How Does Culture Affect Personality (The Best Guide)

This article will take a look at what personality is and what makes it up. It will also take a deep dive into nature and nurture debate as well as examples from today’s world that show how personalities have begun to change over time. The article will also discuss what culture is and how it affects personality.

How Does Culture Affect Personality?

Culture is the set of values, beliefs and norms that is passed down from one generation to the other through a series of activities, behaviours and actions that are centered around learning. Culture is what distinguishes one human society from the other. It is also what defines how people generally behave in one place as compared to the other.

Culture affects how a person is brought up and hence dictates how a person speaks, behaves or interacts with others despite the fact that personality is meant to do the same thing; Personality has the role of guiding one’s behaviour in a group or community of others. Thus, this can either mean that culture is an integral part of formulating one’s personality or simply replaces what personality is meant to do! This is where the nature and nurture debate comes into play!

Before we take a look at the nature and nurture debate, we will shed light on what personality is and include a few famous definitions of it!

What is Personality?

Personality is a term used to describe the traits a person expresses in most situations. It is made up of their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Every person has a distinct set of characteristics or traits that makes them a unique individual and helps give them a personality. So technically, according to this definition everyone has a personality.

However, in some cases, certain people may have a more expressive or appealing personality than others. Such a personality would make them more likeable and obvious to others compared to someone who is not likeable or too quiet to be noticed. 

“Personality is the entire mental organization of a human being at any stage of his development. It embraces every phase of human character: intellect, temperament, skill, morality, and every attitude that has been built up in the course of one’s life.” (Warren & Carmichael, 1930, p. 333)

“Personality is the essence of a human being.” (Hall & Lindzey, 1957, p. 9, characterizing statements by Gordon Allport)

“An individual’s pattern of psychological processes arising from motives, feelings, thoughts, and other major areas of psychological function. Personality is expressed through its influences on the body, in conscious mental life, and through the individual’s social behavior.” (Mayer, 2005)

The Characteristics Of Personality

Here are the important characteristics of personality!

Personality Is Stable

Your personality does not change everyday although you may notice there are variations in your behaviour depending on what situation you face. Nevertheless, it is important that personality is relatively stable over a number of situations regardless of time. It does not change drastically everyday.

Personality Is Ever Present

Just because you don’t feel like yourself today does not mean you have changed your personality. You always have your personality with you even if you don’t use your traits all the time.

Personality Is Made Up Of Properties & Mechanisms

Personality can be divided into different components and characteristics. Over time, many different classifications have been made in personality characteristics. Literally hundreds!

The Nature And Nurture Debate – An All Time Hot Topic!

The important question that exists and extends to the effect culture has on our personalities is whether personality is innate or acquired by us from our surroundings? This question is popularly known as the nature and nurture debate that exists despite much debate over it and hundreds of researches conducted in relation to it!

There are many opinions on this debate. However, what is important is that we know what it is exactly.The side that supports nature says personality is innate and not acquired. This implies that regardless of where we grow up or what experiences we have, our personality remains unchanged overall.

However, the nurture side states that personality is mostly shaped by our surroundings and the experiences we have that include our childhood time, culture, friends, languages, parents and what not! Everything we are exposed to somehow affects us and the personality we eventually develop.

The nurture side supports the stance that culture indeed affects our personality.

Culture Around The World – How It Affects Our Personality?

It is evident that cultures vary drastically across the world to the extent that one behavior in one part of the world may be considered a kind gesture whereas the same behaviour may be considered extremely rude in the other part of the world!

There are many elements of cultures that can and do affect personality. One element is called the collectivistic Vs Individualistic type where cultures can be either of the two. In individualistic cultures people focus more on the individual and their own success rather than how they relate to the overall society or the group; the traits that exist in people here are more of that of extroversion, hard work, boldness and being outspoken.

However, in collectivistic cultures the major focus is on the group and how the individual can fit in. Hence, the traits that are seen in people here are mostly those of agreeableness, shyness, modesty and sacrifice. This shows that the type of culture greatly affects people and what types of personalities they develop over time. There are many other elements of culture such as the power dynamics and gender that affect personality. For example, culture defines what traits constitute gender acceptable behavior.

How The World Is Changing – Is Culture Disintegrating?

With the world becoming a global village and cultures becoming a concept of the past, the world is becoming a huge pot where cultures are being dissolved to the extent that we all are becoming very similar; it is easier to sell us the same thing whether it is food, clothes, makeup, products and services which definitely benefits the big companies if not anyone else!

People are changing and so are their personalities as culture is becoming a vaguer concept day by day. Even when it comes to gender, women are becoming more and more competitive; in the past it was generally men who would compete for women whereas now women are the one who invest thousands to become more and more appealing to men; they invest much time and effort into beauty enhancement treatments, increase their access to more and more potential partners and have begun disrupting their diets and other necessary activities that are vital for biological processes such as menstruation and body growth that later sustain the pregnancy stage!

Men are now more focused on self adornment and spend less and less time chasing women possibly because there is no need to now; with changes in the society such as ‘cheap sex’ and an endless sea of fish they can chase their desires of wealth and fortune. 

Furthermore, human interaction is decreasing more and more due to our new culture of digital interactivity. The effects of this are becoming more and more obvious; most of which are detrimental.

Research among bilingual people shows that cultural influences partly pass through language. The personality of bilingual people also depends on the language they speak. This study looked at Mexicans and Americans who speak both Spanish and English fluently. In general, Mexicans are less extroverted, a little less agreeable and less conscientious than Americans. 

Remarkably, if a bilingual Mexican or American speaks English, they reacted more extroverted, agreeable and conscientious than when they speak Spanish. It appears that by speaking another language, you also become someone else. You adapt your personality to be more in line with the culture that belongs to the language you speak.


This article took a look at the effect culture has on our personality. It highlighted different elements of culture such as collectivism and individualism as well as power and gender dynamics. The article also explained what personality is and listed as well as explained its different characteristics such as stability. It also took a deep look at culture; it defined culture and its purpose and also explained with the help of examples how culture is changing the personality of people today. The article also touched upon the nature and nurture debate.


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