Role of Culture in the Development of Personality

A person's unique way of thinking, feeling, and behaving, in addition to the psychological mechanisms - hidden or not — that lie behind those ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. Another way to think of personality is as a dynamic network of thoughts, feelings, and habits triggered in response to specific circumstances. In most cases, they are what determines the individual's unique adjustment to the outside environment. A culture is a set of interconnected knowledge systems held in common by a large population. The way a group of people lives their life is called their culture. This includes the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that the members of the group embrace. Cultures are handed down from one generation to the next through communication and imitation.

Impact of Culture On Personality

Both genetic and environmental factors can have an impact on an individual's personality. Cultural factors are among the most significant environmental factors. Norms and behavioral expectations are found in all cultures, and these cultural standards might guide determining which aspects of a person's personality are deemed relevant. The scholar Gordon Allport believed that culture was a significant factor in determining personality traits. He classified common qualities as those that are acknowledged within a community. Different societies place different importance on different things, and their ideas, values, and needs can all differ. What is considered a favorable attribute in one culture may be considered a bad one in another, which results in diverse manifestations of personality across cultures. Cultural expectations can decide positive and negative qualities.

Most influential culture-and-personality theorists held that socialization practices directly influenced the patterns of people's personalities. If the socialization process is successful, it will shape a person's feelings, ideas, actions, and cultural values and conventions. This will enable the individual to integrate into the surrounding human community and to perform useful roles within that society. In studying culture and personality, researchers looked at how various socialization modes led to distinct personality types.

Personality Development Across Cultures

There is a plethora of evidence to suggest that the degree of personality traits differs among cultures.

Two significant factors contributed to the complexity of culture's function in forming our personalities. First is the extent to which a person is integrated into their culture and the degree to which their culture is integrated into them. It is unusual for someone to be completely integrated or completely disintegrated from their culture. Culture offers a framework for individual variance, yet there is always a constant base for understanding a person in their culture.

A second factor that should not be overlooked is that cultural phenomena do not occur in isolation. Gender, ethnicity, religion, etc., are just a few cultural factors that influence one's development. Therefore, an individual's personality development varies extremely, given the multiple factors and their levels of integration.

The impact of culture on personality can be vividly seen if we contrast individualist cultures with collectivist civilizations. People who live in communities that promote individualism are more prone to believe that independence, competition, and personal achievement are crucial. On the other hand, people who live in collectivist cultures tend to prioritize social peace, respect for others, and the community's needs more than the needs of the individual. These values have a diverse but significant impact on personality. For instance, researchers discovered that people who grew up in individualist cultures exhibited more personally-oriented personality traits, whereas people who grew up in collectivist cultures exhibited more socially-oriented personality traits.

Approaches to Studying Personality in a Cultural Context

The cultural-comparative approach, the indigenous approach, and the combined approach, which integrates parts of the first two approaches, are the three methods that may be utilized in studying personality in a cultural setting.

  • The Cultural-comparative Method − This aims to examine the generalizability and cultural validity of Western conceptions about personality in other cultures. For instance, researchers used the cultural-comparative method to examine the universality of McCrae and Costa's Five Factor Model. The Big Five qualities were constant in many cultures worldwide, where they were applicable.
  • The Indigenous Approach − In response to the dominance of Western techniques in studying personality in non-Western cultures, the indigenous approach emerged. Because Western-based personality evaluations cannot completely capture the personality constructs of other cultures, the indigenous model has led to the invention of personality assessment instruments based on personality conceptions pertinent to the culture being researched.
  • Cross-Cultural Studies − The third method of cross-cultural personality studies is the mixed approach, which acts as a bridge between Western and indigenous psychology to comprehend universal and cultural personality characteristics.

Gender, Culture, and Personality

The term "gender" refers to the activities or patterns of behavior that people of a certain culture or community anticipate men and women to engage in. Gender is an inherently cultural concept. Apparent gender differences may be due to cultural factors because cultures and civilizations substantially impact gender roles beginning at a very young age. Aggression and emphasizing relationships are two of the many ways in which males and females behave differently, and these variations may be because men and women are of different sexes. Men are often more aggressive, while women appear to emphasize the relationships they have with others.


Cultural factors are major environmental influences on personality. Different cultures place different values on different traits, and what is considered a positive trait in one culture may be negative in another, resulting in different personality expressions across countries. Two aspects that complicate the culture's role in personality formation are the degree of cultural integration within a person, and vice versa, and that cultural phenomena do not exist in isolation. That is, gender, race, religion, etc. are cultural factors that influence personality development. Cultural-comparative, indigenous, and combined approaches can research personality in a cultural context.


Simply Easy Learning

Updated on: 13-Oct-2022

10K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started