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How We Get Out of Childhood Alive


I recently read an amazing book by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone called The Art of Possibility. While I was reading, there was a particular passage that popped out at me and it got me thinking about how our childhood shapes our personalities.

Here at the Science of People, we love studying personality because it has drastic effects on how we interact with people. Research shows that between 30-58% of our personality is genetic while the rest is based on our experiences.

Keep reading to dig into the science of personality.

What is Personality?

Obviously, we all have an idea of personality is, but what you may not know is that all of our traits can be summarized by five key key traits known as the Big Five. Here they are:

Openness:

How creative, imaginary and open to new ideas you are.

  • Openness has 57% genetic influence

Conscientiousness:

How organized and detail-oriented you are.

  • Conscientiousness has 49% genetic influence

Extraversion:

How you relate to people and how outgoing you are.

  • Extraversion has 54% genetic influence

Agreeableness:

How well you work with others and how easy-going you are.

  • Agreeableness has 42% genetic influence

Neuroticism:

How much you worry and how emotionally stable you are.

  • Neuroticism has 48% genetic influence

Your Personality Affects How You Form Relationships

Researchers have found that our personality traits, combined with the experiences we have with people during our formative years, play a huge role in our attachment styles. Attachment styles describe how comfortable we are in forming relationships.

There are three attachment styles. Read on to determine which style sounds like you or take our official quiz: 

Secure

This is the most stable attachment style. People who are secure in their relationships are easily able to form healthy relationships based on mutual trust and respect. They also have the emotional strength to stand up for themselves and let go of toxic relationships.

Anxious

People with this attachment style feel insecure in their relationships. They fear that people are going to leave them and/or that they are not good enough. These individuals are generally prone to experiencing intense negative emotions in their relationships. As a result, they are prone to investing too much in toxic people and acting irrationally.

Avoidant 

Like those with an anxious attachment style, those with an avoidant attachment style feel insecure in their relationships. The difference is that instead of worrying about preserving their relationships, people with an avoidant attachment style avoid opening themselves up to people. They struggle to form close bonds because it takes them a long time to trust people and feel comfortable being themselves.

Knowing your personality traits and attachment style is helpful because if you are anxious or avoidant, it allows you to be aware of how your attachment style is affecting your relationships and how to take action to become more secure.

Not sure where you fall? Here are some clues based on your personality:

  • High neuroticism is correlated with having an anxious attachment style
  • Low agreeableness is correlated with having an avoidant attachment style
  • Low extraversion (aka introversion) is correlated with having an avoidant attachment style
  • Low openness is correlated with having a an avoidant attachment style

Nurture’s Powerful Influence

Though genetics set the foundation for who we are, how you were nurtured contributes to 42-70% of your personality.

Ask yourself these questions to understand what role your childhood experiences played in making you the person you are today:

  • What habits have you created to help you get out of childhood alive?
  • What roles did you serve in your family or with your siblings or with parents that set you up for who you are today?
  • What experiences influenced the way you live your life?

These are my thought questions for you for the week and I hope that you’ll ask your coworkers and family and friends to join you in exploring where your personality comes from.

Want to dig a little deeper into the science of personality? Check out Chapter #7 of Captivate!

Book Descriptioncaptivate, captivate book, vanessa van edwards

Do you wish you could decode people? Do you want a formula for charisma? Do you want to know exactly what to say to your boss, your date or your networking partner? You need to know how people work.

As a human behavior investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards studies the hidden forces that drive our behavior patterns in her lab—and she’s cracked the code. In Captivate she shares a wealth of valuable shortcuts, systems and behavior hacks for taking charge of their interactions at work, at home, and in any social situation. These aren’t the people skills you learned in school. This is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on human behavior and a completely new approach to building connections.

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About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a Huffington Post columnist and her courses and research has been featured on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. As a published Penguin author, Vanessa regularly speaks and appears in the media to talk about her research. She is a sought after consultant and speaker.


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