When we think about psychology, we tend to imagine the brain, how it works and how it malfunctions to cause abnormalities among individuals contained within a culture. When we think about culture, we tend to think about a group of people who share similarities in life. These similarities how we think an individual’s mentality is influenced by the culture and environment he or she belongs (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). When we think about personality, we think of the qualities and characteristics that form an individual’s demeanor and give them individuality among others (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). You may be wondering what cause’s personality differences among individuals.
Curious by nature, I wonder what creates individuality, or personality. Personality can be explained through trait theories that are distinguishing characteristics that remain constant in the individual (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). Personality can also be defined by identity, or our perceived roles in life, values, motives, and life experiences (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). Personality is a multi-dimensional construct that forces an individual to stand out from the crowd as beliefs, ethics, morals, and values evolve forming our mentalities in life (McCrae & John, 1990).
Over the past few decades, many have turned o believe that personality contains five factors that ultimately explain the relationship between culture and personality (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). Extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience are personality traits universal to all humans (“Five Factor Personality Test”). These characteristics seem to adhere in culture and cross-culturally as an explanation for individual personality, as culture inevitably aids in determining one’s mentality (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Extraversion refers to the amount an individual seeks the company of others and how well they handle social situations (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Agreeableness refers to the perception one has of others, and the ability one has to interact with others (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Conscientiousness reflects our organization and persistence (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Neuroticism emphasizes the individual’s emotional feelings of negativity (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Openness to experience is an individual’s interest in culture and having an open mind (“Five Factor Personality Test”).
I found it interesting that all five of these traits can be universal among all cultures. How could it be that even though our thoughts differ, we maintain the same traits? According to Matsumoto and Juang, researchers have conducted many studies that aim to prove the credence of the five-factor model (2013). In doing research, cultural similarities were implicated as well as cultural differences (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). Additionally, differences were also reported culturally and cross-culturally which implicates the individualism involved in personality (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). The research proves a stability in the five traits implicating that cultures, although have differing beliefs, maintain the same traits of personality (McCrae & John, 1990).
Another curiosity evolved in me. I wonder how exactly can a simple test establish the extent of one’s individuality? Doing research, I found the same explanation: Personality evolves from a cultural belief system that alters throughout the lifespan (McCrae & John, 1990). As the individual matures, however, the same fundamental traits remain intact and only evolve in strength (McCrae & John, 1990). I decided to dig in and complete my own personal research. I stumbled across the Five-Factor Personality test . I took the test twice, the first time, I was just curious and mellow tempered without a lot of chaos (“Five Factor Personality Test”). The results yielded average extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness (“Five Factor Personality Test”). However, I scored high in agreeableness and openness (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Initially, I believed what the results yielded and began writing this blog. However, an eruption in my personal life put my writing on hold. I started writing again at deadline time under an enormous amount of stress that took me away from the paper. So I retook the test. My results yielded high neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness (“Five Factor Personality Test”). However, my extraversion and agreeableness score was now low (“Five Factor Personality Test”). Nothing was average the second test. Not that I do not believe in the validity or accuracy of the results, but there was a fluctuation in the results (“Five Factor Personality Test”). I believe tbased on an individual’s personal emotions and life experience at the time of the test taking. The first results I attribute to experiencing a fair mood with little or average stress. The second, I attribute to the extreme stress I was experiencing, not just because my blog is late, but also the stressful life experiences I was dealing with as well.
Although personality testing has been around for as long as personality psychology branched into its field, many denied the validity it held (McCrae & John, 1990). It was believed impossible that all humans hold the same traits in any aspect that is the reason that we all differ in mentality (McCrae & John, 1990). However, personality psychologists began implementing testing that correlated across cultures, but all seem to yield similar results with varying levels of degree (McCrae & John, 1990). As tests were adapted to appeal to the different cultural beliefs, the same five traits were apparent among all cultures: Neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness (McCrae & John, 1990).
Individualism defines who we are mentally and physically. We are born into the world as an infant and provided a foundation upon which we are built. This foundation gives us beliefs, ethics, and morals that deviate who we are cultural. The environment of which we come from aids in providing experiences that evolve our personality as we mature in life. Although the degrees of our beliefs vary, we still stand on the foundation of these five traits that make up a universal position of personality.
Five Factor Personality Test. Retrieved from http://www.personalitytest.org.uk/
Matsumoto, D., & Juang, L. (2013) An introduction to culture and psychology (5th ed) Wadsworth Cengage Learning Inc.
McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1990, October 1). An Introduction to the Five-Factor Model and Its Applications. 175-215. Retrieved from http://www.workplacebullying.org/multi/pdf/5factor-theory.pdf