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Isolated people have varied personalities
Indigenous people who live in isolation do not necessarily have certain personality traits previously believed to be universal. This is the suggestion of new research published by the American Psychological Association in its Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which showed members of the Tsimane culture in Bolivia do not always demonstrate the five broad dimensions of openness, extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism and agreeableness.
Led by Michael Gurven of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the study looked at 1,062 members of the culture and showed that - rather than exhibiting these five personality traits - these individuals displayed two examples of socially beneficial behaviour in the form of prosociality and industriousness.
Mr Gurven stated: "Several traits that bundle together among the Tsimane included efficiency, perseverance and thoroughness. These traits reflect the industriousness of a society of subsistence farmers."
He added differences between people in small-scale societies and those in larger communities is that they have fewer opportunities for cultural success and a limited choice for sexual partners.
Dr Ian Gargan, a Charterered Psychologist based in Dublin, comments:
"This fascinating research reflects the need for psychology to think bigger. Sir David Attenborough is currently explaining how the Galapagos islands remains the great introducer of new animal species just when we think there is no more momentous shifts in knowledge to experience from these wonderful islands.
"Michael Gurven's research highlights how modern techniques in psychology and increased global accessibility broadens our understanding of human psychology, not least the traits which cultivate human development.
"It is of the utmost importance to investigate what constitutes every society's personality in order to begin to understand and apply the mind's anatomy.
"Times move on - narrow demographics from Westernised populations facilitated research in the past but a wider net is now required. The existence of diverse cultures improves understanding of what psychology can offer to the larger populations. New technology and versatile psychologists who can now share knowledge across continents as well as travel easily provides a wonderful opportunity to apply previous learning to a grander investigation."
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