Cross-cultural constructions of self: American and Mexican college students



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



There are two general goals that personality researchers seek to accomplish. The first goal is to define domains that comprise the thousands of personal characteristics that make a person unique. And the second is to examine the generalizability of dimensions across cultures and languages, that is, to observe whether personality domains are universal or culture-specific. Following the steps of personality psychologists the first goal of this dissertation was to define dimensions of personality of Americans and Mexicans, and the second was to observe if dimensions were equivalent or unique across these two cultures. Typically personality researchers, in order to identify the most relevant aspects of human personality, have turned to a questionnaire method whereby people rate themselves along dimensions of traits most often described in natural language. These trait terms are derived from various dictionaries within the researchers' culture. Multiple ratings are then factor analyzed yielding a smaller group of broad traits that then serve to define the culture's primary personality dimensions. In this investigation, personality terms were culled from open-ended personality descriptions. Relying on a new text analytic procedure called the meaning extraction method, it was possible to define dimensions of personality in Americans and Mexicans. The factoranalytically derived results showed that there were seven relevant dimensions of personality for Americans and six dimensions for Mexicans. Using qualitative and quantitative analyses it was possible to observe which dimensions were equivalent and which dimensions were unique to each culture. Specifically, for both Americans and Mexicans, the most important dimensions were Sociability, Values, Hobbies/Activities, and Emotionality. Three dimensions were unique to Americans (i.e., Fun, Existentialism, and College Experience), and two for the Mexicans (Relationships and Simpatía). Other analyses were done to explore the universality and uniqueness of the dimensions. For example, dimensions were correlated with self-reports that measure dimensions wellestablished by personality researchers. The challenge of establishing dimensions across cultures and languages are discussed, along with the limitations of the approach.