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Borkenau et al., (2013)

Filed under: Uncategorized — drcb @ 10:26 am
22 Comments to “Borkenau et al., (2013)”
  1. Ulzhan Yeshengazina says:

    At first, I did not understand why authors chose to pick an interest in gender difference and personality variation. It seemed logical to me that women and men differ a lot due to their social role in society and biology overall (fixed-effect). However, after reviewing the results carefully, I found it interesting that the cross-culturally personality may differ within each gender. According to Borkenau et al., cross-culturally men varied more than women on Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. It did not surprise me that there was no difference in Neuroticism among men. The majority of the literature support that men are more likely to suppress their negative emotions due to social pressure.
    Furthermore, I found it odd why the author chose to look at only extreme ends the tails of personality traits ( 0.95). I thought it would be enough to look at SD and mean in each country and attributes.
    I thought that the explanation of difference among men was a little vague. According to the author of this paper, a high-level of education in individualistic society was one of the reasons for substantial personality differences among men. Knowing that they used student population, and as we learn that personalty somewhat unstable until the ages of 30; this made me wonder the confound that authors did not see as a possible concern. What do you think?
    This study certainly made me think of how can we use this knowledge? What is the take-home message?

    • Katherine Chang says:

      Hi Ulzhan, I was also wondering a little about the take-home message from this research. I found it a little funny that they cited intrasex variances in men in as many things including 60-m dash times. Perhaps the take-home message was whether the variability trends are present cross-culturally? They found that the variances are higher in individualistic cultures, which makes some sense to me.

    • Sunghee Kim says:

      Hello,Ulzhan. Thank you so much for your thought about the paper. For your question, I don’t think there is really a take-home message but may be at least we learned something knowledgeable to know. And also, the researchers used the age of the samples before the 40s and that could be an influence too because as you mentioned, our personality changes thru about the life span. Hence, there were the results of men varied more than women but even in neuroticism, women did not vary much as men. I personality thought that could be a cultural, social role. We used to expect each gender on how to act based on their appearance/gender.

    • minjung park says:

      Hi, Ulzhan! Thank you for sharing your comment! After I read the article, I also have a question about the methodology that the researchers did. Also, the researchers didn’t clarify the difference among men. Every explanation for them was ambiguous. To this point, I would agree with you. So, if the researchers explain about it more, than I would definitely understand the result.

    • Ariel Zucker says:

      Hi Ulzhan – thank you for your comment. I also was thinking about the age of the sample as being a potential confound in this study. Specifically in this sample, we know that the majority of them have a somewhat unstable personality (due to their age). In addition to knowing this information, we also know that personality may develop at different rates cross-culturally. Considering this study is looking at personality cross-culturally, I think your point about the age of the sample is spot on and should be considered a relevant confound of this analysis.

    • Crystal Quinn says:

      I really like your comments, Ulzhan, you bring up really good points. I think researchers use college students because it is easy to get the high N; however, I think it is important to consider the age of participants when conducting personality research. I think it is possible that if an older sample were used, findings could have been impacted. I also wonder about practical implications of this study. I can’t seem to think of any really useful ways to apply study findings!

    • Shanna Razak says:

      I get what you mean about a vague explanation. They should have went more in to depth about how the aspects of these two things affect personality. For example with a higher education a man might be more conscientiousness because of the work ethic expected. Also wouldn’t these two traits affect women the same.

  2. Bengi says:

    While trying to replicate the findings of a previous study by Borkenau et al (2013) to see if the differences in variability in personality hold for culturally more diverse samples, the study collects data from four countries in Europe with the assumption that the sample is culturally more diverse. I think even when quantitatively, what they say might be true, here what interests me more is that since the participants are selected from a similar geographical and cultural context (particularly regarding Germany, Czech Republic) and a similar cultural context with adding Belgium. I think what makes these societies diverse within themselves when cities compared to one another turns into similar demographic characteristics and then adding a fairly homogenous Estonia might complicate the results before aggregating them. These got me thinking as to how we define culturally diverse and whether there is a significant cultural diversity in our samples that we have for our studies in which we aim for cultural diversity. Another point that caught my attention is the procedure, which relies highly on people’s own descriptions of personality of the people that they know. Authors recognize that “the data quality varied considerably across cultures”, but another limitation that I can see is about the possibility that our complete and truthful definitions of people might not be expressed during an experiment as such due to different understandings of social and cultural expectations. Culture surfaces in our definition and articulation of the Big Five in relation to other people’s traits but also might be significantly impacting the procedure in relation to how much and how we choose to tell (i.e. finding of higher variances for male target persons not existing in Neuroticism makes me think of people trying to be cautious when describing someone based on negative traits).

    • Sara Babad says:

      Hi Bengi,

      Thank you for your comment! I wonder too, about how we define cultural diversity. I have heard that in Europe, a questionnaire about culture can be as long as page, with many, many more categories than we use here in the U.S. Also, to speak to Ulzhan’s comment about how higher level of education in individualistic societies can explain why men’s personality was more variable – I wonder if we would expect education to have that strong an effect on personality? Or is it supposed to work the opposite way around? Would personality impact whether or note people pursue an education? And if so, wouldn’t this apply to women as well?

  3. Katherine Chang says:

    Hi Ulzhan, I was also wondering a little about the take-home message from this research. I found it a little funny that they cited intrasex variances in men in as many things including 60-m dash times. Perhaps the take-home message was whether the variability trends are present cross-culturally? They found that the variances are higher in individualistic cultures, which makes some sense to me.

  4. Scott Ewing says:

    This was interesting. I of course geeked out reading all of the stats, even though I had to re-read a couple of the analysis descriptions 3 times and am still not sure I understood them 100%. But it was interesting to think about explanations for these findings.

    It’s possible that the authors’ explanation is correct: men vary more than women in personality domains, with higher incidences of extreme traits among men. The examples provided in the introduction for why this would make sense were strange (did anyone else have the impression that the intro was written by a completely different person than the rest of the article?) but there could be biological, social, cultural, and/or occupational support for why these differences in variance may exist.

    I thought there may be an alternative explanation, though. I apologize if anyone proposed this in earlier posts; I’m very late so I haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I wonder if our biased impressions of men vs women played a role in these results. I think when we fill out these kinds of questionnaires (whether self-report or to describe a target), as social creatures we can’t help but give answers that are comparative to our perceived norms. Like, if I say Mr. X is agreeable, it’s likely that I’m subconsciously comparing him to my perception of how other people, especially other males, present in agreeableness. So, what if we (and many other cultures) actually perceive males to be less variable than females in personality traits? Forgive the stereotyping here, but isn’t Male as a population often seen as more stoic, even-tempered, reserved, etc. than Female? When we look at individual males, we know that’s not true – all males have their own idiosyncrasies, but what if we naturally perceive those characteristics as odd when compared to our bias? In this study, the participants were asked to think of individual people they know to provide ratings; maybe Mr. X and Ms. X are equally agreeable, but we give Mr. X a higher rating because it seems relatively odd.

    This could also explain the variability from informant gender: maybe males have a little bit better insight into the fact that other males vary in personality traits, so their ratings are closer on average to the means. There are only two other males in the class that could back me up on this statement, but I think males have naturally compared themselves to other males their whole lives, so they might just have a better sense of how much variability really exists.

    • Gregory Rosen says:

      Hi Scott and Dakota, Thanks for the thought-provoking comments. Going from the idea that males might have a better sense of the personality of fellow males, I am wondering how this could impact clinical assessments. To help ensure the most accurate assessment/diagnosis possible, would it make sense to generalize and recommend that male clients see male therapists and female clients see female therapists? Would that also go for transgender, non-binary, etc.?

      • Victoria Phillips Fairchild says:

        Hi Gregory & Scott,
        I think that some of this goes back to Ulzhan’s comments in the beginning regarding ways to utilize the results of this study. I think that Gregory makes an interesting point that being able to correctly identify emotional expression and personality traits and how that might relate to clinical settings and influence diagnosis and testing results. Additionally, in terms of variability and reporting, I do think that men in general tend to think of things in more black and white terms, and women tend to describe things with more shades of grey, which could explain some of the variability reported.

      • Scott Ewing says:

        Great point Greg; this is definitely a challenge for clinicians (and clinicians-in-training). During our training in the clinical program, we’ve of course studied how different demographics may present differently in therapy, but another major component of clinical competency involves looking inward. We’ve been asked to think about our own biases and how they could affect our assessment of patients and the relationship we share. It’s really tough, and failure to do this could have a huge impact on treatment.

    • Shira Russell-Giller says:

      Interesting perspective, Scott. I particularly liked your idea that since we stereotype males as even-tempered, etc., we “over-rate” them in a trait since we may perceive it as odd. I was also thinking about why descriptions by females varied more than descriptions by males, and this findings reminded me of the findings in the Hales et al. article where females’ ostracism intention increased linearly with target disagreeableness whereas males indicated equal intentions to ostracize agreeable and moderate targets, and greater intentions to ostracize disagreeables. To me, the findings in both articles possibly indicate that when males perceive others’ personality, there is more “yes or no” type of thinking, whereas women tend to pick up on more nuances.

      • Chen Tiferet-Dweck says:

        I like your thoughts, Shira. In line with your thought about the deferences in perceiving male and females, there is also the issue that females are perceived as more collective- women require and maintain social relationships and they are perceived as more communicative than men. Whereas men are perceived more like lone wolves. Their communication is perceived as more practical and their need for an increased social circle is reduced relative to women. In that sense, they are more individualists. Which fits well with the findings that large variance in personality in men was found in more individualistic societies than collective societies.

      • Sergiu Barcaci says:

        Hi all, interesting points all around. Those descriptions definitely reminded me of what we brought up last week regarding the males black and white thinking versus the gray of the females. Also, I definitely back up Scott’s statement and Greg’s insight into it. Males do have variability but more of than not it’s buried due to how culture demands males present themselves. This would in turn lead to them being over/under rated, but if a male therapist would be involved, I feel they would know from experience about these cultural effects and be able to account for them to lead to a much more accurate diagnosis/assessment.

      • Ulzhan Yeshengazina says:

        Thank you for all your comments. It was interesting that we all somewhat agree about how our society tends to stereotype how both genders perceived and how we may interpret given information. Interestingly, I spoke to a few of my male friends about this article after my original comment. As I expected, they weren’t surprised at all that stereotypical tendency among genders has existed along before due to the male and female role in the society. It is not a surprise that diversity in male personalities are due to their social role that until today thought that male has more opportunities than female (i.e., job opportunities).
        I also agree with Chen; women are required to maintain social relationship and be more caring cross-culturally (of course, the extent to which it is an essential factor may vary in individualistic and collectivistic cultures). However, it does not change how we perceive and may judge based on our notion that typically we think of women and men.

  5. Dakota Egglefield says:

    Hi Scott,

    I definitely agree that there are perhaps other explanations for the results found by the authors. If women are more variable in informing, yet men are more variable in personality traits, couldn’t this mean be extended to mean that women are more variable in describing men? Similar to what you are saying, I think we would see more accuracy when looking at male informants on male personality and female informants on female personality, although how we describe accurate is another question (maybe match between self-report and informant report on that each facet).

    • Sophie Schiff says:

      As I was reading this article I was stuck on the fact that participants were told to pick anyone at random to evaluate as their target (within the age/gender descriptions provided). I understand that the authors wanted to limit the restrictions to get at variability in how people describe others (separate from actual personality variability of the targets), but I think it would have been an important piece to add a follow-up piece about the accuracy of the descriptions. In the discussion, the authors mention “Given that women seem to be more accurate judges of personality than men (Chan et al., 2011), it is likely that their personality judgments are more differentiated (Allik et al., 2010).” I wish the authors expanded more on this point, as I am unclear at what they mean. If women are supposed to be more accurate judges, and they vary more in their descriptions, wouldn’t we need to assess how informants evaluate the same target to draw meaningful conclusions about accuracy and variability in personality descriptions? I am finding it difficult to interpret these findings without a clearer picture of the targets’ actual personalities.

      • Bengi says:

        Hi Sophie, I also found it problematic that it was based on people picking up targets to talk about. Both the people picked up and according to which factors people make descriptions on seem to bring great variability that might be way too much for what is sought by an experiment. In this sense, it is really interesting, almost ironic that they emphasize differences in the “accuracy” of the descriptions of women.

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