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Culture and Personality Processes: Conceptual and Methodological Issues

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  1. Culture and Personality Processes:Conceptual and Methodological Issues Veronica Benet-Martinez University of California at Riverside, USA Universitat Rovira i Virgili March 23-25, 2010

  2. March 23: Culture and Personality: What and How to Research it March 24: Culture and Personality Taxonomies March 25: The Dynamic Interplay of Cultural Identity, Language, and Personality

  3. Academic Bio: • August 1989 Graduated in psych from UAB • 1989-1990 Move to USA: Au-pair for family in Davis (California) • 1990-1995 Ph.D. in Social-Personality Psychology at UC Davis • 1995-1997 Postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley (IPSR) • 1998-2003 Assistant Professor at Univ. of Michigan (Ann Arbor) • 2003-now Associate Professor at UC Riverside • Fall 2010 ICREA professor at Pompeu Fabra Univ.


  5. DAY 1 Culture and Personality: What it is and How to Research it *Required Readings: Ozer, D., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401-421. Benet-Martínez, V. (2007). Cross-cultural personality research: Conceptual and methodological issues. In R.W. Robins, R.C. Fraley, & R. Krueger (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in personality psychology. New York, NY: Guildford Press.

  6. Culture and Personality: What and How 1. PERSONALITY –Definitional issues Personality is consequential (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006) 2. CULTURE --Definitional issues: Culture, race, ethnicity; Cultural & Cross-cultural psychology; Cultural syndromes 3. CULTURE PERSONALITY CULTURE Inseparability of culture & psyche 4. Benefits of cultural social/personality studies

  7. Every person is in certain respects like all other people, like some other person, like no other person.(Kluckhohn & Murray, 1948) One of my favorite quotes ….

  8. 3 Levels of Personality Analysis …like all others = Human nature level (universal) …like some others = Group level …like no others = Individual level Every human being is… PERSONALITY Psychology

  9. DO YOU FIND THESE QUESTIONS INTERESTING? • Why we are all different from each other? • Where do these differences come from? • How can we best measure and organize these differences? • What do people really want/desire/need? • How would I be different if I had grown up in a different culture? With a different gender/race/social class?

  10. PERSONALITY: • Each of us is unique • We are not unique in random ways • That thread of consistency within each of us is personality! • Non-technical definition of personality: • A person’s general style of interacting with the world

  11. My favorite (technical) definition of personality: “Dynamicorganization within the individual of those psychophysiological systems that ‘determine’ his/her characteristicpattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings”(Gordon Allport) -Dynamic -->active -Organization -->system, rather than an accumulation of charact. -Psychophysical -->mental and physiological -Determine -->causal force (influences what we do) -Characteristic -->unique and typical for each individual -Pattern -->consistent style -Behaviors, etc -->multidimensional

  12. Four types of units within the PERSONALITY SYSTEM Stable Variable Inner, private 2. Cognition e.g. schemas, beliefs, ideals Major theorists: Kelly, Mischel 3. Motivation e.g. motives, goals, defenses Major theorists: Freud, McClelland Outer, obsverbable 1. Traits & Temperament e.g. extraversion, neuroticism Major theorists: Jung, Eysenck 4. Social Context e.g., culture, ethnicity, power, gender Major theorists: Markus, Stewart Winter, D.G. (1996). Personality: Analysis and Interpretation of Lives.

  13. Personality: Units & Approaches • Psychoanalytic, Humanistic = MOTIVES [unconscious, conflict, neuroses] • Cognitive = COGNITIONS [conscious, beliefs, schemas] • Lexical, Biological, Evolutionary = TRAITS [differences, description, classification] [biology, evolution, genes] • Learning, Cultural = CONTEXT [environmental rewards and punishment, experience]

  14. FOUR MAJOR TYPES OF UNITS IN PERSONALITYPSYCHOLOGY • MOTIVES • -Intentions, desires, goals behind behavior • -Causal (vs. descriptive) personality units • (e.g., intimacy, affiliation, power, achievement motives) • COGNITIONS • -Information we handle in living in this world (beliefs, attitudes, values, schemas) and how we take it/use it (e.g., optimist-pessimist, flexible-rigid)

  15. FOUR MAJOR TYPES OF UNITS IN PERSONALITYPSYCHOLOGY • TRAITS • -Observable dispositions, habits to do things in certain ways (e.g. extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness) • -Stable and largely influenced by temperament • -Descriptive (vs. causal) personality units • CONTEXT • -The environment/context that channels the expression of the other 3 units (personality doesn’t exist in isolation) • -Micro (weather, hunger, other people) and macrocontext (race, gender, culture, institutions)

  16. MICRO-CONTEXT MACRO-CONTEXT (e.g., gender, SES, power, race, culture, history) MICRO-CONTEXT immediate features of the environment (e.g., physical and subjective features of situation, emotional states, group pressures)

  17. Examples of social context:

  18. How do these four elements work? • They all interact in predicting behavior • Researchers tend to focus on one or two at the time (focus of convenience). • Personality as a homeostatic system: • >traits (default, baseline) • >cognitions (information to operate the ‘machine’) • >motives (directionality, tasks) • >context (outside pressures) • …..when the machine breaks down or losses homeostasis we have a problem! (feelings of depression, anxiety, adjustment problems)

  19. Microcontext Personality Macrocontext

  20. (Buss, 1987) Selection of certain environments PERSONALITYManipulation of the environment Reactions from others

  21. Summary of the relation between personality traits and consequential outcomes (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006; ARP)

  22. Note: (-) indicates a negative relation between the trait and outcome.

  23. Microcontext Personality CULTURE Macrocontext

  24. CULTURE: Shared systems of meaning that provide the standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, communicating, and acting among those who share a language, a historic period, and a geographic location (Shweder & LeVine, 1984). • Subjective culture (vs. objective culture: dress, food, music, buildings etc.) • Culture is multi-dimensional and dynamic • Culture = network of procedural and declarative knowledge

  25. Useful metaphor: culture = game rules Does John from Iowa know the rules of this game?

  26. Cultural Syndromes • (TAXONOMY OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES) • 2 BIG basic dimensions of cultural difference: (Triandis, Hofstede) • Individualism/Collectivism: extent to which the self is defined as a bound and separate (vs. fluid and interdependent). • Vertical/Horizontal Relationships: emphasis on hierarchy and status versus equality

  27. SELF INDIVIDUALISM  INDEPENDENT SELF Western world Judeo-Christian tradition (Protestant ethic) Focus is on individual freedom and personal pursuits and self expression

  28. SELF COLLECTIVISM INTER-DEPENDENT SELF Non-Western/Anglo world Confucian/Catholic/Muslim tradition Focus is on the collective goals over individual goals, needs of society


  30. Culture  RaceEthnicity e.g. Culture = N. American culture [macro] e.g. Ethnicity = Hispanics [group] e.g. Race = Black [biology]


  32. Personality as a product of biological and socio-cultural influences CULTURE  PERSONALITY “Personality is completely interdependent with the meanings and practices of particular sociocultural contexts. People develop their personalities over time through their active participation in the various social worlds in which they engage. A cultural psychological perspective implies that there is no personality without culture; there is only a biological entity.“ (Markus & Kitayama, 1998)

  33. “We are forced to conclude that human nature is almost unbelievable malleable, responding accurately and contrastingly to contrasting cultural conditions.” (Mead, 1935, p. 280)But Mead (1954) also observed that “… the individual’s inclination to respond in a certain ways is relatively stable when the cultural context is understood.”  CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY helps us at ‘seeing’ personality

  34. PERSONALITY  CULTURE • … and there is no culture without personality. • Personality meaning resides within/between people as well as in artifacts they use (e.g., living spaces, consumer preferences, preferred icons, etc.) and institutions they support (Hollywood, capitalism, etc.). • [personality  culture] Commercial brandsliving spacescultural iconsmusic preferences (Aaker & Benet-Martinez, 2001) (Gosling et al., 2002) (Hong et al., 2000) (Rentfrow & Gosling, 2003) The use and availability of these cultural products, in turn, perpetuates particular behavioral, affective, and cognitive tendencies (personality). [culture  personality]

  35. Cultural Studies in Personality PsychologyKEY GENERAL QUESTIONS:As people of varying cultures and ethnicities, how are we different and how are we alike?[DIFFERENCES] CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGYHow do culture and ethnicity shape our identities and personalities?How does personality/behavior influence culture?[PROCESSES] CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY

  36. Benefits of cultural social/personality studies: = help elucidate how macro- and micro-contextual factors mediate and moderate personality outcomes (e.g., Schimmack, Radhakrishnan, Oishi, Dzokoto, & Ahadi, 2002; JPSP) = help dispel shaky cultural stereotypes (e.g., Terracciano, McCrae, Brant, & Costa, 2005; Science) = Test the generalizability of our theories (e.g., Benet­Martinez & John, 1998; JPSP). = Are methodologically fun! -> reliance on multiple languages, samples, and covariates (Benet-Martinez, 2007; HRMSP).

  37. Schimmack et al. (2002, JPSP)

  38. Benet-Martinez & Karakitapoglu (2003). The interplay of cultural values and personality in predicting life-satisfaction.Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology • Examine interplay between personality and cultural syndromes in predicting subjective well-being (SWB) among Anglos and Asians: • Do cultural syndromes predict variations on personality traits, which in turn predict SWB? • (‘Cultural valuesPersonality SWB’ model) PHENOTYPIC VIEW • OR • Do personality traits drive the internalization of cultural syndromes, which in turn predict SWB? • (‘Personality Cultural values SWB’ model) GENOTYPIC VIEW • Ethnic differences in these processes? (e.g., individualism as stronger predictor of SWB among Caucasians)

  39. Differences support cross-national studies (Oyserman et al., 2002; Kwan et al., 1997)

  40. Do cultural syndromes predict variations on personality traits, which in turn predict SWB?(‘Cultural syndromesPersonality SWB’ model)ORDo personality traits drive the endorsement of cultural syndromes, which in turn predict SWB?(‘Personality Cultural syndromes SWB’ model)---method: multi-group SEM analyses

  41. Final Model: Cultural values  Personality traits  SWB RMSEA = .060, CFI = .96 MULTI-GROUP RESULTS Cons. .21 .29 Self-Esteem -.53 -.41 Neur. .57 Individu. .17 .63 -.24 Life Satisfac. Open. .23 Friends Satisfac. .60 .44 Extr. .21 .20 Collecti. .44 Family Satisfac. Agre. .27 [competing personality-culture model of SWB = RMSEA = .14, NNFI = .67, CFI = .82]

  42. Conclusions • ‘Cultural valuesPersonalitySWB’ model fitted the data better than ‘PCSWB’ model • Cultural norms & values influences the endorsement and expression of personality traits • Individualism (vs. collectiv.) & self-esteem (vs. relational-esteem) were strongest predictors of personality & life-satisfaction (respectively) for both groups. • All the processes worked similarly across Asian-and European-Americans (despite the large ethnic mean-level differences). • Indicative of a particular Asian-American bicultural identity stage? (internalization of US-specific psychosocial processes while keeping Asian features)