Given that humans are of the same species, we have some alike personality traits regardless of culture. They are referred to as the big five personality traits and consist of; conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, openness and neuroticism. These are personality traits that will be found in every culture. Just as there is universal personality traits, there is also cultural specific personality traits. The following essay discusses two personality traits that are considered universal and two that are considered culture specific.
Neuroticism is a universal trait that is characterized by worry, jealousy, anxiety and moodiness. Neurotics are more prone to mental disorders such as depression, panic disorder, phobia and many other anxiety disorders (Matsumoto, 2001). They are often self-conscious and shy and usually have trouble delaying gratification. They lack good ability to respond to stress and are likely to interpret harmless situations as threatening and to feel hopeless and helpless in case of failure. The universal personality trait of extraversion represents talkative, outgoing and energetic behavior (John, Robins & Pervin, 2008). It is grouped together with the trait of introversion which refers to solitary, reserved behavior. To be high on extraversion means one is low on introversion. Extroverts tend to be satisfied and happy with their life as compared to neurotics.
Despite the universal personality traits there exists culture specific traits such as altruism and absorption. Altruism is the trait of caring about the welfare of others (John, Robins & Pervin, 2008). It varies across different cultures and is largely influenced by whether a culture is individualistic or collectivist. Japanese for instance are high on altruism while Americans are much lower. Absorption is the trait whereby and individual gets absorbed in their mental thoughts and imagery. Individuals from the American culture are more likely to possess this personality trait.
Culture has a huge influence on personality as it determines the norms and values and individual will conform to. It plays a huge role on the formation of self- identity. Factors of culture that influence personality development include; norms, child rearing practices, values and beliefs. A scholar who has absorption as one of his/her personality traits is likely to perform more comprehensive research as absorption is largely associated with openness to experience. On the other hand a practitioner who is altruistic is likely to find some cultures harsh when conducting research since not all cultures care about the well-being of other people.
Humans may have some personality traits that are universal but some personality traits are specific to certain cultures. However, personality trait development is influenced by more than just culture. Other factors such as gender, environment and class are also involved in the development of personality traits.
John, O., Robins, R., & Pervin, L. (2008). Handbook of personality: theory and research. New
York: Guilford press.
Matsumoto, D. R. (2001). The handbook of culture & psychology. New York: Oxford University