The Different Factors Affecting Personality Video

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  • 0:01 Personality
  • 1:01 Openness
  • 3:32 Thoughts & Beliefs
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What makes you unique? In this lesson, we'll examine personality, and some of the factors that affect personality, including how a person's cognition, self-concept, and locus of control can affect how he or she approaches the world.

Personality

Larry and Harry are twin brothers. They're in their sixties now, but even from a young age, they were very different from each other. Larry is fun-loving and adventurous: he loves to try exotic foods at restaurants and he drives way too fast. On the other hand, Harry is more stuck in his ways: he likes to stay close to home and read books rather than do crazy things, and he drives five miles below the speed limit at all times.

Even though Larry and Harry look alike, they have very different personalities. Personality is the term used to describe individual differences in behavior patterns. Essentially, personality is about what makes you unique. There are many different things that can affect your personality. What makes Larry adventurous and Harry play it safe? To answer that question, let's look at a few of the factors that can affect someone's personality.

Openness

Larry and Harry are very different from each other. But why? Let's start by taking a look at how they are different. There are many personality traits that people can have. One of the more common personality traits is openness to experience, or curiosity about the world and desire to experience new things. It is also related to risk-taking and adventurous activity.

For example, Larry really likes to eat at exotic restaurants, and he loves to experience new things. He's very open to experience. But Harry isn't: he likes routine and steers clear of anything new or exciting. What can cause a person to be open to new experiences? Why is Larry more adventurous than Harry is? One factor that can affect a person's openness is cognition, or thought processes. Specifically, the way we think about a situation can influence how open we are to it.

For example, imagine that Larry and Harry are in a restaurant and the waitress says that they have a special menu item: fried crickets. Now, Larry thinks to himself, 'Hey, I've never eaten crickets before. Wait until I tell my friends about this!' His thoughts are making him want to order the crickets. On the other hand, Harry is thinking, 'If I eat crickets, I might get sick and throw up.' His thoughts are making him not want to eat the crickets. In both cases, the person's cognition is affecting how open they are to experiencing eating something new.

Openness tends to decline in later life. Even Larry is less adventurous than he was when he was younger. He used to go skydiving and bungee jumping, but nowadays he just limits himself to driving too fast. But some research has suggested that openness is influenced by a person's locus of control, or what researchers sometimes refer to as personal resources, which is the sense of control that a person feels that they have.

When a person has a high locus of control - that is, they feel like they have a lot of control - they are more open to experiences. For example, Larry feels like he is a great driver and can really control whether or not he gets in a wreck, so he is okay with driving faster. Harry, on the other hand, feels out of control when he's driving, so he drives more slowly.

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