Essay by powrdraind September 2007

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Who do you think of in times of trouble or in times of uncertainty? I think of my family. That is because it was with my family that I first began to form my identity. I believe family is the most important factor in forming an identity because your family is where you observe and make your first interactions, where you spend the most time, and where the emotional factor in identity is the greatest.

Before you could even walk or talk, you were watching and observing you family. The way they held their bodies in different situations, the way they talked to different people, their facial expression in response to certain stimuli. It was here, with your family, that you learned the basics of human interaction and were instilled with your basic ideals. You probably picked up some of your mother’s facial expressions or maybe some of your brother’s bad habits.

You family determines your social class, your culture, and your ethnicity. These are all part of your personal identity, your weaknesses and strengths, part of what makes you unique.

More time is spent with your family than with anyone else, which means that your family members have the most influence on you pertaining to what social groups you are most likely to associate with and what behaviors you learn from those groups. It is usually in these social groups that you start making your first decisions and receiving either positive or negative feedback from those decisions. Then you go home to Mom and Dad, and they either enforce what they perceive as good behavior or punish you for the perceived bad behavior. This shapes your social identity.

Research has also shown that identities are better formed when there is an affinity for the subject...