Cross‐cultural Variation in the Importance of Psychological Characteristics: A Seven‐country Study

John E. Williams, José L. Saiz, Deborah L. FormyDuval, Marci L. Munick, Ellen E. Fogle, Ahams Adom, Abdul Haque, Felix Neto, Jiayuan Yu
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 30 Issue 5

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The Psychological Importance (PI) of personality traits is defined as the degree to which they provide information useful in understanding and predicting behaviour. University students from 7 countries (Chile, China, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, and the United States) rated the PI of each of the 300 items of the Adjective Check List along a 5‐point scale. PI was shown to be a meaningful (i.e. reliable) concept in each country. Comparisons of PI ratings between pairs of countries indicated correlations ranging from 0.23 to 0.73, with a mean of 0.49 among the 7 countries. A variety of additional analyses indicated that six of the seven countries tended to group themselves into two clusters: (1) China, Nigeria, and Pakistan; and (2) Chile, Norway, and the United States. In the second cluster, trait importance had a curvilinear relationship to trait favourability (i.e. both good and bad traits may be important) whereas in the first cluster trait importance and favourability had a linear relationship (i.e. only good traits may be important). The findings were suggestive of substantial cross‐cultural differences in the importance assigned to psychological traits.

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