Personality and Culture


Personality and Culture

Review the section on personality and culture in the text.  How does culture affect personality?  Why it is important to consider culture before drawing conclusions about one’s personality?  What ethical issues are present when conceptualizing personality in terms of culture?  Be sure to specifically cite concepts and facts from Chapter 12, including references to specific cultures.


Personality and Culture

Personality can be defined as the entire set of behaviors that characterize an individual, whether learnt or not (Lahey, 2012). Culture has a significant effect on the personality of individuals. Personality is shaped by biological as well as environmental factors. Culture is one of the key environmental factors that determine personality of individuals.

How culture affects personality

The patterns of various cultures shape the personality of individuals (Lahey, 2012). Since man lives within cultural confines, it is inevitable that his attitudes, thinking, ideas, values and beliefs are influenced by culture. As individuals gain cultural competence through enculturation so does their personality gets shaped. Enculturation may occur consciously among individuals or in sublime levels making it hardly noticeable especially among children. Since the cultural content varies across different societies, personality also vary across different societies. Personality development in the cultural context is hedged on a number of factors. First, the social structure in which an individual is brought up infuses certain norms, taboos, values, beliefs, and ideas which affect one’s behavior. Second, subcultures also affect the personality of individuals in certain ways. Third, the occupations that individuals join significantly modifies their personality. Lastly, all cultures hold particular values that are distinct from the res (Dash, 2004).

Why is it important to consider culture before drawing conclusions about one’s personality?

It is important to consider the culture of an individual before drawing conclusions on personality. This is because the culture can help shed light about the personality or character of an individual. As earlier mentioned, culture plays a great role in shaping the personality of individuals. According to Terracciano & McCrae (2006), national character stereotypes tend to be true and often reflect the personality of individuals in such countries. Thus, researchers can partly obtain a true picture about the personality of individuals just by studying the overall culture in the community. The national culture of a particular country greatly reveals the personality of individuals in the community. This is because members of a particular culture share the same beliefs, norms, values, and ideas. A cultural perspective enables researchers to compare personality traits across different cultures and hence learn more. Cultures determine not only speech but also key behavioral characteristics among members such as individualism and collectivism. Thus in studying cultures, researchers would be able to understand more about the personality of various community members (Lahey, 2012).

Ethical issues present when conceptualizing personality in terms of culture

Ethical issues manifest when conceptualizing personality in terms of culture. One of the issues is stereotyping of particular cultures. Stereotypes are not scientific and on most occasions lead to development of negative attitudes towards particular communities. Stereotypes may at times reflect the myths held by people. Stereotypes resulting from conceptualization of personalities can at times be used as racial slurs. Combined with other factors such as historical factors, this may lead to racism, wars and even genocide. Although there exist significant group differences among cultures, such differences should never be ranked hierarchically as this can contribute to racial discrimination and hatred. As such personalities in different cultures should only be learned and appreciated as part of crucial diversity (Erchak, 1992). When conducting a study on personality across different cultures, it is imperative to ensure that respect is accorded to their unique language, values, beliefs and political status of the communities.


Dash, K. N. (2004). Invitation to social and cultural anthropology. New Delhi: Atlantic   Publishers.

Erchak, G. M. (1992). The anthropology of self and behavior. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers        University Press.

Lahey, B. (2012).  Psychology: An introduction (11th ed.).  New York, New York: McGraw-Hill             Higher Education.

Terracciano, A., & McCrae, R. R. (2006). Cross-Cultural Studies of Personality Traits and their   Relevance to Psychiatry. Epidemiologia E Psichiatria Sociale,15(3), 176–184.