Personality and Culture

One of the first prerequisites for demonstrating a biological basis of personality is to show that the structure of personality does not change much across cultures. To test this prediction, scientists must collect personality data on people throughout the world, not just in European-based cultures. More specifically, they need to examine whether the same three factors proposed by Eysenck (E, N, and P) emerge in all cultures. Various researchers have done just that. For instance, in the mid-1980s, Paul Barrett and Sybil Eysenck (1984) compared personality factors hi 24 countries, about one-third of which were non-European countries. They found a high degree of similarity among different cultures and thus concluded that E, N, and P are relatively universal and therefore probably biologically based. However, the statistical technique they used to measure similarity has been criticized on mathematical grounds.

Therefore, Barrett, K.V Petrides, Sybil Eysenck, and Hans Eysenck (1998) published a second paper that corrected this mathematical shortcoming. Although this re-analysis showed that the prior estimates of similarity were hi fact somewhat inflated it nonetheless demonstrated a high degree of similarity in factor structure across 35 European, Asian, African, and American cultures. These results confirm the assumption that personality factors are quite universal across cultures and provide support for the biological foundation of personality dimensions proposed by Eysenck.

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