility for gender equality


Gender Identity

  • sex is biologically determined before birth—DNA makes you either boy or girl (or sometimes both)
  • gender identity is an individual’s sense of being male or female
  • we have internalized perceptions of gender (ex: we`d be surprised to see a baby boy in pink)
  • gender identity is formed through these theories:
    • social learning theory
      • child`s gender specific behaviour are established by observing and imitating the behaviour of those around them (parents)
      • adults give positive or negative feedback to these behaviours which the child has established (for example Michael, boys don`t play with dolls)
    • gender schema theory
      • children view themselves through a gender lens based on their cultural understanding of what it means to be male or female
      • kids develop schemas (concepts) on how each gender should act and think through toys, clothes, language
      • kids compare themselves with their schema of their gender, and modify their behaviour to fit the schema (a caring boy may become tough and strong because that`s his schema of being male)