A simple trick for testing and improving the cross-cultural comparability of self-reports

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Abstract / Description of output

An increasing amount of personality research is being carried out at the cultural level. Such research is based on the assumption that culture-level mean scores of personality traits are comparable. Yet there is evidence suggesting that this may not be the case. For instance, mean self-reported personality scores are not always congruent with objective criteria. One of the possible reasons for self-reports being incomparable across cultures is that people make their subjective judgements in relation to culture-specific standards (often called the reference group effect; RGE). Although widely acknowledged, the existence and effect of the RGE has rarely been tested in large-scale cross-cultural personality studies. We employed a simple technique called anchoring vignettes for testing whether people from 21 countries have different standards for Conscientiousness, a personality trait that has repeatedly shown unexpected country-level relationships with external criteria. All participants rated their own Conscientiousness and that of the 30 hypothetical persons portrayed in short vignettes, the latter type of ratings expected to reveal individual differences in standards of Conscientiousness. Controlling for the small differences in standards did not substantially change the rankings of countries on mean Conscientiousness scores, lending little support for mean self-rated Conscientiousness scores being influenced by the RGE.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2011
EventInternational Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID 2011) - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jul 201128 Jul 2011


ConferenceInternational Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID 2011)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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