Interpreting Personality Profiles Across Cultures: Bilingual, Acculturation, and Peer Rating Studies of Chinese Undergraduates

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Prior research (R. R. McCrae, P. T. Costa, & M. S. M. Yik, 1996) using a Chinese translation of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory suggested substantial differences between Hong Kong and North American undergraduates. Study 1, with a sample of bilingual Hong Kong students (N = 162), showed that prior findings were not due simply to the translation. Study 2, with undergraduates of European and Chinese ancestry living in Canada (N = 633), suggested that most of the differences were cultural in origin. Study 3, which used peer ratings of Chinese students (N = 99), replicated most Study 2 results, suggesting that exposure to Canadian culture increased openness, cheerfulness, and prosocial behavior and attitudes. Differences in sense of competence and vulnerability to stress appeared to be due to different cultural standards for judging these traits. Together, the 3 studies illustrate an integrated approach to interpreting personality differences across cultures.

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