How we are shaped by our life experiences

The ups and downs people go through in life, as well as everything else in between, help to mould their personalities. This is according to a new study led by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) researchers, who found these experiences stay with a person and has an impact on his or her set points as an adult.

As such, the team suggested that, in addition to their genes, these events have a significant effect on a person's levels of anxiety and depression.

Kenneth Kendler, Director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at VCU, said it is important to remember the environment in which somebody lives can make contributions to who they are as people.

Mr Kendler noted: "Your life history stays with you in impacting on your background book, for good or for ill."

He added rather than people 'being what they eat', it is more suitable to describe them as 'being what they experience'.

Dr Gordon Milson, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "This is research which is welcome but not altogether novel to Clinical Psychologists

"The impact of life events is well evidenced in psychological research and the way in which an individual's personality assists in their affective expression and regulation is one central to psychological models of emotional well-being.

"A person's personality is a functional process which assists them in social relating and self-regulating their own emotion, indeed, it has been posited previously that the impact of life events in an infant's brain can actually impact on the genetic expression of parts of the developing brain, rendering the nature-nurture debate over simplistic."