Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 90
Cultural psychology/cultural differences/generalizability/five-factor model/personality traits/Deary: The applicability of the Five-Factor Model to other cultures and language groups has been questioned, and the model has largely done well in this sphere too. The NEO Personality Inventory-Revised has been translated into many different languages. In a study of twenty-six cultures, many non-Western, McCrae (2001)(1) reported that factor analyses retrieved very similar structures of personality description. A later report, in which almost 12,000 students in fifty cultures rated another person’s traits, found good agreement with regard to the American self-report structure (McCrae and 79 others 2005)(2). This study found similar sex and age differences across cultures. Eysenck’s personality questionnaires perform well on this type of cross-cultural comparison too (e.g., Eysenck and Eysenck 1982)(3).
A. This type of research is known as the ‘etic’ approach, in which a personality personality questionnaire developed in one culture (usually Western) is translated and applied to others.
B. The other type of research is ‘emic’, which starts with the culture’s own lexicon and asks if a similar personality structure is found in each. Peabody and De Raad’s (2002)(4) summary of emic research was that the ‘effort to achieve Big Five universality has been overextended’. They found the best generality across cultures for >Conscientiousness, >Extraversion and >Agreeableness.
See also >language/psychological theories, >Five-Factor Model.


1. McCrae, R. R. 2001. Trait psychology and culture: exploring intercultural comparison, Journal of Personality 69: 819–46
2. McCrae, R. R. and 79 others 2005. Universal features of personality traits from the observer’s perspective: data from 50 cultures, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88: 547–61
3. Eysenck, H. J. and Eysenck, S. B. G. 1982. Recent advances in the cross-cultural study of personality, in C. D. Spielberger and J. N. Butcher (eds.), Advances in personality assessment, pp. 41–69. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
4. Peabody, D. and De Raad, B. 2002. The substantive nature of psycholexical personality factors: a comparison across languages, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 83: 983–97


Ian J. Deary, “The trait approach to personality”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Deary, Ian J.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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