Personality and national culture


The five personality factors identified in the Big-Five model appear in almost all cross-cultural studies. This includes a wide variety of diverse culture. –such as China, Israel, Germany, Japan. Differences tend to surface by the emphasis on dimensions and whether countries are predominantly individualistic or collectivist. Chinese, for example use the category of conscientiousness more often and use the category of agreeableness less often than do Americans. And the Big Five appear to predict a bit better in individualistic culture than in collectivist. But there is a surprisingly high amount of agreement, especially among individuals from developed countries. As a case in point, a comprehensive review of studies covering people from the 15-nation European Community found that conscientiousness was valid predictor of performance across jobs and occupational groups.

There are no common personality types for a given country. You can, instance, find high and low risk-takers in almost any culture. Yet a country’s culture influences the dominant personality characteristics of its population. We can see this by looking at locus of control and the Type A personality

There is evidence that cultures differ in terms of people’s relationship to their environment. In some cultures, such as those in North America, people believe that they can dominate their environment. People in other societies, such as Middle Eastern countries, believe that life is essentially preordained. Note the close parallel to internal and external locus of control. We should expect, therefore, a larger proportion of internals in the American and Canadian workforce than in the Saudi Arabian or Iranian workforce.

The prevalence of Type A personalities will be somewhat influenced by the culture n which a person grows up. There are Type A’s in every country, but there will be more in capitalistic countries, where achievement and material success are highly valued.. It is estimated that about 50 percent of the North American population is Type A . This percentage shouldn’t be too surprising. The United States and Canada both have a high emphasis on time management and efficiency.. Both have cultures that stress accomplishments and acquisition of money and material goods. In cultures such as Sweden and France, where materialism is less revered, we would predict a smaller proportion of Type A personalities.

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