Current Controversies in the Study of Personality across Cultures



Research on culture and personality is thriving. In this article, I address several prominent controversies, including: (a) alternative perspectives on the relationship between culture and personality; (b) the cross-cultural universality versus specificity of personality structure; (c) whether comparisons of mean inventory profiles reveal valid cultural differences in trait levels; and (d) the importance and role of the trait concept across cultures. Greater consensus regarding the relationship between culture and personality will likely be achieved if researchers clarify which aspects of personality they are addressing (e.g., basic tendencies vs. characteristic adaptations). Recent lexical and indigenous studies have weakened consensus regarding the universality and comprehensiveness of the Five-Factor Model. The validity of cultural mean profiles remains unresolved. Research on the importance of traits across cultures provides support for both trait and cultural psychology perspectives, although more culture-comparative studies of consistency and predictive validity are needed. Suggestions for research are offered.