Five personality traits widely thought to be universal across cultures might not be, according to a study of an isolated society.
Psychologists who spent two years working with 1,062 members of the Tsimane culture of Bolivia found that they didn’t necessarily exhibit the five broad dimensions of personality – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism – also known as the “Big Five.”
The American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published the study online Dec. 17.
Previous research has found strong support for the Big Five traits in more developed countries and across some cultures, but these researchers found more evidence of a Tsimane “Big Two:” socially beneficial behavior, also known as prosociality, and industrious. These Big Two combine elements of the traditional Big Five, and may represent unique aspects of highly social, subsistence societies, the researchers said.
“Similar to the conscientiousness portion of the Big Five, several traits that bundle together among the Tsimane included efficiency, perseverance and thoroughness. These traits reflect the industrious of a society of subsistence farmers,” said the study’s lead author, Michael Gurven of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“However, other industrious traits included being energetic, relaxed and helpful. In small-scale societies, individuals have fewer choices for social or sexual partners and limited domains of opportunities for cultural success and proficiency. This may require abilities that link aspects of different traits, resulting in a trait structure other than the Big Five.”
The Tsimane are forager-farmers who live in communities of roughly 30 to 500 people, dispersed among about 90 villages. Since the mid-1900s, they have come into greater contact with the modern world, but mortality rates remain high (about one in five babies never reach age five) and fertility is very high (around nine births per woman), the study said. Few Tsimane are formally educated; literacy is about 25 percent. Some 40 percent speak Spanish in addition to their native language. They live in extended family clusters that share food and labor and limit contact with outsiders unless absolutely necessary, according to the authors.
Written By: American Psychological Association and World Science staffcontinue to source article at world-science.net