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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Oct;85(4):723-35.

Relationships between personality structure, structure of word meaning, and cognitive ability: a study of cultural mechanisms of personality.

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  • Department of Special Education, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia. aaro.toomela@ut.ee


Native-born Estonian men (N=912), 17-68 years old, participated in a study on relationships between personality characteristics, dominant structure of word meaning ("everyday concepts" thinking or "scientific concepts" thinking), and level of cognitive ability. Individuals who primarily used everyday concepts thinking or who possessed relatively low levels of cognitive ability did not reveal a coherent Big Five personality structure, whereas individuals who primarily used scientific concepts thinking or possessed high levels of cognitive ability did. Thus, personality may be shaped by a cultural factor--word meaning structure. Earlier studies, which seem to support the idea that Big Five personality structure is a biologically determined human universal, suffer from serious sampling problems and insufficient data analyses.

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