Questions & Clarifications About Culture as Comfort

19.01.2012 Questions & Clarifications About Culture as Comfort 19 Comments

What about “Personality”?

Yesterday, Jan 18, in my presentation I was asked about the importance of personality to learning culture.  That’s a complex question, I responded, and I do not see it truly being addressed in the literature I have read so far.  Don’t get me wrong — there is a LOT of literature about personality and there is a lot of research on “it” but the link between one’s personality and learning culture is something I have not seen.  However, there is a great book that addresses current research on personality in non-academic prose.  It’s called Quirk by Hannah Holmes.  I highly recommend this book.  Basically, it seems that personality is about 50% innate and 50% environmental so there should be a relationship between personality and learning culture.  But there also is the innate part which I think is very interesting.  Holmes argues that all animal species have similar distributions of what we have come to call “personalities” meaning that some of us are more reserved, some more adventuresome and some of us are outrageous.  We need different “personality” types for survival — the adventuresome ones might get killed more often during normal times but are useful when there are difficult conditions such as lack of food.  They go out and find food even if it’s risky for them.  If “natural selection” selected against being adventuresome, we’d all end up more likely to be reserved and what would any species do when “normal” conditions become abnormal?  So we need this mix of personality types.  And this works well with people.  Some fret (that’s more like me) and some live in the present and don’t worry about tomorrow (that’s my husband).  Some plan and some don’t.  Some are introverts and some extroverts.  All of this matters on a variety of planes, but certainly it influences how willing we are to new experiences (read: cultural discomfort zones).  So there are definitely relationships between personality and culture, but we are only exploring them.  Be part of that great exploration!