Personalities and Peoples: the WEIRDness of the Big Five

New research suggests the Big Five model of personality – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism – may not apply outside of the West or beyond the developed world. In other words, the Big Five may be WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic.

For the first time, a primitive forager-horticultural people has been studied. The Tsimane people (in Bolivia) appear to have a “Big Two:” the two axes of personality are prosociality and industriousness.

My takeaway: I now incline to the view that personality traits vary among different kinds of peoples.


Michael Gurven, Christopher von Rueden, Maxim Massenkoff, Hillard Kaplan, Marino Lero Vie, “How Universal Is the Big Five? Testing the Five-Factor Model of Personality Variation Among Forager-Farmers in the Bolivian Amazon,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, online Dec. 17, 2012 (pdf)


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