Interactionism: Culture and Personality

Post a 200- to 300-word response to the following: What influence does culture have on personality?

A major influencing factor on the degree to which culture affects personality is whether the culture is collectivist or individualist (McAdams, 2006). Certain traits such as friendliness might be construed in a collectivist society as beneficial; whereas, in an individualistic society friendliness in a business setting could be interpreted as weakness. A sense of duty or responsibility to a particular culture might also have some effect on individual personality. If a woman living in a male-dominated society exhibits too many Type-A personality traits, then social conformity might work to moderate those traits. Likewise, if a male in a male-dominated society exhibits too much of the trait of passivism, social conformity could work to moderate that particular trait. It is important to understand though that culture is not a rigid, external set of rules which govern our lives. Furthermore, culture is a mental construct of the individual, which is malleable and can be acted upon.

Do you see a person’s reaction to something as separate from social experience or as a result of social experience?

I have always viewed actions in the context of social experience. Rather than being separate from or a result of, I think that a person’s reaction, in reference to social experiences, operates as a consequence of social experience, but not as a direct determinate of social experience. Put another way, I view the social experience as a motivating factor as to a person’s reactions, but not a direct result of social experience. We do control how we react to any given situation. I am sure of that. Therefore, even though we may have a socially accepted tendency to react in a certain way to any given situation, I do not believe that we are bound to that socially accepted tendency. So in a weird way, I guess I think that both are true at the same time.

Which one of the four positions of the nature of traits do you agree with most and why? Compare and contrast your position against one of the other four positions of the nature of traits.

I would have to say that I agree with the behavioral disposition view of the nature of traits. This viewpoint lines up well with my world view. I think that we are largely a product of our surroundings. We, of course, have the ability to act upon those surroundings. Even then we are only reacting to our environment which would still fall in the realm of behaviorism.

The neurophysiologic substrates viewpoint seems to line up well with the psycho-dynamic and cognitive traditions. I would have to agree with most behaviorists and say that this viewpoint is not built upon observable behavior, but rather theoretical subconscious activity. In that case, it would seem like people that hold this viewpoint would be constructing theories to match the behavior rather than letting the behavior dictate the theories.


McAdams, D.P. (2006). The person: A new introduction to personality psychology. Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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