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Cross-cultural studies of personality traits and their relevance to psychiatry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 May 2011

Summary

Aims – This article provides a brief review of recent cross-cultural research on personality traits at both individual and culture levels, highlighting the relevance of recent findings for psychiatry. Method – In most cultures around the world, personality traits can be clearly summarized by the five broad dimensions of the Five-Factor Model (FFM), which makes it feasible to compare cultures on personality and psychopathology. Results – Maturational patterns and sex differences in personality traits generally show cultural invariance, which generates the hypothesis that age of onset, clinical evolution, and sex differences in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders might follow similar universal patterns. The average personality profiles from 51 cultures show meaningful geographical distributions and associations with culture-level variables, but are clearly unrelated to national character stereotypes. Conclusions – Aggregate personality scores can potentially be related to epidemiological data on psychiatric disorders, and dimensional personality models have implications for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment around the world.

Declaration of Interest: This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Institute on Aging. Robert R. McCrae receives royalties from the Revised NEO Personality Inventory.

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Special Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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