Five Factor Model Across Cultures

The Five-Factor Model has generated research hi two important arenas—cross-cultural studies and studies on the stability of traits over the lifespan.

Using the revised NEO-PI, which lias been translated into more than 40 languages, Costa and McCrae and others have demonstrated a relatively high degree of cultural consistency in the Five-Factor Model. This research was conducted in Western cultures, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Iceland Spain, and Portugal, in Eastern nations, such as China, Japan, and South Korea; in Africa (Zimbabwe), Middle Eastern cultures such as Iran and Israel; and in Pacific Rim cultures, including Malaysia and the Philippines (McCrae, 2002, McCrae & Allik, 2002; McCrae & Costa, 1997).

Researchers and reviewers of the Five-Factor Model (McCrae & Allik, 2002; Poorthiga, Van, de Vijver, & van Hemert, 2002; Rolland 2002) have acknowledged both psychometric limitations and occasional translation problems with the revised NEO-PI. In general, cross-cultural research has supported the notion that people hi a variety of cultures show structurally equivalent personality patterns, including the traits of the Five-Factor Model. These patterns and traits have been found in diverse language families, including Indo-European, Hamito-Semitic, Sino-Tibetan, Altaic, and Uralic; but they are strongest hi Indo-European languages and in Western cultures. In Eastern cultures, personality patterns are less clear. For example, a report of a study conducted hi China (Poorthiga et al., 2002) found support for four of the Big Five factors, but an additional factor was consistently identified a factor the researchers termed "interpersonal relatedness." The concept of interpersonal related-ness includes a number of behaviors and attitudes not often observed hi the United States—outside of Hawaii. These dimensions include a respectful, obedient demeanor toward others, saving "face," and harmony with other people. The interpersonal relatedness factor has been found in a diverse ethnic sample in Hawaii, "suggesting that interpersonal relatedness is an aspect of personality that should be added elsewhere to a comprehensive personality inventory" (Poortinga et al., 2002, p. 287).

Overall, research mdicates that trait similarities, as measured by the NEO-PI-R, exist among people hi a variety of cultures, which indicates that the five factors do not appear to be an artifact of language. Rather the evidence suggests that these traits are reflections of basic personality structure and are probably found in all cultures.

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