A Mixed-Methods Study of Personality Conceptions in the Levant: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank

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Abstract

Personality taxonomies are investigated using either etic-style studies that test whether Western-developed models fit in a new culture, or emic-style studies that derive personality dimensions from a local culture, using a psycholexical approach. Recent studies have incorporated strengths from both approaches. We combine the 2 approaches in the first study of personality descriptors in spoken Arabic. In Study 1, we collected 17,283 responses from a sample of adults in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the West Bank (N = 545). Qualitative analysis revealed 9 personality dimensions: Soft-Heartedness, Positive Social Relatedness, Integrity, Humility versus Dominance, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Emotional Stability, Intellect, and Openness. In Study 2, we converted the qualitative model into an indigenous personality inventory and obtained self-ratings of a sample of adults in the same region (N = 395). We also simultaneously obtained self-ratings on an adapted etic inventory that measures the lexical Big Five (N = 325). Psychometric and conceptual considerations yielded a robust 7-factor indigenous model: Agreeableness/Soft Heartedness, Honesty/Integrity, Unconventionality, Emotional Stability, Conscientiousness, Extraversion/Positive Social Relatedness, and Intellect. Initial validation evidence shows that 5 of the 7 factors overlapped with the Big Five, whereas Honesty/Integrity and Unconventionality did not overlap. Also, scores on the indigenous tools were better predicted by relevant demographic variables than scores on the etic tool. Our study demonstrated the viability of combining etic and emic approaches as key to the understanding of personality in its cultural context.

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