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Culture affecting Personality


Chapter 14. Article. Break. Test. Culture affecting Personality. Katherine Aumer-Ryan ... Kelly: claimed that no two people view the world through the same personal ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Culture affecting Personality

Culture affecting Personality Katherine
Aumer-Ryan Psy 260
Culture and YOU
Culture and Psychology
Culture and Psychology
  • Two different fields
  • Cross-Cultural Psychology studies how culture
    influences psychological variables by comparing
  • Cultural Psychology studies how culture
    influences psychological variables, by studying
    individual cultures in their own terms.

  • Two different fields, emerged from controversy
  • The unresolved controversy Is it ever
    appropriate (philosophically speaking) or is it
    even scientifically possible to make cultural
  • For example, the term amae is central for
    understanding personality structure in Japanese
    culturethe term, literally translated, means
  • In a family context the word implies indulgence
    and dependence, of the sort that may exist
    between a parent and child this benevolent
    dependence is expected to continue into adult
    relationships, so that people treat each other
    thoughtfully and considerately, while
    appreciating how they depend on each other (Doi,
    1973 Tseng, 2003).
  • It is difficult even to translate amae into
    English, much less to fully comprehend it.
  • Does this concept have meaning outside the
    Japanese context?

  • Cross-cultural universals versus specificity
  • Anthropologists have written about this
    controversy for many years psychologists only
    recently became interested in whether
    psychological constructs are universal or if they
    are specific to our culture only.
  • Both fields include plenty of proponents for each
    side of the debate, and it is one of those
    eternal issues that will probably never be
    entirely settled.

  • Studying psychological variables across cultures
    has afforded new opportunities to psychologists
    it has provided an opportunity to document
  • Possible limits on generalizabilityit affords
    the opportunity to examine the degree to which
    psychological constructs and their measures
    generalize (are universal).

  • Studying psychological variables across cultures
    has afforded new opportunities to psychologists
    it has provided an opportunity to document
  • Cross-cultural conflictit allows researchers to
    understand different cultural attitudes, values,
    and behavioral styles that may frequently cause
  • As can be seen in current events in the Middle
    East, the consequences of misunderstanding
    another cultures history attitudes, values, and
    behavioral styles can range from trivial to

  • Studying psychological variables across cultures
    has afforded new opportunities to psychologists
    it has provided an opportunity to document
  • Varieties of human experienceThis issue is
    phenomenological and stems from curiosity about
    the possible varieties of human experience and
    the degree to which being alive and aware is
    different across cultures the way you see and
    construe the world is, to a considerable degree,
    a product of your experience and cultural

  • Deconstructionismthe argument that cultures are
    so fundamentally different that they cannot be
    compared, because no independent or common frame
    of reference exists it is the heart of the
    Cross-Cultural/Cultural Psychology debate.
  • Nothing in the world has any meaning or essence
    apart from the interpretations that observers
    invent or construct.
  • Meaning is essentially arbitrary.
  • There is no lens-free way to look at any culture,
    and each cultures view of reality is complete
    and cannot be judged from any other point of view.

  • The semiotic subjectan individual can be
    understood only in his or her own terms, based on
    his or her unique experience of the world.
  • Deconstructionists argue that individuals are
    semiotic subjects.
  • On categorization of individuals
  • Allport and Kelly both argued against
    categorization of people.
  • Allport advocated idiographic (individual)
    assessment no two people have the same
    experiences (or genetic makeup), so it is always
    a distortion to see them in common terms or even
    to categorize them as varying along common
  • Kelly claimed that no two people view the world
    through the same personal constructs, and
    therefore believed it makes little sense to
    classify people or compare them along common
  • At the extreme, the idiographic approach implies
    that one individual cannot be compared with
    another one culture cannot be compared with
  • Downside focusing only on the uniqueness

  • Complexitysome cultures are more complicated
    than others.
  • Triandis (1997, p. 444) wrote of the difference
    between modern, industrial, affluent cultures
    and the simpler cultures, such as the hunters
    and gatherers, or the residents of a monastery.
  • Cultures might vary in terms of complexity
    however, any cultures level of complexity may
    not be readily visible to an outsider
  • Cultures might vary in complexity, but this
    characteristic may be hard to identify.
  • Tightnesscontrasts cultures that tolerate very
    little deviation from proper behavior (tight
    cultures) with those that allow fairly large
    deviations from cultural norms (loose cultures).
  • Triandis hypothesizes that ethnically homogeneous
    and densely populated societies tend to be
    culturally tighter than societies that are more
    diverse or where people are more spread out.
  • In order to strictly enforce norms people must be
    similar enough to agree on those norms.
  • Strict norms of behavior are more necessary when
    people must live close together.

  • One of the most profound ways cultures may differ
    from each other is the way they view the
    relationship between the individual and society.
  • Individualism versus Collectivismcompares the
    Western view of the individual with a viewpoint
    that may have its foundation in Buddhist
  • Collectivist Cultures
  • The needs of the group are more important than
    the rights of the individual.
  • Example the Japanese word for self, jibun,
    refers to ones portion of the shared life
  • A Japanese proverb says, The nail that stands
    out gets pounded down.
  • Individualist Cultures
  • The needs of the individual are the most
    important consideration.
  • Example the Western idea of self is as an
    independent agent.
  • U.S. proverb says, The squeaky wheel gets the

Collectivist Individualist Research Findings
  • Collectivist Cultures
  • Japan, China, and India are the most frequently
    discussed examples.
  • IBM survey found that natives of Taiwan, Peru,
    Pakistan, Columbia, and Venezuela were more
    collectivist (Hofstede, 1984).
  • Within the United States, Hispanics, Asians, and
    African Americans are more collectivist
    (Triandis, 1994).
  • In the U.S., women appear to be more collectivist
    than men.
  • Individualist Cultures
  • The U.S. is probably the best example.
  • IBM survey found that natives of Australia,
    Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United
    States were more individualist (Hofstede, 1984).
  • More autobiographies are written in individualist
    countries people in individualist cultures are
    less attentive to differences in status.

Collectivist Individualist Research Findings
  • Collectivist Cultures
  • More histories of the group are written.
  • Carefully observe social hierarchies.
  • Prefer to ski in groups.
  • Emotional experience appears to be more grounded
    in assessments of social worth, to reflect the
    nature of social reality rather than private,
    inner experience and, perhaps most importantly,
    to depend on relationships rather than the
    individual alone.
  • Arranged marriages are common.
  • Advertising reflects the value of cultural
    history and the influence of the group on
    decision making.
  • Individualist Cultures
  • More autobiographies are written in individualist
    countries people in individualist cultures are
    less attentive to differences in status.
  • People prefer to bathe alone rather than in a
  • People spend less time with more people.
  • People report experiencing more self-focused
    emotions (e.g., anger).
  • Individuals choose their mates, and marry for
    emotional reasons.
  • Advertising reflects the value of individual
    choice, individual expression, and leaving your
    unique mark on the world.

  • This distinction between collectivism and
    individualism may have its historical basis in
    the perspective of Buddhism.
  • The key idea of Buddhism is anatta, or
    non-self, the idea that the independent,
    singular self you sense inside your mind is
    merely an illusion the illusion of having a
    separate and independent self is harmful it
    leads to feelings of isolation (e.g., existential
    angst) and an excessive concern with me and
    that which is mine.
  • The true nature of reality is that everything and
    everyone are interconnected now and across time.
  • This viewpoint might seem to diminish the
    importance of the self, but in a way it enhances
    it you are an integral and interconnected part
    of the universe and it is part of you, just as
    the present moment is made of equal parts past
    and future you are immortal in the sense that
    you are part of something larger than yourself
    that will last forever.

  • If you can begin to grasp these ideas, your
    selfish thoughts and fears about the future will
    fall away you will then understand the idea of
    anicca, that nothing lasts forever and it is best
    to accept this fact instead of fighting it.
  • The well-being of others is just as important as
    your own, because the boundaries between you and
    them are illusory.
  • These are difficult ideas to grasp, especially
    for persons raised in Western cultures, and true
    understanding can be the work of a lifetime if
    you do achieve it, you are said to be
    enlightenedwhich is manifested by caring for
    others the same as for yourself, which leads to
    universal compassion according to Buddhism, this
    is the essence of wisdom and leads to a pleasant,
    selfless state called nirvana.

  • The individualism-collectivism dimension has
    become a staple of cross-cultural psychology, but
    as research has accumulated, the picture of this
    difference between cultures has become more
  • Some researchers have expressed concern that this
    distinction might sometimes be exaggerated even
    in cultures viewed as extreme on these
    dimensions, plenty of people have individual
    points of view that stand outside their own
    cultural norms.
  • For example, Japan and China have a large number
    of individualists who are striving for personal
    accomplishment, and the United States includes
    many collectivists who are closely bound to and
    attentive to the needs of others (e.g.,
    sororities and fraternities, and other clubs).
  • Some psychologists have suggested that these
    distinctions are complicated by the
    sociopolitical structure of each society.

Cultural Assessment and Personality Assessment
  • A fairly close analogy can be drawn between
    assessing a culture and assessing the personality
    of an individual.
  • Triandiss three basic dimensions of cultural
    variation are also dimensions along which
    individuals differ.
  • The complexity dimension is analogous to the
    personality trait of cognitive complexity.
  • Cultural tightness resembles the traits of
    conscientiousness and intolerance for ambiguity .
  • The collectivist versus individualist distinction
    is analogous to idiocentrism versus allocentrism,
    a dimension of personal values that focuses on
    whether one believes that the individual is more
    important than the group, or vice versa.
  • It seems that complexity, tightness, and
    collectivity are traits of individuals as well as

  • Personality traits
  • The personality lexicon varies English has about
    2,800 trait terms used in everyday speech,
    Chinese has about 557.
  • Cross-cultural psychologists have tried to
    address the degree to which certain traits apply
    to different cultures researchers have done this
    in two ways.
  • Attempts to characterize cultural differences by
    assessing the degree to which average levels of
    specific traits vary between cultures.
  • Attempts to dive a bit more deeply into the
    cultures being compared by assessing the degree
    to which the traits that characterize people in
    one culture can meaningfully characterize people
    in another.

  • Personality traits
  • An impressive program of research has shown that
    the Big Five traits of personality can be found
    in observers personality ratings in more than 50
    cultures (McCrae et al., 2005).
  • Even so, there are many variations from one
    culture to the next presenting major problems for
    the exporting of psychological measures.
  • One study concluded that measures of the Big Five
    could be effectively translated into Spanish, but
    that such translations also missed particular
    aspects of Spanish personality, such as humor,
    good nature, and unconventionality
    (Benet-Martínez John, 1998, 2000).
  • Other researchers have argued that the Big Five
    do not emerge as consistently across cultures as
    is sometimes claimed, and that only three of
    these traitsconscientiousness, extraversion,
    and agreeablenessshould be considered truly
    universal (De Raad Peabody, 2005).

  • Personality traits
  • These issues highlight the crux of the problem,
    two not-so-hidden assumptions made when
    translating and exporting psychological measures.
  • They assume that the same traits are valid for
    describing people in different cultures.
  • They assume that their comprehensive measure of
    personality (e.g., the Big 5) is comprehensive
    for the other culture (it will not miss something
  • Psychologists are beginning to move beyond
    applying the same traits to different cultures.
  • Recently, trait scales have been developed
    endogenously, from the inside, to see if
    personality trait constructs that emerge in one
    culture also emerge in another.
  • This approach is much more difficult because the
    nature of the research seems to require
    psychologists who are native to each culture, and
    many areas of the world do not have the
    traditions or means to train and support
    home-grown psychologists.

  • Thinking
  • One of the most intriguing and challenging
    questions facing cross-cultural psychology
    concerns the degree to which people from
    different cultures think differently.
  • On one level, it seems safe to assume that
    because behavioral traits differ across cultures
    the thinking associated with behavior must be
    different too.
  • On another level, it is difficult to specify the
    ways that thought processes in one culture may
    differ from those in another research attempting
    to do this is opening an exciting new frontier in
    psychology with important and controversial

  • Thinkingresearch examples
  • One line of research suggests that East Asians
    think more holistically than Americans,
    explaining events in context rather than in
    isolation, and seeking to integrate divergent
    points of view rather than set one against
    another (Nisbett et al., 2001) e.g., An American
    observer may look at a scene and see a specific
    object or person, whereas the Japanese observer
    is more likely to see (and remember) the larger
  • A controversial area of cross-cultural research
    on thinking concerns the degree to which Asians,
    compared to Americans, characteristically
    formulate and express independent and original
    points of view various psychologists and
    educators have observed that Asian students seem
    drawn to fields that require rote study and
    memorization rather than independent thinking,
    and that they are less willing than European
    Americans to speak up in class discussion.

  • Valuesthe most controversial area of
    cross-cultural research
  • The search for universal values finding
    universal values would have two implications.
  • We might infer that a value held in all cultures
    is in some sense a real value that goes beyond
    cultural judgment, a value which we can be
    confident should be valued.
  • If we could find a set of common values, we might
    be able to use these to settle disputes between
    cultures by developing compromises based on the
    areas of universal agreement.
  • Ten values have been identified as candidates
    (Schwartz Sagiv, 1995)
  • Power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation,
    self-direction, understanding, benevolence,
    tradition, conformity, and security.
  • These values can be organized in terms of two
  • Openness to change versus conservatism
  • Self-transcendence versus self-enhancement

The Question of OriginWhere do cross-cultural
differences come from?
  • The deconstructionist dodge
  • The deconstructionist cultural psychologists seem
    particularly prone to avoid the question of
  • According to them, a cultures distinctive view
    of reality is arbitrary and it cannot depend on
    anything that preceded the culture itself (which
    does not exactly answer the question).
  • The Ecological Approach
  • Comparative cross-cultural psychologists have
    tried to provide serious answers to the origin
    question, although their answers must be
    classified as speculative.

Socialization (enculturation)
Triandis (1994)
  • Ethnocentrismany observation of another culture
    almost certainly will be colored by the
    observers cultural background, no matter how
    hard he or she tries to avoid it. An objective
    view is impossible. Cross-cultural psychologists
    are mindful of ethnocentrism and they attempt to
    minimize the degree to which it impacts their
  • Exaggeration of cultural differencescross-cultura
    l findings exaggerate cultural differences, and
    they minimize individual differences within a
    culture. There are at least three reasons for
    this exaggeration
  • Cross-cultural psychologys purpose is to find
    differences this overarching purpose to their
    work may increase their tendency to find
    differences and interpret them as important.
  • Many studies of cultural differences use
    significance tests rather than examining effect
    sizes as was true for social psychology during
    the person-situation debate, this can lead to
    fundamental misunderstandings about the data.
  • The potential for outgroup homogeneity biasthis
    is a cognitive error that occurs when looking at
    another group compared to your group. Ones own
    group naturally seems to contain individuals who
    differ widely from each other but members of
    groups to which one does not belong seem to be
    all the same. Like ethnocentrism,
    cross-cultural work attempts to avoid this bias
    as much as possible.

  • Cultures and values
  • Unless one is careful, cross-cultural psychology
    can sometimes lead to cultural relativismthe
    conclusion that all cultural views of reality are
    equally valid, and that it is presumptuous and
    ethnocentric to judge any of them as good or bad.
  • Relativism sounds fine until one thinks about
    countries in which there is genocide and other
    human rights violationsperhaps there are some
    universal human rights and values.
  • Subcultures and multiculturalism
  • Groupings of any kind can be problematic
    sometimes comparison groups are overgeneralized,
    oversimplified, or even meaningless.
  • Conditions which has led to discussions about how
    to group cultures
  • Social group, ethnicity, geographic boundaries
  • Within a culture as large as the U.S. there are
    many subcultures and many individuals are
    multicultural individuals belong to more than
    one culture.
  • By some estimates, about half the worlds
    population is bilingual.
  • Bicultural identity integration (BII) has been
    introduced to consider the degree to which an
    individual has integrated multiple cultural
    identities to gain the maximum benefit from each,
    as opposed to experiencing conflict and even
    stress from existing in two separate cultures.

Despite cross-cultural psychologys traditional
emphasis on differences between cultures, the
pendulum is beginning to swing the other way,
with an increasing number of psychologists
emphasizing the degree to which people all over
the world are psychologically similar.
Allik McCrae (2004) -When reading a journal
article know this --Initial theory and
hypothesis --method --results --conclusion
Allik McCrae (2004) --Initial theory and
hypothesis cultures can affect personality, but
is it the geography, genes, or society that does
it? --Method have 36 countries take the
NEO-PI-R --Results high (extraversion and
openness) lower (agreeableness) --Conclusion
personality seems to be driven by genes?
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