Similarities and differences in implicit personality concepts across ethnocultural groups in South Africa

19 November 2014

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.