Personality traits across countries: Support for similarities rather than differences

PLoS One. 2017 Jun 16;12(6):e0179646. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179646. eCollection 2017.


In the current climate of migration and globalization, personality characteristics of individuals from different countries have received a growing interest. Previous research has established reliable differences in personality traits across countries. The present study extends this research by examining 30 personality traits in 22 countries, based on an online survey in English with large national samples (NTotal = 130,602). The instrument used was a comprehensive, open-source measure of the Five Factor Model (FFM) (IPIP-NEO-120). We postulated that differences in personality traits between countries would be small, labeling this a Similarities Hypothesis. We found support for this in three stages. First, similarities across countries were observed for model fits for each of the five personality trait structures. Second, within-country sex differences for the five personality traits showed similar patterns across countries. Finally, the overall the contribution to personality traits from countries was less than 2%. In other words, the relationship between a country and an individual's personality traits, however interesting, are small. We conclude that the most parsimonious explanation for the current and past findings is a cross-country personality Similarities Hypothesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Personality*
  • Sex Characteristics*

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.