General Question

mea05key's avatar

Do you believe in inherant attitude, habit or even skills in a person?

Asked by mea05key (1802points) July 4th, 2010

, that can never be changed no matter how a person tries to?
Example, if someone is bad at mathematics, he will always be no matter how hard he tries.

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19 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Certain skills or abilities are developed at a young age as the brain mature. Poor living conditions and isolation (some examples) in ones youth for too long a duration will/can cause and miss the window of opportunity.
You might be able to find other ways to get through that “learning disability”. But, it will never be as good as if you naturally developed it when the opportunity was there.
And, yes there are plenty of variables to this.
There was a girl back in the late 70’s that was left in the closet for most of the first 17 years of her life. She was not able to and is not able to speak grammatically correct. Probably better now, but will never be as good as you and I.
Example: You would say, “I would like a glass of water.” She would say, ” water glass me.”

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Skills can be taught, but whether or not there is true ability or genius, that cannot. A good example would be Hitler’s lack of artistic genius. He had average ability as an artist, but despite desire, he did not have the innate talent needed. Talent cannot be learned, skills can. Talent and ability are not the same thing.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I was listening to someone talk about this on the radio this morning (Mathew Syed). His take on the talent/practice thing was that people who believe talent is the more important than practice are more likely to give up in the face of defeat (ie “I failed because I am not talented enough. I can’t increase my natural talent so I might as well give up). People who believe practice is more important think like this “I failed because I did not practice enough. I can practice more and I will suceed in the future”.

Now, obviously, you are going to need some natural talent but I think he has a good point on the believing in the benefits of practice rather than just in natural talent.

janbb's avatar

And then there is Malcolm Gladwell who cites studies that show that they anyone can become a master in anything if they practice it for 10,000 hours. Of course, the fallacy in that is that you are not likely to put in 10,000 hours practicing something if you have no natural affinity for it, but it is a compelling notion.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think there is such a thing as inherent temperaments that could lead to someone developing certain skills and putting in those fabled 10,000 hours.

gggritso's avatar

I strongly believe that any inherent attitudes can, and should be changed if they’re toxic. For my own sanity, whether it’s true or not, I choose to believe that we can change ourselves for the better by adjusting our outlook and nourishing our better qualities. The same goes for habit, I do think that it’s very possibly to break away from destructive habits.

With skills, I feel differently. I like that you used math as an example, actually, since it’s very common for people to say that they’re bad at math and give up on it. I do think that math (and most sciences) take a certain mindset and a way of thinking that is cultivated in many, many years. I think some people will always have an easier time with math than others, but I do not believe that there are people who will always be bad at it no matter what. I think that anyone can learn to do math at a high level, it just may be more difficult for some people.

gailcalled's avatar

I could take 10,000 hours of voice lessons and still be unable to carry a tune. However, I would know a lot of theory.

When I get curious about something, I am dogged however and learn enough to let the dogs out. Yesterday, for example, I took several online tour of the Vatican museums and some of Bernini’s sculptures.

dpworkin's avatar

It has long been thought that certain traits are immutable. In fact it is still widely believed that certain personality disorders are intractable (leaving aside the issue of talent, such as for singing, but concentrating here on issues of temperament.)

Lately a new point of view has been developing which postulates that this may not fully be the case, but that long-ingrained aspects of personality can indeed be altered. The research around this is only about 20 years old, and there is a great deal of skepticism, but tempering the disbelief is the fact that it is now generally agreed that Borderline Personality Disorder can be treated. (Of course the debate is that perhaps it is somehow different as a disorder, and that the others are still intractable.)

zophu's avatar

Behavior is most strongly determined by the environment, especially during childhood. Belief that genetics is in anyway a primary cause for overall behavior patterns is greatly exaggerated. There’s a sick deterrence to questioning how people raise their children, how the state educates them, and the general competence of the world the previous generations built for them.

Society would rather condemn the dysfunctional individuals that pop up because of its own incompetent systems calling them evil or hopeless instead of acknowledging the source of the problem, treating the dysfunctional or dangerous individuals as patients, and focus real resources on improving the lives of the poor. Not all of the misfits can be “cured” but the great majority can be if they’re given what they need. But it’s not about getting people what they need, it’s about conditioning them to fit within the system.

The myth that people who have horrible lives just aren’t trying hard enough, or are somehow inherently forever evil is a disgusting attitude to have. We are collectively responsible for their unhealth and to stick them into a concrete box is nothing less than inhumane.

It’s just another way the elite try to arbitrarily manipulate their populations into what they think is best. It’s time we accept responsibility for the sickness we create by supporting inherently corrupt systems. That’s the only thing that is inherently dysfunctional.

. . . uhhh, I kind of got carried away. To answer your question, yeah people can improve things that they are predisposed to be bad at. If it’s something simple like the ability to calculate many numbers at once, it’s unlikely that they could ever reach a high-level of skill compared to those who are predisposed to be skilled in calculations. But in complex tasks many skills come into play and it’s very possible that a person lacking in some might still achieve significance even in a field where those lacking skills are most valued. You have to work with what you have, but there are so many ways to make things work if the drive is there.

YARNLADY's avatar

Except in extreme cases, I believe anyone can learn the basic skills required to do just about anything. The trick is find the best method to learn, since people learn in different ways, at different speeds.

Beyond the basics, progress works better with an inborn talent. My father learned to play the piano with great skill, but he knew he would never be a ‘pianist’ because he didn’t ‘feel’ the music.

wundayatta's avatar

Nope. I believe that anyone can learn enough of anything to be able to pass at it. It’s a matter of training, which means repetition and more repetition. People say my kids have musical talent. If they knew how many hours they spent practicing, they’d know it was work, not talent. This is true for anything you want to call a skill or talent.

I think that some physical traits give people advantages in certain pursuits—like height and basketball. But for most things, it is about training, not physical traits. Talent is a word that means someone has practiced an awful lot.

Flavio's avatar

I think people do have some hard-wired temperaments, but these are very general, for example, innate degree of risk aversion or innate need for physical contact. However, I think these are easily overridden by environmental exposure. My understanding is that behaviors are mostly driven by our childhood development and accented by these temperaments.

marchimmel's avatar

I’m a psychology student and we learnt in personality traits are 40% hereditary, 40% is shared environment and 20% is non-shared environment. However you could argue that shared environment is being shared with parents so hereditary and environment are linked pretty strongly.

zophu's avatar

@marchimmel are we allowed to be 40% condemning of a troubled individual’s nature?

ratboy's avatar

How would one practice creativity?

CMaz's avatar

Figure out what you like and do it.

Jabe73's avatar

Some people are faster at learning/comprehending things than other people. I still believe practice makes perfect and you can always improve yourself to do something better. It all comes down to motivation and how bad you want to improve at something.

Flavio's avatar

@marchimmel
do you think anything in the human mind is that clear cut? I would seriously question the source of where you read those percentages. I am a psychiatrist and I am certain our field is not nearly advanced enough to begin understanding the human mind with this degree of accuracy.

dpworkin's avatar

@marchimmel is misunderstanding correlational statistics in the field of genetic psychology. Sometimes a little learning is a dangerous thing.

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