Personality Trait Structure as a Human Universal
Robert R. McCrae and Paul T. Costa, Jr.
National Institute on Aging
Patterns of covariation among personality traits in
English-speaking populations can be summarized by the
five-factor model (FFM). To assess the cross-cultural
generalizability of the FFM, data from studies using 6
translations of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory
(P. T. Costa & R. R. McCrae, 1992) were compared with
the American factor structure. German, Portuguese, He-
brew, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese samples (N =
7,134) showed similar structures after varimax rotation
of 5 factors. When targeted rotations were used, the
American factor structure was closely reproduced, even
at the level of secondary loadings. Because the samples
studied represented highly diverse cultures with lan-
guages from 5 distinct language families, these data
strongly suggest that personality trait structure is
found impact on individual psychology (Markus &
Kitayama, 1991). More recently, however, progress in
evolutionary psychology (Konner, 1991) and behavior ge-
netics (Loehlin, 1992) has provided a rationale for exam-
ining universals of human nature that transcend cultural
differences. This article reviews recent evidence that sug-
gests that the structure of individual differences in per-
sonality is uniform across several cultures and may in
fact be universal. Common dimensions of personality
may thus provide a framework for understanding cultural
All human languages (Dixon, 1977) contain terms
to characterize personality traits--relatively enduring
styles of thinking, feeling, and acting. By personality
structure trait, psychologists mean the pattern of covaria-
tion among these traits, usually summarized in terms of
a relatively small number of factors that represent the
basic dimensions of personality. For example, in English-
speaking cultures, people who are sociable are generally
also energetic and cheerful, and these traits together de-
fine a dimension usually called extraversion (H. J.
Eysenck & Eysenck, 1967).
If personality traits are arbitrarily shaped by cul-
ture-for example, by child rearing practices, religious
and moral values, and the apperceptual system encoded in
each different language--then very different personality
traits and trait structures might be found in different cul-
tures. If, however, personality traits represent variations
raditionally, anthropologists and cross-cultural psy-
chologists have emphasized the tremendous diver-
sity of human cultural institutions and their pro-
in basic human ways of acting and experiencing, the
structure might be universal. Universality might be attrib-
uted to specieswide biological bases of traits, or it might
represent a purely psychological consequence of the
shared human experiences of living in groups, using ab-
stract thought, or being conscious of our own mortality.
Cross'-cultural studies of personality using transla-
tions of English-language questionnaires have been con-
ducted for many years (e.g., Bond, Nakazato, & Shiraishi,
1975) andhave often shown evidence of replicable fac-
tors (S. B. G. Eysenck, 1983). Yet these studies were in
one sense premature, because until recently there was no
consensus among personality psychologists on what the
basic structure of personality was in English-speaking
populations. Were there three factors (S. B. G. Eysenck,
1983), eight (Comrey, 1970), or sixteen (Cattell, Eber, &
Many psychologists are now convinced that the best
representation of trait structure is provided by the five-
factor model (FFM; Digman, 1990; but see Block, 1995,
for a dissenting view). According to the FFM, most per-
sonality traits can be described in terms of five basic
dimensions, called Neuroticism versus Emotional Stabil-
ity (N); Extraversion or Surgency (E); Openness to Expe-
rience or Intellect, Imagination, or Culture (O); Agree-
ableness versus Antagonism (A); and Conscientiousness
or Will to Achieve (C). These dimensions can be found
in trait adjectives as well as in questionnaires created
to operationalize a variety of personality theories
(McCrae & John, 1992).
Each of these factors represents the common vari-
ance among a large set of more specific traits or facets.
The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R;
Cheryl B. Travis served as action editor for this article.
Stress, and Coping Section, Gerontology Research Center, National
Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD.
Cross-cultural data reanalyzed in this article were generously pro-
vided by Fritz Ostendorf and Alois Angleitner in Germany; Margarida
Pedroso de Lima and Ant6nio Sim6es in Portugal; Itzhak Montag and
Joseph Levin in Israel; Michael H. Bond in Hong Kong; Kyoung-irn
Lee and Chang-kyu Alan in South Korea; and Yoshiko Shimonaka,
Katsuharu Nakazato, Yasuyuki Gondo, and Midori Takayama in Japan.
We thank Michael H. Bond, Fritz Ostendorf, and Jian Yang for com-
ments on a draft of this article~
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Robert R. McCrae, Personality, Stress, and Coping Section, Gerontol-
ogy Research Center, National Institute on Aging, 4940 Eastern Avenue,
Baltimore, MD 21224. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to
je ffm @ mvx.grc.nia.nih.gov.
Robert R. McCrae and Paul T. Costa, Jr., Personality,
May 1997 • American Psychologist
In the public domain
Vol. 52, No. 5, 509-516
Costa & McCrae, 1992) was developed to operationalize
the FFM by assessing 30 specific facets, 6 for each factor.
The factor structure of these 30 scales has been widely
replicated in English (e.g., Piedmont, 1994), with similar
factors found in men and women, older and younger
adults, and White and non-White subsamples (Costa,
McCrae, & Dye, 1991). Because the instrument has been
translated into a number of different languages, it can be
used to investigate the cross-language generalizability of
Language and Personality
Personality and its assessment are intimately bound with
natural language. All human cultures include words for
describing individual differences in personality, and a
large part of the process of socialization consists of learn-
ing these terms and how they are applied to oneself and
others. Unlike physical characteristics, personality traits
are abstractions that cannot be directly measured and
must instead be inferred from complex patterns of overt
and covert behavior. Human judges are needed to make
these inferences, and in psychological studies, they typi-
cally do so by responding to checklists or questionnaire
statements that use natural language. Even technical judg-
ments, such as psychiatric diagnoses, ultimately rely on
natural language: To diagnose a narcissistic personality
disorder, one must understand the meaning of such terms
as grandiose, exploitative, envious, and arrogant (Ameri-
can Psychiatric Association, 1994).
The lexical approach to personality structure (Gold-
berg, 1981) adopts the hypothesis that because personal-
ity traits are so central to human interactions, all im-
portant traits will have been encoded in natural language.
Thus, an analysis of trait language should yield the struc-
ture of personality itself. The FFM was originally identi-
fied in analyses that began with lists of trait terms derived
from the English-language dictionaries, and one way to
look for universal trait dimensions has been to conduct
psycholexical studies in a variety of languages.
Results of such studies to date have been mixed.
The FFM is clearly recovered in studies of German traits
(Ostendorf, 1990), but only four of the five factors were
found in an analysis of Hungarian adjectives (De Raad &
Szirm,~, 1994). Yang and Bond (1990) found five factors
in Chinese trait terms, but they did not show a one-to-
one correspondence with the dimensions of the FFM.
Church and Katigbak (1989) reported similar findings in
Tagalog, a Philippine language.
These studies might be interpreted as evidence that
personality structure varies appreciably across cultures;
alternatively, they might mean that the lexical approach
has certain limitations as a strategy for the study of per-
sonality structure. It is simply not the case that all person-
ality traits are encoded as adjectives. The English lan-
guage, for example, contains no single trait adjective for
such well-known traits as need for variety and tolerance
of ambiguity. Cultures select a limited range from among
the spectrum of personality traits to encode in their lexi-
con, and they may select differently. Languages differ
not only in the precise trait terms they include (as every
translator knows) but more broadly in the aspects of
personality their vocabularies emphasize (Angleitner, Os-
tendorf, & John, 1990). Lexical studies thus confound
differences in personality structure with differences in
To examine cross-cultural differences in structure
per se, it is necessary to hold the assessment of personal-
ity constant by measuring the same traits in each culture.
That, of course, is easier said than done; finding the exact
equivalent for a single word in another language is often
impossible. But meaning can usually be conveyed at the
level of phrases or sentences, and questionnaires, which
use conditional and contextualized statements to assess
personality, may be more cross-culturally transportable
than are lists of adjectives. When translated, personality
scales may provide a roughly equivalent set of variables
and make it possible to ask whether the relations among
these variables are invariant across cultures.
A Stratified Sample of Languages
Because some 4,000 human languages are spoken, it is
impossible to establish directly the universality of person-
ality structure. There are hologeistic methods designed
to allow worldwide generalizations (Naroll, Michik, &
NaroU, 1980), provided that a relatively large sample of
cultures is studied. However, given the small and nonran-
dora selection of languages into which most personality
questionnaires have been translated, those methods are
not directly applicable.
As it happens, however, the NEO-PI-R has been
translated into languages from several different language
families. Language families are groups of languages with
a common historical origin that have cognate terms and
share certain features of grammar and syntax. They con-
stitute, therefore, a meaningful basis for stratification in
sampling the world's languages. In this article, we exam-
510 May 1997 • American Psychologist
Paul T. Costa,
Photograph by NIA
ine the factor structure of the NEO-PI-R translated into
German (a language, like English, from the Germanic
branch of the Indo-European family), Portuguese (from
the Italic branch of Indo-European), Hebrew (a Hamito-
Semitic language), Chinese (from the Sino-Tibetan fam-
ily), Korean, and Japanese. These latter two languages
are generally not classified in any family, although Ko-
rean shares some features of the Altaic languages (like
Turkish and Mongolian), and some scholars have noted
resemblances between Japanese and Austronesian (e.g.,
Samoan) and Austro-Asiatic (e.g., Khmer) languages
("Languages of the World," 1993). 1
If, as Sapir (1921) argued, reality is structured by
the language one speaks, and if personality traits in par-
ticular are social constructions (Hampson, 1988), then
radically different languages might be expected to lead
to very different construals of personality. By sampling
across language families, we test the limits of generaliz-
ability of the FFM.
Other Cultural Differences
The seven societies compared in the present study differ,
of course, in many respects other than simply language.
Historically, Hebrew, Portuguese, and German cultures
were shaped by Judeo-Christian traditions and Japanese,
Chinese, and Korean cultures by Buddhist and Confucian
traditions. Germany and Japan are relatively wealthy so-
cieties; Portugal and South Korea are not. The United
States and Japan currently have political systems that
emphasize individual civil rights, whereas South Korea
and Israel--both under threat of regional conllict--do
not (see Diener, Dienet; & Diener, 1995).
Perhaps more relevant to personality structure are
cultural differences in social norms, attitudes, and values.
Smith, Dugan, and Trompenaars (1996), for example,
surveyed values of managers and organization employees
in 43 countries. Multidimensional scaling showed that
Japan, Hong Kong, and especially South Korea scored
low on a dimension of egalitarian commitment versus
conservatism, whereas Portugal, Germany, and the United
States scored high. Similarly, Schwartz (1994) used
teacher ratings of values to rank 38 cultural groups on
culture-level value dimensions and found that Hong Kong
scored relatively high on conservatism, whereas West
Germany scored high on autonomy.
The most widely researched cultural variable is indi-
vidualism-collectivism: "Overwhelming evidence indi-
cates differences in basic psychological processes be-
tween collectivistic and individualistic contexts" (Kagit-
~iba~i & Berry, 1989, p. 516). Diener et al. (1995)
reported ratings by H. C. Triandis of the individualism-
collectivism of 55 countries on a scale from 1 to 10. The
samples examined in the present article are distributed
across most of that range: South Korea (3), Japan (4),
Portugal (5), Israel (6), West Germany (8), and the United
States (10). If distinctly different personality factors are
found in these different samples, cultural differences in
conservatism or collectivism might suggest possible ex-
planations (cf. Betancourt & L6pez, 1993). However, the
finding of similar factors in all these samples despite
the profound differences of language and culture would
provide strong evidence of the universality of personality
Data from seven factor structures were compared. The
basis for comparisons was the normative data for the
NEO-PI-R, a sample of 500 men and 500 women aged
21 and over, selected to match U.S. Census (U.S. Depart-
ment of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1984) projec-
tions with respect to age and race. They were, however,
somewhat better educated than the American population
in general (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
The German sample included 642 men and 646
women (plus 36 respondents with gender not reported)
aged 15 to 83 who were friends and relatives recruited
by psychology students. About 60% of the participants
were students (Ostendorf & Angleitner, 1994). Portu-
guese data were from 861 men and 1,133 women (and
6 with unreported gender) aged 17 to 84, from the Leiria
region of Portugal. The full range of socioeconomic and
educational levels were represented; the questionnaire
was administered orally to participants who were unable
to read it themselves (M. P. Lima & A. Simtes, personal
communication, January 1, 1995).
Two job applicant samples (396 men, mean age =
28.4; 539 women, aged 17 or 18) completed the Hebrew
1 Some Westerners may suppose that Chinese and Japanese are
similar, but "the two languages are entirely different. Chinese is a
monosyllabic language with musical tones to distinguish the many iden-
tical syllables. In its classical form at least, Chinese is a language of
great compactness. Japanese, on the other hand, is polysyllabic, has no
tones like the Chinese, and . . . is a language of interminable senten-
ces" (Keene, 1955, p. 2).
May 1997 • American Psychologist 511
translation of the NEO-PI-R (Montag & Levin, 1994).
The Chinese version was administered to undergraduate
psychology students (161 men and 191 women) who re-
ceived research credit for their participation (McCrae,
Costa, & Yik, 1996; McCrae, Zonderman, Costa,
Bond, & Paunonen, 1996).
The Korean NEO-PI-R was completed by 1,234
men and 1,087 women (plus 2 with unreported gender)
who were all college freshmen (Lee, 1995). The Japanese
sample consisted of 200 college students (54 men and 146
women). A principal-axis factor analysis was reported
by Gondo, Shimonaka, Nakazato, Ishihara, and Imuta
(1993); for the present purposes, principal components
were examined (Y. Shimonaka, personal communication,
June 1, 1995). Note that factor structures for the Chinese
and Japanese samples are also discussed elsewhere
(McCrae, Zonderman, et al., 1996).
The NEO-PI-R is a 240-item questionnaire designed
through rational and factor analytic methods to operation-
alize the FFM. Each of the five factors is represented by
six specific traits, or facets (see Table 1 for a list of facets
and their classification). Responses are made on a 5-point
scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree; data on
the reliability, stability, and validity of the facets and
factors are summarized in the manual (Costa & McCrae,
All translations were made by native speakers with
training in psychology. After completing a translation, a
back-translation into English was prepared by a second
translator (blind to the original English) and reviewed by
the test authors. Items (typically less than 10% of the
240) that appeared to have strayed from their intended
meaning were reviewed and revised by the translator. 2
The revised items were again back-translated and revised
as needed. Translators were encouraged to preserve the
meaning of the item even if that involved minor changes
in the literal content. In some cases, a few items (e.g.,
15 items in the Chinese version) were revised after pilot
Although a number of statistical techniques have been
used to assess the psychometric equivalence of transla-
tions (Butcher & Han, 1996), the most common is a
comparison of factor structures. Factor analysis identifies
clusters of variables that are mutually related and rela-
tively independent of other variables; thus, factor loadings
speak to the convergent and discriminant validity of vari-
ables. If a translated instrument shows the same factor
structure as the original, it is likely that construct validity
of the constituent scales has been maintained.
There are several different methods for factoring and
for evaluating replicability. Recent work with confirma-
tory factor analysis (Church & Burke, 1994) suggests that
it may not be the optimal method for studying personality
structure. McCrae, Zonderman, et al. (1996) argued that
congruence coefficients between varimax-rotated princi-
pal components from two samples provide a direct and
familiar way to assess factor similarity. In addition, how-
ever, they proposed that targeted rotation of the translated
scales may be useful by showing how closely the struc-
ture can be aligned with the original factors. They also
offered Monte Carlo-based statistics for evaluating the
significance of congruence coefficients for both factors
and variables after targeted rotation.
When factored, the facet scales of the NEO-PI-R
do not exhibit simple structure. Although each facet
ought to load primarily on the factor to which it is as-
signed, secondary loadings are also expected for many
facets. For example, N2: Angry Hostility generally has a
negative secondary loading on Factor A: People who are
often angry find it difficult to get along with others.
Again, Assertiveness is considered a facet of E, but in
American samples it consistently shows secondary load-
ings on three other factors. Assertive people are not only
extraverted, they also tend to be self-confident (low N),
domineering (low A), and ambitious (high C).
These nuances of meaning are particularly useful for
assessing the cross-cultural replicability of personality
structure. The six facets of E are not interchangeable
markers of a single factor; they are distinctive traits, rec-
ognizable from their secondary loadings on other factors.
El: Warmth should show a positive loading on the A
factor, whereas E5: Excitement Seeking should show a
negative loading. Preservation of such secondary loadings
would suggest universality not only of the five broad
factors but also of the specific traits that define them.
For each of the six samples, five varimax-rotated princi-
pal components were first examined. Table 1 presents the
results for the two largest samples (factor matrices for
all six samples are available from the authors). It is clear
that all five factors can be readily recognized in both
samples, although the Korean data are somewhat closer
to the original than are the Portuguese. Both primary and
secondary loadings (e.g., the negative loadings of N2:
Angry Hostility on A) closely resembled the American
structure. 3 Similar results were seen with the other four
samples. Across the six samples, facets had loadings
greater than .40 on their intended factor in 163 of the
180 cases (91%).
Congruence coefficients (Barrett, 1986; Wrigley &
Neuhaus, 1955) were then calculated between each set
of factor loadings and the loadings in the American nor-
mative sample. Values higher than .90 are usually consid-
ered evidence that a factor has been replicated; as Table
2 The relative ease with which accurate translations could be made
is an indication that the description of personality transcends language.
3 Separate analyses within gender were also examined for the Por-
tuguese and Korean samples. Structures were essentially identical for
men and women, with all cross-gender factor congruence coefficients
512 May 1997 • American Psychologist
Factor Structure of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) in Korean and Portuguese
Varimax-rotated principal component
N E O A C
NEO-PI-R facet K P K P K P K P K P
N2: Angry Hostility
16 02 15
E 1 : Warmth
E5: Excitement Seeking
E6: Positive Emotions
21 09 26
A1 : Trust
24 50 07
C1 : Competence
C4: Achievement Striving
30 23 23
Note. Decimal points are orqilted; Ioadings over .40 in absolute magnitude are given in boldface. N = Neuroticism, E = Extraversion; O = Openness to Experience;
A = Agreeableness; C = Conscientiousness; K = Korean factor Ioadings, P = Portuguese factor toadings.
2 shows, all but four of the factor congruence coefficients
reached this level. 4
Finally, congruence coefficients were computed
comparing the 15 pairs of the six translations. This pro-
vided a particularly stringent test of replicability, because
minor deviations in either translation would have been
compounded in comparing two translations. Congruence
coefficients between the Korean and Portuguese struc-
tures shown in Table 1 were .98, .79, .89, .82, and .94,
respectively, for N, E, O, A, and C factors--values that
show considerable similarity but not identity. When ex-
amined by factor across all comparisons, all 15 congru-
ence coefficients exceeded .90 for N and C factors, and
all exceeded .88 for the O factor. Systematically lower
values--as low as .50 between Japanese and Chinese
samples--were found for E and A factors; only one third
of these congruence coefficients met the .90 criterion.
That result is not surprising, because E and A are
known to be axes of the interpersonal circumplex
(McCrae & Costa, 1989), in which traits are distributed
in a circular order. The orientation of the axes that define
this plane is thus somewhat arbitrary; in the case of the
Japanese varimax structure, the factors labeled E and
A might be better described as the alternative axes of
4 An alternative index of factor similarity--the coefficient of factor
comparability (Everett, 1983)--was also calculated in the American
sample, with very similar results. Only coefficients for E (.75) and A
(.78) factors in the Japanese sample and the E factor (.89) in the Portu-
guese sample were less than .90, which is the usual criterion for factor
May 1997 • American Psychologist 513
Coefficients of Factor Congruence With the American
Varimax-rotated principal component
Sample N E O A C
Note. N = Neuroticism; E = Extraversion; O = Openness to Experience; A
= Agreeableness; C = Conscientiousness.
Affiliation and Submission (McCrae, Zonderman, et al.,
1996). The Portuguese E factor shown in Table 1 is also
tilted slightly in the direction of Affiliation.
If differences are due entirely to an arbitrary rota-
tion, it should be possible to match factors across lan-
guages by rotating them all to a common target. Orthogo-
nal Procrustes rotation, using the American normative
factor structure as the target, was therefore performed
for all six samples, and they were compared with the
American target and with each other.
Results showed that when rotation was guided by a
hypothesized target, virtually identical structures were
found in all seven samples. The median cross-language
factor congruence coefficients were .96, .95, .94, .96, and
.96 for N, E, O, A, and C, respectively, and only 2 of
105 coefficients failed to reach .90 (and those 2 were
both .89). These values are far higher than one would
expect to see by chance after Procrustes rotation
(McCrae, Zonderman, et al., 1996).
Congruence coefficients can be calculated for vari-
ables as well as factors and evaluated for statistical sig-
nificance. These coefficients take into account loadings
on all five factors and, so, could be useful in identifying
individual facets that show anomalous patterns of second-
ary loadings. But virtually no anomalous patterns were
found: After Procrustes rotation, 177 of the 180 compari-
sons with the American structure were significant. The
similarity of secondary loadings is illustrated in Table 3,
which shows loadings for E3: Assertiveness. Although
the functions of leaders may vary across cultures, it ap-
pears that in all seven cultures studied, individuals who
assert themselves and readily speak out tend to be high
in E and C and low in N and A.
The cross-cultural and cross-language similarities in the
structure of the NEO-PI-R seen in these samples are
in many ways remarkable. More-or-less literal transla-
tions of items selected in American samples worked quite
well in different cultures, without the need for extensive
revision or adaptation (although item analyses might still
be desirable to refine the translated scales). The structure
found in adult American volunteers was replicated in
Japanese undergraduates and Israeli job applicants. A
model of personality rooted in English-language trait ad-
jectives could be meaningfully applied not only in a
closely related language like German but also in such
utterly distinct languages as Chinese and Korean.
Pulver, Allik, Pulkkinen, and H~n/il~iinen (1995)
translated an early version of the NEO-PI-R into Finn-
ish and Estonian and found evidence for the FFM in these
two languages from another family: Uralic. (Paunonen,
Jackson, Trzebinski, & Forsterling, 1992, also found evi-
dence of the FFM in Finnish.) Thus, a very similar struc-
ture of personality can be found in at least six distinct
language families that together include the native tongues
of most of the earth's inhabitants. This is hardly an ex-
haustive sampling of language families (languages indig-
enous to the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa are notable
omissions), but it clearly shows that the five-factor struc-
ture of personality in some sense transcends language
and may indeed be universal.
Several qualifications to the claim that personality
structure is a human universal must be noted. First, all
the cultures sampled here are modem industrial countries
with long traditions of literacy. Indeed, Hebrew and Chi-
nese literatures predate the English language itself by
many centuries. No studies of the FFM have been under-
taken in preliterate societies; it is possible that traits may
be differently configured in those cultures. Second, the
fact that the five factors can be found in different cultures
does not mean that they play the same role everywhere
(Bond & Forgas, 1984). Individual differences in Agree-
ableness versus Antagonism may be of little consequence
in societies in which interpersonal relationships are rig-
idly dictated by social roles, and variations in Conscien-
tiousness may be unimportant in cultures that devalue
personal ambition. Third, because no indigenous or emic
measures of personality were included in these studies,
Factor Loadings for Assertiveness in Seven Cultures
Procrustes-rotated principal component
Sample N E O A C
Note. Decimal points are omilted. N = Neuroficism; E = Extraversion; O =
Openness to Experience; A = Agreeableness; C = Conscientiousness.
514 May 1997 • American Psychologist
the possibility remains that there are culturally unique
factors of personality beyond N, E, O, A, and C.
It is also essential to recall that equivalence of factor
structure does not in itself mean that different translations
of an instrument are parallel forms. Raw scores may have
very different interpretations in different cultures even if
the translations accurately reflect the same trait constructs
(Geisinger, 1994). Determining whether individuals in
one culture are really more introverted, trusting, or dili-
gent than those in another is an arduous task that requires
the investigator to rule out a host of alternative explana-
tions (e.g., item difficulty levels, self-presentational
styles) for apparent differences.
Nevertheless, evidence that there is a common hu-
man structure of personality is good news for cross-
cultural psychology. As Triandis (1980) noted, "Since
establishing cultural differences is extremely difficult, it
may well be good strategy for the present generation of
cross-cultural psychologists to give top priority to the
establishment of the generality of psychological laws"
(p. 9). The general laws of personality structure suggest
the range of traits that should be investigatedwtraits in
the FFM--and encourage the use of imported or eric
questionnaires as one component in cross-cultural
For many years anthropologists have studied how
cultures provide distinctive solutions to universal prob-
lems of nutrition, procreation, and the division of labor.
It now makes sense to ask them also to examine the
unique cultural manifestations of common dimensions of
personality. How is fearfulness expressed? What opportu-
nities are there for social interaction and for solitude?
How is intellectual curiosity channeled? How is aggres-
sion controlled?How is dutifulness defined and re-
warded? Such questions could form the basis for renewed
interest in one of the most venerable branches of anthro-
pology, culture and personality (McCrae, Costa, & Yik,
The suggestion that personality structure is universal
also raises questions for a number of other disciplines.
Is universality due to a common genetic basis for person-
ality (Loehlin, 1992)? What, if any, is the evolutionary
significance of individual differences in traits (Tooby &
Cosmides, 1990)? Do personality factors influence psy-
chopathology, educational attainment, vocational inter-
ests, and political attitudes in similar ways in different
cultures?--are applied psychologies also in some degree
It took personality psychologists many decades to
resolve questions about the number and nature of basic
trait dimensions in English-speaking populations. Fortu-
nately, it appears that that long struggle need not be
repeated in every other culture. The FFM at least pro-
vides a solid beginning for understanding personality
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders (4th ed,). Washington, DC: Author.
Angleimer, A., Ostendorf, E, & John, O. E (1990). Towards a taxonomy
of personality descriptors in German: A psycho-lexical study. Euro-
pean Journal of Personality, 4, 89-118.
Barrett, P. (1986). Factor comparison: An examination of three methods.
Personality and Individual Differences, 7, 327-340.
Betancourt, H., & Ltpez, S. R. (1993). The study of culture, ethnicity,
and race in American psychology. American Psychologist, 48, 629-
Block, J. (1995). A contrarian view of the five-factor approach to per-
sonality description. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 187-215.
Bond, M. H., & Forgas, J. E (1984). Linking person perception to be-
havior intention across cultures: The role of cultural collectivism.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 15, 337-352.
Bond, M. H., Nakazato, H., & Shiraishi, D. (1975). Universality and
distinctiveness in dimensions of Japanese person perception. Journal
of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 6, 346-357.
Butcher, J. N., & Han, K. (1996). Methods of establishing cross-cultural
equivalence. In J. N. Butcher (Ed.), International adaptations of the
MMPI-2: Research and clinical applications (pp. 44-63). Minneap-
olis: University of Minnesota Press.
Cattell, R. B., Eber, H. W., & Tatsuoka, M. M. (1970). The handbook
for the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire. Champaign, IL:
Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.
Church, A. T, & Burke, E J. (1994). Exploratory and confirmatory tests
of the Big Five and Tellegen's three- and four-dimensional models.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 93-114.
Church, A. T., & Katigbak, M. S. (1989). Internal, external, and self-
report structure of personality in a non-Western culture: An investiga-
tion of cross-language and cross-cultural generalizability. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 857-872.
Comrey, A. L. (1970). Manual for the Comrey Personality Scales. San
Diego, CA: EDITS.
Costa, P.T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality
Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-
FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment
Costa, P.T., Jr., McCrae, R.R., & Dye, D.A. (1991). Facet scales
for agreeableness and conscientiousness: A revision of the NEO
Personality Inventory. Personality and Individual Differences, 12,
De Raad, B., & SzirmAk, S. (1994). The search for the "Big Five" in
a non-Indo-European language: The Hungarian trait slructure and its
relationship to the EPQ and the PTS. European Journal of Applied
Psychology, 44, 17-26.
Diener, E., Diener, M., & Diener, C. (1995). Factors predicting the
subjective well-being of nations. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 69, 851-864.
Digman, J.M. (1990). Personality structure: Emergence of the five-
factor model. Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 417-440.
Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). Where have all the adjectives gone? Studies
in Language, 1, 19-80.
Everett, J. E. (1983). Factor comparability as a means of determining
the number of factors and their rotation. Multivariate Behavioral
Research, 18, 197-218.
Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, S. B. G. (1967). On the unitary nature of
extraversion. Acta Psychologica, 26, 383-390.
Eysenck, S. B. G. (1983). One approach to cross-cultural studies of
personality. Australian Journal of Psychology, 35, 381-391.
Geisinger, K. E (1994). Cross-cultural normative assessment: Transla-
tion and adaptation issues influencing the normative interpretation of
assessment instruments. Psychological Assessment, 6, 304-312.
Goldberg, L.R. (1981). Language and individual differences: The
search for universals in personality lexicons. In L. Wheeler (Ed.),
Review of personality and socialpsychology (pp. 141 - 165). Beverly
Hills, CA: Sage.
Gondo, Y., Shimonaka, Y., Nakazato, K., Ishihara, O., & Imuta, H.
(1993, September). Preliminary stady for the standardization of the
Japanese version of the NEO-PI-R. Paper presented at the 57th
meeting of the Japanese Psychological Association, Tokyo.
Hampson, S. E. (1988). The construction of personality: An introduc-
tion (2rid ed.). London: Routledge.
Kagit~iba§i, ~., & Berry, J. W. (1989). Cross-cultural psychology: Cur-
May 1997 • American Psychologist 515
rent research and trends. Annual Review of Psychology, 40, 493- Download full-text
Keene, D. (1955). Japanese literature: An introduction for Western
readers. New York: Grove Press.
Konner, M. (1991). Human nature and culture: Biology and the residue
of uniqueness. In J. J. Sheehan & M. Sosna (Eds.), The boundaries
of humanity: Humans, animals, machines (pp. 103-124). Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Languages of the world. (1993). In The new encyclopedia Britannica
(Vol. 22, pp. 572-796). Chicago: Er/cyclopedia Britannica.
Lee, K.-I. (1995). Factor structure and maladaptive group profiles of
the Revised NEO Personality Inventory for Koreans. Unpublished
doctoral dissertation, Pusan National University.
Loehlin, J. C. (1992). Genes and environment in personality develop-
ment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implica-
tions for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review,
McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1989). The structure of interpersonal
traits: Wiggins's circumplex and the five-factor model. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 586-595.
McCrae, R.R., Costa, P.T., Jr., & Yik, M. S. M. (1996). Universal
aspects of Chinese personality structure. In M. H. Bond (Ed.), The
handbook of Chinese psychology (pp. 189-207). Hong Kong: Oxford
McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor
model and its applications. Journal of Personality, 60, 175-215.
McCrae, R.R., Zonderman, A. B., Costa, P.T., Jr., Bond, M.H., &
Paunonen, S.V. (1996). Evaluating replicability of factors in the
Revised NEO Personality Inventory: Confirmatory factor analysis
versus Procrustes rotation. Journal of Personality and Social Psy-
chology, 70, 552-566.
Montag, I., & Levin, J. (1994). The five-factor personality model in
applied settings. European Journal of Personality, 8, 1-11.
Naroll, R., Michik, G. L., & Naroll, E (1980). Holocultural research
methods. In H. C. Triandis & J. W. Berry (Eds.), Handbook of cross-
cultural psychology. Vol. 2: Methodology (pp. 479-521). Boston:
Allyn & Bacon.
Ostendorf, E (1990). Sprache und Pers6nlichkeitsstruktur: Zur Validiti~t
des Ffinf-Faktoren-Modells der Pers6nlichkeit [Language and per-
sonality structure: Toward the validation of the five-factor model of
personality]. Regensburg, Germany: S. Roeder Verlag.
Ostendorf, E, & Angleitner, A. (1994, July). Psychometric properties
of the German translation of the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-
PI-R). Poster presented at the Seventh Conference of the European
Association for Personality Psychology, Madrid, Spain.
Paunonen, S. V., Jackson, D. N., Trzebinski, J., & Forsterling, E (1992).
Personality structure across cultures: A multimethod evaluation.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 447-456.
Piedmont, R, L: (1994). Validation of the NEO-PI-R observer form
for college students: Toward a paradigm for studying personality
development. Assessment, 1, 259-268.
Pulver, A., Allik, J., Pulkldnen, L., & Hiilrffd~inen, M. (1995). A Big-
Five personality inventory in two non-Indo-European languages. Eu-
ropean Journal of Personality, 9, 109-124.
Sapil; E. (1921). Language, an introduction to the study of speech.
New York: Harcourt Brace.
Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Beyond individualism-collectivism: New cul-
tural dimensions of values. In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, ~. Kagitqiba}i,
S.-C. Choi, & G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: The-
ory, method, and applications (pp. 85-119). Thousand Oaks, CA:
Smith, P. B., Dugan, S., & Trompenaars, E (1996). National culture
and the values of organizational employees: A dimensional analysis
across 43 nations. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 27, 231 -
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1990). On the universality of human nature
and the uniqueness of the individual: The role of genetics and adapta-
tion. Journal of Personality, 58, 17-68.
Triandis, H. C. (1980). Introduction to handbook of cross-cultural psy-
chology. In H. C. Triandis & W. W. Lambert (Eds.), Handbook of
cross-cultural psychology. Vol. 1: Perspectives (pp. 1-14). Boston:
AUyn & Bacon.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. (1984). Projec-
tions of the population of the United States, by age, sex, and race:
1983 to 2080 (Series P-25, No. 952). Washington, DC: U.S. Govern-
ment Printing Office.
Wrigley, C. S., & Neuhaus, J. O. (1955). The matching of two sets of
factors. American Psychologist, 10, 418-419.
Yang, K., & Bond, M. H. (1990). Exploring implicit personality theories
with indigenous or imported constructs: The Chinese case. Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 1087-1095.
516 May 1997 • American Psychologist