Similarities and differences in implicit personality concepts across ethno-cultural groups in South Africa

V.H. Valchev, J.A. Nel, F.J.R. van de Vijver, D. Meiring, G.P. de Bruin, S.R. Rothmann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Using a combined emic–etic approach, the present study investigates similarities and differences in the indigenous personality concepts of ethnocultural groups in South Africa. Semistructured interviews asking for self- and other-descriptions were conducted with 1,027 Blacks, 58 Indians, and 105 Whites, speakers of the country’s 11 official languages. A model with 9 broad personality clusters subsuming the Big Five—Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Facilitating, Integrity, Intellect, Openness, Relationship Harmony, and Soft-Heartedness (Nel et al., 2012)—was examined. The 9 clusters were found in all groups, yet the groups differed in their use of the model’s components: Blacks referred more to social-relational descriptions, specific trait manifestations, and social norms, whereas Whites referred more to personal-growth descriptions and abstract concepts, and Indians had an intermediate pattern. The results suggest that a broad spectrum of personality concepts should be included in the development of common personality models and measurement tools for diverse cultural groups.
    Keywords: implicit personality concepts, emic–etic approach, indigenous personality model
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)365-388
    JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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