Personality profiles of cultures: Patterns of ethos


  • Robert R. McCrae

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Personality and Cognition, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, USA
    • NIH Biomedical Research Center, 251 Bayview Blvd., Suite 100, Room 04B329, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.
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  • This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the U.S.A.


Culture and the human mind are deeply interdependent, because they co-evolved. Personality traits were a preexisting feature of the primate mind and must have left an imprint on forms of culture. Trait taxonomies can structure ethnographies, by specifying institutions that reflect the operation of traits. Facets of ethos can be assessed by expert ratings or objective indicators. Ratings of ethos in Japan and the US were reliable and yielded plausible descriptions of culture. However, measures of ethos based on the analysis of stories were not meaningfully correlated with aggregate personality traits or national character stereotypes. Profiles of ethos may provide another axis that can be used with aggregate personality trait levels to predict behaviour and understand the operation of culture. Published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.