Environmental Influences on Temperament

"Temperament is never considered by itself, but always in its relationship to, or interaction with, the individual's abilities and motives and external environmental stresses and opportunities."

The noted child psychologist, Stell Chess, once observed that "all parents are environmentalists...until they have their second child" (Lerner, 1986, p.99). Environmental influence on temperament and learning preference have been studied in a number of reports including Hinde (1986) who investigated the effects of context, time, gender, and other characteristics and social interactions. The author noted that,

Hofstee (1991) notes that situation, is "...either a position that denies individual differences altogether and therefore cannot be taken seriously; or it hypothesizes differential perceptions of the same situation, which amounts to abandoning situational explanation" (p.179). VanHeck (1991) adds the concept of manipulation in describing the various ways in which people shape their environment. The author writes,

Mehrabian (1991), in an outline of general emotion-based theory of temperament, describes environmental influences on temperament as "gradual and to be possible only when these influences are consistent and highly repetitious (amounting to hundreds of thousands of trials) over the course of the dirst dozen years of development" (p.83-84). Based on preliminary laboratory evidence, Mehrabian states that,

Mehrabian summarizes that "...know-how regarding temperament-situation additive effects and interactions can be incalculable for determining the relative efficacy of different conditions for different types" (p.84-85). The relationship between environmental influences and learning preferences is echoed by Diamond (1957) who states that we "...must always think of temperamental dispositions, whether they appear early or late as providing a basis for preferential learning" (p.184).

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    Peter L. Heineman
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