People develop their personalities through a myriad of means. Then, this development is perceived socially as either ascribed or achieved. An ascribed status is born with the individual and may be prescribed by their gender, ethnicity, religion and/or cultural perspective(s). It is something that is completely engrained in their sense of being. In many ways people within society judge ascribed parts of an individuals’ personality for his/her entire life making features of this personality quite robust. However, every individual also has the innate ability to pursue his/her dreams and aspirations.
There is a constant and precise adaptive mechanism in every human being. The personality that adapts in relation to the environment and the wishes of the individual is called the achieved status. Put simply every human being has input into their achieved status. Ultimately, both the achieved and ascribed status in sum represents how people see the individual in the real world. In reality, when a person exists between some combination of the two it is likely the best way of finding an equilibrium and developing a well balanced personality.
There are some social factors that cannot be ignored in the discussion of personality. For example, a person of the Muslim culture undergoes many racial stereotypes on a daily basis, some positive and some negative. The individual him/herself may simply be looking for a spiritual analysis of what is going on internally. Instead the world around him/her forces judgment on the process by which people analyze themselves. That judgment is an ascribed quality, i.e. it is a measured judgment with which that the individual will always be attributed (Macions, 2013).
These presuppositions are likely to follow the individual for their entire lives making them eternally conscious of the context into which they were born. Often this can even extend beyond the realm of culture. Sometimes social status also affects an individual’s ascribed status. A person who is born into a rich family may forever be rich. At times this can even result in a parent that forces their child to perpetuate his/her lifestyle. For this very reason, it is not surprising that many people choose to go into a family business. Not only is it what they know from childhood, but they also feel compelled to live up to their ascribed personality.
Achieved status on the other hand describes the ability for people to migrate in their social status. Although people may be born in one particular status that is not to say they will be forever condemned to these ideas. Some will follow them forever where other aspects have the potential to change a great deal. While some aspects of ascribed status, for example gender and race penetrate the achieved status, an individual does maintain control over this part of his/her personality. For example, a lawyer might be the first person in her family to graduate from college.
Her educational and social status would be attributed to her hard work and dedication. That is why it is considered achieved versus ascribes status. Status is more complex than gender or racial considerations although these two aspects inevitably play a part in status (Macions, 2013). Someone raised in a lower socioeconomic class who becomes a doctor has an achieved status as a high member of the medical community. That person will assuage some of the lesser stereotypes associated with growing up poor. This may be an unfair construct considering the complex environments in which people grow up and develop however, the silver lining is that an achieved status allows for a person to be as successful as he/she can imagine. Developing in this manner is what life is all about.