Cultural Influences on Personality Trait Development | Written by Pseudonym

Cultural Influences on Personality Trait Development

Contemporary personality psychologists have agreed that there are five main aspects of personality that they refer to as the big five personality traits. These personality traits research described as extraversion agreeableness, Openness, conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. These traits are believed to be shared by most people and used today to explain aspects of personality. Personality theorists have attempted to determine the exact number of personality traits for some time. We see the earlier attempts to assess personality traits with Eysenck’s three-factor theory or Cattell’s sixteen personality factors theory. Cattell’s method was complicated and consequently did not jibe well with later theories, further Eysenck did not explore personality as much as it could. Earlier personality theorists’ research brought us to a theory most could agree on, which coalesced into the big five trait theory.

Our personalities are complicated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that determine our interactions with the environment and the people around us. For decades now, psychologists have worked to understand and simplify personality’s complex interactions and processes. This work is predicated on a belief that most people fit into a category that captures a preference for how they interact with their environment and those in it. Personality psychology using the big five model, are trying to understand the differences in personality traits and create a system to evaluate these traits. The big five models are the dominant theory that explains most of what we consider personality and provides a framework to understand how people’s personalities find expression. Personality aspects such as extraversion, agreeableness, neurotic, contentious, and openness run across cultures. They are a way to see how a person usually approaches their environment and the people they interact with daily life.

African-American Culture

As an African-American, the cultural expression of the big five tends towards Neuroticism. There is an unwritten rule among African-American men that certain emotions are not displayed, and as a consequence of this, emotional editing leads one to neurotic behavior. Black men are not allowed a forum of emotional expression socially. If he struggles against this non-allowance, he is roundly subjected to subtle and sometimes not so subtle demands to retreat into a place of silence, so most do not leave the comfort of their conformity. This retreat to silence is not necessarily the case for African-American women. This denial of human emotion on the part of African-American men becomes a loss of identity integrity, and the black an begins to see himself only in the way others see him. African-American women experience this as a loss identity as well. This loss of identity integrity keeps them from experiencing in full measure any of the other aspects of the big five personality traits, which may have been their personality in its natural state.

Most cannot be genuinely open, conscientious, agreeable, or extroverted because, in this subculture, there is no place for unapproved expressions. Neuroticism quickly becomes a healthy state. Anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, guilt, depression, and loneliness become his psychological ecology, and as a consequence of these unhealthy habits arise. As in all neurotic people, dangerous behaviors, self-medication, and a disconnection from reality follow. We see “Clark, Holt, Wang, Williams, and Schulz (2017) reported that lower levels of Openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness, as well as higher Neuroticism, were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms in a sample of African American adults. In addition to personality-related variables, social capital and social support related variables impact mental health.” (Clark, Williams, Schulz, Williams, & Holt, 2018). This finding of effects on mental health for African-Americans is very appropriate and coincides with what several African-Americans feel. The cultural effects of the African-Americans environment is also a
product of willingness, is a study of Neuroticism in all in machinations. On the Big Five Personality trait scale, the African-American culture would is rated less open, more neurotic, less extraverted, more agreeable, and less contentious.

Chinese Culture

In examining the Chinese culture to determine how the culture expects individuals to
exhibit the Big Five personality, they have created their version of the test. Their version takes
into account their unique cultural insights; this test is called the Chinese Personality Assessment
Inventory or CPAI. For its relationship to the Big Five personality, we see, “The question that may be raised with the factor structure of the CPAI is whether it may be subsumed under the Big Five structure, which is purported to be universal (McCrae & Costa,1997). The comparison of the CPAI factor structure with the Big Five conducted by investigating the joint factor structure of the CPAI and measures of the Big Five. (CHEUNG, LEUNG, ZHANG, SUN, GAN, SONG, & XIE, 2001). So the CPAI model is comparable to the Big Five trait model. In the CPAI model, we see the measurements of Dependability, Chinese Tradition, Social Potency, and Individualism. The Chinese society has a significance of harmful Openness as predictors of behavior, “Among the Big Five factors, Neuroticism and (negative) Openness were the significant predictors. Also, Harmony and Ren Qing items from the CPAI significantly predicted filial piety even after controlling for the effect of the Big Five dimensions.” (CHEUNG, LEUNG, ZHANG, SUN, GAN, SONG, & XIE, 2001). Openness is a broader concept that considers the ability to be imaginative, to be receptive to different experiences, and to be able to appreciate differences in experiences. Chinese culture seems to be centered more on the obligations that the young owe to the older members of society. We see this concept play out in the culture’s insistence on filial obligations. The culture seems to expect the people to be more traditional and less open to new ideas and ways of doing things, at least from interpersonal relationships. On the Big Five Personality trait scale, the Chinese culture rated as less open, more neurotic, less extraverted, more agreeable, and more contentious.

Expression of Personality

In African-American culture, the Big Five traits displayed are less Openness, more Neuroticism, less extraversion, more agreeableness, and less contentiousness. In Chinese culture, we see less open, more neurotic, less extraverted, more agreeable, and more contentious traits. These traits are expressed differently in each group because of environmental and cultural differences. African-American culture is a product of discrimination, disenfranchisement, and a concerted effort to deny access to the aspects of the broader culture. Also, African-American culture is a sub-culture. The expression of the Big Five personality traits within this community of people who are historically denied access. Chinese culture is homogenous, the dominant culture of the land, and has been able to flourish without the constraints of discrimination and disenfranchisement of a dominant other culture over it. The Chinese culture was able to determine from its own devices which aspects of the Big Five personality traits that suited it best as it worked out historically what the people wanted it to become. The traits it has adopted are the right choice of the people in the culture without external influence. So if the people of the culture have chosen to be less open and more contentious, it has done so as a cultural choice. This information tells us that the Big Five personality traits and the CPAI are a natural outgrowth of the culture and that there must be a culturally compliant utilization of the Big Five trait test to get an accurate understanding of how the people of the culture fit. We see this with filial responsibility, which is not as pronounced in African-American culture. Instead, in African-American culture, we see difficulties surrounding issues of the incarceration of parents, particularly the father. These issues disallow a formation of deep filial identity and the intergroup cohesion we see in Chinese culture. With the lack of the father figure, it becomes difficult to form a true expression of one’s personality because a critical component of the give and take of healthy personality development is gone. The ability to coalesce the personality along genuine, identifiable Big Five personality traits is stunted and left with a frequently artificial clinging to Neuroticism and its constituent behavior patterns. We see this play out here “The plight of Black American males started around three years of age due to issues of incarceration involving parents
or other family members, stereotypes about being Black, and economics affecting the family system, which has led to a crisis due to the lack of higher education and disconnection from mainstream society for many Black American males (Butler et al., 2013).” (Taveras, 2018). As for the inability of black Americans to exhibit a fuller range of Big Five traits we see here issues raised during a focus group interaction “The men provided examples of workplace discrimination, unfair treatment by police, structural racism, and racial residential segregation (Hudson et al., 2016). The researchers expressed that the results showed that some Black men used avoidant strategies by drinking and smoking marijuana. Other Black men used active- coping strategies by seeking social support, spiritual coping, and religious coping.” (Taveras, 2018). The research illustrates the inability of participation in aspects of the Big Five traits for African-Americans and the necessity of an open discussion about the access of expression.

References:

Clark, E. M., Williams, R. M., Schulz, E., Williams, B. R., & Holt, C. L. (2018).
Personality, Social Capital, and Depressive Symptomatology Among African Americans. The
Journal of black psychology, 44(5), 422–449. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095798418780771
CHEUNG, F. M., LEUNG, K., ZHANG, J.-X., SUN, H.-F., GAN, Y.-Q., SONG, W.-Z.,
& XIE, D. (2001). INDIGENOUS CHINESE PERSONALITY CONSTRUCTS: Is the Five-
Factor Model Complete? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 4.
CHEUNG, F. M., LEUNG, K., ZHANG, J.-X., SUN, H.-F., GAN, Y.-Q., SONG, W.-Z.,
& XIE, D. (2001). INDIGENOUS CHINESE PERSONALITY CONSTRUCTS: Is the Five-
Factor Model Complete? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 4.
Taveras, O. F. (2018). Can coping strategies predict personality traits of black males?
(Order No. 10846377). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Central; ProQuest
Dissertations & Theses Global. (2099573132). Retrieved from
https://proxy1.ncu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-
com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/2099573132?accountid=28180
Taveras, O. F. (2018). Can coping strategies predict personality traits of black males?
(Order No. 10846377). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Central; ProQuest
Dissertations & Theses Global. (2099573132). Retrieved from
https://proxy1.ncu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-
com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/2099573132?accountid=28180

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