How much of someone's personality is determined at birth, and how much is influenced by their environment? It's a big question that may be difficult (or even impossible) to answer completely for some time. However, there are apparently some common innate personality traits that people may not be able to change, at least not easily. For the most part, it looks like at least some parts of a person's traits are determined by genetics.
Granted, the subject of human personality is tricky to study, because people are such complicated creatures. How can you ever determine whether the personality is a product of a person's genetic makeup or their environment? Many experts seem to accept a mix of the two. "There is an inherent foundation we are born with when it comes our personality traits," says Travis McNulty, licensed psychotherapist and an owner of a group counseling center. "However, biological, social, and psychological environmental influences can drastically change a person’s personality for better or for worse." Although it might be difficult to parse out what exactly gets changed by the environment the most, there are at least some traits that appear to be present in a person from day one. Here are some of the most likely innate personality traits, according to experts.
People with a lot of empathy for others may be that way because of genetics. "These people are highly tuned-in to other people’s emotions," says Adina Mahalli, certified mental health professional writing on behalf of Maple Holistics. "Seeing as your emotions are harder to control than other parts of your personality, being an empath is an inborn personality trait that you have less control over." So if you identify with other people's feelings a lot, then this may be something you've experienced most all of your life.
2. Introversion / Extroversion
Even the way you relate to other people may be predetermined as well, so to speak. "Everyone is on the introvert/extrovert spectrum but some on further extremes than others," says Mahalli. "If you’re a die-hard introvert or socialite extrovert, you might have no control over this trait." It's totally fine to put yourself in environments that support this tendency, whether you're the life of the party or a bit more reserved.
3. Need For Belonging
Most everyone feels the need for belonging to some group. "The few things that are ingrained in us from birth when it comes to personality and behavior is our innate needing to belong to a peer or social group," says McNulty. Other aspects of your personality may determine whether you hang out with a bunch of party-goers or socialize in a more low-key way, but most all people express that need for socialization in some way or other. Basically, everybody needs to find a tribe.
How well you adapt to the many changes life throws at you may also have something to do with your genes. A person's resiliency to challenge appears to be another one of those inborn personality traits, as McNulty explains. Really, you have to admire the people who seem to survive just about anything.
Some people maintain a child-like wonder about the world all throughout life. "There are many studies that have shown that there is a strong genetic component to curiosity," said astrophysicist Mario Livio, author of Why? What Makes Us Curious, in PRI. "It is also the case that some people are more curious than others, in the same way that some people have talent for music and others don’t." If you're strongly compelled to keep learning about anything and everything well into adulthood, then this curiosity may be another one of those personality traits that are seemingly set in stone.
Even a person's desire to act hastily may also be somewhat determined at birth. In fact, traits such as impulsiveness and even the tendency to procrastinate may also have a strong genetic component, according to a study in Psychological Science. As someone who tends to put off chores until the very last minute, this is such welcome and reassuring news.
7. Positive Outlook
Well, some people seem hard-wired to see the positive side of things, as life coach Desiree Wiercyski explained in Bustle. Whether you tend to be more optimistic or pessimistic in general, give yourself a break. This, along with many more personality traits, may simply be written into your genes.