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Personality psychology, five factor model and online tests
Since hearing about the five factor model (FFM), i have had an interest in personality psychology. I'm very happy that someone has invented a proper test so that we can finally stop hearing about pseudoscientific tests such as those based on psychoanalytic rubbish, most commonly the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests. I was re-reading the Wikipedia page about the FFM and noticed an interesting paragraf:
Cross-cultural research has shown some patterns of gender differences on responses to the Big Five Inventory. For example, women consistently report higher Neuroticism and Agreeableness, and men often report higher extraversion and conscientiousness. Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities that are equal to those of men. Both men and women tend to grow more extraverted and conscientious and less neurotic and agreeable as cultures grow more prosperous and egalitarian, but the effect is stronger for men.
The citations are:
Costa, P.T. Jr.; Terracciano, A.; McCrae, R.R. (2001). "Gender Differences in Personality Traits Across Cultures: Robust and Surprising Findings".
Schmitt, D. P.; Realo, A.; Voracek, M.; Allik, J. (2008). "Why can't a man be more like a woman? Sex differences in Big Five personality traits across 55 cultures".
Abstract of the first paper:
Secondary analyses of Revised NEO Personality Inventory data from 26 cultures (N = 23,031) suggest that gender differences are small relative to individual variation within genders; differences are replicated across cultures for both college-age and adult samples, and differences are broadly consistent with gender stereotypes: Women reported themselves to be higher in Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Warmth, and Openness to Feelings, whereas men were higher in Assertiveness and Openness to Ideas. Contrary to predictions from evolutionary theory, the magnitude of gender differences varied across cultures. Contrary to predictions from the social role model, gender differences were most pronounced in European and American cultures in which traditional sex roles are minimized. Possible explanations for this surprising finding are discussed, including the attribution of masculine and feminine behaviors to roles rather than traits in traditional cultures.
Table with results from the paper:
Interestingly, the data fit with what was mentioned about the job market in the norwegian docu series Hjernevask (mentioned in part 1). In that, in the more egalitarian countries, there sex difference in job choice is more not less salient. Quoting from the paper:
Finally, we examined rank-order correlations between gender differentiation and national statistics in the 22 cultures for which data were available. Gender differentiation was positively associ- ated with GDP (r = .47, p < .05) and women's life expectancy (r = .57, p < .01), and negatively associated with fertility rate (r = —.56, p < .05), women's illiteracy rate (r = —.46, p < .05), and women's illiteracy rate relative to men's (r = —.48, p < .05). Gender differences in self-reported personality traits are largest in prosperous and healthy cultures where women have greater edu- cational opportunities.
Cultural Differences in Gender Differentiation Of particular interest in the present study was the puzzling finding that self-reported gender differences are more pronounced in Western, individualistic countries. These countries tend to have more progressive sex role ideologies, endorsing such items as "A women should have exactly the same freedom of action as a man" and "Swearing by a woman is no more objectionable than swear- ing by a man" (Williams & Best, 1990, p. 89). The social role model would have hypothesized that gender differences would be attenuated in progressive countries, when in fact they are magni- fied. Evolutionary theory also appears to be unable to account for this pattern; evolved species-wide characteristics ought to be uni- form across cultures. Analyses of cultural variation in gender differences showed that differentiation is both reliable and general. College-age men and women from each culture show the same magnitude of gender differences as do their adult counterparts, and cultures that show large differences on one variable tend to show large differences on others.
- Abstract of the second paper:
Previous research suggested that sex differences in personality traits are larger in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities equal with those of men. In this article, the authors report cross-cultural findings in which this unintuitive result was replicated across samples from 55 nations (N 17,637). On responses to the Big Five Inventory, women reported higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness than did men across most nations. These findings converge with previous studies in which different Big Five measures and more limited samples of nations were used. Overall, higher levels of human development—including long and healthy life, equal access to knowledge and education, and economic wealth—were the main nation-level predictors of larger sex differences in personality. Changes in men’s personality traits appeared to be the primary cause of sex difference variation across cultures. It is proposed that heightened levels of sexual dimorphism result from personality traits of men and women being less constrained and more able to naturally diverge in developed nations. In less fortunate social and economic conditions, innate person- ality differences between men and women may be attenuated.
The most interesting data from the paper is summarized in this picture:
One thing bugs me about both papers, and that is the lack of focus on differences between populations/cultures that are due to genetics of those living there. Human populations are not identical. We know that there are genetic intelligence differences, perhaps there are also genetic personality differences? Is there any data on american whites vs. blacks?