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Abstract

What is the relation between culture and personality? I argue that to address this question, it is necessary to meet five criteria: (1) to identify universal principles of human functioning that underlie both culture and personality; (2) to treat those principles at different levels of analysis for culture and personality; (3) to define culture and personality in terms of those principles in a manner that maintains the integrity of these concepts; (4) to select specific psychological factors that, because of their survival value, are present in every culture and individual, although to varying degrees; and (5) to postulate how different cultures and personalities emerge from variability in the predominance of those specific psychological factors. I then propose that these criteria can be met by identifying specific human motives that are both universal and vary across individuals, situations, and groups. I propose a five-step model that describes how cultures influence the personalities that emerge among its members, with particular emphasis on the human-defining period of development between 3 and 6 years of age, and how those personalities in turn influence the culture (from effects of regulatory fit). As initial support for the model, evidence is reviewed for commonality among cultures in the existence of promotion, prevention, locomotion, and assessment motives; for variability across cultures in the predominance of these motives as modal personalities; and for universality in the relations between each motive and Big Five and self-esteem trait characteristics. Combining the latter universal relations with the cultural variability in modal personalities yields cultural differences in manners of goal pursuit.