Determinants of Individual Differences

Determinants of Individual Differences

Determinants of individual differences are mainly of two types. They are Heredity and Environment.


Heredity is a biological process that transmits physical and social traits from parents to off-springs. Heredity is the most important factor or determinants of individual differences. It has significant role in generating individual differences in the born child which can be explained as follows—

1) Heredity determine the sex of the child:

We know that there are 23 pairs of chromosomes transmitted at the time of conception from parents to off-springs. Out of these the first 22 pairs of chromosomes are called autosomes which are responsible for deciding the growth and development of most of the characteristics and structural position of our body. The staying 23rd pair is the sex chromosome. Whether the baby will be a boy or a girl, is decided by sex chromosomes. Look at the picture bellow—

etermination of sex- boy or Girl

Determination of sex- boy or Girl?

At the time of conception mother can contribute only one type of sex chromosome that is X chromosome. On the other hand father can contributed either X or Y chromosome. If X chromosome is transmitted from father, the child will be female and if Y chromosome is transmitted from the father, the child will be a male.

2) Heredity contributes significantly towards physical contribution:

Most of the qualities related to make-up of our body, its structure and function are specified and guided by heredity. For Example-1) Some children have blue eyes, others have black. 2) Same is the case with the color and texture of the skin and hair, height, facial outlook and appearances, blood group, finger prints etc. 3) Besides such differences in the physical contribution, structure and body make-up, hereditary factor are also said to be the sole cause for the diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, hemophilia, schizophrenia and other abnormalities.

3) Contribution of heredity towards the birth of twins and related individual differences:

Sometimes there are births of twins. There are two distinct types of twins, identical twins and fraternal twins.

Identical twins:

Usually fertilization of one ovum produces one off-spring. Sometime however, when the ovum splits as a result of fertilization, the two parts fail to united together. As a result, each part develops into a complete individual. Thus the twins are formed which are called Identical twins because they carry exactly the same genes. They posses almost the same characteristics and they are definitely of the same sex. However they may also posses their individual differences and variations.

Fraternal twins:

Usually during a woman’s menstrual cycle, only one egg matures. But sometimes it may happen that two or more ovum is matured and get fertilized simultaneously by two different sperm. The result is that two different zygotes are produced. Thus the twins are produced which are called Fraternal twins or Non-identical twins. Fraternal twins are differing in many traits. They are not in same sex each time.


Environment is also a very important factor or determinant of Individual Differences. There are many numbers of environmental factors determine the Individual differences. These are classified as internal and external.

1) Internal Environment:

Before birth, the mother’s womb is the place where a foetus gets its nourishment from the blood stream of its mother. The environment available to her during pregnancy is very important for the baby.

Mother’s eating or drinking has an impact on the growth and development of the child. If the mother remains tense, worried, anxious and emotionally upset or mentally disturbed then it may eventually have an adverse effect on the growth and development of the baby.

Individual differences in the children are thus certainly caused by the variations and differences existed in the physical and mental health of their mothers during pregnancy.

At the time of delivery, the environment available to the mother and the child also affects the well being, growth and development of the child. Here the individual differences may be caused by situation like premature or mature delivery, normal delivery or a caesarean delivery, hygienic or unhygienic condition and the general atmosphere at the time of delivery.

2) External Environment:

After birth all things related to the external environment (physical, socio-cultural, economy and psychology) influence and effect on individual differences.

A) Physical Environment:

Physical environment include climate and natural resources. People in various parts of the world live under diverse climatic conditions. People living in extreme cold and hot regions, deserts, hilly areas and plains have remarkable differences in their height, body built, skin color, habits and style of living.

B) Socio-Cultural Environment:

The socio-cultural factors include family, neighborhood, school and other social groups, social customs, socio-cultural values, attitudes, language etc. They play very important role in shaping the personality of an individual. As outcome children develop personal like and dislikes, aspirations, stereotypes, emotional reactions, moral standards, values and so on.

The school has a significant role on the development of personality of a child. The school environment provides opportunities and scope for the child to develop into a scholar, an artist, a group leader, a musician or a social worker.

In every society has a cultural heritage which is coming from generation to generation. Social and religious institution in a society transferred the beliefs, values, attitudes and customs of the society to every individual in different ways.

Thus, above mentioned Socio-Cultural environment act as determinant of individual differences on individuals in the same society and culture.

C) Economic Environment:

Economic factors also develop distinctive characteristics in persons and thus contributed to the phenomena of individual differences. Within the society we find that children from economically strong families are different in many ways from the children from the economically weak families.

D) Psychological Factor:

Psychological factors includes intelligence, memory, thinking, imagine, learning, speaking, feeling, interest, attention, attitude etc.

The differences in these psychological factors are important in determining individual differences.

E) Nutrition:

Nutrition is one of the most important determinants of individual differences. Maternal nutrition is one of the major factors that has been found to influence individuals during pregnancy of mother. If the mother does not take balance diet, malnutrition would occur and this can make a lot of differences in the individual’s make up.

For example – An environment where enough nutrients are available, the brain of a child might develop normally during pregnancy period of mother. On the other hand, the brain of the child might not develop properly.

After birth of child nutrition has also great impact on growth and development. Children who suffer from food, health drinks are different in many ways from the children who have no problem of getting food and health drinks.

Our Other BLOG Post

1 thought on “Determinants of Individual Differences”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!