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Once a Jerk, Always a Jerk? Can We Change Who We Are?

Planet in hands

Do you feel that you’ve changed much since childhood? I think most of us believe we have. How we turn out as people has been the subject of the old “nature vs. nurture” debate since the 1800s.

I’ve been pondering this question a lot lately because of the chaos we find our world in. Not that there haven’t been other times in history where the same sort of divisive, mean-spirited, ugly, behavior has been woven into society’s fabric. But for some reason, it is so prevalent now.

I imagine many experts would say it may have everything to do with our social-media obsessed culture.The capability to anonymously hurl insults, harass and harm others via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others, may not be at its zenith, but surely it is close.

But getting back to my original question, I went looking for research and didn’t have to go far. A research project done about 6 years ago by the University of California-Riverside, which was subsequently published by the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal, came to the conclusion that the personality you display as a child is almost certain to be the same one you exhibit as an adult.

Which then begs the question: Do we ever have a real ability to change? My cynicism and observation of a very disappointing world, tells me no. But my desire to believe in the power of possibility, coupled with my hopeless yearning for a kinder civilization, along with select examples of true positive change, cause me to want to say, yes.

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