How Culture Molds Our Personality

cultural conditioning of personality

We may be born with a personality but it is molded by the environment and the social structures we dwell in. It is refined in the cauldron of cultural and social heritage, which affects each and every aspect of our life.

Cultural norms dictate our upbringing as we pick up the beliefs, values, attitudes and prejudices unconsciously from our families, friends, ethnic groups and society.

Early childhood experiences leave a profound impact on our personalities. Closed and conservative societies send a mute message to the child not to explore anything independently, thereby curbing the free spirit, which a child is born with.

Cultural conditioning starts the moment a child is born, the way he is christened, fed, educated and raised.

When the diktats of culture expect a child to follow certain set rules of a society, which fail to distinguish between the aptitudes and aspirations of an individual, which expects all the persons to stay within those boundaries – such families often raise introverts, serious and quiet individuals who are conditioned to be cautious at each step.

They grow up to be huge supporters of tradition and culture that they have imbibed. The chain of thoughts and ideas continue to be passed on to the next generation and that’s how certain redundant traditions continue to thrive.

When we grow up in a free and unrestricted surroundings, where there are no rules for wearing a particular dress or studying a compulsory subject, where swimming lessons are a norm for every child, we develop into original thinkers, independent, analytical, adventurous and determined.

Such persons become natural leaders, with the urge to accomplish all that they can conceive. They have a mind of their own and can never be misled by anti-social elements.

A competitive culture raises extremely ambitious children because the prodding to do better than the challenger in his peer group infuses a spirit of pursuing success aggressively. The enthusiasm to excel gets embedded in their personality.

They become highly successful, practical and conscientious workers. They can inspire many more to be like them.

A creative culture encourages children to develop their own exciting ideas and beliefs. When children are given the liberty to explore their own fun oriented activities, when their minds are not loaded with pre-conceived tasks, discovering and learning becomes a part of their personalities.

Such children grow up to be innovative artists who can be creative as well as idealistic. They are very adaptive, kindhearted and sensitive.Personality

Hardworking culture brings the best out of children and train them at a very early stage to understand the dignity and value of work. Those who grow up with this culture around them tend to respect all kinds of work, are very helpful and cooperative, responsible and reliable.

However they miss on the leisurely aspects of life, as they are always eager to accomplish their goals. Since they are trained by difficult and harsh surroundings, they are highly resilient and flexible. Perseverance and loyalty are the hallmarks of such a personality.

Religious culture gives a distinctive shape to the personality, which has definite leanings towards duty and devotion. Children who are exposed to scriptures and places of worship at a tender age tend to become believers, some of them follow religious decrees blindly and lose their logical and analytical bent of mind. They may be submissive but stand firm with their beliefs, they may be abstemious and compassionate but are very sensitive towards their principles.

Such individuals develop a positive outlook, cultivate self-discipline and are laid back. They drift into their flock and can be easily misled into fanaticism. They can become fiercely active if they are exhorted in the name of religion.

Music culture in the homes produces extremely perceptive and patient individuals. They are driven by emotions; their passion for melody and harmony makes them highly creative. Mundane life doesn’t interest them, as they like to soar with their imagination. They are individualistic and like to follow their intuition.

What kind of personality do you have? Have you been influenced by any such culture? I would love to hear your views.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.



31 thoughts on “How Culture Molds Our Personality

  1. I like this broad categorization of culture that you have given. Yes culture influences our thinking and shapes our personality to a great extent. I highly admire music culture that runs in some families, though I myself don’t relate to it. I find myself more suited to creative and hard-working culture.

    1. Hi Somali,

      I too love music culture and I am glad I was exposed to learning of music at an early age just because my dad was such a great music lover. Though I couldn’t pursue it much but that initial exposure in childhood endowed me with many traits like sensitivity, compassion and creative bent of mind.
      Hard-work runs in our blood, probably the roots lie elsewhere…in the genes! Thanks for sharing your perspective, much appreciated.

  2. This is quite the synopsis of cultural influence, Balroop. Amazing interpretation and explained so well! I agree with all of these. I also have an instinct that tells me that we can inherently be different than our culture (or environment). It can cause pain but it can also cause change for the better. Beautiful and intelligent post!!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for such a lovely feedback. Your words are always well chosen. Yes, we can try to be different from those inherent values but we have to make an effort and if we have a healthy exposure to other cultures. Some of the traits can be cultivated after we feel detached from the environment we grew up in.

  3. Culture is certainly a broad word and encompasses myriad categories. As I learnt in my Cultural Studies major at university, culture is all around us. It is a way of life, the way we choose to live our lives. I think all of the cultures you’ve brought up impact on our personalities in some way, some perhaps more so than others depending on how strict a presence they have been in our lives, and whether they sit comfortably with us.

    I’m guilty of the hardworking culture. Always finding something productive to do and trying to do things to the best of my ability. Being a perfectionist certainly is a double-edged sword as you alluded to. Sometimes I have to remind myself it doesn’t hurt to slow down.

    1. Hi Mabel,

      There can never be a guilt if we are connected with hardworking culture because the onus lies on them who exposed us to it and drilled it on till it became an essential part of our personality. In some ways it proves to be a blessing as it makes us aware of how such persons can accomplish all their goals, however painstaking they may seem.
      Yes dear, we must slow down at times and enjoy the bounties around us because we really deserve them after all that hard work.
      Thanks for sharing such an honest view, much appreciated.

  4. Wonderful read my friend.. and true.. All of these influences moulds our ways of being.. for we each form our views by the things which we are subjected to which resonate or for that matter we disagree with.. . And each one of these I can say has moulded my own personality in some form or another..


    1. Hi Sue, welcome to Emotional Shadows. I am honored!
      Yes dear, we are moulded by the outside influences more than what lies inside till we realise how much we are guided by people around us but by that time the personality is more or less formed. We have to make a serious and conscious effort to change those traits.
      Thanks for sharing your view and have a nice week.

  5. Quite true. Most of us carry many of these cultures within our personality. If I talk about myself, well there was always hardworking culture. But my parents provided us much more freedom than many other families around us. There was also plenty of music culture around us. There was no strict religious culture in my parents’ family though we followed the basics. But we had full freedom to visit religious places of all other religions. I myself studied each religion separately and derived my own conclusions after reading texts of all religions. My son too refused to believe anything blindly and nowadays keeps studying about various religions over the net. I am surprised by his knowledge.
    Generally, children of migrants are hardworking. they either do not follow any strict culture or else they become fanatics as they try to belong.

    1. Hi Alka,

      I have seen the impact of religious sentiments in families and it really molds the mind accordingly. In a class of 40 students, 38 would raise their hands when asked how many of them visited a place of worship everyday. When asked the reason…all would be at sea, unable to give a convincing answer and passed on the onus to their parents, saying they were asked by them to do so. That is how impressionable minds can be carried along!

      I think being hard-working is considered to be an asset by some families! I too come from such a culture.

  6. This is definitely true Balroop. And thanks for your beautiful analysis. I grew up in a place of freedom and a way or another it helped me to accept others, without judgment or strong ideas on how life should or should not be. Sometimes we have to break free from some kind of cultural ideas that we don’t accept. It is a chance. Some don’t have it. It means going against the flow but it’s worth it.
    Take care and stay blessed with wisdom.

    1. Hi Marie,

      I am so glad to know that you got your share of liberal ideas, which greatly help in forming our own impressions and make our own decisions. In fact much of the confidence comes from the way we have been treated in childhood and how much freedom was given to think new thoughts while growing up.
      We tend to become judgmental if we grow up with such people around us. Only later do we realise how harmful it proves to be for our personality.

      Thanks for the wishes and the kind words. Have a joyful vacation!

  7. You have explained very well the cultural impact and the way it conditions our personality. Undoubtedly, culture has much to do with the future character and personality of a child. Knowingly or unknowingly, a child picks up things from it and in many cases, things are instilled in the little head. I think, a person’s future activities depend much upon the culture in which she/he has thrived…

    Thanks for sharing the article with us… 🙂

    1. Hi Mani,

      Cultural influences have always formed the opinion of mankind and many people are manipulated by such influences. I have just discussed the lighter part, the more serious and tragic part is there before us, too apparent and needs to be discussed from another angle.

      Thanks for adding your perspective, much appreciated.

  8. This is a comprehensive article on the Cultural influences we carry around.

    I have more of liberal and extrovert type of upbringing and i like to explore new aspects of life (in general), which i love because of my conditioning.

    I would rather remain this way because of the liberties it bring and also the innovative, adventurous and other aspects that you have highlighted associated with it.

    1. Hi Alok,

      Thank you for the kind words.
      A liberal upbringing is a great blessing! There are still many remote corners of the globe where children yearn for free thinking, basic education and care. Even those who get these don’t get the right exposure, thereby affecting their personality.

  9. This is so true. While every individual is different, our upbringing and culture shapes our thoughts and beliefs. That is why parenting plays such an important role in who we are.

  10. That’s why I’ve always felt one should have to pass a test to be a parent (not really, but it does give one pause, when we view some of those who have reproduced). Parenting is the most important role of an adult’s life, and those who have been blessed in that regard need to take that responsibility seriously. It is an investment in mankind, and the dividends are unlimited.

    1. Hi Joe,

      Welcome to Emotional Shadows!
      Parenting is often taken for granted. Isn’t it ironic that we need credentials for all kinds of work, experience is considered to be an essential part of every skill yet we enter into parenthood without even the basic qualification and tinker with personality formation!! That’s why probably so many personalities are distorted, many end up being dysfunctional and create their own glass ceilings.

      Thanks for giving so much value to this post by contributing such a meaningful point to give another direction to this discussion.

  11. You have literally cartographed a road map of cultures and its myriad influences, Balroop. A strong work ethic and basic integrity, reverential attitude towards all branches of study and knowledge, respect for teachers and elders are qualities I have imbibed as part of cultural conditioning. Not much of music, so what little I know of music is acquired out of my own interest. The point to note here is the imperative of avoiding too much of cultural conditioning, as it kills enterprise and initiative. No rigid boundaries, mind and faculties must enjoy free run to explore new frontiers. Or else, societies will not evolve…best wishes.

    1. Hi Raj,

      Thank you for giving such a profound analysis of cultural conditioning. You are absolutely right, too much of culture proves detrimental to free thinking but nobody actually gives a thought to this aspect of the influences. Whatever goes around us is imbibed in a natural manner as that is how humanity has evolved.
      Thanks for the wishes. Stay blessed!

  12. Hi Balroop, yes, our cultures shape and influence us. I hope we are more aware of that and observe that more. And i wonder if we can make conscious choice and decisions independent of our culture if they don’t fit out values and who we have turned out to be. I think I resonate with what the previous commentator pointed out – too much rigidity and we might not be progressing. I accept my culture but continually explore, question and even challenge it 🙂

    1. Hi Vishnu,

      Thank you for sharing an honest view. We all try to follow whatever culture is around us, silently hoping that one day we would be in a position to add some changes and I must say we definitely make such an effort, when we get any such opportunity. Yes, too much rigidity is stifling as it curbs our desires. Exploration is the only way! 🙂

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