The following research is on the subject of the inter-relation of personality with social class and ethnic status. The personality of the individual is determined by a number of factors. There is first of all an apparent mechanism within the individual which causes the personality to develop along certain lines according to age. There are variations within certain parameters, and in part other factors affect those distinctions. The environment is another important factor in the development of personality, and this includes experiences which help to shape individual differences. Freud first focused on the similarities in the development of the personalities of all when he discussed the familial factors which were seen as so important in the development of the mental life of the person. Social class and race are also important factors in the development of the personality, though their contribution is not always recognized. Lidz (1968) notes that certain child-rearing techniques, personality traits, or prejudices are attributed to idiosyncracies of the individual, but they are in fact residues of ethnic differences or characteristics of social class differences. He notes a number of examples: A husband might confess that he had never seen his wife in the nude, and the physician might take this to indicate extreme inhibition on the part of the wife; however, the lower-class husband of Polish origin would be shocked if his wife ever undressed in his presence. A woman from a Greek Orthodox family might become profoundly withdrawn and stop eating when it is established that she has tuberculosis. Her family would then treat her as if they are in mourning and offer her little emotional, support. Though the young woman had long wished to escape from her patriarchal family, she knows that even a “touch” of tuberculosis makes her completely unacceptable in the close-knit community. If she is to marry, she must now make a complete break with her family, her community, and their traditions (pp. 52-53). These examples demonstrate that personality is molded and determined by cultural and racial distinctions as well as by hereditary inclinations.
How children are raised in a society determines their personality, and thus cultural and social distinctions make a great difference in how the personality is formed. A culture is an essential part of the human endowment, It might seem that this discussion is a continuation of an old argument–whether cultural versus biological factors are the more important in the formation of personality; however, this is not the case. It is simply important to recognize that the biological nature of the human organism is such that it depends on the assimilation of cultural influences to make possible the survival and the development of the person. A child is raised in a culture which serves as a mold to shape the rough outlines of his personality, delimit his drives, and provide organization to the manifold ways of adapting to the environment permitted man by his physical endowment. Such delimitation is essential to the realization of individual potential, for man is unable to develop into a harmonious entity without it. The skills and customs of society are necessary for man to develop into anything at all (Lidz, 1968, pp. 13-14).
Different ethnic groups have patterned their lives and their customs in ways that are amazingly diverse, and some of these ways are almost beyond the imagination of people from some other culture. However, there are some patterns that must be filled by all cultures, and a look at these is necessary first. No society can survive for long without considering the biological make-up of its members. No society can neglect the total dependency of the newborn, as an example, or the sequence of biological maturation of the child, or the presence of two sexes. Certain small societies have tried to ignore some of the required considerations, such as placing a ban on all sexual activity, but such societies have not lasted. A society has an existence of its own, in addition to being essential to the members. Families and language are two things that are common to all societies, and they may be taken for granted and their critical nature overlooked (Lidz, 1968, p. 16).
Basically, the personality includes such factors as character traits, the self and concepts of self, and basic attitudes. These things are determined by physical and mental growth as affected by many of the factors discussed above. It is certain that the social standing and the racial standing of the individual are part of this influence. Indeed, racial background has long been a determinant of social standing throughout the world, though the actual form differs from nation to nation and even locality to locality. The Black in the South of the United States today is in a different position than the Black in the North–if not in kind, in degree. At any rate, the historical and moral realities have an influence on the development of the Black child in both regions.
How important is social class to the individual? A survey in America has shown that when asked the question of what social class they were in, people responded by claiming the highest social class that could be defended on grounds of either attained or demonstrated level of material well-being or the years of schooling completed and credentials acquired, most especially college degrees. In other words, class was important enough for the individual to choose to be in the highest class possible. For Americans, the dominant criteria is the level of material well-being. The kind of possessions amassed had a great deal to do with the place each person chose in the hierarchy (Coleman, & Rainwater, 1978, p. 43). In any case, it should be apparent that social standing is important to the personality.
In part, the emphasis on social standing is related to the requirements of the ego for power, as related by Freud, Erikson, and others (McClelland, 1975, p. 24). This question often resolves to how goods are distributed–that is, who gets what. Before examining this, it is always necessary to determine the components of well-being, the specific requirements that the personality requires to be fulfilled through such distribution. Sociologists have been concerned with two things–first, the distribution of occupations, and second, the distribution of education. Economists consider mainly the distribution of income, a variable that is readily measurable and with a distribution that is relatively easy to describe (Coleman, & Rainwater, 1978, p. 5). One aspect that might be considered by the a psychologist is the distribution of power, a distribution related to the others in an indirect fashion.
Arthur Koestler (1967) emphasizes that the individual tries to integrate himself into the group, and that the selfish impulses of man and his psychology are of less importance than his integrative tendencies. The individual who does assert the excess of aggressive self-assertiveness incurs the penalties of society by outlawing himself. The true believer, on the other hand, becomes more closely knit into society by joining some group and placing himself firmly in the center of it, be it the church, a party, or some other social entity. There is always a certain impairment of individuality under such an arrangement, an abdication by the individual of the critical faculties and of personal responsibility. It is possible for this integration to proceed too far as well, and the integration of the individual into some social class, though it is a natural tendency, can proceed too far and lead to demagoguery and prejudice. It is a question of identification, which results in a homogeneous group, and mature forms of integration in a social hierarchy. If the hierarchy is well-balanced, the individual is able to retain his character as a social entity, a part of the whole, and he may thus enjoy autonomy within the limits of the restraints imposed by the interests of the community. The individual remains whole in his own right, and he is even expected to assert this character by originality, initiative, and personal responsibility. This is also true of the larger groups themselves–professional groups, trade unions, social classes. These groups are also expected to display the virtues implied above: to be self-regulating autonomous wholes, but also to conform to the national or even international interests. However, this form of integrated society is not the same as the “group mentality” or the “psychology of the masses” as seen in many other societies. This is based on identification rather than integration, and such identification–while it lasts–implies a partial or total surrender of both personal identity and responsibility (pp. 246-247).
Quite simply, this indicates the tendency of the individual to join in groups and classes, and in some cases the motives for such joinings are based on identification rather than mature integration. Wealth has been mentioned as one means of determining rank in social classes, but it is by no means the only such indication. Karl Marx made such an attribution to wealth alone, and this was an oversimplification. The social position of the individual is really determined by a number of variables and their interaction. Each society projects its own version of the positions in the hierarchy that bring with them the greatest privilege and respect, and the prestige that accrues to the position often has little to do with wealth. The ideal will be determined in different terms by a different society, of course. Even among modern societies, there are vast differences in the criteria used for establishing rank in the social hierarchy. Family connections are more important in Great Britain and in Japan than in the United States, for example. In the United States, on the other hand, more emphasis is placed on education than in the Netherlands or Sweden. Also, biological variables play a part in determining social status, including such things as sex, age, skin color, and physical or mental abilities. Social and cultural variables are another set of factors: ancestry, occupation, and noteworthy accomplishments. These variables are somehow put together unconsciously, and the person then emerges with a cumulative assessment. The individual is usually not aware of the weight given to each variable, or the reason why certain variables are included in the assessment while others are excluded. If the variables are presented one at a time, as studies have shown, most people have no difficulty in establishing their status and in making choices between them. For example, in the United States there is generally a higher status accorded those who are white rather than those who are black, those who are Protestant rather than those who are Catholic or Jewish, those who are rich rather than those who are poor, the white-collar worker rather than the blue-collar worker, and those who are married rather than those who are divorced. If all these criteria are applied to a single person, then the assessment becomes more difficult–and more difficult to explain. In other words, there is no agreement on what weight is given each variable in such an assessment.
One area in which a surprising number of Americans have agreement is on the question of what occupations have a high and which a low status. Oddly, it has been found that the higher-rated occupations are generally so rated in other societies as well (Farb, 1978, pp. 370-373).
Now, the development of the personality is influenced by social class, and also the personality once formed influences which social class the individual may attain. Child rearing differs in the United States according to social class and ethnic origins, and these methods are also affected by the personality of the parents even more than in most societies because the parents and their children are so often isolated from the influence of the extended family group. The family reflects the subdivisions that are part of every society, subdivisions based on social class, ethnic-religious groupings, and race. Social class differences may not be so striking in the United States, but they are nonetheless present. The importance of social class on the personality should be apparent from the fact that from division to division, the traditions taught, the expectations held, the role samples provided, and the intellectual atmosphere afforded the child vary. There is in America a greater opportunity for upward social mobility than anywhere else in the world, but in spite of this the classes tend to perpetuate themselves through the different ways in which they raise their children. The lower-class family will generally send their children through the required twelve years of school, and the child will have virtually finished his personality development by mid-teens. The upper-middle class and upper-class families, on the other hand, will expect at least a college degree for their children, and the child will @expanding his horizons well into his twenties, which also permits them to be more or less dependent on parental support. There are also differences in sexual mores between the various classes) with delay of gratification being less common in lower socioeconomic classes than in the upper, and with very different concepts of what are acceptable and unacceptable sexual practices. The influences of this are far-reaching, affecting the prevalence of different types of physical and emotional illness in each social class, for example (Lidz, 1968, p. 50).
Part of the personality concerns the self-image of the individual, and such an image is very much related to social standing. How the individual perceives his own standing is part of his image, and the social class to which he belongs will help determine his expectations of himself. It has already been noted that in the lower classes, expectations are not so high as in the upper. The conception of the possibility of upward mobility
is related to this issue of self-image (Coleman, & Rainwater, 1978, p. 228).
There are many different hierarchies which affect the individual, some based on social cohesion, geographical distribution, the family, the clan, sub-castes, and castes. The complex fabric of social life can be dissected into a variety of hierarchic divisions (Koestler, 1967, pp. 52-53).
Probably the most important hierarchy which determines the development of the personality is that of the family, and the “personality” of the family depends to a great degree on the social position of the family in the larger society. The dynamic organization of the family has a great deal to do with the integration of the personality of the offspring. This organization will vary from culture to culture and from social class to social class, but everywhere the family follows some organizational principles that are established by its biological make-up. The biological family is a small group, it is true, but it is also something with a structure that is partly determined by the fact that it is composed of two generations and two sexes, a fact which minimizes the conflict and tends to provide conflict-free areas into which the child may develop and directs him into the proper role. There are, however, two leaders to this group–the father and the mother. If the family is to be conducive to the integrated personality development of the offspring, the two leaders must form a coalition, maintain the boundaries between the generations, and adhere to their respective sex-linked roles (Lidz, 1968, pp. 57-58).
Seen as a social system, the forms and functions of the family evolve within the culture and subserve the needs of the society of which it is a subsystem. This is the first social system known by the child, and he grows into that system. From it the child must gain such things as familiarity with the basic roles that are carried out in the society in which he lives, including the roles of parents and child, of boy and girl, of man and woman, of husband and wife. The child also learns how those roles impinge upon the broader society and how the roles of others impinge upon the family and the members of the family. Roles can be regarded as units of a social system, but they also part of the personality through directing behavior to fit them and by giving cohesion to the functioning of personality. The individual does not learn patterns of living entirely from scratch; rather, in many situations the individual learns roles and then modifies them to the specific individual needs.
Also within the family, the child learns about basic institutions and their values, including such institutions as the family, marriage, extended family systems, and institutions of economic exchange. The family inculcates the values of the social system by example, teaching, and interaction. One of the major drives in the development of personality is the wish to participate in or to avoid participation in such institutions. The family is intended to transmit to the child the things that are prescribed, permitted, and proscribed as values of the society, and what means are acceptable or unacceptable toward achieving goals. The child is involved in a multiplicity of social phenomena in the family, and these leave a permanent imprint upon him and his personality. Among these phenomena are several that relate directly to social class: the value of belonging to a mutually protective unit; the rewards of renouncing selfish needs in favor of the welfare of the collectivity; the hierarchies of authority and the relationships between authority and responsibility, for examples. The value systems of the family, role definitions, patterns of interrelating–all enter the child by means of the behavior of the family, and this is true even more than through what the child is taught or through what is consciously appreciated by the family (pp. 60-61).
Many of the problems of the personality in modern life are results of failures of social class, failures attributed to a distorted view caused by the pressures of modern life. The individual may have security, but now he needs to be verified as a person by his fellow man. If the involvement necessary for such verification is absent, the individual suffers (Glasser, 1975, p. 7). Many in this society are goal-oriented, and others are role-oriented. This is a trait of personality that affects and is affected by social class standing. There is a dichotomy between what the parents valued in their personalities, and what the children value in theirs. The parents of today were perhaps goal-oriented. The children were encouraged to achieve their own potential, and they thought more and more of themselves. Since this was true, they came to care less about goals than had their parents and were instead concerned with their role, with their human potential, with their happiness. The fact that these children thought differently than did their parents is not the issue, for even in such a case the family was the enculturing force that shaped personality and gave an impetus to changes in social class (p. 9).
The family, as has been noted, has a critical role in transmitting the cultures adaptive techniques to its children in a general way. The family also transmits symbolically from generation to generation rather than through societal organizations, and there is a considerable overlap. Social roles and social institutions are also part of the cultural heritage, and therefore enculturation of the young cannot be considered discretely from socialization. In a complex society such as ours, of course, many of the aspects of culture must be transmitted by other institutions in society, such as schools and churches. These things, too, are functions of social class, and they also add to the development of the personality in the individual (Glasser, 1975, pp. 61-62).
Personality development is a function of many variables, and social class is simply one of those variables. However, the exact relationship between the various variables involved is not a simple matter. The social class in which the family belongs determines how the child is raised, what values he is given, and a thousand other details of his mental development. At the same time, the fact that the child possesses these values prepares him for an adult life in this same class. The degree of upward mobility is also a function of personality, and as well how high a person feels he is able to aspire depends on the level of society from which he derives.
The family is the first social unit to which the child is exposed, and the child learns from this exposure much that will be applicable in his dealings with society at large in future life. The development of the personality takes place in the context of these interrelationships in the family and in the society. This is truly an interrelationship, with social class serving as a function of personality and personality serving as a function of social class.
There are thus differences found from society to society concerning the specific details of what personality traits are most valued. one society will praise one aspect of the personality, and another will praise something else. Social class is determined by personality traits as they are defined through these different societal norms. What is valued in one society and leads to the individual being placed in a high social class may not be valued in another. Elements may have different relative values in different societies as well.
This is not a conscious process, for the most part, and this is an important factor. The individual is enculturated almost as a matter of course, as an accident rather than a design. Also, the norms of society are determined by the people within that society without conscious effort, just as they were formed by the norms that prevailed when they were being raised. It is also important to note that the development of personality need not mean that a carbon-copy of the prevailing personality of the family is grafted onto the child. Rather, there are interactions of many variables–only one of which is social class that produce personality traits in the child. The parents may even want to bring a certain set of values to the fore consciously, but, the result may be quite different. It is questionable whether anyone could control all the variables that are possible in this regard in order to effect the personality traits desired.
Just as social class is a factor in the development of the personality, so is the ethnic status of the individual. Actually, ethnic status is also a function of social class, and vice versa as well. The social class to which a given ethnic group is relegated may change from society to society and even from time to time. At one time, the Irish were considered inferior beings in the United States, and today they are fully assimilated into the society. Those minorities that are marked by skin color as being in a different ethnic group have the most difficult time making the transition to normal and accepted society, of course, though race as such is not always the only stumbling block.
It is in fact arguable whether ethnic and racial differences are the key factor in forming personality, or whether the cultural factors are strongest. There is a relationship, of course, but not a definite one. Blacks in the Southern United States and blacks in Africa have the commonality of skin color, but there are vast cultural differences. However, there are also vast cultural differences between the Southern blacks and the Southern whites in the United States as well.
Actually, there can be a problem distinguishing between the influences brought about by ethnic status and those brought about by social class. There is often a relationship between ethnic groupings and social class, as for example when one ethnic group is subjugated by another, or when a displaced group finds a refuge in another country. Still, ethnic groups tend to perpetuate themselves because they adhere to customs which afford their members a feeling of identity. Such identity is a part of the self-image that constitutes personality. Certain methods of child rearing might be adopted which are unconsciously accepted as proper and which are the only spontaneous methods known to the parents, and these methods also promote the continuity. In the United States, the population comprises an agglomerate of ethnic groups which are gradually shedding their prior cultural heritages to assume an American way of life. This newer culture is a culture of somewhat indefinite characteristics which is in the process of formation or constant reformation as it assimilates the characteristics of different groups and tries to find ways of suiting its members to live under rapidly changing conditions. There are ethnic groups which try to guard against assimilation and try to maintain a strict hold over each new generation, with the intention of preserving a separate identity; among such groups are the Hutterite, the Mennonites, Hassidic Jews, and certain Greek Orthodox communities. These groups have customs that are notably divergent from those of the general community. Some groups try to become assimilated while others lose their desire for separateness after one or two generations. Even after assimilation has taken place, however, the structure of the family and the functions of the family frequently are patterned on many elements of the Old World which the parents still carry with them without knowing it. An understanding of the personality development of the child requires recognition of such ethnic and religious differences. Children grow up learning about the world from their parents, and the ethnic variables affect this process. In the Irish-American home, for example, the mother might treat her husband like a grown-up child and pretend to believe the fabricated tales he tells, yet she will still hold the reins of the family tightly in her hands. The children who grow up in this atmosphere will have very different ideas and feelings about their respective roles and responsibilities and will also have different reactions to male and female authority figures than will children of a German-American family which retains the strict and stern father who is almost unapproachable to the child. A child whose parents have a southern Italian origin may be influenced by the expectation that strong ties to the extended family are required. There will also be cross-influences in many neighborhoods in which several ethnic groups are congregated around one region, and this will affect the outcome in the personality development of the child (Lidz, 1968, pp. 51-52).
The American Negro family presents some special problems. The lower classes are generally composed of the most recent impoverished immigrants, the majority of whose families emerge from lower-class status within one or two generations in the United States. However, the Negro is separated because of his color and earlier slave status as well as other factors, and he has not been able to become upwardly mobile as readily. Permanent lower-class status does, in fact, threaten a large portion of the Negro population. Many of the child-rearing traits attributed Negroes are, rather, lower class traits. Such attitudes include relative lack of concern for the future, high rates of broken homes, premature reliance on older siblings to care for the young child and these are all attitudes that are common among other lower socioeconomic segments of the population.
Of course, the Negro was brought to the United States as a slave, and he was largely cut off from the cultural traditions of his ancestors in Africa. The customs he brought with him were totally unsuited to the life of the slave. The slave was separated from his kin and his ethnic group, and he then had no ideal figures after whom he could shape himself. Also, slave-owners often paid little attention to family formation among slaves, and they might separate families so that children were commonly raised without fathers. Child rearing became the sole responsibility of the mother, or at least of women. What developed was a system of matriarchy, and this system persisted (Lidz, 1968, pp. 53-54).
A problem that exists with reference to race is whether a given attitude or aspect of development is due to race or is a product of culture or environment, as noted. Actually, racial differences are irrelevant to the problems of adjusting to any one particular culture. Racial differences do make some physiological difference, but they are not relevant to psychic function. Personality development does not seem to have a direct relationship to race, but rather to ethnic background, which is quite a different thing (Osborne, 1971, p. 84-85).
Racial characteristics, however, have an influence as they are a part of the environmental and cultural situation. In most parts of the world, skin color is a determinant of social position and class distinctions. Generalizations concerning skin color are also different from society to society. Different populations are categorized in different ways in different parts of the world. One of the most complex systems for categorizing people according to skin color is the one found in Brazil. There, fine gradations of skin color are combined with numerous social and economic distinctions to produce such categories. The official census in Brazil lists four categories of skin color–white, yellow, brown, and black–but the average Brazilian citizen adds a few hundred others in his personal determinations. Someone with a rusty skin color and wavy hair is known as a moreno. If a person has the same skin color as a mulato, but also has curlier hair, he is known as a creolo. How a person is “seen” is also part of this complex system, and this often depends on the person’s social and economic status. A “white” person will generally be a person of high prestige, and a “black” person one of low prestige. A “brown” person who marries an upper-class “white” person will probably be listed as “white” in the next census. If that same “brown” were to marry a “black” he might next be listed as “black” himself. Brazilians claim to have done away with prejudice and discrimination based on skin color, but actually they are among the most skin-color conscious people on earth and make numerous decisions concerning personal worth and value based on the question (Farb, 1978, p. 274).
Under a system such as this, it is fairly simple to see that the personality development would be affected by the self-image afforded the individual by skin color and by the societal views of skin color. The individual would find himself placed in a certain category on the social scale, and how he lived, whom he married, and how much fortune he could amass would all derive from such categorization. The self-image of the individual is determined to a great extent by how the society at large views him. A person who is told he is on the bottom of the social scale will come to believe this and will have a lesser opinion of himself as a result.
There is something in the human being that loves classification, and though biologists have demonstrated that racial classifications are difficult to make with any degree of accuracy, still they persist in making the populations of the world fit into one system or another. At least the Brazilian system recognizes a great diversity of humankind: it is in the assignment of value to this fact that the system is at fault. The visible traits of race have developed as adaptations to the environment. During the past several thousand years, humans have been increasingly isolated from the environment as a result of technology, and this has obscured some of the long-term adaptive advantages bestowed by certain physical traits. The shape of the nose is one such trait. It serves to warm and moisten the air being taken into the lungs, and the shape of the nose depended on the climate of the given region. Most classifications according to race have, of course, focused on skin color. This, too, was a function of geographical location and environmental considerations (Farb, 1978, pp. 278-279).
Light-skinned Europeans have, in recent centuries, convinced most of the world that a dark skin indicated inferiority in one way or another. Europeans assumed superiority as a result of their colonial adventures. Feelings of inferiority in Africa came about after contact with the Europeans. The Britons of Roman times were considered the stupidest of the slaves of the
Empire. “Scientific racism” was unconsciously accepted throughout Europe and America in the 19th century; it assumed that people in undeveloped countries were genetically deficient in the mental abilities needed to invent and to use a complex technology (Farb, 1978, pp. 282).
There have been two aspects traditionally to racism: prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is the emotional aspect of racism, while discrimination is the social and political aspect. Prejudice usually perceives the offending group as a “race” even though it may be no such thing biologically. Diverse groups may be lumped together as a result of a trait that is real or imagined. Prejudices have always existed. The American-Indian tribes gave themselves a name that translated as “Human Beings” or “The People,” and this implied that members of other groups or tribes were subhuman. The prejudices held by the dominant group in society usually permeates that society, including the people against whom the prejudice is directed. For example, the prevailing standards of beauty are almost always affected in this fashion. The codification of such beliefs leads to discrimination. The causes of prejudice are many–personality traits, religion, economics, the balance of political power, and various social influences. There are many sociological and psychological interpretations of the causes of racism, but none explain all of the manifestations of it. Though the causes may be in dispute, the consequences are very real. Prejudice and discrimination are destructive to the victims and the oppressors alike. The society so afflicted sacrifices the potential contributions of the individuals who are discriminated against, and it also always pays a severe penalty in conflict, violence, reduced productivity, and psychological damage. In the United States, for example, Black Americans have a significantly lower life expectancy than whites, and this is caused by a wide variety of causes including poor health care, malnutrition, unsanitary living conditions, employment at dangerous or taxing jobs, and such self-destructive reactions as alcoholism and drug addiction (Farb, 1978, pp. 282-287).
The ancient Hebrews were convinced that man was created once in the form of Adam, and that all living humans were descended from this one common ancestor. They were satisfied that all men were related, but later generations were not (Klass, & Hellman, 1971, p. 15).
Ethnic background is important to the development of personality in a number of ways. It should be apparent that racial considerations in themselves do not alter the psychological make-up of the individual. Every race is able to assimilate into a given culture in time, at least as far as they are allowed. Here is where the real influence of race enters, an influence caused by the prejudicial attitudes taken toward certain races. As noted, the prejudicial attitude filters down through the layers of society and infects even the race held in low esteem. It is difficult for the member of such a race to do otherwise than hold himself in low esteem. It becomes a vicious circle in which a person is told his worth is less until he comes to believe it, and through anti-social behavior of one sort or another he may also make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Personality is a result of many factors, and the environmental concerns–which includes the environment of society–are paramount. The family is the site of enculturation, as mentioned above, and the family itself may come to be the instrument for the continuation of prejudice. In the dominant family, the children learn to hate certain others because of real or imagined differences. In those minority families, the children learn that they are themselves hated for some reason, and this revelation is certain to lessen their self-image.
Ethnic groups that base more and more of their culture on such considerations are only extreme examples of what happens in all societies. The importance of the racial classification system in Brazil is shown by the fact that there are words for the different gradations. For language to be created over such a small point, the system must be very important to the society, indeed. In the United States, there may not be such an overt and deeply-ingrained system, but there is still a system of classification based on race, economic status, social status, and a hundred other things that operate more or less unconsciously. These things operate on those discriminated against as well, and their own sense of themselves is affected.
Also, ethnic distinctions affect the personality because those in a different ethnic group bring certain different cultural attitudes and approaches to the rearing of their children. Also, the children learn different cultural beliefs in the home. Just how much weight is given to any of these different factors in the development of the personality has long been under dispute. None of these influences takes place in a vacuum, and there are likely several different influences operating at once, some mutually exclusive, others of greater or lesser importance in individual cases.
However, what is clear in reference to both ethnic status and social status is that the attitudes of a given society have a strong influence on the members of that society as far as the development of the personality is concerned. Thus, personality distinctions will occur from society to society. It is not that the races differ in personality development or that the members of different cultured develop in different ways; it is rather that the basic process is the same, but the influences are different. The members of different groups receive different inputs from their surroundings. Social status changes as one moves from region to region, society to society. However, the fact of social status has an influence on development in each region. Similarly, the dominant race in a given region might find itself the oppressed race in another region. However, the fact of prevalence and dominance is the factor that influences personality development. Such development takes place as the child grows and is encultured by his family and his surroundings. The specific influences change, but, the process does not to any significant degree.
Actually, this is even further proof that racial and ethnic discriminations are false and misleading. There are no inherent inferiorities according to race or social standing, but the attitudes concerning these things are self-perpetuating and bring about inferiorities as a result. The child who is told he is less will be less, assuming there is no other strong external or internal force to counteract the influence which is lessening his self-esteem. For example, a child might come from a bad environment where most of those around him are being beaten down by the system. However, a strong ambition or other strong influence could lead that child to great success and an upward mobility. Thus, the influence on the personality was more beneficial, at least in certain terms.