The Cultural Perspective in Personality Assessment

Fanny M. Cheung

in Oxford Handbook of Personality Assessment

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195366877
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

The Cultural Perspective in Personality Assessment

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  • Psychological Assessment and Testing



Culture affects personality through the ways that people are represented psychologically. Global or etic approaches to the study of culture and personality compare universal dimensions across cultures, whereas focal or emic approaches interpret and identify indigenous dimensions on the basis of local phenomena and experiences. This article reviews the relationship between culture and personality, as well as the impact of cultural factors on personality assessment. It discusses practical and methodological issues of personality assessment across cultures, including issues of equivalence and cross-cultural validation in test translation and adaptation, using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) as an example. At the theoretical level, the article compares the etic and emic approaches to personality assessment and highlights the contributions of a combined emic–etic approach in developing culturally relevant personality assessment based on the experience of the Cross-cultural (Chinese) Personality Assessment Inventory. These issues highlight the need for incorporating cross-cultural training as an integral part of psychology in order to enhance the cultural relevance of the practice of, and research in, personality assessment.

Keywords: MMPI; culture; personality; personality assessment; cross-cultural training; emic; etic; test equivalence; test translation; personality constructs

Article.  9506 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Psychological Assessment and Testing

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