This edition: Social Identity, Personality & Gender
One of the universal questions people ask is, “Who am I?” The answer is complex and begins with enculturation. Enculturation influences how you think, feel, and behave, and it starts at birth. It begins with being given a name. Naming ceremonies vary from culture to culture, but what you are called is an important device for self-definition and it also allows individuals to take their place within their group’s culture. As children develop physically, they also develop emotionally and psychologically. One aspect of this maturation is the development of self- awareness. This is important for the individual and also for the entire community. Not only does everyone have a name, but individuals have their own personalities. It is now recognized that one’s personality is the product of both enculturation and one’s own genetic make-up. When studying how personality develops, we cannot ignore the role that sex and gender may play, nor can we overlook the biological factors that may influence and differentiate male and female behaviors. Determining whether gender roles influence personality and social identity or vice versa may be difficult, but we know that gender roles vary greatly from culture to culture. It is also recognized that every culture has individuals who are transgenders—people who do not fall neatly within the proscribed male and female categories. Western cultures prefer to think exclusively in male and female gender roles, but many other cultures have created a “third gender” or even a “fourth gender” in which to place these individuals. As individuals, we not only need to know who we are but also how we fit in and belong to the culture we were born into. Sometimes it gets complicated.