Personality and behavior prediction and consistency across cultures: A multimethod study of Blacks and Whites in South Africa.
The cross-cultural universality of behavior's consistency and predictability from personality, assumed in trait models though challenged in cultural psychological models, has usually been operationalized in terms of beliefs and perceptions, and assessed using single-instance self-reports. In a multimethod study of actual behavior across a range of situations, we examined predictability and consistency in participants from the more collectivistic Black ethnic group and the more individualistic White group in South Africa. Participants completed personality questionnaires before the behavior measurements. In Study 1, 107 Black and 241 White students kept diaries for 21 days, recording their behaviors and the situations in which they had occurred. In Study 2, 57 Black and 52 White students were video-recorded in 12 situations in laboratory settings, and external observers scored their behaviors. Across both studies, behavior was predicted by personality on average equally well in the 2 groups, and equally well when using trait-adjective-and behavior-based personality measures. The few cultural differences in situational variability were not in line with individualism-collectivism; however, subjective perceptions of variability, operationalized as dialectical beliefs, were more in line with individualism-collectivism: Blacks viewed their behavior as more variable than Whites. We propose drawing a distinction between subjective beliefs and objective behavior in the study of personality and culture. Larger cultural differences can be expected in beliefs and perceptions than in the links between personality and actual behavior.