Since emotional predominance is largely fostered by physical, environmental, and psychological factors, and is not the result of inheritance, changes in disposition” may occur at any age. They are most frequent during the early years of life, before emotional patterns have habitual.
The three most common causes of changes in the dominant emotions are environmental changes, physical changes, and changes in intellectual capacities. With environmental changes, the different treatment the person receives may readily bring about a revision in his self-concept, in his reactions to others, and in his outlook on life. These will undoubtedly influence the pattern of his emotional expression.
A child who has been accustomed to having the mother’s undivided attention may bitterly resent her preoccupation with a new sibling. He shows his resentments at the changed treatment he receives by frequent and intense outburst of anger and jealously; he this changes from a happy, calm child into a tense and irascible one.
The happy carefree adolescent may turn into a bored, unhappy, resentful, and dour adult. If a man feels that he has been deposed in his wife’s affection by her preoccupation with household duties and the care of children, he will suffer from resentment and frustration and a feeling of martyrdom and jealously of all which will change his disposition. Changes in a woman’s disposition may occur if her as mother and wife provides little personal satisfaction.
Physical changes, especially when they are pronounced and when they coincide with environmental changes and changes in social expectations, bring about radical changes in temperament, either temporary or permanent, depending on how the person adjusts to them. The moodiness may persist and he may become an anxious, gloomy, guilt-ridden adult.
While changes in temperament during old age may result, in part, from the general physical decline that accompanies aging, negative social attitudes toward the aging account for some of the changes. The tendency toward the apathy, loss of enthusiasm, emotional unresponsiveness, and irascibility come partly from the person’s realization of changed social attitudes towards him and toward his usefulness to society.
With changes in intellectual capacities come changes in interests and increased social and self insight. The happy-go-lucky schoolchild may readily develop into an anxious one if his parents pressure him to achieve academic success or if peers begin to regard him as the class clown. Cole and hall write: “ It my suddenly strike a third-grade child that schoolwork is competitive, and this new idea may generate in him a feeling of shame because he has thus far puttered happily about at the bottom of the class.