Skip to main content

Full text of "Studying Personality Cross Culturally"

See other formats



.37 K17s 66- 19013 

Spiuu 5,0,50 

Studying personality cross- 

D T1DD1 DE7ED13 3 

5.1966 ,. 

FEB:OUW ,.. 





University of Kansas 


New York, Evanston, and London 


Copyright 1961 by Harper Row, Publishers, Incorporated 

All rights in this book are reserved. 
No part of the book may be used or reproduced 
in any manner whatsoever without written per- 
mission except in the case of brief quotations 
embodied in critical articles and reviews. For 
information address: 

Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated, 
49 East 33rd Street, New York 16, N. Y. 

Library of Congress catalog card number 

To the Memory of Clyde Kluckhohn 



Editor's Introduction 


"!,. A Survey of Culture and Personality Theory and Research 


2. Social Systems, Personality, and Functional Analysis 


3. The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 


4. Social Structure and the Development of Personality 


5. Modal Personality and Adjustment to the Soviet Socio- 
political System 


6. Two Types of Modal Personality Models 


7. Slavery and Personality 



viii Contents 


8. Personality and Social Interaction 


9. Personality Study and Culture 


10. Linguistic Aspects of Cross-Cultural Personality Study 


1 1 . Art and Mythology 


12. Key Issues in the Cross-Cultural Study of Mental Disorders 


13. An American Researcher in Paris: Interviewing Frenchmen 



14. Transcultural Variables and Conceptual Equivalence 


15. Behavior Units for the Comparative Study of Cultures 


16. A Modal Personality Technique in the Study of Menomini 


17. Basic Personality in a New Zealand Maori Community 


18. Personality Study in Israeli Kibbutzim 



19. Cross-Cultural Psychiatric Interviewing 


20. Dream Analysis 


Contents ix 

21. The Interpretation of Dreams in Anthropological Field Work: 
A Case Study 


22. Projective Tests in Cross-Cultural Research 


23. Symbolic Analysis in the Cross-Cultural Study of Personality 

GEORGE DE Vos 599 

24. A Young Thai from the Countryside 


Editor's Epilogue: A Final Word 


Index 671 


Ihis volume is presented in the belief that progress in the social sciences 
depends to a considerable degree upon the continued development of 
the culture and personality field which stands at the crossroads of many 
of the most important problems of both individual and societal function- 
ing. One of the major roadblocks to this development is the difficulty 
of collecting and interpreting adequate empirical materials descriptive 
of personality processes in the world's cultures. 

Although the culture and personality field is relatively new it has al- 
ready passed through two main phases. The first, a period of tremendous 
enthusiasm, began in the 1940's. Large numbers of workers eagerly em- 
barked on cross-cultural personality studies and the swiftly mobilized 
interest almost had the proportions of a fad. In part, this work was stimu- 
lated by the availability of a ready-made methodology and a set of 
methods mainly utilizing projective techniques which promised 
definitive results with a relatively small commitment of time and energy. 
This promise proved to be an illusion. The materials were easy enough 
to collect but were difficult or impossible to interpret and to integrate, 
with any reasonable claim to validity, into ongoing anthropological 

The consequent disillusionment led to the second period, one charac- 
terized by a sharp decrease in culture and personality research, although 
interest in its positive accomplishments probably remains as high or 
higher than ever. What has now come to be generally realized is that in 
the culture and personality field there are few easy answers and the most 
fundamental and elementary issues still need considerable clarification 
and research. 

This volume is an introduction to the culture and personality field 
viewed from the vantage point of workers in it who are struggling to 
clarify a variety of theoretical and methodological issues and to develop 
adequate methods for collecting and interpreting empirical personality 

2 Studying Personality Cross-Culturally 

materials. It is not a manual describing how to go about doing cross- 
cultural personality studies because, at this primitive stage, we do not 
know how; a simple concentration on methods might give the impression 
that we did. Rather, the book seeks to grapple with the issues prelimi- 
nary to actual empirical study. These problems involve so much more 
than personality study itself that they lead into almost every important 
realm of social science and reveal the complex network of psychologi- 
cal and social issues, at the nexus of which the culture and personality 
field stands. 

The volume thus comprehends a broad area of theory and research 
but organizes materials in such a way that they become relevant to the 
special problems of personality study. Through its various contributions 
it presents successively, an extended historical account of the major is- 
sues in the culture and personality field, a series of theoretical papers 
analyzing the role of personality and motivational processes in societal 
functioning, a discussion of the development of personality as it involves 
socialization and preparation for social participation, a series of meth- 
odological papers that clarify problems of doing cross-cultural research, 
a survey of relations between linguistics and cross-cultural personality 
study, an attempt to develop a framework for seeing the influence of 
cultural factors in personality study, discussions of projective techniques, 
dreams, and psychiatric interviewing, a discussion of the problem of in- 
terpreting psychic symbolism across cultures, an analysis of the role of 
myth and artistic productions and finally a discussion of methodological 
issues in the cross-cultural study of mental illness. 

An integral part of the present volume is a series of case studies pre- 
sented in appropriate places throughout the book. These cases serve as 
concrete illustrations of some of the issues discussed in the more theo- 
retical chapters and show how the latter can be transformed into em- 
pirical research or analysis. Many of the cases, moreover, are them- 
selves major contributions to theory and methodology, although their 
analysis is presented in the context of a particular set of empirical data. 

The book does not attempt to offer complete and comprehensive 
coverage of the culture and personality field. Students should be directed 
to use it in conjunction with three or four other works with which most 
workers will be familiar. Salient among these are Inkeles and Levinson's 
paper, "National Character: The Study of Modal Personality and Socio- 
cultural Systems" which ably clarifies the present course of the culture 
and personality field, Honigmann's textbook, Culture and Personality 
which provides an admirable and comprehensive account of the field, 
and Mead and Metraux's provocative collection of essays on The Study 
of Culture at a Distance which embodies a wide variety of imaginative 
approaches to the problem of personality study. It also should be supple- 

Editor's Introduction 3 

mented by discussions of particular methods like Hallowell's fine paper, 
"The Rorschach Technique in Personality and Culture Studies." 

Although the great bulk of the work in the culture and personality 
field has been done by anthropologists, the authors of these chapters 
come from a half dozen different disciplines: anthropology, psychology, 
psychiatry, sociology, psychoanalysis and history. This reflects the nature 
of the problem of cross-cultural personality study, which so urgently re- 
quires interdisciplinary collaboration. The field as a whole is one of the 
great meeting grounds of the social sciences, a situation that virtually in- 
sures its continuing to be exciting, important, and reactive to crosscur- 
rents of ideas coming from many different directions. Unfortunately, 
there are disadvantages as well; the most obvious is the difficulty in com- 
munication among workers who have different backgrounds and the dif- 
ferences in professional values which lead workers to approach the same 
problem with a variety of conceptions of what is important. It is well to 
recognize that culture and personality research in general and cross- 
cultural personality study in particular can occur in quite different 
frameworks. The sociologist and anthropologist for example, preoc- 
cupied with the problems of societal cohesion and functioning, of under- 
standing the bases of social order and of social change, utilize the data of 
personality studies in a way that undoubtedly seems strange and alien to 
the psychologist and psychiatrist, concerned with the understanding of 
personality development and functioning and only interested in those as- 
pects of socio-cultural systems that have to do with these problems. The 
need for interdisciplinary collaboration does not eliminate the basic dif- 
ference in the problems that concern the social and the psychological 
sciences. In the midst of this collaboration a chasm exists, which can be 
ignored only at the risk of confusion and frustration. 

From the sociologist's perspective the main question is whether the 
kind of personality processes that exist in a group make a difference in 
the way that societies function. The hypothesis which has most domi- 
nated the culture and personality field derives from the work of such 
thinkers as Max Weber, Abram Kardiner, Erich Fromm, Talcott Par- 
sons and David Riesman. It holds that efficient societal functioning de- 
pends upon the existence in its members of congruent personality or mo- 
tivational structures, sometimes referred to as social character. This 
congruence is thought to be produced by the shaping of personality by 
society's socialization institutions. While the correctness of this theory is 
generally taken for granted, there are enough doubts that its testing and 
evaluation are one of the main tasks of empirical cross-cultural research. 
Inkeles, for example asks, "Is there a significant difference between vari- 
ous national and sub-national populations in the distribution of dis- 
crete traits or personality types, and if so how does this affect the 

4 Studying Personality Cross-Culturally 

functioning of the social system? Can we assume that a given social 
structure will operate in much the same way regardless of the set of per- 
sonalities placed in that context?" He asserts, "No one has ever tested a 
national population or even a main sub-population rising either on ade- 
quate sample or adequate psychological instruments. All assertions ^or 
details of national, sub-national, regional or class differences of major 
magnitudes therefore remain mere statements of faith. And until we have 
accumulated the basic facts, the other questions of course must be held 
in abeyance." * 

The culture and personality field is no less important for an under- 
standing of personality functioning than it is for social functioning. The 
question that is most generally posed by psychologists and psychiatrists 
concerns the nature of the influence of the social environment in which 
the person develops, and its effect on the course of his development. 
Almost all of our present theories hold that this social influence is a pro- 
found one. There is much room, however, for more differentiated theo- 
ries to tell us what sorts of environmental conditions will produce what 
kinds of effects. Cross-cultural personality studies have a vitally impor- 
tant role in providing the necessary data. The problem of influence it- 
self is an interesting one. Work in the field of communication has been 
especially concerned with what actually goes on when one person influ- 
ences another. One might ask as well, what happens when a person is 
influenced by a culture pattern. 

While the volume provides a general introduction to the culture and 
personality field its main focus is the problem of cross-cultural personal- 
ity study. A number of workers have given this problem attention, no- 
tably Margaret Mead and her colleagues and A. I. HaHowell. But 
there has in general not been the realization that, until much greater 
progress is made, the data collected in empirical studies of personality 
may be actually incorrect and misleading. The tendency during the past 
fifteen years has been to apply techniques developed in our own society. 
This is done reluctantly because it is not clear how valid they are in other 
cultures. Still, in the absence of a real science of cross-cultural study, 
there is no good alternative. It is the purpose of this book to contribute 
to the development of this science. Its contribution consists principally 
in calling attention to the importance, and interest of cross-cultural 
studies and pointing to some directions from which they may be ap- 
proached. The science itself is undoubtedly a great many years from 
fruition and is dependent in part on the development by psychologists 
and psychiatrists of more sophisticated and more valid ways of studying 
personality in our own society. It depends also, however, on the an- 

* "Personality and Social Structure," in Merton, R. K., Broom, L., and 
Cottrell, L. S., Sociology Today, Basic Books Inc., New York, 1959. 

Editor's Introduction 5 

thropologist's ability to comprehend and apply what goes on in the per- 
sonality study situation, and on the ability of social scientists to fathom 
the difficulties of communication and understanding between people 
who are different from each other. When these problems are even par- 
tially solved the benefits will extend far beyond the confines of the 
culture and personality field and become relevant to the general prob- 
lem of intercultural understanding. 


In the conception of this volume and in its editing, I have been helped 
by a great many friends and colleagues. I would like especially to ex- 
press my gratitude to Dorothy Eggan, Rollin Posey, Melford Spiro, Jay 
Jackson, Louise and George Spindler, A. Irving Hallowell and Milton 
Singer. Although they had no direct connection with the book I am most 
keenly aware of the great influence of Clyde Kluckhohn, Talcott Par- 
sons, Gardner Murphy, David Riesman, Robert W. White, Henry A. 
Murray and Alex Inkeles. My appreciation is deepest to my wife Her- 





About the Chapter 

Dr. SINGER'S survey of the culture and personality field sets the stage for 
our consideration of the more specific questions of cross-cultural personality 
study. He delineates the main theoretical and empirical issues in the field 
and places them in historical perspective. Major empirical studies and theo- 
retical works are reviewed critically. The relationship of the study of the 
personality characteristics of individuals to such concepts as cultural charac- 
ter, social character, basic personality structure, and modal personality is 
clarified. The chapter also explores the field of national character and relates 
it to culture and personality study. 

About the Author 

Milton Singer is Paul Klapper Professor of the Social Sciences in the De- 
partment of Anthropology and in the College, University of Chicago. He re- 
ceived his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1940. During 1954-55, 
he travelled in India and Asia. He is co-author, with Gerhart Piers, of 
Shame and Guilt, A Psychoanalytic and a Cultural Study. With Robert Red- 
field he wrote "The Cultural Role of Cities," for Economic Development 
and Culture Change, and for Man in India. Dr. Singer was co-editor with 
Robert Redfield of the series Comparative Studies of Cultures and Civiliza- 
tions; editor of Introducing India in Liberal Education, Proceedings of a 
Conference; and editor and co-author of Traditional India: Structure and 
Change. His special interests are the comparative study of civilizations and 
particularly India, the relations of cultural anthropology to psychology, and 
philosophy of the social sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Anthro- 
pological Association and, for 1957-58, was a Fellow at the Center for the 
Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. 

A cknowledgments 

This article is based on material developed by the author over a period of 
years in classes and seminars at the University of Chicago. Colleagues and 
students there provided a unique interdisciplinary forum for the free exchange 
of ideas. To the late Robert Redfield especially and the program of Compara- 
tive Studies of Cultures and Civilizations under his direction, and supported 
by the Ford Foundation, the author owes much in intellectual stimulation and 
professional support. While a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in 
the Behavioral Sciences during 1957-58, discussions with John Tukey and 
Edgar Anderson elucidated some of the statistical issues in personality and 
culture research. Helen Singer, Dorothy and Fred Eggan, Bert Kaplan, 
Alfred Kroeber, Clyde Kluckhohn, and Melford Spiro were kind enough to 
read the manuscript and to make helpful suggestions for its improvement. 
The author is indebted to Margit Gerow and Barbara Dwyer for help in 
preparing the manuscript for press. 

A Survey of Culture and Personality 
Theory and Research 


University of Chicago 


Until a few years ago the field of culture and personality theory and 
research was considered an American heresy in anthropology. Today 
it is no longer a heresy, and in a few more years it will no longer be dis- 
tinctively American. 

Before 1920, anthropology in the United States was predominantly 
non-psychological if not anti-psychological, and the culture and person- 
ality approach was unknown (Kluckhohn, 1944b). Within the next fif- 
teen years, say from 1920 to 1935, not only were the ideas inherent in 
such an approach actively discussed, but field research was undertaken 
and collaboration between anthropologists and psychiatrists was begun. 
This was the period of Margaret Mead's South Sea studies, Ruth Bene- 
dict's articles and book on patterns of culture, and Edward Sapir's influ- 
ential articles on the relations of anthropology and psychiatry. 

In 1931, after Sapir left Chicago for Yale, he collaborated with John 
Dollard on a special seminar on culture and personality at the sugges- 
tion of Lawrence Frank, then of the Rockefeller Foundation. During 
this same period the Social Science Research Council recognized the 


10 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

new interdisciplinary field by sponsoring symposia and by having Wil- 
liam I. Thomas prepare a special report on the possibilities and prob- 
lems of research on culture and personality (Volkart, 1951). 

The most important stimulus during this formative period was psycho- 
analytic psychology. It was in fact the encounter of anthropology, and to 
a lesser extent sociology and political science, with psychoanalysis, that 
gave rise to culture and personality studies. One of the first public rec- 
ords of this encounter is A. L. Kroeber's review of Freud's Totem and 
Taboo, which appeared in the American Anthropologist in 1920. Al- 
though he found the book "an important and valuable contribution" to 
the psychology underlying cultural anthropology, which "every ethnolo- 
gist must sooner or later take into consideration," and expressed interest 
in extending Freud's point of view, Kroeber devoted most of the review 
to demolishing Freud's principal thesis that the origins of culture and 
society meet in the Oedipus complex. The general tone of the review is 
highly critical: "This book is keen without orderliness, intricately rather 
than closely reasoned, and endowed with an unsubstantiated convincing- 
ness." Psychoanalysts who wish to establish serious contacts with histori- 
cal ethnology are told that they "must first learn to know that such an 
ethnology exists." 

Twenty years later, in 1939, Kroeber wrote another review of Totem 
and Taboo, in which he said he saw "no reason to waver" over his ear- 
lier critical analysis. Nevertheless, as an amende honorable, he took a 
kindlier view of psychoanalysis. He now thinks Freud's explanation of 
culture would deserve, aLJgast "serious consideration as a scientific hy- 
pothesis," if it were restate^ as a proposition about the constant opera- 
tion of certain psychic processes for example, the incest drive, incest 
repression, and filial ambivalence in widespread human institutions. 
He still finds that psychoanalysis refuses to undertake such a restate- 
ment, because of its indifference to history and to accepted scientific at- 
titudes, and its dogmatic all-or-none attitude which resists influences 
from without. Kroeber cites as examples of this last trait Ernest Jones's 
resistance to Malinowskfs discovery of a matrilineal form of the Oedipus 
complex among the Trobriand Islanders and Roheim's Psychoanalysis 
of Primitive Culture Types of 1932. 

In this later review, nevertheless, Kroeber lists Freud's concepts of 
repression, regression, infantile persistences, dream symbolism, over- 
determination, guilt sense, and the affects toward members of the fam- 
ily, as ideas which have "gradually seeped into general science and 
become an integral and important part of it." On the other hand, the con- 
cepts of the censor, the superego, and the castration complex, and the 
explanations of specific cultural phenomena have not, he says, found 
their way into science. The conclusion of the review is a tribute to Freud: 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 1 1 

We ... if I may speak for ethnologists, though remaining unconverted, 
have met Freud, recognize the encounter as memorable, and herewith re- 
salute him. 

Anthropology's encounter with psychoanalysis was not restricted to 
the United States. In 1924 the British anthropologist, C. G. Seligman, 
then president of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain 
and Ireland, took for his presidential address the subject "Anthropology 
and Psychology: A Study of Some Points of Contact." In this address, 
Seligman suggests several possible developments in the "little known 
borderland where social anthropology, psychology, and genetics meet in 
common biological kinship." He discusses Jung's introvert and extrovert 
"types" in relation to racial genetics, as exhibited in art, and as charac- 
teristic of some races. Seligman's classifications are a bit casual: "sav- 
ages" belong to the extrovert type, although chiefs and medicine men 
may be introverts; Europeans are predominantly extrovert, and Hindus 
are introvert. The same address also suggests "the beginning of a pur- 
posive investigation of the unconscious among non-European races" 
through the study of their dreams. Referring to dreams collected for him 
by officials and missionaries in the Sudan as well as to those he himself 
collected among Sudanese Arabs, Nile Negroids, Papuo-Melanesians, 
and Veddas, Seligman concludes that the dream-mechanisms of non- 
Europeans "appear to be the same as in ourselves" and include dreams 
with the same manifest content, to which identical unconscious meanings 

In a later paper of 1932, "Anthropological Perspective and Psycho- 
logical Theory," Seligman appeals to anthropologists "to study more 
deeply than has hitherto been the common practice the ideas, seldom, 
I think, verbally expressed, that lie behind the beliefs and customs which 
we, as anthropologists, are accustomed to describe." In this paper he ap- 
plies a Freudian theory to a group of observances which dramatize the 
desire or fear of an individual. He also suggests that the works of Freud 
and Jung are important for anthropology because the psychological prob- 
lems arising in anthropology "lie for the most part not in the sphere of 
cognition to which most attention has been paid in the psychology of 
consciousness but in the sphere of motive and emotion." This too is 
the reason Seligman gives for the failure of the psychological research 
of the Torres Straits expedition to raise fresh questions: ". . . it was 
almost entirely limited to the experimental psychology of the sense or- 
gans and to reaction time." 

Perhaps better known and more directly influential than Seligman's 
efforts to bring anthropology and psychoanalysis together were the stud- 
ies of Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands, particularly his Sex and Re- 
pression in Savage Society (1927) and The Sexual Life of Swages 

12 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

(1929). The first of these was in part the outcome of a debate in writ- 
ing with the British analyst, Ernest Jones. Malinowski acknowledges, 
however, the stimulus of Seligman in the preface to the 1927 edition of 
Sex and Represssion: 

The instructions sent to me by my friend Prof. C. G. Seligman, and some 
literature with which he kindly supplied me, stimulated me to reflect on the 
manner in which the Oedipus complex and other manifestations of the "un- 
conscious" might appear in a community founded on mother right. The ac- 
tual observations on the matrilineal complex among Melanesians are to my 
knowledge the first application of psychoanalytic theory to the study of sav- 
age life . . . 

What these instructions were Malinowski does not say, but they prob- 
ably were not too different from the list of questions which Seligman dis- 
cusses in his 1932 paper and which he says were proposed by Evans- 

( 1 ) Can the anthropologist collect data full enough and of sufficient rele- 
vance to throw light on psychoanalytic theory? 

(2) Are the phases called by the psychoanalyst "oral", "anal", "genital", 
and "latent" in the life-history of the individual, common to all races and cul- 

(3) If so, are these stages universally determined by biological factors, or 
by social conditions? 

(4) Are the same symbols used by different races in similar circumstances 
or identical situations? 

(5) Do the symptom-formations of members of our Western civilization 
differ from those of other communities? (p. 209) 

In addition to these anthropologists who saw the relevance of psycho- 
analysis for their work, there were also psychoanalysts who ventured 
into anthropological applications. Freud's Totem and Taboo may have 
been an irritant, but it was also a stimulant. His Civilization and Its Dis- 
contents (1930) and Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego 
(1922) were more direct applications of psychoanalysis to culture and 
society. Rank, Jones, and Sachs also wrote in these fields. It was, how- 
ever, Geza Roheim, a psychoanalytically trained ethnologist, whose 
fieldwork and point of view came closest to what was to become the 
culture and personality approach. Roheim did some psychoanalytic 
field studies in 1928-31 in Central Australia, Somaliland, and the Nor- 
manby Islands, with the support of Marie Bonaparte. The first report on 
these studies was published in a special number of The International 
Journal of Psychoanalysis for 1932 under the title "The Psychoanalysis 
of Primitive Culture Types." R6heim says that much of this report was 
written as preparation for lectures which he gave during his return jour- 
ney at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the New York 
Psychoanalytical Society, the Paris Psychoanalytical Society, the Berlin 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 13 

Psychoanalytical Institute, and the Budapest Psychoanalytical Society 
and Ethnographical Society. 

While Roheim eventually came to influence many anthropologists, 
this early report and the lectures were too strong a brew for most of them 
to swallow. Roheim on his part was, like many of his fellow analysts, 
pretty haughty toward anthropologists. Here is his comment on Mali- 
no wski: 

Some of you may be under the impression that psycho-analysis has already 
been applied in anthropological field-work by Professor Malinowski. Al- 
though he does not claim to be a psycho-analyst himself, some of his state- 
ments are rather misleading. Thus, for instance, he mentions that when he 
was in the Trobriands and Professor Seligman sent him some of Freud's 
books to read he set out to test the validity of Freud's dream-theory on the 
Trobrianders. Fancy! Somebody who admits that he has never analysed a 
dream himself for the obvious reason that he does not know how to do it 
is testing Freud's theory! (1932, p. 7) 

On the side of method, Roheim stressed that the aim of anthropology 
should be "to find the latent wish-fulfilment in each specific type of so- 
cial organization just as we can reduce a dream or a neurosis to such a 
latent formula." In order to do this, he proposed that anthropologists 
collect and interpret data which would open the door to the unconscious 
information on dreams, life histories, sexual life, rearing of children, 
myths, ceremonies, customs interpreted with the help of a personal 
knowledge of the informant, jokes, casual remarks, slips of the tongue, 
etc. This "new anthropology" would not be able to do what the clinical 
analyst can do, but it could do "all that the old style anthropology could 
do and much more besides." On the basis of investigations similar to 
his, he believed that it would be possible to set up a psychological classi- 
fication of mankind. 

Despite these early and serious interests of Seligman, Malinowski, and 
Roheim in bringing anthropology and psychoanalytic psychology closer 
together, their example was not immediately followed in Europe by a 
significant number of anthropologists and did not result in the recogni- 
tion of a new field (Evans-Pritchard, 1929; Richards, 1932; Fortes, 
1957). In the United States, the pioneer writings of Margaret Mead, 
Sapir, and Benedict were quickly followed after 1935 by a rapid in- 
crease of research, teaching, and publication in personality and culture. 
A growing number of anthropologists were psychoanalyzed, and some 
leading psychoanalysts and psychiatrists collaborated with anthropolo- 
gists or were influenced by anthropology. One of the most notable in- 
stances of such collaboration was a series of seminars organized by Dr. 
Abram Kardiner, a psychiatrist, at the New York Psychoanalytic Insti- 
tute from about 1936 to 1940. Among the anthropologists who partici- 

14 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

pated in these seminars were Cora DuBois, Ruth Benedict, Ruth Bun- 
zel, and Ralph Linton. Several important publications resulted directly 
or indirectly from these seminars. (See the sections on "Basic Personal- 
ity Structure" and "Modal Personality" in this chapter.) 

A larger scale example of collaboration at the research level was the 
Indian Education Research Project organized by the United States Bu- 
reau of Indian Affairs in 1941 in cooperation with the Committee on 
Human Development at the University of Chicago. This project studied 
personality development among the Hopi, Navaho, Papago, Sioux, and 
Zuni. Monographs on the first four tribes have already appeared. 
(Thompson and Joseph, 1944; Kluckhohn and Leighton, 1946; Mac- 
Gregor, 1946; Joseph, Spicer, and Chesky, 1949.) In addition to an- 
thropologists, psychologists and psychiatrists participated. The influence 
of psychoanalysis was more indirect here than in Kardiner's seminars, 
but psychological tests were systematically used. 

After the Second World War, another large-scale research project 
was organized in New York City to apply the personality and culture 
approach to the study of modern nations. This research was directed 
first by Ruth Benedict at Columbia University and later by Margaret 
Mead at the American Museum of Natural History. This series of proj- 
ects, which ended in 1953, involved a group of more than 120 research- 
ers, representing fourteen disciplines and sixteen nationalities. Many 
publications have resulted from it, and others are still to appear. 

The interest stimulated by psychoanalysis in the individual life history 
and in personal documents afiected not only anthropology but sociology, 
political science, and other social sciences. This interest seems in fact to 
have had sources partly independent of psychoanalytic theory and 
technique. In sociology one of the influential sources was The Polish 
Peasant (1917-18) by W. I. Thomas and R Znaniecki, a work that 
made extensive use of personal documents and included a lengthy meth- 
odological note on their use (Hinkle, 1952; Volkart, 1953). From the 
Social Science Research Council's selection of this work for appraisal 
(Blumer, 1939) grew a special series of studies on personal documents 
in psychology (Allport, 1942), in history (Gottschalk, 1945), in an- 
thropology (Kluckhohn, 1945), and in sociology (Angell, 1945). 

The pioneer life histories in anthropology (e.g. Radin 1913, 1926) 
were not psychoanalytically or even psychologically oriented. Only in 
the late thirties and early forties do the full-length life histories begin to 
appear (Dyk, 1938, 1947; Ford, 1941; Simmons, 1942). In addition to 
Seligman's early efforts, an important collection of primitive dreams, 
culturally as well as psychoanalytically interpreted, was published in 
1935 by Lincoln. 

In political science, Lasswell was one of the first to introduce personal 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 15 

documents and psychoanalytic orientations, and to see their implica- 
tions for personality and culture theory (Lasswell, 1930, 1937, 1939, 
1948). John Bollard's Criteria for the Life History, 1935, was a major 
formulation by a psychologist which both reflected and influenced the 
social scientist's growing preoccupation with the individual personality. 
One may measure the present status of personality and culture as a 
field in anthropology by noting that the first comprehensive collection 
of readings from periodical literature was published in 1948 by Kluck- 
hohn and Murray. For their selections, the editors say they examined 
over a thousand relevant articles. A second and revised edition ap- 
peared in 1953. Other collections of readings by Haring (1949, 1956), 
and by Sargent and Smith (1949), also appeared about the same time. 
The second edition of Kroeber's general survey of anthropology ap- 
peared in 1948 and contains a substantial discussion of "cultural psy- 
chology," whereas the first edition of 1923, which I used as an under- 
graduate in the 1930's, contained nothing on this subject. The first 
general textbook on culture and personality was published in 1954 by 
John Honigmann. Courses in the field are now an accepted part of the 
anthropology curriculum, and papers on it are regularly presented at 
professional meetings and appear in the professional journals. 


The relationship of personality and culture theory to research has al- 
ways been a close one. Very little theory has been developed without 
immediate reference to ongoing research, and the research has usually 
been designed to answer questions raised by theory. This fruitful inter- 
action of theory and research has tended to cluster about problem areas 
which constitute the dominant themes in the development of the field. I 
discern three such major problem areas: the relation of culture to hu- 
man nature; the relation of culture to typical personality; and the rela- 
tion of culture to individual personality. There are additional important 
problem areas, among them the relation of culture change to personal- 
ity change and the relation of culture to abnormal personality. But these 
grow out of and are subsidiary to the dominant three problems which 
have been the persistent preoccupations of the field. The prominence 
of just these three groups of problems is not surprising, for they reflect 
the efforts of anthropologists to relate culture to the three elementary 
logical possibilities which Kluckhohn and Murray (1948, 1953) have so 
clearly stated and explained, namely, that every man is in certain re- 
spects like all other men, like some other men, and like no other man. 
If we ask how far a man's resemblance to all other men is a matter of 
culture, we raise the question of culture and human nature; if we ask 

1 6 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

how far his resemblances to some other men derive from the fact that 
those others are members of his tribe, his nation, his class, his occupa- 
tion, and the like, we raise the question of culture and typical personal- 
ity; and finally, if we ask how far an individual's uniqueness is a matter 
of culture, we raise the question of how the individual personality is 
related to culture. 

All these problem areas have received some attention, but there have 
been significant relative shifts in the attention given to each group of 
problems. In the formative period, i.e., about 1920-1935, the relation 
of culture to human nature was the chief preoccupation of theory and 
research; then this problem receded and has only recently been return- 
ing to the forefront of interest. The relation of culture to typical personal- 
ity has probably been the most persistent and popular problem; it was 
taken up immediately after the formative period and has continued to 
the present. Although the relation of individual personality to culture is 
in a sense the heart of the culture and personality field, this problem area 
has been somewhat underdeveloped in both theory and research as com- 
pared with the other two. There are evidences of increasing attention in 
some recent publications. I shall now describe in greater detail some of 
the most significant contributions to each of these problem areas. 


In the preface to the 1939 reissue of her South Sea studies, Margaret 
Mead graphically describes the climate of opinion in the 1920's which 
stimulated her and other anthropologists to concern themselves with the 
relation of culture to human nature: 

It was a simple a very simple point to which our materials were organ- 
ized in the 1920's, merely the documentation over and over of the fact that 
human nature is not rigid and unyielding, not an unadaptable plant which in- 
sists on flowering or becoming stunted after its own fashion, responding only 
quantitatively to the social environment, but that it is extraordinarily adapta- 
ble, that cultural rhythms are stronger and more compelling than the physio- 
logical rhythms which they overlay and distort, that the failure to satisfy an 
artificial, culturally stimulated need for outdistancing one's neighbours in 
our society, for instance, or for wearing the requisite number of dog's teeth 
among the Manus may produce more unhappiness and frustration in the 
human breast than the most rigorous cultural curtailment of the physiologi- 
cal demands of sex or hunger. We had to present evidence that human 
character is built upon a biological base which is capable of enormous diver- 
sification in terms of social standards, (p. x) 

Educated opinion in the 1920's and 1930's quickly accepted the an- 
thropologists' evidence of human nature's plasticity. Theories of original 
human nature were put on the defensive and became unfashionable. Al- 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 17 

though psychoanalysis was becoming popular with this same group, 
psychoanalytic theories about the universal Oedipus, the ubiquity of 
dream symbolism, the stages of personality development, and the dif- 
ferences between male and female psychology, were generally regarded 
as over-generalizations^from a single culture and in need of qualification 
by such cross-cultural studies as Margaret Mead's and Malinowski's. 
The general stance was critical and disposed to reiterate the formula: 
"It's not human nature, but only our culture." 

This formula was first stated and developed in this period not by an- 
thropologists but by a social philosopher. It will be found very persua- 
sively presented in John Dewey's Human Nature and Conduct, pub- 
lished in 1922 on the eve of the field studies that were to document it. 
References to this work of Dewey's as a standard text recur in Malinow- 
ski, Mead, Benedict and other anthropologists. Malinowski quotes sev- 
eral apt paragraphs from it as the motto for his Sex and Repression in 
Savage Society, among them the following: 

We need to know about the social conditions which have educated original 
activities into definite and significant dispositions before we can discuss the 
psychological element in society. This is the true meaning of social psychol- 
ogy . . . Native human nature supplies the raw materials but custom fur- 
nishes the machinery and the designs . . . Man is a creature of habit, not 
of reason nor yet of instinct, (p. xv) 

In the same 1939 preface, Margaret Mead sums up the general result 
of this "battle" against human nature: 

The battle which we once had to fight with the whole battery at our com- 
mand, with the most fantastic and startling examples that we could muster, 
is now won. As the' devout in the Middle Ages would murmur a precau- 
tionary "God willing" before stating a plan or a wish, those who write about 
the problems of man and society have learned to insert a precautionary "in 
our culture" into statements which would have read, fifteen years ago, merely 
as "Adolescence is always a time of stress and strain," "Children are more 
imaginative than adults," "All artists are neurotics," "Women are more pas- 
sive than men," etc., with no such precautionary phrase, (pp. x xi) 

From our present vantage point, the issues appear more complex, the 
victory less decisive. A good deal of psychoanalytic theory, for example, 
was incorporated in the very process of resistance to it, and the problem 
of integrating this theory of individual psychology with cultural theory 
itself became and continues to be a major issue. The work of Lorenz, 
Tinbergen, and other "ethologists" has again made "instinct" a respecta- 
ble word. Since the second world war, also, "human nature" and the 
"psychic unity of mankind," or at least the problem of their relation to 
culture, has reasserted itself among anthropologists. Kroeber, recogniz- 

18 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

ing that the "psychic unity of man" cannot be considered to be either a 
proved fact or an axiomatic principle, thinks it is 

... so overwhelmingly borne out by the run of total experience that the 
anthropologist or the sociologist feels warranted in assuming the principle of 
essential psychic unity as at least a sufficient approximation to the truth, and 
to employ it as a working hypothesis, or at any rate as a convenient symbol. 
(1948, pp. 527-73) 

The facts of cultural transmission from generation to generation and 
from one population to another would not, according to Kroeber, be 
what they are if we did not have a uniform human nature. Basing him- 
self on a somewhat different order of facts, Roheim feels that 

the psychic unity of mankind is more than a working hypothesis, it is so ob- 
vious that it hardly needs proof. Even if mankind should prove to be derived 
from a variety of semi-anthropoid ancestors, it is evident that some sort of 
common process is involved in becoming human and that we have more in 
common even with a South African Bushman than with an ape or monkey. 
(1950, p. 435) 

But what is so obvious for Roheim that this common process is the 
unconscious and its mechanisms is not so obvious for others. For 
Roheim, the basic oedipal tendencies are the same in all, although the 
"customary traumata" involved in different child-rearing practices may 
introduce quantitative variations and, in primitive cultures at least, dif- 
ferent basic personalities. 

Roheim's polemic against Kardiner and the cultural anthropologists is 
the recent counterpart of Ernest Jones' polemic against Malinowski. 
But the present argument has profited from the earlier, and from what 
has happened since. The antagonists are now closer together than they 
-were in the 1920's. Both sides have scaled down Freud's "archaic herit- 
age" to some inherited dispositions and capacities, a limited number 
of unconscious mechanisms, and possibly a bit of universal symbolism. 
The recapitulation theory has been abandoned, as has the theory that 
the Oedipus complex was at the origin of prehistoric cultures. The 
points of disagreement are some details in the assumptions about human 
nature and the degree to which specific institutions can modify the "com- 
mon process" involved in becoming human. 

This more complex and sophisticated position has been stated on the 
side of the psychoanalysts by Hartman, Kris, and Loewenstein in their 
comments on personality and culture (1951). These analysts "assume 
readily" that "cultural conditions produce variations of behavior during 
the [oedipal] conflict situation." They are inclined to believe in the wide 
range of these variations, many of which they have observed in clinical 
situations. They also do not find it necessary "to stress as much as he 
[Freud] the hereditary elements in the formation of the oedipus com- 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 1 9 

plex." Yet they are not prepared to accept reports concerning the ab- 
sence of the Oedipus complex under given social situations. Such state- 
ments seem to them "frequently due to the fact that observers have too 
simple or too narrow a view of what is meant by oedipal conflict." Al- 
leged variations of oedipal phantasies, e.g. the phantasy of adoption 
among American children, can be meaningfully related to American 
family size, frequency of adoption, etc., "if seen against the background 
of the universal patterns." Anthropologists, they believe, are still tempted 
"to draw conclusions from observed behavior to underlying motivations 
and neglect frequently, paradoxically enough, to take into account that 
in different environments similar impulses may find different expres- 
sions." They do this when they emphasize institutional factors in per- 
sonality formation, overlooking the fact that "institutions affect different 
individuals in different degrees and in different directions," and when 
they rely on external observations of mother-child relationships with- 
out reference to the psychoanalyst's reconstructive studies of life his- 

The anthropologist's position too has been moving closer to the uni- 
versalism of psychoanalytic theory and away from an exclusive preoc- 
cupation with differences. A very interesting "confession" of Kluck- 
hohn's published in 1951 sets forth this shift: 

When I began serious field work among the Navaho and Pueblo Indians, 
my position on psychoanalysis was a mixed one. I had been analyzed and was 
thoroughly convinced that Freudian psychology was the only dynamic depth 
psychology of much importance. I had also been influenced by the writings 
of psychoanalysts on anthropological matters, notably Roheim. On the 
other hand, I tended to believe that psychoanalysis was strongly culture- 
bound. I was persuaded, for example, that Malinowski's interpretation of the 
oedipal situation in the Trobriands was substantially correct. 

Over the years, at least in certain crucially important respects, my position 
has steadily drawn closer to that of Roheim. I still believe that some of the 
cautions uttered by Boas and others on the possible extravagances of inter- 
pretations in terms of universal symbolism, completely or largely divorced 
from minute examination of cultural context, are sound. But the facts un- 
covered in my own field work and that of my collaborators have forced me 
to the conclusion that Freud and other psychoanalysts have depicted with 
astonishing correctness many central themes in motivational life which are 
universal. The styles of expression of these themes and much of the manifest 
content are culturally determined, but the underlying psychologic drama 
transcends cultural difference. 

This should not be too surprising except to an anthropologist overindoc- 
trinated with the theory of cultural relativism for many of the inescapable 
givens of human life are also universal. Human anatomy and human physiol- 
ogy are, in the large, about the same the world over. There are two sexes 
with palpably visible differences in external genitalia and secondary sexual 
characteristics. All human infants, regardless of culture, know the psycho- 
logical experience of helplessness and dependency. Situations making for 

20 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

competition for the affection of one or both parents, for sibling rivalry, can 
be to some extent channeled this way or that way by a culture but they can- 
not be eliminated, given the universality of family life. The trouble has been 
because of a series of accidents of intellectual and political history that 
the anthropologist for two generations has been obsessed with the differences 
between peoples, neglecting the equally real similarities upon which the 
"universal culture pattern" as well as the psychological uniformities are 
clearly built. (Kluckhohn and Morgan, 1951) 

In several other papers (1946, 1953, 1956) Kluckhohn qualifies this 
thesis and presents longer lists of the "universals." The Oedipus complex 
is included in all these lists. Hallowell (1950), Spiro (1954), Howells 
(1955), Kroeber (1955), Redfield (1957), and others have also^re- 
turned to this earlier problem in later papers, and in several publica- 
tions Mead acknowledges the importance of "human nature" for com- 
parative studies of personality and culture (Mead and McGregor, 1951; 
Mead 1954b; Mead and Wolfenstein, 1955). 

In the study of personality and culture we start with the recognition of the 
biologically given, of what all human beings have in common. . . . Because 
of these recurrent biological similarities of growth, of parent-child rela- 
tionships, of needs and fears, and reassurances it is possible to compare 
childhood in one society with childhood in another. (Mead and Wolfenstein, 
1955, pp. 6-7) 

And this common human nature includes the capacity to accumulate 
and to participate in culture. 

Humanity as we know it is not merely a matter of human physique, of our 
prehensile thumbs, upright posture, and highly developed brains, but of our 
capacity to accumulate and build upon the inventions and experiences of pre- 
vious generations. A child who does not participate in this great body of 
tradition, whether because of defect, neglect, injury, a disease, never be- 
comes fully human, (ibid., pp. 6-7) 

I do not, however, wish to give a misleading impression of a simple 
pendulum swing in the intellectual climate of opinion. There has been an 
important swing, but the present position is not a return to the status quo 
ante. It has benefited from the earlier work and suggests new directions 
of inquiry. 

The earlier position on "human nature" was not, as is usually sup- 
posed, a tabula rasa position. It was assumed, on the contrary, that there 
is a core of original human nature which is universal, but that this core 
is very small in comparison to what is culture-made, and that its nature 
can be disclosed only through a wide range of cross-cultural studies 
(Mead 1942b, Benedict, 1934b). 

In essentials, this position is probably still accepted at the present 
time, but there is now a stronger and more direct interest in stating the 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 2 1 

content of the core and in developing new methods for research. Kroe- 
ber, for example, noting that attempts to inventory common denomina- 
tors of culture and universal human needs have not proved very fruitful 
in research, proposes two methods for finding out more about original 
human nature; one is to study the extremes to which particular cultures 
have pushed particular facets of human nature, and the other is to un- 
dertake a systematic comparison of human and non-human traits. There 
are now sufficient data, he believes, for these studies. These data, we 
may note in passing, have been in the main products of cross-cultural 

In the recent revival of interest in "human nature," there is also evi- 
dent a desire to develop a concept of "human nature" that goes beyond 
the phylogenetic core to include a "developed human nature" which is 
found in all human societies. Redfield, who shortly before his death 
brought forward this concept, argued the need for it because it is true of 
men that "in whatever established group they develop, certain out- 
comes of the development are always the same" and these similarities 
cannot be explained entirely on the basis of the "modal inborn poten- 
tialities" in Homo sapiens. He believes that this "universally or fre- 
quently developed human nature" is a reality, but "it is not a reality 
that is easily amenable to investigation by precise method and subject to 
dependable proof. The intuitions as to this reality are stronger than the 
demonstration of its content." There are, he suggests, two contrasting 
ways in which this "developed human nature" may be conceived and 
described: culturally as a universal culture pattern, and psychologically 
in terms of the modal personality of mankind. He finds some sugges- 
tions about the latter method in certain sociologists, social psychologists, 
and philosophers (Cooley; Park and Burgess; Paris; Riezler). Examples 
of such universal statements are the following: "All people feel shame 
or guilt or some combination of these; all take satisfaction in or feel 
dissatisfaction with regard to the enterprises and productions." 

To these, attributed to Cooley, Redfield adds others: "All men are 
aware of self, distinguish an I and a Me. All men look out upon a not- 
self, a universe in which people are distinguished, one from another, as 
persons. All are disposed to feel and think more intimately and kindly 
toward the members of their own immediate group than they feel and 
think about people in more remote groups in situations where a choice 
of loyalties is required. All recognize and adjust themselves to the alter- 
nation of day and night; all know the passage of time; all anticipate 
death and have thoughts and feelings about death that are serious and 
important, not just trivial" and so on (1957, p. 159). 

Redfield's concluding comment on a remark of Park's expresses the 
mood of the 1950' toward human nature: 

22 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Robert E. Park admired Sumner's Folkways and used to quote Sumner's 
dictum, "The mores can make anything right." Then Park would add: "But 
they have a harder time making some things right than others.*' I think now 
that this was a profound remark. I am sure that the mores have an easier 
time making it right for mothers to cherish their children or somebody's chil- 
dren, than they have to make it right for a mother to cherish her child and 
then eat it. The insight we have in condemning as "inhuman" certain ex- 
tremes of conduct such as the cold cruelty of the Nazis, or cannibalism within 
the in-group, is an insight into a truth that might perhaps some day be ex- 
pressed in scientific form: that the rules of conduct, in the societies the world 
has known so far, have their modality, their tendency toward a very general 
similar content. (Redfield, 1957, pp. 159-60) 


From the time when the first battle against human nature was won 
until the question was reopened, say from about 1935 to 1950, per- 
sonality and culture theory and research concentrated heavily on the 
problem of the relation of culture to typical personality. The theories of 
configurational personality, of basic personality structure, of national 
and cultural character, and of modal personality were all developed and 
served as guides to field research during this period. It has become 
usual to consider these theories as more or less equivalent, and the dif- 
ferences among them as primarily semantic. This is a mistake. Such a 
view overlooks significant differences in concepts, methods, data, and 
fields of application. These theories have obviously influenced one an- 
other and have some features in common, but there is more to be said 
about them. 

They all agree that every culture has a typical personality which is 
characteristic and distinctive of that culture and which is produced or 
conditioned by some aspect of the culture. This much of the theory is not 
very far from older theories of national character and "genius" of peo- 
ples, except that the units are now cultures rather than "races" or "peo- 
ples," and the typical personalities are conceived as products of learning 
rather than of genetics. Beyond this shared core, however, the contem- 
porary theories differ in many significant respects: the particular psy- 
chological types employed, the number of personality types attributed to 
a given culture, the number of individuals who are supposed to bear a 
given type within a culture, how a particular type is learned, whether it 
is derived from cultural or psychological data, whether it is attributed to 
the culture as a whole as well as to individuals, by what causal theory it 
is related to the culture at a given time and historically, whether it ap- 
plies only to primitive cultures or to modern nations as well. I shall now 
analyze briefly some of the major theories with respect to these criteria 
of differentiation and shall indicate the relevant research studies. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 23 

"Cultures . . . are individual psychology thrown large upon the 
screen, given gigantic proportions and a long time span." (Benedict, 
1932, p. 24) 

Ruth Benedict is generally and properly credited with the theory of 
culture configurations. There are some anticipations of the theory in 
several of Sapir's early papers (1924, 1927) and some parallels to as- 
pects of it in the applications of Jungian and Freudian typologies to cul- 
tures by Seligman (1924) and Roheim (1932). But it was Patterns of 
Culture (1934b) with its highly readable formulation of the theory, to- 
gether with a detailed application to three primitive cultures, the Zuni, 
the Dobu and the Kwakiutl, which brought the theory of configurations 
to the attention of a wide professional and lay public. 

In two earlier papers (1928, 1932), Benedict sketched the essentials 
of the theory and acknowledged Dilthey, Spengler, Nietzsche, and Ge- 
stalt psychology as intellectual sources. In another paper, published 
simultaneously with Patterns of Culture in 1934, she elaborated the im- 
plications for a comparative psychiatry. 

The earlier papers are significant because they show that the problem 
with which Benedict starts is not psychological but cultural. She wanted 
to know how and why the culture of the Southwest Pueblos differed so 
strikingly from its neighboring cultures. She did not think that explana- 
tions in terms of the presence or absence of certain traits, such as ritual- 
ism, and their diffusion, could account for the difference, and suggested 
instead that the dissimilarity was due to variations in the "psychological 
type" or "psychological set" of the various cultures: 

The ritual of the sun dance, the peace pipe ceremonies, the cult groups, 
and age-societies of the Plains, or the winter ceremonial of the Northwest 
Coast bulk perhaps slightly less prominently in the total life of these people 
than the calendric dances and retreats of the Southwest, but it is not by any 
such matter of gradation that the Southwest is set off from other American 
Indian cultures. There is in their cultural attitudes and choices a difference 
in psychological type fundamentally to be distinguished from that of sur- 
rounding regions. It goes deeper than the presence or the absence of ritual- 
ism; ritualism itself is of a fundamentally different character within this area, 
and without the understanding of this fundamental psychological set among 
the Pueblo peoples we must be baffled in our attempts to understand the 
cultural history of this region. (Benedict, 1928, p. 572) 

This is not necessarily an attempt to explain cultural facts in terms of 
individual psychology, for Benedict's "psychological types" were at first 
the Apollonian and Dionysian types Nietzsche described in his studies of 
Greek tragedy, a classification essentially of "confidence in two diamet- 

24 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

rically different ways of arriving at the values of existence" (1932). 
Such psychological "types" or "sets" derive from an analysis of cultural 
data and describe the ethos of cultures; they need not be applied to in- 
dividuals at all. Their primary use might be to describe the differences 
among cultures, and the processes of culture change. This certainly 
seems to have been Benedict's first approach to the problem: 

The cultural situation in the Southwest is in many ways hard to explain. 
With no natural barriers to isolate it from surrounding peoples, it presents 
probably the most abrupt cultural break that we know in America. All our 
efforts to trace out the influences from other areas are impressive for the 
fragmentariness of the detail; we find bits of the weft or woof of the culture, 
we do not find any very significant clues to its pattern. From the point of 
view of the present paper this clue is to be found in a fundamental psycho- 
logical set which has undoubtedly been established for centuries in the cul- 
ture of this region, and which has bent to its own uses any details it imitated 
from surrounding peoples and has created an intricate cultural pattern to 
express its own preferences. It is not only that the understanding of this 
psychological set is necessary for a descriptive statement of this culture; 
without it the cultural dynamics of this region are unintelligible. For the typi- 
cal choices of the Apollonian have been creative in the formation of this cul- 
ture, they have excluded what was displeasing, revamped what they took, and 
brought into being endless demonstrations of the Apollonian delight in for- 
mality, in the intricacies and elaborations of organization. (Benedict, 1928, 
pp. 74-5) 

But by the time Benedict wrote Patterns of Culture and "Anthropol- 
ogy and the Abnormal," the analogy between a culture and an individ- 
ual personality had been enlarged. Not only was a culture, as was an in- 
dividual personality, an organized whole which develops through a series 
of basic choices that select a "character" from among a wide range of 
possibilities, but the "psychological types" of character attributed to cul- 
tures now also drew upon the classifications psychiatrists used for in- 
dividuals. The dominant cultural ethos is characterized in psychiatric 
terms. In Patterns of Culture both kinds of typologies are employed: the 
Zuni are described as Apollonian and the Plains Indians as Dionysian, 
as they were in the earlier papers, but the Dobu are characterized as 
"paranoid" and the Kwakiutl as "megalomaniac paranoid." Margaret 
Mead (1959) has recently given some of the sources for Benedict's 
psychological interests at this stage of her thought. 

This shift from a typology of "values of existence" to a typology of 
individual personality types transforms the theory of configurations 
from a characterization of different cultures in terms of collective ethos 
into a theory of the relations of different kinds of cultures to different 
personality types. If Kwakiutl culture has a "megalomaniac paranoid 
trend," one wants to know how many individual Kwakiutl share this 
trend and whether they acquired it from their culture. Benedict, quite 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 25 

aware that her metaphor of culture as an individual personality was turn- 
ing into a theory of personality and culture, suggested definite answers to 
these questions implicitly in Patterns of Culture and explicitly in "An- 
thropology and the Abnormal." The gist of her answers is contained in 
the following paragraph from the latter work: 

I have spoken of individuals as having sets toward certain types of be- 
havior, and of these sets as running sometimes counter to the types of be- 
havior which are institutionalized in the culture to which they belong. From 
all that we know of contrasting cultures it seems clear that differences of tem- 
perament occur in every society. The matter has never been made the subject 
of investigation, but from the available material it would appear that these 
temperament types are very likely of universal recurrence. That is, there is 
an ascertainable range of human behavior that is found wherever a suffi- 
ciently large series of individuals is observed. But the proportion in which be- 
havior types stand to one another in different societies is not universal. The 
vast majority of the individuals in any group are shaped to the fashion of that 
culture. In other words, most individuals are plastic to the moulding force of 
the society into which they are born. In a society that values trance, as in In- 
dia, they will have supernormal experience. In a society that institutional- 
izes homosexuality, they will be homosexual. In a society that sets the gather- 
ing of possessions as the chief human objective, they will amass property. 
The deviants, whatever the type of behavior the culture has institutionalized, 
will remain few in number, and there seems no more difficulty in moulding 
the vast malleable majority to the "normality" of what we consider an aber- 
rant trait, such as delusions of reference, than to the normality of such ac- 
cepted behavior patterns as acquisitiveness. The small proportion of the num- 
ber of the deviants in any culture is not a function of the sure instinct with 
which that society has built itself upon the fundamental sanities, but of the 
universal fact that, happily, the majority of mankind quite readily take any 
shape that is presented to them. (p. 196) 

Restated, this theory may be summarized in terms of the following 
distinct propositions: 

1. In every culture there is a wide range of individual temperament 
types (genetically and constitutionally determined) which recur uni- 

2. Every culture, however, permits only a limited number of types to 
flourish, and they are those that fit its dominant configuration. 

3. The vast majority of individuals in any society will conform to the 
dominant types of that society, since their temperaments will be suffi- 
ciently plastic to the moulding force of the society. These will be the 
"normal" personality types. 

4. A minority of individuals in every society will not "fit" the domi- 
nant types, either because their temperament types are too deviant from 
the ruling types or because they are "insufficiently endowed." These will 
be the "deviants" and "abnormals." 

26 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

5. The classification and distribution of "normal" and "abnormal" 
personality types is relative to the configurations of particular cultures 
which define the criteria of "normality" and "abnormality." 

It does not follow from this last proposition, as is sometimes asserted, 
that there are no universally valid criteria of "normality" or "abnor- 
mality." As on the analogous question of "human nature" and moral 
values, Benedict's position is that such criteria probably exist, but we 
cannot be sure what they are until we have allowed for cultural relativ- 
ity, and, therefore, until we have accumulated more comparative data: 

The problem of understanding abnormal human behavior in any absolute 
sense independent of cultural factors is still far in the future. The categories 
of borderline behavior which we derive from the study of the neuroses and 
psychoses of our civilization are categories of prevailing local types of in- 
stability. They give much information about the stresses and strains of West- 
ern civilization, but no final picture of inevitable human behavior. Any con- 
clusions about such behavior must await the collection by trained observers 
of psychiatric data from other cultures. Since no adequate work of the kind 
has been done at the present time, it is impossible to say what core of defini- 
tion of abnormality may be found valid from the comparative material. It is 
as it is in ethics: all our local conventions of moral behavior and of immoral 
are without absolute validity, and yet it is quite possible that a modicum of 
what is considered right and what wrong could be disentangled that is shared 
by the whole human race. When data are available in psychiatry, this mini- 
mum definition of abnormal human tendencies will be probably quite unlike 
our culturally conditioned, highly elaborated psychoses such as those that 
are described, for instance, under the terms of schizophrenia and manic- 
depressive, (op. cit., p. 79) 

Although very few of these propositions have survived without sub- 
stantial qualification and additions, the theory which they summarize has 
been the starting point for almost all later developments in personality 
and culture theory and research. The first of Benedict's propositions is 
probably still acceptable with substantial modification, and the second, 
third, fourth, and fifth with varying degrees of modification. The collec- 
tion of psychiatric data from other cultures is still far from adequate, but 
what there is has not yet revealed startling differences in abnormal hu- 
man tendencies (e.g., Benedict and Jacks, 1954; Linton, 1956; Eaton 
and Weil, 1955; Kaplan and Plaut, 1956; Paul, 1955; A. Leighton et al., 
1957; Goldhamer, 1953; Opler, M. K., 1956). 

One major series of amendments has been in the direction of com- 
plexityboth in the description of culture patterns and in the kinds and 
distribution of personality types. These complications have been applied 
even to the "simple" primitive cultures described by Benedict. Helen 
Codere (1956), for instance, has recently published an account of the 
Kwakiutl which portrays them as far more "amiable" than they are in 
Patterns of Culture. She, along with other critics, has also raised the 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 27 

question, whether the difference between chiefs and commoners in 
Kwakiutl society was understated by Benedict. 

Another problem raised by the configurational theory is how the 
"psychological type" of the culture gets itself impressed on individuals. 
Today the assumption of cultural moulding of plastic temperaments has 
been generally replaced by an assumption of the critical importance of 
child-rearing experiences in the formation of adult personality (Kardi- 
ner, 1939; Eggan, 1943, 1956; Goldfrank, 1945; Erikson, 1945). This 
assumption, as is well known, is based on theories of learning and indi- 
vidual growth, and on psychoanalysis. In some of her later writings 
(1938, 1946a, 1949) Benedict includes some discussions of child-rear- 
ing practices without, however, committing herself to any particular psy- 
chological theory. She tends rather to stress that it is not the presence or 
absence of a specific practice which is important but the ways in which 
the practice is integrated with and expresses a particular configuration of 
culture. This point, quite consistent with the theory of configurations, 
later becomes the basis for a theory of "national character." (See the 
section on "National Character as Cultural Character" in this chap- 

Despite Boas' characterization of Patterns of Culture as an effort to 
understand "the individual as living in his culture and the culture as 
lived by individuals," and despite the many psychological elements in the 
theory, there are practically no psychological data about individuals in 
that work. The data are predominantly cultural and social, including 
ceremonies, songs and poetry, social and economic organization, war 
practices, institutionalized attitudes, and the like. One looks in vain for 
the life histories and other personal documents, and the results of psy- 
chological tests, which have become the essential appurtenances of con- 
temporary personality and cultural study. At most there is an occasional 
reference to the anthropologist's having asked some one a question, and 
brief portraits of several "abnormals." 

There are at least three reasons, I think, for the neglect of psychologi- 
cal data in the configurational theory. It was conceived in the first in- 
stance as an explanation of cultural organization and differentiation 
and was extended only in midstream into a personality and culture the- 
ory; personal documents and other psychological data in culture studies 
were not very well known at this time (although Margaret Mead had al- 
ready made them the basis of her Samoan study) , and if one accepted 
the assumption that a vast majority of individuals in every society were 
so plastic as to take the mould of that society's culture pattern, it might 
appear superfluous to collect individual data about them, for according 
to this theory only the deviants would possess individuality. 

This analysis is not meant as a criticism of the use of cultural data, for 

28 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

these are essential even when psychological data are employed. I want 
rather to stress that because the "psychological types" were conceived as 
attributes of whole cultures, it was not considered important to present 
evidence on the psychology of individuals, although the theory in its later 
forms did assert some very definite relations between the "psychological 
types" of whole cultures and of individuals. 

Benedict and many others have used configurational theory to ex- 
plain processes of cultural change. It is not, however, a historical theory 
except, as Boas has pointed out, "in so far as the general configuration, 
as long as it lasts, limits the directions of change that remain subject to 
it" (1934). This, to be sure, is a very important kind of effect on cul- 
tural change, but it does not account for the growth of any particular con- 
figuration, its change into another type, or the relation of such changes to 
changes in personality types of individuals. On these questions Bene- 
dict dropped a few tantalizing hints, for example, that a particular con- 
figuration takes its cues accidentally from the givens of biology and the 
environment and then grows gradually and cumulatively as an individ- 
ual personality grows or as the Gothic style of architecture grew. She 
did not, however, elaborate these into any theory of historical change or 
take any serious account of history in her characterizations. The over- 
whelming impression given by works of this period is that configurations 
are timeless entities without known antecedents or consequences, but 
that, once established in a particular territory, they automatically be- 
come all-powerful shapers of events and personalities. 

This preference for the static and the synchronic is characteristic of 
contemporary social anthropology and is not peculiar to the configura- 
tional theory. It may perhaps be justified because it is simpler to begin 
with the static, and also because in primitive cultures historical records 
are rare. When, however, the theory is applied to nations, the necessity 
for historical perspectives becomes urgent, as Kroeber has shown 
(1944). Even in the application of the configurational theory to primi- 
tive cultures, perhaps more can be done with the data available than has 
been attempted. Codere's use of travellers', missionaries', and official 
reports to trace changes in the Kwakiutl pattern results in a portrait, or 
portraits, of the Kwakiutl somewhat different from Benedict's (Codere, 
1950). Hallowell and others have also shown that such materials can be 
used with good effect to study the relation of acculturation to persistence 
and change in modal personality types (Hallowell, 1942, 1946a, 1949; 
Caudill, 1949, 1952; Barnouw, 1950; Spindler, 1958). (See the section 
on "Acculturation and Change in Modal Personality Structure" in this 

These modifications of the configurational theory have been described 
briefly here not in order to criticize Ruth Benedict, but rather to indicate 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 29 

the fruitful influence of her original formulations on the further develop- 
ment of personality and culture theory. 


The psychoanalyst Abram Kardiner is chiefly responsible for the for- 
mulation of the theory of basic personality structure. Several anthro- 
pologists participated in Kardiner's seminars, and made important con- 
tributions to the theory, but the general formulation is Kardiner's. It was 
first presented in his book The Individual and His Society: The Psycho- 
dynamics of Primitive Social Organization (1939), and developed fur- 
ther in The Psychological Frontiers of Society ( 1 945 ) . Both books con- 
tain material of Linton's and the second has material of Cora DuBois' 
and James West's as well. Kardiner has also summarized his theories in 
a paper (1945). Cora DuBois' The People of A lor (1944), while it is 
an important independent monograph, grew out of some of the prob- 
lems raised in Kardiner's seminars, and represents field research di- 
rectly relevant to the theory. Ralph Linton's The Cultural Background 
of Personality (1945) should also be included as a collaborating an- 
thropologist's attempt at a general synthesis. 

" The theory of basic personality structure marks an important mile- 
stone because it was one of the first systematic and explicit attempts to 
apply a modified psychoanalytic approach to different cultures. It con- 
solidated the previous criticisms and research both of anthropologists 
(e.g., Kroeber, Malinowski, Mead, Benedict, Linton) and of psychoana- 
lysts (e.g., Fromm, Homey, Rado, Ferenczi, W. Reich, Roheim) into 
a new synthesis which has been very influential on subsequent personal- 
ity and culture theory and research. 

The starting point of the theory is, as in Benedict's configurations, a 
desire to derive psychological characterizations of total cultures from 
cultural data. The nature of the characterization and the techniques of 
derivation, however, go considerably beyond configurational theory. 
The characterization is no longer in terms of a few "psychological types" 
which are descriptively fitted to the dominant values and motivations of 
a culture, but is given in terms of the characteristic unconscious con- 
stellations produced in individuals by the child-rearing practices and 
other "primary institutions" (e.g., family organization, subsistence 
techniques) prevailing in a culture. The aspects of the culture in which 
these "constellations" find expression (usually art, folklore, mythology, 
religion) Kardiner calls the ''secondary institutions." A "basic personal- 
ity structure" is then a diagnostic summary of the psychological con- 
stellations presumably generated by a culture's distinctive primary in- 
stitutions and generating in turn its secondary institutions. The basic 

30 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

personality structure is not as such a descriptive profile of the personal- 
ity types of individuals but a set of "nuclear" trends which enter as con- 
stituents into the characters of all individual personalities who have been 
reared under the same primary institutions. 

Since "unconscious constellations" cannot be directly observed, the 
"basic personality structure" must be a construct inferred indirectly 
from cultural data. Linton describes it as "an abstraction of the same 
order as culture itself" (Kardiner, 1939, p. vi). "Basic personality 
structure," then, is an explanatory construct which tries to explain two 
rather different kinds of things: the integration of different institutions 
within a culture, at a given time and historically, and the personality 
resemblances among individual members of a society (what Cora Du- 
Bois and others later call the "modal personality type"). In effect the 
theory assimilates these two problems by asserting that it is the same 
"psychological coherence" which explains both the inter-relations of 
institutions and the distribution of personality types in a given society. 

Kardiner has frequently written that he did not develop a new theory 
of basic personality but only presented a specific technique of "psycho- 
dynamic analysis" for deriving it in particular cultures. While this claim 
is a little misleading in view of the explanatory character of the concept, 
it does point to his own most distinctive contribution. To practice his 
technique Kardiner required the assistance of anthropologists with 
knowledge of the cultures to be analyzed. He insisted, however, on a 
strict division of labor between the anthropologists and the psychoana- 
lysts in the collaboration. The anthropologists as expert informants 
should present the description of a culture's institutions, primary and 
secondary, and the psychoanalyst should take this description as data 
for his derivation of the basic personality structure. This procedure 
seems to have been generally followed in the New York seminars, and 
Kardiner makes a point of retaining it in his books. In the 1939 volume, 
Linton's description of Marquesan culture and of the Tanala of Mada- 
gascar are sharply separated from Kardiner's "psychodynamic analysis" 
of these cultures. The format is similar in the 1945 volume. The de- 
scriptive chapters on the Comanche, the Alorese, and Plainville are 
separated from Kardiner's analysis of these cultures. But there is one 
important difference in the later volume: Kardiner himself has written 
the descriptive chapters on the Comanche and the Alorese. He indicates 
that the Comanche chapter has been "compiled from information sup- 
plied by Ralph Linton" and the chapter on the Alorese "from seminar 
notes and from the book The People of Alor. . . ." Cora DuBois' de- 
scription as it appears in the book, he says, is not a true record of this 
technique, since it includes "many inferences and conclusions drawn 
from the projective analysis" and, being written from the life cycle out- 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 3 1 

ward, gives an impression that personality formation can be predicted 
as "one ascends progressively up the life cycle." Kardiner thinks this 
neglects the important indicators to be found in religion, folklore, and 
the general "institutional set-up" (1945, p. 102). 

These strictures on the proper division of labor between the anthro- - 
pologist and the psychoanalyst reflect Kardiner's conception of the tech- 
nique of psychodynamic analysis. They also assume importance in the 
later controversies concerning the mutual independence of the ethno- 
graphic and the psychological analyses. 

If one could assume that specific kinds of child-rearing disciplines 
produced specific forms of personality reaction, and that specific kinds 
of (secondary) institutions derived from the unconscious representations 
of these reactions, one might be able, in theory at least, to infer, from 
descriptions of specific institutions and child-rearing practices, the spe- 
cific kinds of personality reactions that intervene. This at any rate is the 
assumption underlying Kardiner's technique for deriving the basic per- 
sonality structure of a culture. Two questions of general importance may 
be raised about this assumption: What are the actual steps in the applica- 
tion of the technique to ethnographic data? And what justification is 
there for assuming general causal connections between specific child- 
rearing practices, specific personality trends, and specific forms of art, 
religion and folklore? 

Kardiner is quite explicit in his answer to the first question. He de- 
scribes the technique as "an exercise in pathology" (1945, p. xvii). 
He also writes that "many of the constellations used in the reconstruc- 
tion of Marquesan and Tanala culture were based on the pathology of 
neuroses" (1939, p. 431). He cites as an example his conclusion that 
the scarcity of women among the Marquesans is an important primary 
institution in the formation of Marquesan basic personality. He says he 
arrived at this conclusion by first noting that Marquesan men's fear of 
being eaten by women was a common theme in their folklore; on the 
basis of his experience with this theme among neurotics in our culture, 
he took it to indicate some dissatisfaction with women. Looking then at 
the Marquesan scarcity of women and the peculiarities of their child- 
rearing practices, he concluded that women as mothers are an important 
source of frustration to the Marquesan child and that they remain a 
source of frustration in other roles later on. 

Kardiner's "exercise in psycho-pathology" is not a mechanical proce- 
dure or an easy one to apply. Sometimes it took Kardiner as long as four 
years to hit upon a satisfactory interpretation. It is a procedure-, how- 
ever, which involves quite general and definite operations. On the basis 
of Kardiner's own practice and description the following seem to be the 
most important steps: 

32 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

1 ) The standardization of the reactions of adult neurotics in Western 
culture to specific institutions (chiefly child-rearing disciplines). 

2) The generalization that the institutions assumed to be causes of 
neurotic reactions are also probably important loci of frustration for 
"normal" individuals in Western culture. 

3) The identification of the reactions of whole groups exposed to 
similar institutional frustrations in any culture. 

Step ( 1 ) represents a shift from individual to social psychiatry. It as- 
sumes that the institutional factors disclosed in psychotherapy as im- 
portant for a particular individual are also probably of general etiologi- 
cal importance, particularly if they impinge on individuals in their early 
years. It also assumes that the adult's retrospective version of his child- 
hood experiences is not significantly different from the actual experience. 

Step (2) assumes that the neurotics' reactions are good indicators 
of the institutional source and direction of frustrations because, being 
more extreme than "normal" reactions, they describe the institutional 
pressures more accurately. It does not assume that neurotic and 
normal reactions are the same, but rather assumes that they are dif- 
ferent adaptations to similar frustrating situations. The neurotic re- 
action is used as a clue to discover the institutional source. 

Once steps (1) and (2) are taken, step (3) is not very difficult. For 
at this point one has a sizeable inventory of elementary "reaction types" 
to different kinds of frustrations induced by a variety of different 
institutions and needs only to discover which particular combinations 
apply to a given culture. Some assumptions about "human nature" are 
also made in this extension, but not many. Freud's theory of "instincts" 
and of the parallelism of the ontogenetic and the phylogenetic is 
dropped. What is assumed is "the phylogenetic endowment of man at 
birth with an ego or total personality of a very rudimentary kind, which 
in the process of growth and integration is constantly undergoing con- 
tinuous change" (1939, p. 461). Also retained is the recognition of 
the basic needs of hunger, sex, and the need for protection (1939, p. 
418), the capacity for repression, the existence of certain affects and 
attitudes, executive impulses, and attitudinized perceptions (p. 419). 
In addition to this trimmed version of Freud, Kardiner also accepts as 
"biological traits of man" gregariousness, a long period of maturation, 
the upright posture, prehensile hand, predominance of vision in 
adaptation, the capacity for speech, and the absence of a breeding 
season (1945, pp. 2-5). In agreement with most anthropologists, 
sociologists, and psychologists, he believes that "man is least domi- 
nated by inborn behavior patterns" that "the adaptive patterns of man 
are acquired and that the inborn tendencies can be bent in one di- 
rection or another" (1945, p. 4). 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 33 

The validity of these operations and the associated assumptions is far 
from self-evident. It is especially difficult to maintain that individual 
reactions to the same external frustrations are not uniform (1939, p. 
419), and yet to reason from individualized reactions to common in- 
stitutional causes. It may well be that the basic disciplines of child- 
rearing are the most crucial factors in the formation of basic person- 
ality structures (1939, p. 484), but this is not a conclusion that follows 
smoothly from clinical experience with adult neurotics. 

In fairness to Kardiner, it should be said that he does not claim 
self-evidence for any of these steps, although he feels most confident 
regarding the first and argues for the validity of all. It is also important 
to point out that the validity of the derivation of any particular basic 
personality structure does not depend entirely on the validity of each of 
these steps. They may be regarded as ways to arrive at relevant hy- 
potheses rather than at established generalizations of universal validity. 
The hypotheses would then have to find their warrant in how well 
they explained the "coherence" of particular cultures and in how 
accurately they predicted the personality profiles of "average" indi- 
viduals. It is my impression that the anthropologists collaborating with 
Kardiner, and he himself occasionally, took this view of "psycho- 
dynamic analysis" as a technique for deriving hypothetical basic per- 
sonality structures. Because they did take this view, they sought means 
of verification outside the framework set by the original theory. This 
led to new kinds of field research, new concepts of typical personality, 
and new tests of validity, as well as to some revisions by Kardiner of 
his own earlier formulations. 


The concept and term "modal personality" first assumes importance 
in Cora DuBois' monograph The People of Alor } A Social-Psycho- 
logical Study of an East Indian Island (1944). One definition she there 
gives of the concept is that it "is the product of the interplay of funda- 
mental physiologically and neurologically determined tendencies and 
experiences common to all human beings acted upon by the cultural 
milieu, which denies, directs, and gratifies these needs very differently 
in different societies" (p. 3). A second definition is in terms of the 
central tendencies in the variations of individual personalities: 

It is quite possible that some societies permit the individual less leeway 
and pattern him more highly than do other societies. But in Alor both the re- 
sults of test material and my own impressions indicate a wide range of varia- 
tions. Ranges, however, are measured on a common base line. On such a 
base line data will show central tendencies that constitute the modal person- 
ality for any particular culture, (pp. 4-5) 

34 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

These two definitions, although closely related, are not equivalent. 
The first refers to a genetic, dynamic, explanatory concept; it is "an 
abstraction and generalization," with the help of psychoanalytic 
theory, from data that are chiefly cultural. The second is a statistical 
concept of central tendency a description of the "common and char- 
acteristic factors of personality in any culture" as they "might be estab- 
lished by a series of psychological tests and observations of cross- 
cultural applicability" (p. 5). The first definition approximates 
Kardiner's definition of "basic personality structure"; the second does 
not appear in the early Kardiner discussions. To avoid confusing them, 
let us retain Kardiner's term for the dynamic concept, and use "modal 
personality" only for the statistical and descriptive concept. "Modal 
personality" is implicit in the concept of "basic personality structure," 
but it emerges as an explicit concept when, as in DuBois' study, there are 
psychological data on individuals to summarize. 

The psychological data in The People of Alor include eight auto- 
biographies (four from men and four from women), thirty-seven 
Rorschachs (seventeen male, twenty female), responses to the 
Porteus maze test, word associations, and some children's drawings. 

DuBois collected the psychological data because, as a participant in 
Kardiner's seminars in 1936 and 1937, she felt that the descriptive 
material used there for reconstructions of basic personality structure 
had been gathered for other purposes and did not give adequate de- 
scription of character structure and dynamics. "It was a good exercise, 
but there was no opportunity to check our conclusions. Were individuals 
predominantly what we might suppose them to be from the institutions 
under which they lived, the childhood conditioning they received, the 
values they shared, the goals for which they strove?" 

"We had talked ourselves out, and only field work could test the pro- 
cedure." (p. V) 

Kardiner and other participants in the seminar apparently shared 
this belief in the need for more data on individuals, and looked to 
DuBois' study as a test of the theory of "basic personality structure." 

The present study by Dr. DuBois was undertaken with the foreknowledge 
that biographical material was essential to prove the contention that institu- 
tions affected and molded the growth of the individual in certain prescribed 
directions. . . . Unless such conclusions are based upon the study of bi- 
ographies, any conclusions drawn from the study of institutions alone must 
fall into the category of guesses, more or less approximate. (Kardiner in 
DuBois, 1944, p. 8) 

Linton thought that, before the Alor study, the concept of basic 
personality was only a "working hypothesis" whose "ultimate proof of 
validity was still lacking" (Kardiner, 1945, p. XI). 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 35 

The procedure of validation, which Linton calls an "experiment," 
followed the earlier pattern in its first stages. When DuBois returned 
from her field study, she presented the ethnographic data to Kardiner's 
seminar. From these data^Kardijaer deduced, with the assistance of 
psychodynamic analysis, the expected basic personality structure of the, 
Alorese, At this point two new steps were introduced to deal with the 
psychological data. The biographies were analyzed by Kardiner, and 
a Rorschach expert, Dr. Emil Oberholzer, was asked "to summarize 
those personality characteristics which appeared in a large majority 
of individuals tested" on the basis of "blind interpretations" of the 
Rorschach protocols, with "no exchange of information until the work 
was completed." When it was found that the two pictures of Alorese 
personality agreed on "all important points," Kardiner re-analyzed the 
life histories as a further check and to explain deviations in terms of 
atypical childhood experiences (Kardiner, 1944, p. 8; Kardiner, 1945, 
pp. 101-102, Linton, 1945, p. XI). 

The participants in the seminar, as well as those who learned of the 
experiment later, generally agreed with Linton's judgment that it 
"seemed to verify our earlier conclusions with respect to the reality of 
basic personality types, the mechanisms by which they are produced 
and their relations to the culture as a whole" (1945, p. XI). 

The order of steps followed in the seminar is roughly followed in 
Kardiner's presentation of the Alorese material in his 1945 volume, but 
it is not quite the order followed in DuBois' monograph, which in- 
augurates a new style and high standard of presenting the results of 
personality and culture research. In that work, the results of the analy- 
sis, consisting of a "psychocultural synthesis" in which cultural analyses 
are combined with "the better established processes of the psycho- 
analytic school," are presented before the descriptive psychological 
data. This section, written by DuBois, makes up about a fourth of the 
monograph, and is designed to account for the development of Alorese 
modal personality. It is accompanied by a brief analysis written b) 
Kardiner. The biographies and test results make up almost three- 
fourths of the volume. Each autobiography is individually analyzed b] 
Kardiner, who also supplies a general conclusion about all of them 
The material on the Rorschach was written by Oberholzer. 

The procedure of validation in the Alor study consists, then, es 

sentially in the claim to having demonstrated that modal personality 

types exist in the psychological data (the Rorschachs and the auto 

biographies), that these types Coincide with one another and with th 

>asic personality structure inferred from the cultural data, and that th 

nethods used in the demonstration are mutually independent. Thi 

ilaim has been generally accepted and the procedure widely followec 

36 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

not only as a method for validating basic personality construction, but 
as a general method for confirming inferences of typical personality 
and of psychological processes based on cultural data and ethnographic 
techniques of observation and interview. 

In these extensions of the method, refinements of statistical 
manipulation, of sampling, and of devices to assure independence 
have been introduced. Many of these were suggested by the Alor study 
itself. The individual variability in the Alorese psychological data, for 
example, was as striking as the existence of common characteristics. 
There were important discrepancies among the results of the dif- 
ferent methods: Oberholzer found little evidence for neurotic anxiety, 
while Kardiner insists this is a dominant trend. Could the different 
methods be strictly independent, moreover, if both cultural and psycho- 
logical data were collected by the same person who, in addition, 
shared the theoretical framework of the psychoanalyst and was con- 
sulted both by him and the Rorschach expert in the process of inter- 
pretation? A sample of eight autobiographies and thirty-seven Ror- 
schachs may not be sufficiently large, or sufficiently representative of a 
village population of 180, a village cluster of 600, and an Alorese 
population of 70,000. DuBois herself points out that the subjects of the 
autobiographies "do not represent the ideal or 'type' person of the 
village but represent the less successful and the 'average' " (1944, p. 
191). How is this kind of "average" to be defined? Linton said that if 
the hypothesis of basic personality structure was correct, "the bulk of 
the individuals within a given society" should have the personality 
features ascribed to it (1945, p. xi). Does this mean a majority, a 
plurality, an arithmetic mean, or a mode? 

These questions, and procedures designed to answer them, loom large 
in recent modal personality studies. There are, however, several im- 
portant shifts in emphasis which come with the increasing use of psy- 
chological tests. The opinion grows that the study of modal personality 
by direct psychological data need not be pursued for the purpose of 
confirming deductions from cultural data, but is important in its own 
right as well as in the study of the psychology of acculturation, values, 
and so forth. Some have gone so far as to suggest that, since the psycho- 
logical methods are more objective and quantitative, they should re- 
place the more qualitative ethnographic method. This proposal is not 
workable, for as Kluckhohn and Leighton have pointed out, success in 
administering and analyzing the psychological tests in another culture 
depends upon a minimum acquaintance with the culture of the people 
tested, and an entirely "blind" analysis would have given markedly 
skewed results (Children of the People, p. 226-27; but see also 
Kluckhohn and Rosenzweig, 1949). 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 37 

This conclusion is further borne out in another recent study (Glad- 
win and Sarason's Truk: Man in Paradise}, where discrepancies be- 
tween the psychologist's and the anthropologist's interpretations 
occurred because the psychologist did not know certain essential facts 
about the culture. This same study, however, demonstrates the value of 
combining psychological and ethnographic methods. Not only did the 
psychologist's results add important information about individuals, but 
they also gave the anthropologist leads to certain things in the culture 
which he might otherwise have overlooked. In this study also, the 
psychologist's analysis of the psychological data (twenty-three 
Rorschachs and TAT's) agreed in the main with the anthropologist's 
analysis of autobiographies of the same individuals and with his analysis 
of Trukese personality based on cultural data. There was no psychoana- 
lyst in the Truk study; the anthropologist took the responsibility for the 
"psychodynamic analysis" of the culture. 

Another significant innovation of the Truk study is the reversal of 
the direction of validating procedure: the psychologist first derives a 
portrait of the typical personality from the psychological data, and this 
is checked against the anthropologist's portrait based on observation of 
behavior and ethnographic data. The assumption behind this pro- 
cedure is just the reverse of that used in the Alor study: 

If we assume that the psychologically derived data present a true picture 
of Trukese personality (in those aspects with which they deal), we would ex- 
pect to find the psychological characteristics there defined also reflected in 
the overt behavior of the people as this is delineated through the use of an- 
thropological techniques in the preceding chapters. Insofar as we find the 
personality characteristics reflected in behavior we may consider the psy- 
chological analysis to be valid; contradictions, however, for which there is no 
ready explanation must lead us to suspect the adequacy of both the anthro- 
pological and psychological data in the area under consideration. (Gladwin 
and Sarason, 1953, p. 223) 

The authors (one an anthropologist and the other a psychologist) 
acknowledge that to begin with a derivation of personality from de- 
scriptions of behavior is an equally legitimate procedure. They 
prefer to give priority, however, to projective test data because they 
believe that this would result in "a better balanced and more com- 
plete inventory of significant psychological characteristics" (p. 223). 
Their choice does not imply, however, that the psychological analysis 
is completely independent of the ethnographic analysis nor that it can 
stand by itself, for they conclude, as did Kluckhohn and Leighton, 
that "a blind analysis of projective tests, taken alone, does not neces- 
sarily provide an adequate or complete picture of the personalities of 
persons of a culture other than our own" (p. 246). 

38 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

It is perhaps inevitable that the increasing use of psychological data 
about individuals in personality and culture studies should shift the 
attention to problems of individual variability. This, at any rate, has 
been a focus in recent studies. The authors of the Truk study say they 
are interested in differences more than in similarities (p. 291). While 
they describe u typical" Trukese personality and believe that their 
sample, which contains 13.3% of the adult males and 14.1% of adult 
females on Truk, is significant, they are not interested in the sampling 
problem or in a precise statistical definition of the central tendencies. 
They concentrate instead on the variations in personality development 
as a function of variations in life experiences, e.g., having a parent of 
the same sex with whom to identify, size of household, the "times" 
during which one grows up, and the like. 

The statistical problems raised by the "modal personality" concept 
have received attention in other recent studies. The results of two of 
these are of fundamental significance and I shall discuss them briefly. 

In The Modal Personality Structure of the Tuscarora Indians as 
Revealed by the Rorschach Test (1952a), Anthony Wallace, an anthro- 
pologist, used Rorschach tests collected on the reservation near Niagara 
Falls, and ethnographic analysis, for a study of modal personality types. 
The author says that the results of the study surprised him, since, even 
in this small homogeneous community of six hundred, the individual 
variability was great. Finding common personality characteristics be- 
came a difficult problem. Wallace starts with DuBois' notion of 
"modal personality" as a central tendency in psychological data and 
develops it in rigorous statistical fashion. In order to avoid confusion 
with "basic personality structure" and other concepts of typical per- 
sonality which include cultural variables, he goes to the other extreme 
of operational specificity, and defines "modal personality structure" 
exclusively in terms of Rorschach data and special statistical pro- 

. . . modal personality structure is defined as that type of personality 
structure, formulated in terms of the Rorschach test, from which the ob- 
tained Rorschach records of more individuals are indistinguishable in certain 
chosen dimensions than are indistinguishable in these dimensions from any 
other definable type. (p. 55) 

While this kind of definition calls our attention to the dependence of 
"modal personality" on the specific psychological tests and statistical 
techniques used, it has the disadvantage of being so restricted that a new 
concept of modal personality would have to be introduced each time a 
new psychological test or statistical technique was adopted. The defi- 
nition is not, however, essential to the methods and results of Wallace's 
study, or to the two questions it was designed to answer, namely: "What 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 39 

is the typical Tuscarora Indian like psychologically?" "What is the type 
of psychological structure most characteristic of the adult Tuscarora 
Indians of this community, in so far as it can be inferred from the 
obtained Rorschach sample?" 

Wallace's statistical procedure, suggested to him by a psychologist, 
introduces a method for deriving a group profile of psychological traits 
as they are actually associated in individuals, in contrast to the older 
method of combining mean scores into a profile of means, which may 
have no individual counterpart. Wallace plots a frequency distribution 
for each of twenty-one Rorschach personality indicators, calculates a 
mode for each of the twenty-one factors, and adds a standard devi- 
ation on either side of the mode to define a "modal range" for each 
factor. The "modal class" is then defined as consisting of those individual 
Rorschach records which fall within the modal range in every one of 
the twenty-one categories. When he analyzed the individual Rorschach 
records in this way, Wallace found that twenty-six out of seventy, or 
37% of the sample, fell into the modal class. He also found that sixteen 
records (23%) "clustered about the modal type," i.e. fell into the modal 
range in some categories but not in all. There were twenty-eight 
cases (40%) which were neither modal nor submodal. Four different 
groups are distinguishable in this non-modal class, the largest of which 
accounts for 18% of the total sample. 

The twenty-six modal records were then interpreted as if they were 
the Rorschach of a single individual (by using the mean values for the 
twenty-one categories, as well as qualitative clues) to produce a por- 
trait of the modal personality structure. Wallace himself did all the 
calculations and interpretations, with some assistance from the Hallo- 
wells, who also knew the culture. A clinical psychologist did "blind" 
interpretations of some of the data. 

While technically it might be argued that the 37% belonging to the 
"modal class" represent the largest single type, it would be difficult on 
the basis of the distribution of the other groups to argue that this group 
alone stands out as the "typical Tuscarora personality," particularly if 
we have to call 40% of the population non-typical and deviant. 

Moreover the case is not helped by a consideration of the cultural 
and social relevance of the "modal type." Wallace could find no sig- 
nificant correlation between the presence of individuals in the modal 
class and their sociological roles. The closest he found to a correlation 
was that one small group of deviants shared the common characteristic 
of having highly individualized roles. 

One kind of correlation between the psychological data and the 
cultural data does emerge: the most frequent personality traits, taken as 
discrete traits and not as associated in individual personalities, are also 

40 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

most frequently reflected in the culture. This conclusion is based on 
impressions and not on statistical data. Although Wallace introduces a 
statistical conception of "modal" culture, he does not quantify the cul- 
tural data he presents. 

Using the same statistical techniques, Wallace analyzed 102 Ojibwa 
records collected by Hallowell east of Lake Winnipeg and found that 
28.4% of the sample fell into the modal class. He interpreted these 
records and compared the Ojibwa profiles with the Tuscarora. While 
there were certain points of marked resemblance, the differences were 
significant. Only 4.9% of the Ojibwa fell into the Tuscarora modal 
class. Wallace concludes from this comparison that the two groups have 
psychologically different modal personalities and that these differences 
are a function of the cultural differences. 

Another study dealing with similar problems is Bert Kaplan's A 
Study of Rorschach Responses in Four Cultures (1954). Kaplan, a 
psychologist, analyzed the Rorschachs of 157 adults (ages 17 to 40), 
half war veterans and half not, who came from four different but 
geographically adjacent cultural groups in northwestern New Mexico 

Zuni Indian, Navaho Indian, Mormon, and Spanish American. He 

found the personality differences among individuals in each group 
greater than the differences among groups. He concluded that while 
"something like modal personality characteristics do indeed exist," in 
the sense that "there are trends closely related to cultural patterns that 
characterize a number of people within each group," this number "is 
ordinarily less than the majority," and that "large areas of personality 
vary without respect to cultural influence" (pp. 31-32). 

Kaplan's interpretation of these results raises a provocative question 
about the entire notion of "modal personality" and its relation to cul- 
tural influence. 

That great variability exists does not argue against the influence of cul- 
ture on personality; it means merely that cultural influences do not neces- 
sarily create uniformity in a group. All individuals interact with their cultures. 
However human beings are not passive recipients of their culture. They ac- 
cept, reject, or rebel against the cultural forces to which they are oriented. 
In many cultures, including our own, there exists a pattern of outward con- 
formity and inner rebellion and deviation. It is probably correct to say that 
individuals seem a good deal more similar than they really are. (p. 32) 

Generally speaking, the program for validating "basic personality 
structure," "configurational personality," and other derivations of 
typical personality from cultural data and social institutions has dis- 
appointed early expectations. The introduction of psychological data 
about individual personalities has not led to demonstrations that "a 
vast majority" or "the bulk" of individuals in a culture conform to a 
dominant personality type. Some central tendencies have been revealed 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 41 

in the psychological data, but the "modal types" are usually far fewer 
than a majority of individuals and the individual variability in types is 
as striking as are the similarities. While the various studies do show 
some agreement among results obtained by different methods, this 
agreement is never complete. Significant discrepancies have been found 
among the results of different psychological techniques, as well as 
between psychological and ethnographic methods. It has not proved 
possible, or desirable, moreover, to achieve strict independence of data 
and methods: "blind" interpretations of psychological data have had to 
be helped out with some knowledge of the culture interpreted, in order 
to establish applicability of tests, to administer them, and to keep inter- 
pretations from going astray. A working division of labor among an- 
thropologist, psychoanalyst, and clinical psychologist has not prevented 
these different kinds of specialists from learning from one another or 
from pooling different theories, methods, and data in order to deal 
with problems which are inherently interdisciplinary. The idea that 
there is a unique procedure of validation, which begins with a presen- 
tation of descriptive ethnographic data and goes on to "psychodynamic 
analysis," then to verification by psychological data, has been aban- 
doned in favor of multiple procedures involving alternative sequences 
and combinations of steps. It is now more usual to analyze the psy- 
chological data first and then to check this analysis against cultural 
data, than to do the reverse. 

One of the most interesting questions raised by these modal person- 
ality studies concerns the significance of the discrepancies found 
between the psychological and the cultural results, respectively. The 
absence of one-to-one correlations between the two sets of results is 
usually taken as a failure of verification and as an indication that one 
or the other is "incorrect." Perhaps some of these incongruencies are 
objective facts, and those theories which have led us to expect iso- 
morphic congruencies of culture and personality types are incorrect. It 
may well turn out that the not-quite-independent methods and data of 
anthropologist, psychologist, and psychoanalyst combine to yield results 
which are genuinely independent. In that case, what would be needed 
is a theory which will account for noncongruence of modal personality 
and culture as an objective fact and not merely as a result of failures in 
method. Explorations in this direction will be found in Inkeles and 
Levinson (1954), in Inkeles et al (1958), and in Bendix (1952). 


With few exceptions (Thomas and Znaniecki, 1917-18; Redfield, 
1930, pp. 222-23; Thurnwald, 1932), the earlier approach to ac- 

42 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

culturation neglected the psychological dimension of the process and 
concentrated on the enumeration of discrete culture traits which did 
or did not change. The development of an interest in characterizing 
cultures in terms of "configurational personality" and of "modal per- 
sonality" naturally turned attention to the problem of the relation of 
culture change to personality change. While the Rorschach and other 
projective tests were being applied to establish the "modal personality" 
of non-western cultures, another series of studies applied these tests to 
determine the psychological consequences of the cultural changes peo- 
ple in these cultures experienced as a result of contact with Western 
civilization. It is not essential in such studies to presuppose a concept of 
"typical personality" that is jointly validated by ethnological and psy- 
chometric data. Many of the studies bypass this assumption by seeking 
direct correlation between degrees or levels of acculturation as ex- 
pressed in cultural terms and personality change or persistence as 
measured by projective tests. To the extent, however, that ethno- 
logical and psychological methods seemed to agree in validating a 
"modal personality type," confidence in the use of psychological tests in 
acculturation studies increased. 

One of the first to apply projective tests to study the psychological 
dimension of acculturation was Hallowell. He has also made other 
contributions to culture and personality theory and research, including 
several important papers on the cultural patterning of fear, anxiety, and 
aggression among tribal groups (1938, 1940, 1941), as well as papers 
on cultural factors in the perception of space, time, and the self (1937, 
1951a, 1954). 

Hallowell's method for studying the effects of acculturation on modal 
personality is based on the systematic comparison of the Rorschach 
protocols of three different groups of Ojibwa Indians representing 
three different levels of acculturation. He first compared two of these 
groups living on the Berens River in Canada the Inland group (44 
subjects) and the Lakeside group (58 subjects) and found that al- 
though there were some psychological differences between the two 
groups, the essential continuity of personality was unmistakable ( 1942) . 
This indicated that acculturation could take place without radical 
change in modal personality structure. This conclusion was reinforced 
for Hallowell when he compared the psychological profile derived from 
the Rorschachs with what he pieced together from seventeenth and 
eighteenth century observations made by missionaries, explorers, and 
traders (1946b). The Berens River Ojibwa, particularly the less ac- 
culturated Inland group, seemed to match the modal personality of the 
aboriginal Indians. When, however, he brought into the comparison a 
third highly acculturated group of 115 subjects, at Lac du Flam- 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 43 

beau, Wisconsin, some striking contrasts emerged. A core of generic 
traits was still recognizable as the Ojibwa modal personality among 
the Flambeau protocols. But the degree of psychological contrast with 
the Berens River groups overshadowed the differences between the 
Inland and Lakeside groups. Hallowell interprets the Flambeau profile 
as that of an "introversive personality structure pushed to the limits of its 
functional adequacy" and as being "thrown back on its psychological 
heels" (195 la). Because the records of the Flambeau children re- 
semble those of the adults, he believes there is a kind of "frustration of 
maturity" among them. Using a quantitative measure of adjustment, he 
finds the Berens River groups show a better adjustment than the Flam- 
beau group. 

Why there is so much strain in the Flambeau group and why there is 
the beginning of a change in the Ojibwa modal personality, Hallowell is 
not sure. He does not believe the explanation lies in "acculturation" 
considered as an abstract and inevitable force but rather in a set of 
complex factors difficult to analyze and not yet very well understood. 
One of these may be the more rapid rates of acculturation at Flambeau 
which have not permitted individuals to readapt to the changing situ- 
ation. Another crucial factor may be the weakening of the aboriginal 
value and belief systems and the lack of any positive substitute. The 
Flambeau Ojibwa "are attempting as best they may, to survive under 
conditions which, as yet, offer no culturally defined values and goals 
that have become vitally significant for them and which might serve as 
the psychological means that would lead to a more positive adjust- 
ment" (195 la). 

The method of studying the modal personality changes in relation to 
acculturation pioneered by Hallowell on the Ojibwa has also been used 
by MacGregor on the Sioux (1946), by Billig, Gillin, and Davidson in 
Guatemala (1947-48), by Abel and Hsu with Chinese (1949), by 
Barnouw on the Wisconsin Chippewa (1950), by Vogt on Navaho vet- 
erans (1951), by Wallace on the Tuscarora (1952), by Caudill with 
Japanese (1952, 1956), and by Spindler on the Menomini (1955). 


"Our understanding of international affairs is about where our under- 
standing of primitive peoples was before the anthropologists attempted 
the serious study of how primitive people learned their cultural be- 
havior." (Benedict, 1946b) 

The pressures of the second world war, led to efforts, to apply per- 
sonality and culture theory and methods to the delineation of personality 

44 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

characteristics and processes "typical" of modern nations. Ruth Benedict 
and Margaret Mead were leaders in the organization of these efforts; 
Kluckhohn, Leighton, Gorer, and Bateson also were important con- 
tributors from the side of anthropology. Anthropologists, however, did 
not go it alone; they joined with historians, political scientists, soci- 
ologists, economists, and other students of national states, as well as 
with psychologists and psychiatrists and psychoanalysts. Studies have 
been published on American character (Mead, 1942; Gorer, 1948; 
Fromm, 1941; Riesman, 1950; Erikson, 1950; Potter, 1954), Russian 
character (Gorer and Rickman, 1949; Leites, 1954; Mead, 1951a; 
Dicks, 1952; Inkeles et al, 1958), Japanese character (Gorer, 1943; 
Benedict, 1946a; Haring, 1946), German character (Fromm, 1936; 
Erikson, 1950; Dicks, 1950; Rodnick, 1948;Lowie, 1945, 1954), Eng- 
lish character (Gorer, 1955), Hindu character (Carstairs, 1957; Narain, 
1957), Balinese character (Belo, 1935; Bateson and Mead, 1942), and 

These national character studies are an applied field insofar as they 
were motivated by the practical desire to know more about one's national 
enemies, allies, and self in war time; they nevertheless represent a 
natural extension of personality and culture theory, and have in turn 
made basic contributions to it. 

Obvious obstacles were posed by the differences between modern 
nations and primitive tribes. Some anthropologists, who had worked 
on personality and culture studies in primitive cultures, were under- 
standably reluctant to apply their methods to the enormous and hetero- 
geneous populations of modern nations with their complex histories of 
social and cultural change (Linton, 1951 ). The sampling problem alone 
became formidable. Yet, as Ruth Benedict, arguing for the feasi- 
bility of "national character" studies (1946b), has pointed out, the 
anthropologist working on civilized nations has a head start because of 
the greater availability of data statistical, political, economic, his- 
torical, and literary and the presence of experts who have specialized 
on national studies. 

One kind of anthropological data, that provided by direct field 
study, has not always been available. This practical limitation has 
necessitated an indirect approach, making use of previous field studies, 
interviews with special informants, and the study of "culture at a dis- 
tance" through the analysis of folklore, literature, films, drama, po- 
litical speeches and propaganda, and other cultural products (Benedict 
1946b, Mead and Metraux, 1953). Even this procedure, however, 
does not represent so much an innovation in method as an extension 
of older methods. Benedict's analysis of Japanese mythology is not very 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 45 

different from her analysis of Zuni mythology, as Katherine Spencer has 
observed (1956). 

The applications of personality and culture theory to the study of 
national character have been undertaken from several different starting 
points and have resulted in several different theories of national 
character. I shall discuss three of these: national character conceived as 
"cultural character," as "social character," and as "modal personality." 


The concept of "cultural character" has been defined by Margaret 
Mead as "the regularities in the intrapsychic organization of the indi- 
vidual members of a given society that are to be attributed to these 
individuals' having been reared within that culture" (Mead and 
Metraux, 1953, p. 33). From the extended explanation which Mead 
gives of the concept and from the way in which it has been used in 
studies with which she has been associated, one may conclude that 
"cultural character" is a novel synthesis of Benedict's "configurational 
personality" and Kardiner's "basic personality structure." The synthesis 
was not made in one jump or by a single individual but developed 
gradually and indirectly. Benedict herself applied the configurational 
theory to a modern nation in her study of Japan, The Chrysanthemum 
and the Sword (1946). Some of the Japanese criticism of this book 
which accepts the general accuracy of the characterization but finds it 
a bit static and reminiscent of Sunday school sermons (Bennett and 
Nagai, Japanese Journal of Ethnology, 1949, Appraisal, pp. 139- 
40) simply underlines the fact that Benedict did achieve her purpose 
of grasping the underlying values of the Japanese ethos. The analysis in 
this work adds an important ingredient to Benedict's earlier use of con- 
figurational theory, by attaching great significance to certain aspects of 
Japanese child rearing. Many adult personality traits and the apparent 
contradictions in Japanese character are traced to the peculiarities of 
Japanese teasing, and to toilet training and discontinuities in con- 
ditioning (1946a, pp. 259, 263, 266, 271-2, 273, 286, 290-91). Even 
greater emphasis was placed on these child-rearing practices by Gorer, 
one of Benedict's co-workers, in his studies of Japanese character 
(1943). It is this aspect of the analysis which brings "cultural char- 
acter" so close to "basic personality structure." 

Yet Mead (1954b, 1955), Benedict (1949), and Gorer (1951) are 
essentially justified when they reply to their critics by denying that they 
have attributed specific causality to child-rearing practices. For when 
a theory of socialization is combined with configurational analysis, 

46 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

particular modes of child-rearing become part patterns in the total 
configuration of patterns. They are indeed crucial parts, from the stand- 
point of transmitting the configuration to the next generation, as they 
are then the media of communication between parents and children, 
the forums within which the children "learn" the character of the adults. 
For these reasons, child-rearing practices may give the outside ob- 
servers "clues" to the adult character without being considered "causes" 
of that character. 

Another significant ingredient in the theory of "cultural character" is 
the notion of thematic patterns in the interpersonal relations character- 
istic of a national group. This idea seems to have been originally 
suggested by Gregory Bateson in an early paper on national character 
(Bateson, 1942a). Bateson was specifically concerned with the problem 
of finding the "common character" in communities that have stable 
differentiations of social roles among their members. His solution was to 
look for the common character in specifically patterned relationships 
among the differentiated groups or individuals. These relationships 
are generally, but not invariably, bipolar, for example, dominance- 
submission, succoring-dependence, exhibitionism-spectatorship. These 
three happen to be examples of complementary relationship: if a 
member of one group is dominant, a member of another group will be 
submissive. There are also symmetrical relations in which the behavior 
of one individual will call forth similar behavior of the same kind in an- 
other. Bateson assumes that these bipolar patterns are "unitary within 
the individual." 

If we know that an individual is trained in overt expression of one half of 
one of these patterns, e.g., in dominance behavior, we can predict with cer- 
tainty (though not in precise language) that the seeds of the other half sub- 
mission are simultaneously sown in his personality. We have to think of 
the individual, in fact, as trained in -dominance-submission, not in either 
dominance or submission. (1942a, pp. 76-77) 

Bateson's theory is that different national characters differ, not in the 
specific themes of the relationship, since these recur, but in the pro- 
portions and combinations of themes. The Balinese, he suggests, feel 
that dependence and exhibitionism and high status go naturally to- 
gether, whereas Europeans associate high status with succoring. He 
also suggested that an important qualitative difference between English 
and American parent-child relations could be delineated in terms of a 
reversed spectator-exhibitionism relationship. 

In a later paper (1949), Bateson applied these ideas to an analysis 
of the value system of Balinese culture. The same concepts were also 
applied in national character studies by Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, 
Rhoda Metraux, and others (Mead and Metraux, 1953, pp. 365-397). 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 47 

Gorer's study of the American character (1948) used a similar scheme 
for the organization and interpretation of the materials. 

The chief difference between Bateson's idea and the concept of 
"basic personality structure" or of "modal personality type" is that he 
locates the common and distinctive characteristics in culturally stand- 
ardized patterns of interpersonal relations among social groups, whereas 
the other two concepts locate them in a single pattern of traits fre- 
quently to be found associated in individuals. The particular kinds of 
interpersonal relations emphasized, e.g., dependence-succoring, were 
undoubtedly suggested by psychoanalytic theory. An analogous theory 
was developed by the psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan (1940-45, 
1948). The germs of the idea, however, were already present in Bate- 
son's study of latmul ethos (1935, 1936) and in Mead's study of sex 
and temperament among the Arapesh, Mundugumor, and Tchambuli 
(1935). What Bateson added is a more comprehensive idea of how 
several different kinds of interpersonal relations can assume functional 
patterns in relating culturally differentiated groups, and how these 
patterns may vary in different cultures. 

Bateson's concept of national character as the set of culturally 
patterned themes recurring in interpersonal relations also adds, to his 
Naven theory of "schisniogenesis" or cumulative interactions, the 
parent-child relationship. This relationship figures in a dual capacity: 
first, it is one of several kinds of interpersonal relationships manifesting 
the characteristic themes of the culture. From the standpoint of the 
growing child, however, it is also a crucial relationship, since in it he is 
trained in the total pattern of relationships characteristic of his society. 
The Balinese pattern of non-cumulative interaction, for example, 
Bateson finds in the relationship of parents and children, but he also 
notes that "childhood experience trains the child away from seeking 
climax in interpersonal relations" (1949, p. 53), and that the positive 
values supporting this pattern "are incorporated into the character 
structure during childhood" (ibid). In the 1958 Epilogue to the reissue 
of Naven, Bateson asserts that "the patterns of a society as a major 
entity can by learning be introjected or conceptualized by the par- 
ticipant individuals" (Bateson, 1958, p. 292). The patterns referred to 
in this passage include not only specific patterns of symmetrical or 
complementary interactions, but also the patterns of sequential change 
from the symmetrical to the complementary (ibid, p. 291). 

The individual learns, according to this theory, both the particular 
action patterns in which he participates and the pattern of patterns 
which characterizes the society as a whole. This is not the place to dis- 
cuss the details of the theory. Bateson's acknowledged model is the self- 
correcting causal circuit of communications theory, although other 

48 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

antecedents for this kind of theory can be found in George Herbert 
Mead's theory of "taking the role of a generalized other" and in Sapir's 
and Benedict's ideas about the unconscious patterning of behavior 
(G. H. Mead, 1934, 1956; Benedict, 1934b; Sapir, 1927). 

The inclusion of the parent-child relationship, and of a theory of 
patterns in interpersonal relations, paves the way for the conception of 
"cultural character" as part of a circular system. If the child's relation to 
its parents is conceived as a mutually interactive system within which 
the parent reacts to the child's stimuli as well as stimulates the child to 
respond, then the theory of linear, one-way causal sequences from 
specific child-rearing practices to adult personality traits, postulated, for 
example, in the theory of basic personality structure, has to be dropped 
(Mead and Metraux, 1953, pp. 39-40). And when the negative feed- 
back idea from cybernetics came along, it was assimilated to a theory of 
personality and culture as a circular causal system (Bateson, 1958, 
Epilogue). Within such a circular system "the method of child rearing, 
the presence of a particular literary tradition, the nature of the domestic 
and public architecture, the religious beliefs, the political system, are 
all conditions within which a given kind of personality develops" 
(Mead, 1951b). 

Despite this assumption of circularity, many of the national char- 
acter studies have concentrated on the peculiarities of child-rearing. 
These studies, it is true, usually deny that they impute specific causality 
to a specific form of swaddling or toilet training. They say that they find 
in a specific child-rearing practice the "clues" to the adult practice or a 
critical point in the communication of the cultural character to the 
child. These explanations are consistent with the theory of circular 
causality, but they reveal, as well, a certain lingering preference for 
psychoanalytic theories of personality formation (however modified), 
and a reluctance to follow through the implications of a theory of 
circular causality and to develop a theory of personality and culture as a 
complex interacting system. The reluctance is quite understandable, 
considering the complexities of modern nations. Yet a small beginning 
might be made by considering how such circular systems are affected 
by historical changes. 

Studies of national character guided by the "cultural character" con- 
cept have been severely criticized for neglecting problems of sampling 
and scientific controls (Klineberg, 1944, 1949, 1950; Fafber> 1950, 
1955; Inkeles and Levinson, 1954; Mandelbaum, 1953). To these 
criticisms Mead has replied that by anthropological methods one can 
learn a great deal from single informants, provided that the social and 
cultural position of the informant is fully specified. Another reply she 
has given states that many of the "cultural character" studies have been 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 49 

concerned only with an "exploratory stage in which a set of hypotheses 
is developed," and not with the stages of confirmation, quantification, 
and experimental verification which would involve sample surveys 
(Mead and Metraux, 1953, p. 7; Mead, 1951b, 1953, 1955). I should 
like to add to these replies that because "cultural character" derives from 
configurational theory, which attributes "personality types" to cultures 
as wholes and which derives these "types" from cultural data pre- 
dominantly, it does not appear to call for statistical studies of indi- 
viduals. (See Benedict, 1946a, p. 16, "The ideal authority for any state- 
ment in this book would be the proverbial man in the street. It would be 
anybody.") Only when additional assumptions are introduced about the 
relation of configurational types to individual members of a culture, does 
it become necessary to introduce psychological data on individuals, and 
concepts to deal with statistical distributions, such as "modal personality 


The theory of "cultural character" assumes that in every culture a 
typical personality is transmitted to the young which more or less corre- 
sponds to the dominant configuration of that culture. The theory does 
not, however, attempt to explain the social functions of such corre- 
spondence. Nor does the theory of "basic personality structure" have 
much to say about such questions. In these theories, the integration 
and coherence of a culture is taken as a kind of ultimate "given," 
assumed to be essential to the well-functioning of a culture and to vary 
in different cultures. The relations of these culture patterns to history 
and to environmental changes are considered to be accidental and 
indirect. Erich Fromm's theory of "social character," while sharing the 
assumptions of these other theories about the cultural transmission 
of "fitting" "typical" personalities, tries, in addition, to explain the 
social-historical functions of the types. The explanation links the 
"typical" personality of a culture, or, as Fromm calls it, "the social 
character," to the "objective social necessities" confronting the society. 
To satisfy these "necessities" effectively, a society needs to translate 
them into character traits of the individual members so that they will 
want to do what they have to do. Such shared character traits con- 
stitute the "social character" of the society, and the process of trans- 
lation takes place through the parents' training of the children. The 
parents have acquired their character traits either from their parents or 
directly, in response to changing social conditions. Fromm has made 
applications of this theory to Germany and to the United States (1941) . 

This theory has a circular and teleological tone, but it is really an at- 

50 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 
tempt to combine the old idea of the adaptiveness of social institutions 
to environmental conditions with a modified psychoanalytic char- 
acterology. One of its starting points seems to have been Weber's theory 
that industrial capitalism requires a set of disciplines which may his- 
torically have been inculcated by the acceptance of a "protestant ethic" 
(Fromm 1931, 1941, 1949). 

Modern, industrial society, for instance, could not have attained its ends 
had it not harnessed the energy of free men for work in an unprecedented 
decree He had to be molded into a person who was eager to spend most ot 
his energy for the purpose of work, who acquired discipline, particularly or- 
derliness and punctuality, to a degree unknown in most other cultures. It 
would not have sufficed if each individual had to make up his mind con- 
sciously every day that he wanted to work, to be on time, etc., since any such 
conscious deliberation would have led to many more exceptions than the 
smooth functioning of society can afford. Threat and force would not have 
sufficed either as motive for work since the highly differentiated work in 
modern industrial society can only be the work of free men and not of forced 
labor. The necessity for work, for punctuality and orderliness had to be 
transformed into a drive for these qualities. This means that society had to 
produce such a social character in which these strivings were inherent. (1949, 
pp. 5-6) 

Fromm does not necessarily approve of the particular adaptations and 
"social characters" of particular societies. On the contrary, he makes 
a point of emphasizing that the formation of any "social character" 
kills individual "spontaneity" and severely restricts the opportunities 
for self-realization. The process usually results in "socially patterned 
defects," a "pathology of normalcy." 

It happens that, in most cultures, human relationships are greatly deter- 
mined by irrational authority. People function in our society, as in most so- 
cieties on the record of history, by becoming adjusted to their social role at 
the price of giving up part of their own will, their originality and spontaneity. 
While every human being represents the whole of mankind with all its poten- 
tialities, any functioning society is and has to be primarily interested in its 
self-preservation. The particular ways in which a society functions are deter- 
mined by a number of objective economic and political factors, which are 
given at any point of historical development. Societies have to operate within 
the possibilities and limitations of their particular historical situation. In order 
that any society may function well, its members must acquire the kind of 
character which makes them want to act in the way they have to act as mem- 
bers of the society or of a special class within it. They have to desire what 
objectively is necessary for them to do. Outer force is to be replaced by inner 
compulsion, and by the particular kind of human energy which is channeled 
into character traits. As long as mankind has not attained a state of organi- 
zation in which the interest of the individual and that of society are identical, 
the aims of society have to be attained at a greater or lesser expense of the 
freedom and spontaneity of the individual. This aim is performed by the 
process of child training and education. While education aims at the develop- 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 5 1 

ment of a child's potentialities, it has also the function of reducing his inde- 
pendence and freedom to the level necessary for the existence of that particu- 
lar society. Although societies differ with regard to the extent to which the 
child must be impressed by irrational authority, it is always part of the func- 
tion of child training to have this happen. (1944, p. 381 ) 

These judgments of Fromm's are based on a "humanistic ethics" and a 
social philosophy of how man's potentialities may be better realized in a 
"sane society" (1948, 1955). 

The theory of "social character" has been further developed and 
applied in The Lonely Crowd, A Study of the Changing American 
Character by David Riesman in collaboration with Reuel Denney and 
Nathan Glazer (1950). This work introduces several important modifi- 
cations in the theory and applies it to an interpretation of American 
character. Fromm's basic definition of "social character" is used, but a 
somewhat different typology, of "tradition-directed," "inner-directed," 
and "other-directed" types, is employed. These types are defined with 
reference to different characteristic ways of assuring conformity to social 
requirements namely, following tradition, following a set of goals in- 
ternalized early in life, and following the expectations of others. 
Another innovation is that the "social requirements" are localized in 
terms of the phase of population growth characteristic of a country. 
Using F. W. Notestein's (1945) population curve of growth, Riesman 
and his associates postulate that a society of "high growth potential" will 
develop "in its typical members" the tradition-directed social character, 
a society of "transitional population growth" will develop inner-directed 
social characters, and a society of "incipient decline" will develop 
"other-directed" types. An attempt is made to show that the United 
States, as it becomes a society of "incipient population decline," is de- 
veloping "other-directed" types among the urban middle class. These 
changes are accompanied by changes in the "agents of character for- 
mation": the influence of parents and teachers, so vital in the formation 
of "inner-direction," is being superseded by the influence of "peer- 
groups" and the mass media, fostering "other-direction." This enlarge- 
ment of the theory of socialization is another significant amendment to 
Fromm's theory. 

Within a particular society at any given time, different types of social 
character coexist because of migration from countries in different 
phases of population growth and because of differential rates of internal 
change, two factors of great importance in North America. The theory 
does not attempt to develop the details of the different statistical dis- 
tribution of types that would result from different combinations of 
these factors. In this sense it makes no predictions about "modal" 
personality types or other typical values. In another volume, Faces in 

52 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

the Crowd (1952), Riesman and others sketch individual portraits, but 
this is not intended as a confirming sample survey. 

One thing the theory does assert is that there is a relative temporal 
order among the three types. The typology, in other words, has a 
built-in theory of historical change, something which is missing from 
practically all the other typologies. In this form the theory of "social 
character" becomes a comparative theory of social history. Some of the 
possible relevances of such a theory are suggested in the following 
picture of the "characterological struggle": 

We can picture for ourselves the last few hundred years of western history 
in terms of a gradual succession to dominance of each of these three types. 
The tradition-directed type gives way to the inner-directed, and the inner- 
directed gives way to the other-directed. Shifts in type of society and type of 
character do not, of course, occur all at once. Rather, there is an overlapping, 
so that within a given culture one may find groups representing all phases of 
the population curve and demonstrating, with more or less lag, a variety of 
characterological adaptations to their particular phase. This mixture is made 
even more various by the migration of peoples, by imperialism, and by forces 
that constantly throw together people of different character structures, peo- 
ple who "date," metaphorically, from different points on the population 

The struggle of classes and societies may therefore be viewed, to some ex- 
tent, as a struggle among different characterological adaptations to the situa- 
tion created by the dominance of a given mode of insuring conformity. 
These character types, like geological or archaeological strata, pile one on 
top of the other. A cross section of society at any given time reveals the ear- 
lier as well as the later character types, the earlier changed through the pres- 
sure of being submerged by the later. One notices the dominance of tradition- 
directed types in Latin America, agricultural southern Europe, in Asia and 
Africa. One notices the dominance of inner-directed types in rural and small- 
town United States and Canada, in northwestern Europe, and to a degree in 
Central Europe. One notices an energetic campaign to introduce the inner- 
directed pattern in eastern Europe, in Turkey, and in parts of Asia. And one 
notices the beginnings of dominance by other-directed types in the metro- 
politan centers of the United States and, more doubtfully, their emergence 
in the big cities of north-western Europe. This last and newest type is spread- 
ing outward into areas where inner-direction still prevails, just as the latter is 
spreading into unconquered areas where tradition-directed types still hang 
on. (The Lonely Crowd, pp. 31-32) 

The succession of characterological adaptations here described 
refers primarily to the spread of western industrialization to other parts 
of the world during the last two hundred years. This is undoubtedly the 
major focus of interest of Riesman and associates. They have studied 
the interaction of recent social changes with changing character types, 
primarily in the United States and to a lesser extent in other parts of the 
world (Lerner, 1958). In theory, however, the typology of social char- 
acters could be applied to other periods of history. The Lonely Crowd 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 53 

does, in fact, refer to a possible application to ancient Greece (pp. 27- 
29). To the extent that such application is undertaken, the theory of 
social character becomes a theory of cyclical and recurrent processes 
rather than of linear, historical change. 

Applications of the theory to pre-industrial periods have not been 
numerous, however. One reason for this may be the absence of a de- 
tailed social psychological explanation of how a given population phase, 
or objective social condition, calls forth a particular kind of social 
character. This is a problem just beginning to receive some attention. 
In People of Plenty (1954) David Potter sketches the relation of 
economic abundance to the formation of American character within 
a historical perspective. A recent cross-cultural study shows how 
child training patterns adapt to a subsistence economy (Barry, Child, 
and Bacon, 1959). 

Another aspect of the theory of social character that is being de- 
veloped is the relation of social character to individual personality. 
Just as in the theory of basic personality structure, exploration of this 
relationship was stimulated by the use of Rorschach and other psycho- 
logical tests, so the development of psychological tests for "inner- 
directed" and "other-directed" types is adding an individual dimension 
to a theory of social character that began with historically con- 
ditioned social and cultural dimensions. 


Both the sociologically-oriented theory of "social character" and the 
anthropologically-oriented theory of "cultural character" are the prod- 
ucts of efforts to extend the personality and culture theory developed for 
primitive cultures to modern nations. The extensions have transformed 
personality and culture theory and have generalized it as a theory of 
the "typical" personality of nations, tribes, social classes, or occu- 
pational, regional, and other significant social groups (Mead and 
Metraux, 1953; Riesman et al, 1950). In considering whether such 
generalization is effective and fruitful, we note that there already are 
some special discussions and studies of the "typical personality" of 
different social groups, e.g., those of peasants (Francis, 1945; Redfield, 
1956), of bureaucrats (Merton, 1940; Roe, 1947), of Indian social 
classes (Steed, 1955), of a Southwest regional type (Kroeber, 1947; 
Kluckhohn, 1954; Devereux, 1951), of rural and urban communities 
(Oeser, 1954a,b; Lewis, 1951; Redfield, 1955), and of the "basic 
personality of Western man" (Kardiner, 1945). 

There are several problems in bringing these and other studies to- 

54 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

gether under a single theory of "typical" personality. We can proceed 
on the assumption that the theory works in the same manner regardless 
of the nature and size of the social group. In that case it would be neces- 
sary to show how a general factor like child-rearing pattern combines 
with and explains occupational, status, regional, and other differenti- 
ations within a single culture or society (as, e.g., in Davis and Havig- 
hurst, 1946). Or we might assume that the general factors, child-rearing 
or demographic patterns, for example, do not operate directly and in 
similar fashion on every kind of social unit, but operate indirectly 
through the distinctive structures of social and cultural organization 
(Inkeles, 1955). A pattern of "incipient decline," for example, may 
not operate directly on every family to produce its alleged charactero- 
logical results, but may operate indirectly through status, occupational, 
political, and other social groups. Under this assumption it would be 
necessary to develop a theory which would take account of different 
levels of natural, psychological, social, and cultural integration. Steward 
(1956) has made some suggestions in this direction, and Erikson 
(1950) in his studies of the Yurok and the Sioux attempted inter- 
pretations which intuitively, at least, integrate geography, individual 
development, society, and culture. 

Lazarsfeld and Barton (1951) have provided an analysis of the 
differences in logical types of data that may be usefully applied to this 
problem of hierarchies of levels. A notable feature of their analysis 
is the recognition that there may be data characteristic of social units 
which cannot be analyzed into personal data about the component 
individuals, and are therefore primary characteristics of the social unit. 
This corresponds to the anthropologists' recognition of holistic char- 
acteristics of cultural groups. 


In a comprehensive and brilliant critical analysis of national char- 
acter studies, Inkeles, a sociologist, and Levinson, a psychologist, argue 
for a restriction of the "national character" concept to modal per- 
sonality structure. 

In our opinion, "national character" ought to be equated with modal per- 
sonality structure; that is, it should refer to the mode or modes of the dis- 
tribution of personality variants within a given society. "Societal required- 
ness" or "congeniality with the culture pattern" should not be part of the 
definition of national character. The socially required personality, (for ex- 
ample, the personalities best suited to a bureaucratic or an assertive-individ- 
ualistic social structure) deserves the status of an independent though signifi- 
cantly related construct. Given this distinction, the degree of congruence 
between the modal personality structures and the psychological requirements 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 55 

of the social milieu emerges as an important problem for research. (Inkeles 
and Levinson, 1944, pp. 980-81) 

If this restriction were accepted, the sample survey would be the most 
obvious if not the only method of study of national character. 

If national character refers to modes of a distribution of individual per- 
sonality variants, then its study would seem to require the psychological in- 
vestigation of adequately large and representative samples of persons, stud- 
ied individually, (ibid.) 

Other methods, which begin with the analysis of collective docu- 
ments, cultural plots and themes, standardized child-rearing practices, 
and other sociocultural patterns, provide leads to or at best a "hy- 
pothetical construction" of national character. 

"They can never tell us with any conclusiveness what range and 
varieties of modal personality actually exist in a society" or lead to 
"adequate demonstration" of the hypothetical constructions. Only a 
"large-scale study of individuals" can provide these. 

These arguments, it seems to me, are more persuasive on the positive 
side in favor of modal personality as one concept among others of 
"national character" than they are in their demonstration of the ex- 
clusive correctness of this conception. It is true that once the restricted 
definition is accepted, the methodological conclusions follow in straight- 
forward fashion. But the case for the restriction is a debatable one. In 
common usage and in studies not based on personality and culture 
theory, "national character" frequently refers to "way of life," "ethos," 
and collective ideals, as well as to modal distributions (Castberg, 
1954; Ginsberg, 1942; Barker, 1955; Miroglio, 1955; Smeffie, 1955), 
Why should one particular definition be given priority? 

The issues here are reminiscent of those raised by Wallace and by 
Gladwin and Sarason in their criticism of the earlier "basic personality 
structure" theories. Inkeles and Levinson are quite right to insist on a 
clear distinction between a descriptive, statistical concept of "modal 
personality," and the explanatory culture-deductive concepts of "typical 
personality." They are also right in questioning the assumption of simple 
congruence between these two orders of concepts. Once the distinction 
is made, however, the problem of relating the "modal personality" to the 
society and the culture remains, as Inkeles and Levinson clearly rec- 

Within the context defined by the title of this paper, the problem of "deter- 
minants" may be stated as follows: What regularities in the social conditions 
of development in the more or less standardized, sociocultural matrix 
help determine the observed regularities (or modes) in adult personality? 
(pp. 998-999) 

56 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

To deal with this problem requires the introduction of such concepts 
as "cultural character," "basic personality," and "social character," 
or similar explanatory ideas. What remains of the issue, therefore, once 
the distinction between the descriptive psychological concepts and the 
explanatory socio-cultural concepts is made, is the order of procedures 
for deriving them in particular cases. The decision on that issue, it seems 
to me, rests not on the adoption of some highly restricted definition of 
"national character" in terms of "modal personality," but rather on the 
tactics of research design. Perhaps greater objectivity and mutual inde- 
pendence of method and data is achieved by starting at the psychologi- 
cal end, as Gladwin and Sarason argued. Strict independence is not 
possible, in any case; eventually the socio-cultural data and the psy- 
chological data have to be brought together, so perhaps the starting 
point does not matter too much. 

Under Inkeles' direction, the Russian Research Center at Harvard 
has made studies of Great Russian "national character" as a set of 
"modal personality patterns." (See Chapter 5, below.) 

Obviously, not every Great Russian exhibits all, or even necessarily any, 
of these characteristics. They are, however, found frequently and regularly 
enough to constitute the more or less typical or modal patterns in the rank 
and file of the population. We do not assert that they are also characteristic 
for the elite. (Bauer, Inkeles, Kluckhohn, 1956, p. 135) 

The psychological data for the studies were obtained from a group of 
Soviet refugees who had been displaced by World War II. Three 
hundred and thirty were given life-history interviews and sentence 
completion tests, and fifty-one of these took a battery of clinical tests, 
including the Rorschach, T.A.T., and sentence-completion tests, 
and several others. A sample of Americans, matched with the Russian 
sample on age, sex, occupation, and education, was used for compari- 
son. Each test was analyzed separately and the results of all tests, to- 
gether with "supplementary qualitative material," were used to derive 
an "evaluative summary" sketch of modal personality characteristics. 
The statistical distributions have not yet been published and the pro- 
cedure was not in any case "a simple and direct translation of particu- 
lar test scores into personality traits" (Inkeles, et al. 9 1958). In fact 
"modal" is used in a liberal sense: 

The word modal should not be taken too literally in this context. We have 
relied on some test scores when only a small proportion of the sample mani- 
fested the given response or pattern of responses, if this fits with other evi- 
dence in developing a larger picture, (ibid., p. 6) 

After the Great Russian "national character" was derived in this fash- 
ion, an analysis was made to determine its relation to the Soviet system. 
This was done essentially in three different ways: 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 57 

(1) by comparing the general character and policies of the Soviet 
system with the "modal" personality of the sample, 

(2) by comparing the image of the regime entertained by the sample 
with the "modal personality" of the sample, and 

(3) by correlating the social status (defined in terms of occupa- 
tion and education) of the subjects of the sample with selected per- 
sonality traits taken as indices of the "modal pattern." 

The correlations showed significant class differences in the modal 
personality: "it is found in its relatively pure form mainly among 
workers and peasants, is attenuated among those upwardly mobile, 
and almost disappears at the top of the social hierarchy" (Bauer, et al, 
p. 137; Inkeles et al, pp. 17-20). The authors believe that these class 
differences are probably the result of status differences in family rearing 
experiences (Inkeles, et al., pp. 18-19). 

The conclusions of these different kinds of analyses strongly suggest 
"that there is a fairly massive degree of incongruence between the cen- 
tral personality modes and dispositions of average Russians on the one 
hand, and the structure of Soviet society, particularly the behavior of 
the regime, on the other" (Bauer, et al, p. 142). 

Although "acutely aware of the smallness of [the] sample," the Har- 
vard investigators are inclined "to assume that the personality modes 
found in it would be found within the Soviet Union in groups compara- 
ble in nationality and occupation" (Inkeles, et al., p. 19). 

This "modal personality" approach to Great Russian national char- 
acter contrasts strongly in method with the "cultural character" ap- 
proach used by Gorer (1949, 1950a) and by Mead (1951b). In a 
recent searching analysis, Bell (1958) has discussed how it also differs 
from Leites' psychoanalytic interpretations of Bolshevik character 
based on published documents (Leites, 1954), and from historical and 
political approaches which do not use personality and culture theory. 

In spite of these differences in method and concepts, the "modal per- 
sonality" studies and the "cultural character" studies of the Great Rus- 
sians agree in many of their results, according to Kluckhohn. 

. . . Different observers and analysts, using different methods and data, 
are in excellent agreement among themselves and indeed with the Russians. 
(Kluckhohn, 1955, p. 58) 


"Modal personality" studies are now generally regarded as the most 
rigorous available method of validating typical personality constructions 
based on cultural and institutional data. This view needs to be quali- 

58 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

fied. A "mode" is not always the most appropriate statistical measure for 
the variety of distributions that occur. There is also the fundamental 
possibility, emphasized by Kroeber (1948, pp. 587-8), that two peoples 
can show much the same psychological character or temperament and 
yet have different cultures, or that the cultures can be nearly uniform 
while national character differs. If this is true, then there may still be 
some kind of personality "typical" of each culture but not a one-to-one 
correspondence between culture and "modal personality." There are 
also special conditions when "modal personality" is simply not availa- 
ble as a method of validation: when, for example, the "typical per- 
sonality" is attributed to the society or culture as a whole, and not 
distributively to individual members; or when it is attributed to individ- 
uals but not in any explicit quantitative way (Mead and Metraux, 
1953, p. 15); or when there are not enough psychological data about 
individuals for statistical treatment. 

Because of these limitations of "modal personality" as a method of 
validation, reliance is placed in many studies of "typical personality" 
on a test of "coherence" or "congruence" or "internal consistency." 

The most convincing validation still remains one of pattern, of the testing 
of the hypothesis for intra-cultural and intra-psychic fit. Every piece of cul- 
tural behavior is so over-determined in its systematic relationship to every 
other piece that any discrepancy within the material should immediately de- 
mand a revision of the delineation hypothesis established so far. (Mead, 1953, 
p. 659) 

There is, however, not just one general test of "coherence," as the 
above statement seems to imply. Rather, there are almost as many as 
there are different kinds of theories of "typical" personality. In another 
statement within the same paper, Mead suggests this possibility: 

If an attempt is made to delineate national character in addition to the na- 
tional culture, then the criterion of internal consistency has to be invoked in 
relation to some psychocultural theory of personality. (1953, p. 659) 

Each particular kind of psychocultural theory has, I believe, its own 
special brand of internal consistency. In Benedict's configurational 
theory, for example, internal consistency is defined in terms of con- 
gruence of cultural items with a given pattern or type. We might call 
this "pattern" or "type coherence." Its recognition rests essentially on 
what Kroeber has called "physiognomic" judgment, and Redfield, 
"portraiture." Kardiner's "basic personality structure" theory implies a 
different kind of coherence a coherence of specific primary and 
secondary institutions within a culture, conceived as antecedents and 
consequents of a postulated "basic personality structure." Its recogni- 
tion requires isolation of specific causes and effects and their linear 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 59 

temporal relations. We might call this a "causal coherence." The theory 
of "cultural character," on the other hand, combines the requirement of 
"pattern coherence" with an added emphasis on the congruence be- 
tween child-rearing patterns and the total configuration of the culture. 
But this congruence is not conceived of in this theory as implying any 
causal relation. The specific child-rearing practices are identified as 
transmissive media within the total pattern. The judgments of recogni- 
tion are mainly physiognomic and stylistic. 

The studies in this volume are all studies of pattern, of the stylistic inter- 
relationships of different aspects of childhood, of the way in which in a given 
culture, the image of the child, the way the child is rewarded and punished, 
children's toys, the literature written for children, the literature written 
about children, the selective memories of adults about their childhood, the 
games children play, their fears and fantasies, hopes and daydreams, and 
behavior on projective tests are all systematically related to one another. 
(Mead in Mead and Wolfenstein, 1955, p. 13) 

"Pattern coherence" also enters into the theory of "social character," 
particularly in the conception of society as an organized interdepend- 
ent system and of the individual as an organized personality. But there 
is a distinctive kind of coherence implied by this theory the coherence 
of social institutions and of the social character with given "objective 
social necessities." We might call this "functional coherence," for it 
requires an appraisal of the degree to which a particular society and its 
people are adapted to given conditions. 

All these different kinds of coherence "pattern," "causal," "func- 
tional," are intended to apply to single cultures or societies. It is quite 
conceivable that a society or culture may meet one test of coherence 
without meeting another. It is also important when applying these tests 
of coherence to bear in mind that social, cultural, and psychological 
"inconsistencies" are "normal" occurrences. Not every culture is equally 
consistent in its own terms, nor is every personality. Characters may 
have conflicting and even contradictory traits, societies and cultures may 
show class conflict, conflicts among social norms, culturally sanctioned 
violation of sacred norms, imaginative projections in art and mythol- 
ogy of anti-norms, and the like. Such conflicts and inconsistencies can- 
not always be reinterpreted in relation to some kind of coherence but 
may be brute facts that need to be recognized. They are incompatible 
not with coherence tests but with theories which assume too much co- 

Whiting and Child (1953) find the tests of coherence used in the in- 
terpretation of a specific case inadequate as a method of validating the 
psychological hypotheses underlying personality and culture studies. 
While granting that a coherence test may be useful for understanding 

60 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

a concrete case, they feel "it never provides adequate evidence as to 
whether [the] hypotheses used are generally valid as general princi- 
ples." In order to validate such hypotheses, "some means are needed 
for isolating the antecedent condition from other conditions and de- 
termining whether in fact this supposed consequent is observed with 
some consistency to follow or accompany it" (p. 9). Because the ex- 
perimental method is not generally available for this purpose, they 
propose that "the correlational method" be applied cross-culturally as a 
method of validating general hypotheses. Whiting and Child apply the 
correlational method themselves to seventy-five primitive cultures, 
using ethnographic data from the Human Relations Area Files (for 
sixty-five of the cultures) and from other published sources. The un- 
derlying assumption of the study is that "by considering one set of overt 
customs as representing the way the typical child is treated, and an- 
other set of overt customs as representing certain overt behavior in the 
same person when he becomes a typical adult, these hypotheses may 
be used to predict that certain customs in the one set should be found to 
be associated with certain customs in the other set" (1953, p. 35). The 
hypotheses are drawn mainly from psychoanalytic theory, translated 
into the language of general behavior theory, and extended to refer "not 
just to a particular individual, but to the typical member of a society" 

This correlation test of validation does not represent quite as sharp a 
break with the coherence tests as Whiting and Child imply. It is very 
similar to the "causal coherence" test of the Kardiner theory of 1939. 
And although Kardiner and his associates at first applied their test to in- 
dividual cultures, they fully intended to multiply cases in order to get 
statistical correlations : 

Twenty or thirty cultures studied in the manner here delineated will offer 
safe ground for generalizations based on reliable comparisons. The laws 
which govern the psychodynamics of social change can then be approxi- 
mated, if not precisely stated. (Kardiner, 1939, p. 487) 

The correlation test also shares with the "causal coherence" test the 
problem of how to transfer individual psychological theories developed 
in the clinics of western culture to the customs and institutions of other 

Yet there are certain respects in which the correlation test, as used 
by Whiting and Child, differs from all the coherence tests. The correla- 
tion test uses single cultures as units and single "typical" individuals, but 
this is done for statistical purposes only; no effort is made to treat cul- 
tures or personalities as organized wholes. On the contrary, the treat- 
ment is frankly limited and segmental, using only selected fragments of 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 61 

culture and of personality processes as variables to be correlated. They 
assume that only after these limited hypotheses are validated, can the 
more integrative interpretations of individual cultures be properly 

Perhaps the most important difference between the coherence tests 
and the correlation test is that the latter is designed to validate the psy- 
chological hypotheses as general principles of behavior. This is not the 
aim of the coherence tests. It is true, as Whiting and Child say, that all 
the theories of tribal and national character make use of psychological 
hypotheses drawn from psychoanalysis, learning theory, maturation 
theory, and other sources. It is also true that all of them attach particular 
importance to childrearing experiences in the formation of "typical" 
personalities. But they have not assumed that a particular personality 
and culture study could validate a general psychological theory; at most 
a particular study might present counter-evidence to limit psychological 
generalizations, as Malinowskf s Trobriand and Mead's Samoan studies 
did. The problem of validating general psychological theories has been 
left pretty much to the psychologist, psychoanalyst, and student of indi- 
vidual development. It is not surprising that Whiting and Child should 
assume the responsibility for this task; what is surprising is that they 
should attempt to do so entirely with ethnographic data, making no use 
whatever of psychological data on individuals. This is a validating 
procedure so indirect that it requires the introduction of numerous hy- 
potheses relating the cultural to the psychological levels as problem- 
atic as the hypotheses to be validated. 


The true locus of culture is in the interactions of specific individuals 
and, on the subjective side, in the world of meanings which each one of 
these individuals may unconsciously abstract for himself from his partic- 
ipation in these interactions. Every individual is, then, in a very real 
sense, a representative of at least one subculture which may be abstracted 
from the generalized culture of the group of which he is a member. 
(Sapir, 1932a, p. 236) 

Personality and culture studies began with an interest in understand- 
ing "the individual as living in his culture and the culture as lived by 
individuals." This interest, however, has lain almost dormant while pre- 
occupation with the problem of the typical personality of tribal, national, 
and other social groups has dominated attention. In their earlter phase, 
the studies of typical personality included very little data on individ- 
uals. Only with the growing accumulation of data on individual per- 

62 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

sonalities (life histories, dreams, responses to projective and non-pro- 
jective tests, etc.) in different cultures has it proved useful to study the 
culture-individual relation cross-culturally. Such psychological data 
have often been collected for delineating standardized profiles, but the 
existence of great individual variability has stimulated a renewed in- 
terest in the data as personal documents. In this concluding section, I 
shall discuss some of the theoretical implications of this trend. 

The expansion of psychological data and theories in personality and 
culture studies has tended to produce some competitiveness between 
psychologists and anthropologists, raising the question whether the 
field is not simply a branch of psychology. Implicitly there has always 
been a contrast between social and culture patterns on the one hand and 
individual behavior on the other, the former being considered the prov- 
ince of anthropology and sociology, the latter that of psychology. It was 
precisely this contrast which was blurred in the development of the 
hybrid field of personality and culture. How then is the hybrid related to 
its parent stocks, anthropology and psychology? 

One basic principle of distinction was first formulated by Edward 
Sapir, when he wrote that: 

Our natural interest in human behavior seems always to vacillate between 
what is imputed to the culture of the group as a whole and what is imputed 
to the psychic organization of the individual himself. These two poles of our 
interest in behavior do not necessarily make use of different materials; it is 
merely that the locus of reference is different in the two cases. (1934a, 
p. 408) 

This principle has since been restated in slightly different forms by 
Radcliffe-Brown (1957) Bateson (1936), Kroeber and Kluckhohn 
(1952), Parsons and Shils (1951), and others. Some of these restate- 
ments are probably independent of Sapir's, although most of them, in- 
cluding Sapir's, were probably influenced by the constructionist tenden- 
cies in the thought of James, Russell, Whitehead, and other modern 
philosophers. In -his Our Knowledge of the External World (1914), 
The Analysis of Mind (1921), and the Analysis of Matter (1927), 
Russell, for example, argues that mind and matter do not differ as 
raw material, which is made up of "neutral" sense-data or events, but 
only as different logical constructions from this material. 

Sapir's principle sets up a criterion for distinguishing psychology 
from anthropology and sociology. In itself, however, it does not explain 
how these different fields may be combined, as they are in personality 
and culture studies, into a "cultural psychology" or a "social psychol- 
ogy." Radcliffe-Brown, for example, although he accepts essentially 
the same principle, applies it to sharpen the contrast between sociology 
(and anthropology) and psychology. He admits the possibility of an 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 63 

"intermediate science" which might deal with such problems as the 
relation of culture to the individual, but this would have to wait upon 
the independent development of the laws of psychology and the laws 
of sociology (1957). 

Here again it was Sapir's original insight which saw how personality 
and culture study could develop from a synthesis of psychology and 
anthropology into something which would be more than a post-mortem 
summation of the component fields: 

... A truly rigorous analysis of any arbitrarily selected phase of indi- 
vidualized "social behavior" or "culture" would show two things: First, that 
no matter how flexible, how individually variable, it may in the first instance 
be thought to be, it is as a matter of fact the complex resultant of an incred- 
ibly elaborate culture history, in which many diverse strands intercross at that 
point in place and time at which the individual judgment of preference is 
expressed [this terminology is cultural]; second, that, conversely, no matter 
how rigorously necessary in practice the analyzed pattern may seem to be, it 
is always possible in principle, if not in experiential fact, for the lone individ- 
ual to effect a transformation of form or meaning which is capable of com- 
munication to other individuals [this terminology is psychiatric or personalis- 
tic]. (Edward Sapir, 193 8, pp. 9-10) 

His solution, in other words, is to suggest a systematic employment 
of the cultural and the individual perspectives successively or almost 
simultaneously upon the same body of data. Personality and culture 
differs from individual psychology and from the impersonal kind of 
anthropology in being bifocal. In practice, Sapir recognizes that some 
situations are seen better through the cultural lens and others through 
the personalistic. 

No one in his senses would wish the alphabet studied from this highly 
personalistic point of view. In plain English, it would not be worth the trou- 
ble. The total meaning of the alphabet for X is so very nearly the same as 
that for any other individual, Y, that one does much better to analyze it and 
explain its relation to other cultural patterns in terms of an impersonal or 
cultural or anthropological, mode of description, (ibid.) 

Breathing is an example on the other side (1929, pp. 17-18) . Even with 
respect to situations of this kind, however, Sapir insists on a theoretical 
reversibility of perspectives in order to reveal the psychological signifi- 
cance of cultural patterns and the cultural significance of individual be- 
havior. The alphabet has a personal significance and breathing is to some 
extent culturally patterned. 

The fact . . . that X has had more difficulty in learning the alphabet 
than Y, or that in old age X may forget the alphabet or some part of it more 
readily than Y, shows clearly enough that there is a psychiatric side to even 
the coldest and most indifferent of cultural patterns. Even such cold and 
indifferent cultural patterns have locked in them psychiatric meanings which 

64 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

are ordinarily of no moment to the student of society but which may under 
peculiar circumstances come to the foreground of attention. When this hap- 
pens, anthropological data need to be translated into psychiatric terms. 

Sapir's approach to the "intermediate science" is very different 
from Radcliffe-Brown's: 

We are not ... to begin with a simple contrast between social patterns 
and individual behavior, whether normal or abnormal, but we are, rather, 
to ask what is the meaning of culture in terms of individual behavior and 
whether the individual can, in a sense, be looked upon as the effective carrier 
of the culture of his group. (Sapir, 1932a) 

An extension of Sapir's point of view to current developments in per- 
sonality and culture research would further the process of theoretical 
clarification and yield many leads for research problems. It would sug- 
gest, for example, that the increasing use of psychological data does 
not necessarily convert personality and culture into a science of indi- 
vidual psychology, for these data must still be related to the cultural 
perspective. In fact the difference between psychological data and eth- 
nographic data consists not in their status as primary data, but in the 
different systems of grouping and interpretation to which they are re- 
ferred. In principle, all personal documents can be related to social and 
cultural systems, and so be transformed into data for cultural problems 
(Mead and Metraux, 1953, p. 34; Kroeber, 1947; Redfield, 1958a). 
This is not infrequent in practice: various kinds of psychological data 
have been used in studies of acculturation and value change (Vogt, 
1951, 1955; Hallowell, 1951b; Thomas and Znaniecki), of culturally 
characteristic motivations (DuBois, 1944; Aberle, 1951), and for the 
study of cultural transmission (Bruner, 1956a, b; Eggan, 1956), witch- 
craft (Kluckhohn, 1944a), and other cultural topics. 

"Cultural data," in analogous fashion, can be brought into a per- 
sonalistic perspective of individual psychology. The growth and 
change of a culture pattern, can, for example, be illuminated by study- 
ing the problem in relation to the roles of individual personalities, as 
Mandelbaum (1941) has done. A culture pattern like handtrembling 
can be related to the psychic economy of individuals (Leighton and 
Leighton, 1949). How an individual uses and transforms elements of a 
common culture may be studied in the personal use of myth in dreams 
(Eggan, 1955). 

A striking example of the alternating use of cultural and personality 
perspectives is Kroeber's account of the invention of the steamboat 
(Kroeber, 1948). First (section 185) Kroeber tells the story in terms of 
the principal technological, scientific, economic, legal, and political 
conditions: good roads in France, canals in England, engine-builders in 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 65 

England, etc. This is the impersonal cultural view of the invention. Then 
(section 186), he deliberately rearranges the facts in order to view them 
"as they relate to the individual persons involved" and the qualities 
that made them succeed or fail. Kroeber looks on these two accounts as 
"two different sets of interpretations: both significant, but neither ex- 
cluding the other from being 'true'" (1948, p. 464). 

It is important to remember that both sets of data always exist in the phe- 
nomena. They are necessarily intertwined, because no culture is ever opera- 
tive except through and in human beings. But human beings also operate or 
behave only under the influence of some one culture; and their behavior has 
cultural effect. This double-faceting of all social or historical phenomena 
should never be forgotten, (ibid.) 

In another example (section 201), Kroeber, using a study of Mandel- 
baum's on the Kotas (Mandelbaum, 1941), weaves the cultural and the 
personality perspectives into a single narrative in a series of quick jumps 
from one to the other. Again he feels that there is no clash or conflict 
between the two approaches. "Each gives a clear picture, a coherent 
understanding, consistent in terms of itself, or its own plane. The one 
level is oriented toward psychology and biography and social relations, 
the other toward anthropology and cultural history or philosophy of 
history, if one will" (1948, p. 507). He also believes the two planes will 
become intrinsically relatable as our understanding of personality and 
its mechanisms and of culture and its mechanisms advances. 

The culture and personality approach thus requires an alternating 
and almost simultaneous use of two different perspectives that of 
culture and that of the individual person. The approach necessarily 
requires either a close collaboration between an anthropologist and a 
psychologist or, as in Sapir's case, the capacity for bifocal vision. 

If Sapir's conception of the relation of culture to the individual 
personality is accepted, then the tests of validation which strive for 
strict independence of cultural and psychological data will have to be 
taken less seriously. For if both sets of data derive ultimately from 
the same order of primary data, and, if in principle at least, it is pos- 
sible to place cultural data into a psychological frame of reference and 
psychological data into a cultural one, then the degree of actual inde- 
pendence between them is only of limited practical significance. When 
an ethnographer's description refers to "dilapidated houses," this is 
not only a statement of ethnographic fact; it may also become an im- 
portant clue to the psychiatric interpreter for the construction of a psy- 
chological profile. Conversely, life histories, dreams, and responses to 
psychological tests contain in them a good deal of cultural information 
upon which the knowledgeable ethnographer can draw for his construc- 
tion of a culture pattern. There are "culture pattern dreams" (Lincoln, 

66 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

1935), and there may be "culture pattern Rorschach responses" as 
well. When Dollard said of Radin's pioneer Winnebago autobiography, 
Crashing Thunder (1926) that "it should be taken as an inside view of 
the Winnebago culture rather than as a careful analysis of a human 
life . . . [because] there is very little attempt at analysis and synthesis 
of the material or at systematic formulation of the growth of a life" 
(Dollard, 1945, pp. 260-63; Kluckhohn, 1945), he was not really 
criticizing the quality of the autobiographical data but only pointing out 
that the selection and organization of data were not the kind which 
would be required for a psychological construction of an individual's 
life experience. 

The emphasis on "constructions," "forms of thought," and "models" 
is another important consequence of the Sapir approach to personality 
and culture theory. If the data do not carry their own labels, then con- 
structions based on them must assume a prominent position in the de- 
velopment of the field. And so they have: "human nature," "configura- 
tional personality," "basic personality structure," "cultural character," 
"social character," even "modal personality type," are so many different 
constructions from similar data. The concrete individual person stands 
in a twofold relation to these constructions. He may on the one hand 
enter as a constituent of a construction and become an object of the 
investigation, as when the psychologist's construction of "personality" 
organizes selected data in terms of a constructed individual career; par- 
ticular individuals may, on the other hand, enter as collaborators to 
the investigation, as "informants" giving testimony about the object 
of investigation, whether the object be individual personalities or culture 
patterns. Although individuals enter as informants into all personality 
and culture constructions (and into purely cultural constructions as 
well), they enter as objects only into a few constructions. "Cultural 
character," "social character," and "basic personality structure," for 
example, do not explicitly specify individuals as objects. The type state- 
ments of these constructions predicate attributes of societies and cultures 
as wholes, or of groups taken collectively as a class, not of individuals 
singly or in specific distribution. 

Examples of such statements are: 

Demonstrating that one is really ill and needs help is a value in Eastern 
European Jewish culture. (Mead and Wolf enstein, 1955, p. 15) 
TheDobu are paranoid, (after Benedict, 1934) 

"Modal personality" statements, on the other hand, do specify distribu- 
tions of attributes among individuals within a given population, with- 
out necessarily naming them: 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 67 

Thirty-seven percent of the Tuscarora Indians interviewed at Niagara 
Falls show personality traits that fall within the modal class, (after Wallace, 

Many of the methodological problems in personality and culture 
theory arise from the desire to pass too quickly from the holistic and col- 
lective type of statements to the distributive and individualistic state- 
ments, and vice versa. While a holistic or collective attribution of 
traits may imply that some individuals in the given culture or society 
have the attributed traits, it does not explicitly assert who or how many 
they are. The addition of words like "some" or "many" to the state- 
ments does not really give any additional information about individ- 
uals, as Mead recognizes (Mead and Wolfenstein, 1955, p. 15). To do 
that, it is necessary to add explicit assumptions relating the collective at- 
tributes to individual distributions, as Benedict did, for example, in 
her theory that a vast majority of individual temperaments in any so- 
ciety would conform to the dominant cultural configuration. It is of 
course possible to develop a construction entirely at the level of holistic 
and collective statements, without making statements about individ- 
uals at all. This was certainly the dominant trend of Benedict's and 
Kardiner's early work. Kardiner's criticism of such a statement as "the 
Dobu are paranoid" was not that it attributed paranoia to the Dobu 
as a class but rather that it was physiognomic and non-causal. 
". . . If a group is paranoid, one ought to be able to track down those 
institutional forces with which all constituents make contact and which 
terminate in this common trait" (1939, pp. 84-85). 

So long as it seemed possible to establish causal connections between 
"institutional forces" and the "common traits" of classes of individuals, 
it was not felt necessary to refer to individual biographies. Only when 
"basic personality structure," "configurational personality," and the 
other constructions added statements about individuals, did it become 
necessary to enlarge the theories accordingly. 

Analogously, if one begins with distributional statements about indi- 
viduals or with statements about specific individuals and their relations, 
it is not possible to pass from such statements to collective or holistic 
statements about the society and the culture without the introduction of 
special theories postulating some special relationship among the differ- 
ent levels of statement. In Wallace (1952a) one such special assump- 
tion is that the most frequently occurring individual traits will also mani- 
fest themselves in the culture as "master traits." 

If personality and culture theory does not depend for its derivation on 
a unique source of data, but consists of a variety of constructions from 
similar bodies of data, then it is equally true that the validation of the 

68 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

theory does not depend on establishing correspondence with a single 
body of data. There is no single method of validation appropriate for 
aH constructions; rather, the method wiU vary with the kind of con- 
struction, the special assumptions that go with it, and the special 
research procedure employed. A test of "coherence," for example, re- 
quiring physiognomic judgments of conformity to a given culture pat- 
tern is an appropriate test for validating statements attributing holistic 
properties to a single culture. It is not at all an appropriate test for vah- 
datirie hypotheses which assert causal relations between isolable pairs 
of events in different cultures. Correlation tests, on the other hand, are 
an appropriate validating method for the latter kind of statements, but 

not for the former. . 

A sample survey yielding precise statistical distributions of traits 
within a specified population may be a relevant procedure for validatmg 
statements about "modal personality." It is not a relevant procedure for 
testing statements about "basic personality" or "cultural character" if 
these statements attribute personality traits to whole cultures or col- 
lective classes without specifying individual distributions. What is to be 
sampled will also vary with the kind of theoretical construction. A the- 
ory which assumes that small communities are microcosmic mirrors of 
larger communities will lead to the sampling of the internal struc- 
tures, social and psychological, of the small communities conceived 
as isolable units. A theory which emphasizes the networks of ex- 
ternal relations which bind different communities together into a larger 
whole will require for its testing a sampling of the structure of relations 
between communities (Singer, 1955). Last, a theory which concerns 
itself with the relation of a small number of specified individuals to 
one another and to their culture will accumulate a sample of many 
observations about just those specified individuals rather than a survey 
sample of observations about a large number of individuals (Mead, 
1953, p. 643; Mead and Metraux, pp. 33-34; Williams, 1958). 

In 'this sense, Mead's insistence that anthropological sampling is "a 
different kind of sampling in which the validity of the sample depends 
not so much upon the number of cases as upon the proper ^specifica- 
tion of the informant so that he can be accurately placed" (1953; 
Mead and Metraux, 1953, pp. 41-49) has a certain cogency in calling 
attention to the dependence of the sampling problem on the kind of 
construction. In personality and culture theory, however, it is not only 
the individual as informant that needs to be specified such specifica- 
tion helps to establish his credibility as a witness but also the individ- 
ual as an object of the investigation, as a term in the personality and 
culture relationship. In this latter context, the specifications cannot be 
very complete or accurate at the outset of an inquiry, since all the 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 69 

relevant variables are not known. The specified individual cannot, 
either in his capacity as an informant or as an object of personality 
and culture study, be taken as "a perfect example, an organic represen- 
tation of his complete cultural experience"; for as an informant he is 
fallible and as a "representative" of his culture he is a trans- 
former as well as a mirror. 


Abel, T. M., and Hsu, F. L. K. 1949. "Some Aspects of Personality of Chi- 
nese as Revealed by the Rorschach Test," Journal of Protective Tech- 
niques, 13:285-301. 

Aberle, D. F. 1951. "The Psychosocial Analysis of a Hopi Life-History," 
Comparative Psychology Monographs, 21 : 1-133. 

Adcock, C. J., and Ritchie, J. E. 1958. "Intercultural Use of Rorschach," 

American Anthropologist, 60:881-92. 

Adorno, T. W.; Frenkel-Brunswik, Else; Levinson, D. J.; and Sanford, R. N. 
1950. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper & Bros. 

Allport, G. W. 1942. The Use of Personal Documents. New York: Social 
Science Research Council, Bull. 49. 

Almond, G. A. 1950. The American People and Foreign Policy. New York: 
Harcourt, Brace & Co. 

Ammar, Hamed. 1954. Growing Up in an Egyptian Village. London: Rout- 
ledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd. 

Angell, Robert. 1945. "A Critical Review of the Development of the Per- 
sonal Document Method in Sociology, 1920-1940." In Gottschalk, L., 
Kluckhohn, C., and Angell, R., The Use of Personal Documents in His- 
tory, Anthropology and Sociology. New York: Social Science Research 
Council, Bull. 53. Pp. 1 17-232. 

Barker, E. 1955. Britain and the British People. (2nd ed.), London, New 
York: Oxford University Press. 

Barker, R. G., and Wright, H. F. 1954. Midwest and Its Children: The 
Psychological Ecology of an American Town. Evanston, Illinois: Row, 
Peterson & Co. 

Barnouw, Victor. 1950. Acculturation and Personality Among the Wis- 
consin Chippewa. Menasha, Wisconsin: American Anthropological As- 
sociation, Memoir 72. 

Barry, H., Child, L, and Bacon, M. K. 1959. "Relation of Child Training 
to Subsistence Economy," American Anthropologist, 61 : 5 1-63. 

Bastide, Roger. 1950. Sociologie et Psychoanalyse. Paris: Presses Uni- 
versitaires de France. 

Bateson, Gregory. 1935. "Culture Contact and Schismogenesis," Man, 

-. 1936. Naven. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (2nd ed., 

1958, Stanford University Press.) 

70 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Bateson, Gregory. 1942a. "Morale and National Character." In Watson, G., 
(ed.), Civilian Morale. Boston: Society for the Psychological Study of So- 
cial Issues, Second Yearbook. Pp. 74-89. 

. 1942b. "Some Systematic Approaches to the Study of Culture and 

Personality," Character and Personality, 11:76-84. 

~. 1943. "Cultural and Thematic Analysis of Fictional Films," Trans- 

actions of the New York Academy of Science, Ser. II, 5:72-78. 

-. 1944. "Cultural Determinants of Personality." In Hunt, J. McV., 

(ed.), Personality and the Behavior Disorders, Vol. II. New York: Roland 
Press. Pp. 714-35. 

-. 1949. "Bali: The Value System of a Steady State." In Fortes, M., 

ed., Social Structure: Studies Presented to A. R. Radcliffe-Brown. 
London: Oxford University Press. Pp. 35-53. 

Bateson, Gregory, and Mead, Margaret. 1942. Balinese Character: A 
Photographic Analysis. New York: Special Publications of the New York 
Academy of Sciences, Vol. II. 

Bauer, Raymond, Inkeles, Alex, and Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1956. How the 
Soviet System Works: Cultural, Psychological and Social Themes. Cam- 
bridge: Harvard University Press. 

Bell, Daniel. 1958. "Ten Theories in Search of Reality: The Prediction of 
Soviet Behavior in the Social Sciences," World Politics, 10 : 327-65. 

Belo, Jane. 1935. "The Balinese Temper," Character and Personality, 

Bendix, Reinhard. 1952. "Compliant Behavior and Individual Personality," 
American Journal of Sociology, 58:292-302. 

Benedict, P. K., and Jacks, I. 1954. "Mental Illness in Primitive Society," 
Psychiatry, 17:377-89. 

Benedict, Ruth F. 1928. "Psychological Types in the Cultures of the 
Southwest." In Proceedings of the 23rd Congress of Americanists. Chi- 
cago: University of Chicago Press. Copyright, 1930. Pp. 572-81. 

. 1932. "Configurations of Culture in North America," American 

Anthropologist, 34:1-27. 

. 1934a. "Anthropology and the Abnormal," Journal of General 

Psychology, 10:59-80. 

. 1934b. Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 

. 1938. "Continuities and Discontinuities in Cultural Conditioning," 

Psychiatry, 1:161-67. 

1946a. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Boston: Houghton 

Mifflin Co. 

. 1946b. "The Study of Cultural Patterns in European Nations," 

Transactions of the New York Academy of Science, Ser. II, 8:274-79. 

. 1949. "Child Rearing in Certain European Cultures," American 

Journal of Ortho psychiatry, 19: 342-50. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 1 1 

Bennett, John W., and Nagai, Michio. 1953. "The Japanese Critique of 
the Methodology of Benedict's Chrysanthemum and the Sword," Ameri- 
can Anthropologist, 55:404-10. 

Billig, O., Gillin, J., and Davidson, W. 1947-48. "Aspects of Personality and 
Culture in a Guatemalan Community: Ethnological and Rorschach Ap- 
proaches," Journal of Personality, 16:153-87, 326-68. 

Blumer, Herbert. 1939. "An Appraisal of Thomas and Znaniecki's The 
Polish Peasant in Europe and America." (Critiques of Research in the 
Social Sciences: I.) New York: Social Science Research Council. 

Boas, Franz. 1934. "Introduction," to Benedict, R. ? Patterns of Culture. 
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 

Boggs, Stephen T. 1958. "Culture Change and the Personality of Ojibwa 
Children," American Anthropologist, 60:47-58. 

Bruner, Edward M. 1956a. "Primary Group Experience and the Process of 
Acculturation," American Anthropologist, 58:605-23. 

. 1956b. "Cultural Transmission and Cultural Change," Southwestern 

Journal of A nthropology, 12:19 1-99. 

Buchanan, William, Cantril, Hadley, et al 1953. How Nations See Each 
Other: A Study in Public Opinion. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 

Calpin, G. H. 1953. The South African Way of Life. London: Wm. Heine- 
mann, Ltd. 

Carothers, J. C. 1948. "A Study of Mental Derangement in Africans and an 
Attempt to Explain Its Peculiarities, More Especially in Relation to the 
African Attitude to Life," Psychiatry, 1 1 : 47-86. 

Carstairs, G. Morris. 1957. The Twice-Born: A Study of a Community of 
High-Caste Hindus. London: The Hogarth Press. 

Castberg, F. 1954. The Norwegian Way of Life. Translated by Ragnar 
Christophersen. (International Studies Conference.) Melbourne: Wm. 
Heinemann, Ltd. 

Caudill, William. 1949. "Psychological Characteristics of Acculturated Wis- 
consin Ojibwa Children," American Anthropologist, 51 : 409 27. 

. 1952. "Japanese-American Personality and Acculturation," Genetic 

Psychology Monographs, 45:3102. 

Caudill, William, and De Vos, George. 1956. "Achievement, Culture and 
Personality: The Case of the Japanese-Americans," American Anthro- 
pologist, 58:1102-26. 

Christie, R., and Jahoda, M. 1954. Studies in the Scope and Method of "The 
Authoritarian Personality" Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Codere, Helen. 1950. Fighting with Property: A Study of Kwakiutl Pot- 
latching and Warfare, 1792-1930. New York: American Ethnological 

. 1956. "The Amiable Side of Kwakiutl Life," American Anthro- 
pologist, 58:334-51. 

Crawford, R. M. 1955. "The Australian National Character: Myth and 
Reality," Cahiers d'histoire mondiale, 2:70427. 

72 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Davis, Allison, and Bollard, John. 1940. Children of Bondage: The Person- 
ality Development of Negro Youth in the Urban South. Washington: 
American Council on Education. 

Davis, Allison, and Havighurst, R. J. 1946. "Social Class and Color Differ- 
ences in Child Rearing," American Sociological Review, 11: 698-710. 

Dennis, Wayne. 1940. "Does Culture Appreciably Affect Patterns of Infant 
Behavior?" Journal of Social Psychology, 12:305-17. 

Devereux, George. 1951. Reality and Dream: Psychotherapy of a Plains 
Indian. New York: International Universities Press. 

Dewey, John. 1922. Human Nature and Conduct; An Introduction to Social 
Psychology. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 

Dicks, H. V. 1950. "Personality Traits and National Socialist Ideology," 
Human Relations, 3:11-154. 

. 1952. "Observations on Contemporary Russian Behavior," Human 

Relations, 5:11-175. 

Dollard, John. 1945. Criteria for the Life History. With analyses of six nota- 
ble documents. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Dollard, J., Miller, N. E., and Sears, R. R. 1939. Frustration and Aggres- 
sion. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Dollard, J. } and Miller, N. E. 1950. Personality and Psychotherapy. New 
York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 

DuBois, Cora. 1941. "Attitudes Toward Food and Hunger in Alor." In 
Spier, L., et al, (eds.), Language, Culture and Personality: Essays in 
Memory of Edward Sapir. Menasha, Wisconsin: Sapir Memorial Publica- 
tion Fund. Pp. 272-81. 

. 1944. The People of Alor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 


Dyk, Walter. 1938. Son of Old Man Hat. A Navaho Autobiography re- 
corded by Walter Dyk. With an introduction by Edward Sapir. New York: 
Harcourt, Brace & Co. 

. 1947. A Navaho Autobiography. New York: Viking Fund Publica- 
tions in Anthropology, No. 8. 

Eaton, Joseph W., in collaboration with Weil, Robert J. 1955. Culture and 
Mental Disorders. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Eggan, Dorothy. 1943. "The General Problem of Hopi Adjustment," Ameri- 
can Anthropologist, 45:357-73. 

. 1949. "The Significance of Dreams for Anthropological Research," 

American Anthropologist, 51 : 177-98. 

1952. "The Manifest Content of Dreams: A Challenge to Social 

Science," American Anthropologist, 54:469-85. 

1955. "The Personal Use of Myth in Dreams." In Sebeok, T. (ed.), 

Myth: A Symposium. Journal of American Folklore, 67-75. 

. 1956. "Instruction and Affect in Hopi Cultural Continuity," South- 
western Journal of A nthropology, 1 2 : 347-66. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 73 

Erikson, E. H. 1945. "Childhood and Tradition in Two American Indian 
Tribes." In Freud, A., and others (eds.), The Psychoanalytic Study of the 
Child. Vol. I. New York: International Universities Press. Pp. 319-50. 

. 1950. Childhood and Society. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. 

Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1929. "The Study of Kinship in Primitive Societies," 
Man, 29, No. 148:190-94. 

Farber, Maurice L. 1950. "The Problem of National Character: A Methodo- 
logical Analysis," Journal of Psychology, 30:307-16. 

. 1953. "English and Americans: Values in the Socialization Process," 

Journal of Psychology, 36:243-50. 

-. 1955. "The Study of National Character: 1955," Journal of Social 

Issues, 11, No. 2: 52-56. 

Faris, R. E. L., and Dunham, H. 1939. Mental Disorders in Urban Areas. 
Chicago : University of Chicago Press. 

Ford, Clellan S. 1941. Smoke from Their Fires. New Haven: Yale University 

Fortes, Meyer. 1957. "Malinowski and the Study of Kinship." In Firth, R. 
(ed.), Man and Culture, An Evaluation of the Work of Malinowski. Lon- 
don: Routledge &Kegan Paul. Pp. 168-72. 

Francis, E. K. L. 1945. "The Personality Type of the Peasant According to 
Hesiod's Works and Days: A Culture Case Study/' Rural Sociology, 

Frank, Lawrence K. 1951. Nature and Human Nature. New Brunswick: 
Rutgers University Press. 

Freud, Sigmund. 1922. Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. Lon- 
don: International Psychoanalytic Press. 

. 1930. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: Jonathan Cape & 

Harrison Smith. 

Friedl, Ernestine. 1956. "Persistence in Chippewa Culture and Personality," 
American Anthropologist, 58:814-25. 

Fromm, Erich. 1936. "A Social Psychological Approach to 'Authority and 
Family.' " In Horkheimer, M. (ed.), Studien uber Autoritat und Familie. 
Paris: Librairie Felix Alcan. 

. 1941. Escape from Freedom. New York: Farrar & Rinehart. 

1944. "Individual and Social Origins of Neurosis," American So- 

ciological Review, 9 : 380-84. 
. 1948. Man for Himself. New York: Farrar & Rinehart. 

. 1949. "Psychoanalytic Characterology and Its Application to the 

Understanding of Culture." In Sargent, S. S., and Smith, Marian W. (eds.), 
Culture and Personality. New York: The Viking Fund. pp. 1-10. 

. 1955. The Sane Society. New York: Rinehart. 

Gerth, H., and Mills, C. W. 1953. Character and Social Structure. New York: 
Harcourt, Brace & Co. 

74 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Gesell, Arnold, Ilg, Frances, et al 1943. Infant and Child in the Culture of 
Today. New York: Harper & Bros. 

Gillin, John. 1939. "Personality in Preliterate Societies," American Socio- 
logical Review , 4:681-702. 

. 1945. "Personality Formation from the Comparative Cultural Point 

of View." In Sociological Foundations of the Psychiatric Disorders of 
Children. Proceedings of the Twelfth Institute of the Child Research 
Clinic of the Woods Schools, 12: 13-34. 

Ginsberg, M. 1942. "National Character," British Journal of Psychology, 

Gladwin, Thomas, and Sarason, S. B., 1953. Truk: Man in Paradise. New 
York: Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology, No. 20. 

Goldfrank, Esther S. 1945. "Socialization, Personality, and the Structure of 
Pueblo Society," American Anthropologist , 47:516-39. 

. 1948. "The Impact of Situation and Personality on Four Hopi 

Emergence Myths," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 4:241-62. 

Goldhamer, Herbert, and Marshall, Andrew. 1953. Psychosis and Civiliza- 
tion. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Goldman, Irving. 1950. "Psychiatric Interpretations of Russian History, A 
Reply to Geoffrey Gorer," American Slavic and East European Review, 
9, No. 3: 151-61. 

Goldschmidt, Walter. 1951. "Ethics and the Structure of Society: An Eth- 
nological Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge," American Anthro- 
pologist, 53:506-24. 

Gorer, Geoffrey. 1943. "Themes in Japanese Culture," Transactions of the 
New York Academy of Science, Ser. II, 5: 106-24. 

. 1948. The American People. New York: W, W. Norton & Co. 

. 1949. "Some Aspects of the Psychology of the People of Great 

Russia," American Slavic and East European Review, 8, No. 3:155-66. 

1950a. "The Concept of National Character," Science News, 


. 1950b. "Some Notes on the British Character," Horizon, 20:120- 


. 1951. "Swaddling and the Russians," New Leader, May 21, 19-20. 

. 1955. Exploring English Character. London: The Cresset Press. 

Gorer, Geoffrey, and Rickman, John. 1949. The People of Great Russia. 
London: The Cresset Press. (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1950.) 

Gottschalk, Louis. 1945. "The Historian and the Historical Document." In 
Gottschalk, L., Kluckhohn, C, and Angell, R. The Use of Personal Docu- 
ments in History, Anthropology and Sociology. New York: Social Science 
Research Council, Bull. 53. Pp. 79-173. 

Hallowell, A. 1. 1937. 'Temporal Orientation in Western Civilization and in a 
Preliterate Society," American Anthropologist, 39:647-70, 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 75 

. 1938. "Fear and Anxiety as Cultural and Individual Variables in a 

Primitive Society," The Journal of Social Psychology, 9 : 25-47. 

. 1940. "Aggression in Salteaux Society," Psychiatry, 3:395-407. 

-. 1941. "The Social Function of Anxiety in a Primitive Society," 

American Sociological Review, 7:869-81. 

-. 1942. "Acculturation Processes and Personality Changes as Indi- 

cated by the Rorschach Technique," Rorschach Research Exchange, 

. 1945. "The Rorschach Technique in the Study of Personality and 

Culture," American Anthropologist, 47: 195-210. 

. 1946a. "Some Psychological Characteristics of the Northeastern 

Indians." In Johnson, F. (ed.), Man in Northeastern North America. 
Andover, Massachusetts: Papers of the R. S. Peabody Foundation for 
Archaeology, 3 : 195-225. 

-. 1946b. "Concordance of Ojibwa Narratives in the Published Work 

of Henry R. Schoolcraf t," Journal of A merican Folklore, 59:13 6-53 . 

-. 1949. "Ojibwa Personality and Acculturation." In Tax, S. (ed.), 

Selected Papers of the Twenty-ninth International Congress of Ameri- 
canists, 2:105-112. 

. 1950. "Personality Structure and the Evolution of Man," American 

Anthropologist, 52:159-75. 

-. 195 la. "Cultural Factors in the Structuralization of Perception." 

In Rohrer, J. H., and Sherif, M. (eds.), Social Psychology at the Cross- 
roads. New York: Harper & Bros. Pp. 164-95. 

-. 1951b. "The Use of Projective Techniques in the Study of the 

Socio-Psychological Aspects of Acculturation," Rorschach Research Ex- 
change and Journal of Projective Techniques, 15, No. 1 : 27-44. 

-. 1953. "Culture, Personality, and Society." In Kroeber, A. L. (ed.), 

Anthropology Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 597-620. 

. 1954. "The Self and Its Behavioral Environment," Explorations, 


. 1955. Culture and Experience. Philadelphia: University of Penn- 
sylvania Press. 

Haring, D. G. 1946. "Aspects of Personal Character in Japan/' Far Eastern 
Quarterly , 6 : 12-22. 

. 1949. Personal Character and Cultural Milieu. A Collection of 

Readings. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. (Revised ed., 1956.) 

Hartmann, H., Kris, E. and Loewenstein, R. M. 1951. "Some Psychoana- 
lytic Comments on 'Culture and Personality.'" In Wilbur, G. B., and 
Muensterberger, W. (eds.), Psychoanalysis and Culture. New York: In- 
ternational Universities Press. Pp. 331. 

Havighurst, R. J., and Neugarten, Bernice L. 1954. American Indian and 
White Children: A Socio-Psychological Investigation. Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press. 

76 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Havighurst, R. J., and Taba, Hilda. 1949. Adolescent Character and Per- 
sonality. New York: J. Wiley. 

Heinicke, C., and Whiting, Beatrice B. 1953. Bibliographies on Personality 
and Social Development of the Child. New York: Social Science Research 

Henry, Jules. 1948. "Anthropology and Orthopsychiatry." In Lourey, L. G., 
and Sloan, Victoria (eds.), Orthopsychiatry, 1923-1948: Retrospect and 
Prospect. New York: American Orthopsychiatric Association. Pp. 263-86. 

Henry, Jules et al 1955. "Symposium: Projective Testing in Ethnography," 
American Anthropologist, 57:245-70. 

Henry, William E. 1947. "The Thematic Apperception Technique in the 
Study of Culture-Personality Relations," Genetic Psychology Mono- 
graphs, 35, No. 1. 

Hinkle, G. J. 1952. "The Tour Wishes' in Thomas' Theory of Social 
Change," Social Research, 19:464-84; 20:473-77. 

Hoijer, Harry (ed.). 1954. Language in Culture. Chicago: University of Chi- 
cago Press. 

Honigmann, John J. 1954. Culture and Personality. New York: Harper & 

Honigmann, John J., and Carrera, Richard N. 1957. "Cross-Cultural Use 
of Machover's Figure Drawing Test," American Anthropologist, 59: 

Horney, Karen. 1937. The Neurotic Personality of Our Times. New York: 
W. W. Norton & Co. 

Howells, W. W. 1955. "Universality and Variation in Human Nature." In 
W. L. TTiomas, Jr. (ed.), Yearbook of Anthropology, I. New York: 
Wenner-Gren Foundation. Pp. 227-36. 

Hsu, F. L. K. 1953. Americans and Chinese: Two Ways of Life. New York: 
Henry Schuman. 

Hsu, F. L. K. (ed.) . 1954. Aspects of Culture and Personality. A symposium. 
New York: Abelard-Schuman. 

Hughes, E. C. 1929. "Personality Types and the Division of Labor." In 
Burgess, W. W. (ed.) , Personality and the Social Group. Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press. Pp. 78-94. 

Inkeles, Alex. 1953. "Some Sociological Observations on Culture and Per- 
sonality Studies." In Kluckhohn, C., Murray, H. A., and Schneider, D. M. 
(eds.), Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture. (2nd ed.). New York: 
Alfred Knopf. Pp. 577-92. 

. 1955. "Social Change and Social Character: The Role of Parental 

Mediation," Journal of Social Issues, 11, No. 2:12-23. 

Inkeles, Alex, and Levinson, D. J. 1954. "National Character: The Study of 
Modal Personality and Sociocultural Systems." In Lindzey, G. (ed.), 
Handbook of Social Psychology, Vol. II. Cambridge: Addison-Weslev 
Pp. 977-1020. y 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 77 

Inkeles, Alex, Hanfman, Eugenia, and Beier, Helen. 1958. "Modal Person- 
ality and Adjustment to the Soviet Socio-Political System," Human Rela- 
tions, 11, No. 3:3-22. 

Jahoda, M., and Christie, R. 1954. Studies in the Scope and Method of "The 
Authoritarian Personality!' Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Japanese Journal of Ethnology. 1949. "The Problems Raised by The 
Chrysanthemum and the Sword." 14, No. 4: 1-35. 

Jones, Ernest. 1924. "Psychoanalysis and Anthropology," Journal of the 
Royal Anthropological Institute, 54:47-66. 

. 1925. "Mother-Right and the Sexual Ignorance of Savages," Inter- 
national Journal of Psychoanalysis, 6 : 1 09-1 30. 

Joseph, Alice, and Murray, Veronica F. 1951. Chamorros and Carolinians of 
Saipan: Personality Studies. With an analysis of the Bender Gestalt texts 
by Lauretta Bender. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Joseph, Alice, Spicer, R. B., and Chesky, Jane. 1949. The Desert People. 
Chicago : University of Chicago Press. 

Kaplan, Bert. 1954. A Study of Rorschach Responses in Four Cultures. 
Cambridge: Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology 
and Ethnology, Harvard University, 42, No. 2. 

Kaplan, Bert, and Plaut, Thomas F. A. 1956. Personality in a Communal 
Society: An Analysis of the Mental Health of the Hutterites. Lawrence, 
Kansas: University of Kansas Publications, Social Science Studies. 

Kardiner, Abram. 1939. The Individual and His Society. With a foreword 
and two ethnological reports by R. Linton. New York: Columbia Univer- 
sity Press. 

. 1944. Introduction to DuBois, Cora, The People of Alor. Minneapo- 
lis: University of Minnesota Press. 

. 1945. "The Concept of Basic Personality Structure as an Opera- 

tional Tool in the Social Sciences." In Linton, R. (ed.), The Science of 
Man in the World Crisis. New York: Columbia University Press. Pp. 

Kardiner, Abram, with the collaboration of Linton, R., DuBois, Cora, and 
West, J. 1945. The Psychological Frontiers of Society. New York: Colum- 
bia University Press. 

Kardiner, Abram, and Ovesey, L. 1951. The Mark of Oppression. New York: 
W.W. Norton & Co. 

Klineberg, Otto. 1944. "A Science of National Character," Journal of Social 
Psychology, 19:147-62. 

. 1949. "Recent Studies of National Character." In Sargent, S. S., 

and Smith, Marian W. (eds.), Culture and Personality. New York: The 
Viking Fund. Pp. 127-38. 

-. 1950. Tensions Affecting International Understanding. New York: 

Social Science Research Council, Bull. 62. 

Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1941. "Patterning as Exemplified in Navaho Culture." 
In Spier, L., et aL (eds.), Language, Culture, and Personality: Essays in 

78 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Memory of Edward Sapir. Menasha, Wisconsin: Sapir Memorial Publica- 
tion Fund. Pp. 109-30. 

1944a. Navaho Witchcraft. Cambridge: Papers of the Peabody 

Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 

22, No. 2. 

. 1944b. "The Influence of Psychiatry on Anthropology in America 

during the Past One Hundred Years." In One Hundred Years of Ameri- 
can Psychiatry. New York: Columbia University Press. Pp. 569-617. 

. 1945. "The Personal Document in Anthropological Science." In 

Gottschalk, L., Kluckhohn, C, and Angell, R. The Use of Personal Docu- 
ments in History, Anthropology and Sociology, New York: Social Science 
Research Council, Bull. 53. Pp. 79-173. 

1946. "Personality Formation Among the Navaho Indians," 

Sociometry, 9:128-32. 

-. 1947. "Some Aspects of Navaho Infancy and Early Childhood." 

In Roheim, G. (ed.), Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences. Vol. I. New 
York: International Universities Press. Pp. 3786. 

1948. Personality in Nature, Society and Culture. New York: 

Alfred Knopf. (2nd ed. 1955). 

. 1949. "Personality in Culture." In Kluckhohn, C., Mirror for Man. 

New York: Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Pp. 196-227. 

. 1953. "Universal Categories of Culture." In Kroeber, A. L. (ed.), 

Anthropology Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Pp. 507-23. 

. 1954. "Southwestern Studies of Culture and Personality," American 

Anthropologist, 56:685-707. 

1955. "Recent Studies of the 'National Character' of Great Rus- 

sians," Human Development Bulletin. Chicago: Committee on Human 
Development, 6th Annual Symposium. Pp. 39-60. 

. 1956. "The Impact of Freud on Anthropology," Bulletin of the New 

York Academy of Medicine, 32:903-7. 

Kluckhohn, Clyde, and Leighton, Dorothea. 1946. The Navaho. Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press. 

Kluckhohn, Clyde, and Morgan, W. 1951. "Some Notes on Navaho Dreams." 
In Wilbur, G. B., and Muensterberger, W. (eds.) Psychoanalysis and 
Culture: Essays in Honor of Geza Roheim. New York: International Uni- 
versities Press. Pp. 120-31. 

Kluckhohn, Clyde, and Murray, Henry A. (eds.). 1948. Personality in Na- 
ture, Society, and Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (2nd ed. with 
David M. Schneider, 1953.) 

Kluckhohn, Clyde, and Rosenzweig, Janine C. 1949. "Two Navaho Chil- 
dren over a Five-Year Period," American Journal of Orthopsvchiatrv 
19:266-78. *' 

Kroeber, A. L. 1920. "Totem and Taboo: An Ethnologic Psychoanalysis," 
American Anthropologist, 22 :48-55. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 79 

. 1939. "Totem and Taboo in Retrospect," American Journal of 

Sociology, 45:446-57, 

-. 1940. "Psychosis or Social Sanction," Character and Personality, 

7:204-15. (Reprinted in Kroeber, A. L., The Nature of Culture. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1952. Pp. 310-19.) 

-. 1944. Configurations of Culture Growth, Berkeley and Los Angeles: 

University of California Press. 

-. 1945. "The Use of Autobiographical Evidence." Pp. 318-22 of 

"A Yurok War Reminiscence," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 
1:318-32. (Reprinted in Kroeber, A. L., The Nature of Culture. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1952. Pp. 320-22.) 

-. 1947. "A Southwestern Personality Type," Southwestern Journal of 

Anthropology, 3 : 108-13. 
. 1948. Anthropology. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. (Rev. ed.) 

. 1955. "On Human Nature," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 


Kroeber, A. L. (ed.). 1953. Anthropology Today. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press. 

Kroeber, A. L., and Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1952. Culture, A Critical Review of 
Concepts and Definitions. Cambridge: Papers of the Peabody Museum 
of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 47, No. 1. 

La Barre, Weston. 1945. "Some Observations on Character Structure in the 
Orient: The Japanese," Psychiatry, 8:319-42. 

. 1946. "Some " Observations on Character Structure in the Orient: 

The Chinese," Psychiatry, 9:375-95. 

-. 1948. "Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures," 

Scientific Monthly, LXVII, No. 3:239-40. 

-. 1958. "The Influence of Freud on Anthropology," The American 

Imago, 15:275-328. 
Langer, William C. 1958. "The Next Assignment," The American Imago, 

Lasswell, Harold D. 1930. Psychopathology and Politics. Chicago: University 

of Chicago Press. 

. 1931. "A Hypothesis Rooted in the Preconceptions of a Single 

Civilization Tested by Bronislaw Malinowski." In Rice, S. A. (ed.), Meth- 
ods in Social Science: A Case Book. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 
Pp. 480-88. 

-. 1935. World Politics and Personal Security. New York: McGraw- 

Hill Book Co. 

. 1937. "The Method of Overlapping Observation in the Study of 

Personality and Culture," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 

. 1939. "The Contribution of Freud's Insight Interview to the Social 

Sciences," A merican Journal of Sociology, 45 : 375-90. 

80 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Lasswell, Harold D. 1948. Power and Personality. New York: W. W. Nor- 
ton & Co. 

Lazarsfeld, Paul F. s and Barton, A. H. 1951. "Qualitative Measurement in 
the Social Sciences: Classification, Typologies, and Indices." In Leraer, D., 
and Lasswell, H. (eds.), The Policy Sciences. Stanford: Stanford University 
Press. Pp. 155-92. 

Leighton, Alexander H., Clausen, John A., and Wilson, Robert N. (eds.)- 
1957. Explorations in Social Psychiatry . New York: Basic Books, Inc. 

Leighton, Alexander H., and Leighton, Dorothea C. 1944. The Navaho 
Door, An Introduction to Navaho Life. Cambridge: Harvard University 

. 1949. Gregorio, The Hand-Trembler: A Psychobiological Study of a 

Navaho Indian. Cambridge: Papers of the Peabody Museum of American 
Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 40, No. 1. 

Leighton, Dorothea, and Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1947. Children of the People: 
The Navaho Individual and His Development. Cambridge: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press. 

Leites, Nathan. 1947. "Trends in Affectlessness," The American Imago, 

1948. "Psycho-cultural Hypotheses About Political Acts," World 

Politics, 1:102-119. 
. 1954. A Study of Bolshevism. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Leites, Nathan, and Bernaut, Elsa. 1954. Ritual of Liquidation: The Case of 
the Moscow Trials. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Leites, Nathan, and Wolfenstein, Martha. 1947. "An Analysis of Themes 
and Plots," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sci- 
ence, 254:41-48. 

Lerner, Daniel. 1958. The Passing of Traditional Society. Glencoe, Illinois: 
The Free Press. 

Lewin, K. 1948. "Some Social Psychological Differences Between the United 
States and Germany." In Lewin, Gertrud (ed.), Resolving Social Conflicts: 
Selected Papers on Group Dynamics, 1935-1946. New York: Harper 
Bros. Pp. 3-33. 

Lewis, Oscar. 1951. Life in a Mexican Village: Tepoztlan Restudied. Ur- 
bana: The University of Illinois Press. 

Li An-che, 1937. "Zuni: Some Observations and Queries," American Anthro- 
pologist ,39:62-1 '6. 

Lincoln, J. S. 1935. The Dream in Primitive Cultures. London: The Cresset 

Lindesmith, A. R., and Strauss, A. L. 1950. "A Critique of Culture-Personal- 
ity Writings," American Sociological Review, 15:587-600. 

Linton, Ralph. 1945. The Cultural Background of Personality. New York: 

. 1949. "Problems of Status Personality." In Sargent, S. S., and 

Smith, Marian W. (eds.) , Culture and Personality. New York: The Viking 
Fund. Pp. 163-73. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 8 1 

. 1951. "The Concept of National Character." In Stanton, A. H., 

and Perry, S. E. (eds.), Personality and Political Crisis. Glencoe, Illinois: 
The Free Press. Pp. 133-50. 

1956. Culture and Mental Disorders. George Devereux, (ed.) 

Springfield, Illinois : Charles C. Thomas. 

Little, Kenneth L. 1950. "Methodology in the Study of Adult Personality," 
American Anthropologist, 52:279-82. 

Lowie, Robert H. 1945. The German People, A Social Portrait to 1914. 
New York: Farrar & Rinehart. 

. 1954. Toward Understanding Germany. Chicago: University of 

Chicago Press. 

MacGregor, Gordon. 1946. Warriors Without Weapons. Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press. 

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1927. Sex and Repression in Savage Society. New 
York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. 

. 1929. The Sexual Life of Savages. New York: Halcyon House. 

Mandelbaum, David G. 1941. "Social Trends and Personal Pressures: The 
Growth of a Culture Pattern." In Spier, L., et al, (eds.), Language, Cul- 
ture, and Personality: Essays in Memory of Edward Sapir. Menasha, Wis- 
consin: Sapir Memorial Publication Fund. Pp. 219-238. 

. 1953. "On the Study of National Character," American Anthro- 
pologist ,55:11 4-87, 

McClelland, D. C., and Friedman, G. A. 1952. "A Cross-Cultural Study of 
the Relationship between Child-Training Practices and Achievement Mo- 
tivation Appearing in Folk-Tales." In Newcomb, T. M., Hartley, E. L., 
and Swanson, G. E. (eds.), Readings in Social Psychology. New York: 
Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 243-49. 

McGranahan, D. V., and Wayne, I. 1948. "German and American Traits 
Reflected in Popular Drama," Human Relations, 1 : 429-55. 

McQuown, Norman. 1957. "Linguistic Transcription and Specification of 
Psychiatric Interview Materials," Psychiatry, 20:79-86. 

Mead, George Herbert. 1934. Mind, Self, and Society. Edited by C. W. 
Morris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

. 1956. The Social Psychology of George Herbert Mead. Selected 

Writings of an American Pragmatist. Edited by Anselm Strauss. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press. 

Mead, Margaret. 1928. Coming of Age in Samoa. New York: Wm. Mor- 
row & Co. 

. 1930. Growing Up in New Guinea. New York: Wm. Morrow & Co. 

. 1935. Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. New 

York: Wm. Morrow & Co. 

. 1937. (ed.), Cooperation and Competition among Primitive Peoples. 

New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 

1939. From the South Seas. New York: Wm. Morrow & Co. 

Copyright 1928, 1930, 1935, 1938 by Margaret Mead. 

82 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Mead, Margaret. 1940. "Social Change and Cultural Surrogates," Journal of 

Educational Psychology, 14:92-110. 
. 1941. "Review of Abram Kardiner: The Individual and His Society" 

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1 1 : 603-5. 

. 1942a. And Keep Your Powder Dry: An Anthropologist Looks at 

America. New York: Wm. Morrow & Co. 

. 1942b. "Anthropological Data on the Problem of Instinct," 

Psychosomatic Medicine, 4:396-97. 

-. 1946. "Research on Primitive Children." In Carmichael, L. (ed.), 

Manual of Child Psychology. New York: J. Wiley. Pp. 667-706. 

-. 1947a. "The Concept of Culture and the Psychosomatic Approach," 

Psychiatry, 10:57-76. 

1947b. "The Application of Anthropological Technique to Cross 

National Communication," Transactions of the New York Academy of 
Science, Sen II, 9: 133-52. 

. 1947c. "The Implications of Culture Change for Personality De- 
velopment," American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 17 : 633-46. 

1947d. "On the Implications for Anthropology of the Gesell-Ilg 

Approach to Maturation," American Anthropologist, 49:69-77. 

. 1949a. "Character Formation and Diachronic Theory." In For- 
tes, M. (ed.), Social Structure: Studies Presented to A. R. Radcliffe- 
Brown. Oxford at the Clarendon Press. P. 18. 

. 1949b. Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing 

World. New York: Wm. Morrow & Co. 

. 1951a. Soviet Attitudes Toward Authority. New York: McGraw- 
Hill Book Co. 

. 1951b. "The Study of National Character." In Lerner, D., and 

Lasswell, H. D. (eds.), The Policy Sciences. Stanford: Stanford University 
Press. Pp. 70-85. 

-. 1951c, "Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures," 

In Guetzkow, H. (ed,), Groups, Leadership and Men. Pittsburgh: Car- 
negie Press. Pp. 106-18. 

1952. "Some Relationships between Social Anthropology and 

Psychiatry." In Alexander, F. and Ross, H. (eds.), Dynamic Psychiatry. 
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 401-48. 

-. 1953. "National Character." In Kroeber, A. L. (ed.), Anthropology 

Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 642-67. 

1954a. "Some Theoretical Considerations on the Problem of 

Mother-Child Separation," American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 24: 

. 1954b. "The Swaddling Hypothesis: Its Reception," American 

Anthropologist, 56:395-409. 

1955. "Effects of Anthropological Field Work Models on Inter- 

disciplinary Communication in the Study of National Character," Journal 
of Social Issues, 1 1, No. 2; 3-11. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 83 

. 1956. New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation Manus, 

1928-1953. New York: Wm. Morrow & Co. 

. 1959. An Anthropologist at Work, Writings of Ruth Benedict. 

Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 

Mead, Margaret, and MacGregor, Frances C. 1951. Growth and Culture. 
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 

Mead, Margaret, and Metraux, Rhoda. 1953. The Study of Culture at a Dis- 
tance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Mead, Margaret, and Wolfenstein, Martha (eds.). 1955. Childhood in Con- 
temporary Cultures. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Merton, Robert K. 1940. "Bureaucratic Structure and Personality," Social 
Forces, 18:560-68. 

Metraux, Rhoda, and Mead, Margaret. 1954. Themes in French Culture; a 
Preface to a Study of French Community. Stanford: Stanford University 

Miller, N. E., and Dollard, John. 1941. Social Learning and Imitation. New 
Haven: Yale University Press. 

Miroglio, A. 1955. "Geographic psychologique et psychologic des peuples," 
Revue Psychologique des Peuples, 10:2016. 

Morgan, William. 1932. "Navaho Dreams," American Anthropologist, 

Morris, Charles W. 1947. "Individual Differences and Cultural Patterns." 
In Bryson, L., Finkelstein, L., and Maclver, R. M. (eds.), Conflicts of 
Power in Modern Culture. New York: Conference on Science, Philosophy 
and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of "Life, Inc. Pp. 

. 1956. Varieties of Human Value. Chicago: University of Chicago 


Mowrer, O. H., and Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1944. "Dynamic Theory of Per- 
sonality." In Hunt, J. McV. (ed.), Personality and the Behavior Disorders. 
Vol. I. New York: Ronald Press. Pp. 69-135. 

Muensterberger, Warner. 1951. "Orality and Dependence: Characteristics of 
Southern Chinese." In Roheim, G., et al. (eds.), Psychoanalysis and the 
Social Sciences, III. New York: International Universities Press. Pp. 37-69. 

Murdock, G. P. 1949. "The Science of Human Learning, Society, Culture, 
and Personality," Scientific Monthly, 49 : 377-8 1 . 

Murphy, Gardner. 1947. Personality. New York: Harper & Bros. 
. 1953. In the Minds of Men. New York: Basic Books, Inc. 

Murray, H. A., et al. 1938. Explorations in Personality. New York: Oxford 

University Press. 
Nadel, S. F. I937a. "Experiments on Culture Psychology," Africa, 10: 

. 1937b. "A Field Experiment in Racial Psychology," British Journal 

of Psychology, 28:195-211. 

84 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Nadel, S. F. 1937c. "The Typological Approach to Culture," Character and 

Personality, 5:267-84. 
. 1951. The Foundations of Social Anthropology. London: Cohen & 

West, Ltd. 

1952. "Witchcraft in Four African Societies: An Essay in Com- 

parison," American Anthropologist, 54: 18-29. 

-. 1956. "Culture and Personality: A Reexamination," Medical Journal 

of Australia, December 8. 

Narain, Dhirendra. 1957. Hindu Character (A Few Glimpses). Bombay: 
University of Bombay Publications, Sociology Series, 8. 

Newcomb, Theodore M., Hartley, Eugene L., et al (eds.). 1947. Readings 
in Social Psychology. New York: Henry Holt & Co. (Rev. ed., 1952., 
with Swanson, G. E.) 

New Directions in the Study of National Character. 1955. Journal of Social 
Issues, 11, No. 2. 

Notestein, F. W. 1945. "Population The Long View." In Schultz, T. W. 
(ed.), Food for the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 


Oeser, O. A., and Emery, F. E. 1954. Social Structure and Personality in a 
Rural Community. New York: Macmillan Co. 

Oeser, O. A., and Hammon, S. B. (eds.). 1954. Social Structure and Personal- 
ity in a City. New York: Macmillan Co. 

Ombredane, A., et al. 1957. Etude psychotechnique des Baluba. Brussels: 
Memoires de FAcademie des sciences coloniales, sciences morales, 8. 

N.S. 6:5. 

Opler, Marvin K. 1956. Culture, Psychiatry, and Human Values. Spring- 
field, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 

Opler, Morris E. 1936a. "An Interpretation of Ambivalence of Two Ameri- 
can Indian Tribes," Journal of Social Psychology, 7 : 82-1 1 6. 

. 1936b. "Some Points of Comparison and Contrast Between the 

Treatment of Functional Disorders by Apache Shamans and Modern 
Psychiatric Practice," American Journal of Psychiatry, 92: 1371-87. 

. 1941. An Apache Life-way. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Orlansky, Harold. 1949. "Infant Care and Personality," Psychological Bul- 
letin, 46: 1-48. 

Park, Robert E. 1931. "The Sociological Methods of William Graham Sum- 
ner, and of William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki." In Rice, S. A. 
(ed.), Methods in Social Science: A Case Book. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press. Pp. 154-73. 

Parsons, Talcott. 1950. "Psychoanalysis and the Social Structure," Psycho- 
analytic Quarterly, 19:371-84. 

Parsons, Talcott, and Shils, E. A., et al. 1951. Toward a General Theory of 
Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Paul, Benjamin D. 1953. "Mental Disorder and Self-regulating Processes in 
Culture: A Guatemalan Illustration." In Interrelations Between the Social 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 85 

Environment and Psychiatric Disorders. New York: Milbank Memorial 
Fund. Pp. 51-67. 

Paul, Benjamin D. (ed.). 1955. Health, Culture and Community. New York: 
Russell Sage Foundation. 

Piers, Gerhart, and Singer, Milton. 1953. Shame and Guilt: A Psychoanalytic 
and a Cultural Study . Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 

Pitt-Rivers, G. H. L. F. 1924. "Some Problems in Mental Anthropology and 
the Problem of Civilization," Australasian Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science, Wellington Meeting (1923), 497-517. 

Plant, James S. 1937. Personality and the Cultural Pattern. New York: The 
Commonwealth Fund. 

Potter, David M. 1954. People of Plenty. Chicago: University of Chicago 

Qureshi, I. Q. 1956. The Pakistani Way of Life. London: Wm. Heinemann, 

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. 1957. A Natural Science of Society. Glencoe, 
Illinois: The Free Press, and the Falcon's Wing Press. 

Radin, Paul. 1913. "Personal Reminiscence of a Winnebago Indian," Jour- 
nal of A merican Folklore, 26 : 293-3 18. 

Radin, Paul (ed.). 1926. Crashing Thunder, The Autobiography of an 
American Indian. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 

Redfield, Robert. 1930. Tepoztlan, A Mexican Village. Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press. 

. 1955a. The Little Community: Viewpoints for the Study of a Hu- 
man Whole. (The Gottesman Lectures, Upsala University.) Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press. 

-. 1955b. "Society and Culture as Natural Systems" (The Huxley 

Memorial Lecture, 1955), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 

-. 1956. Peasant Society and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago 


. 1957. "The Universally Human and the Culturally Variable," Jour- 
nal of General Education, 10:1 50-60. 

-. 1959. "Anthropological Understanding of Man." Anthropological 

Quarterly, vol. 32, No. 1:3-21. 
. In press. "Thinker and Intellectual in Primitive Society." In a pro- 
jected memorial volume for Paul Radin. New York: Columbia University 

Redfield, Robert, and Villa, Alfonso R. 1934. "A Village Leader, a Native 

Autobiography." In Redfield, R., and Villa, A. R. Chan Kom. Washington: 

Carnegie Institution, Publication 448. Pp. 212-230. 
Richards, Audrey. 1932. Hunger and Work in a Savage Tribe. London: 

Allen & Unwin, Ltd. 
Riesman, David. 1953. "Psychological Types and National Character," 

A merican Quarterly, 5:325-43. 

86 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Riesman, David, Denney, Reuel, and Glazer, Nathan. 1950. The Lonely 
Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character. New Haven: Yale 
University Press. 

Riesman, David, and Glazer, Nathan. 1952. Faces in the Crowd: Individual 
Studies in Character and Politics. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Rivers, W. H. R. 1926. Psychology and Ethnology. New York: Harcourt. 

Brace & Co. 
Rodnick, David. 1948. Postwar Germans. New Haven: Yale University 


Roe, Anne. 1947. "Personality and Vocation," Transactions of the New 
York Academy of Science, Ser. II, 9:257-67. 

R6heim, Geza. 1932. "Psychoanalysis of Primitive Cultural Types," Inter- 
national Journal of Psychoanalysis, 13 : 1-224. 

. 1950. Psychoanalysis and Anthropology. New York: International 

Universities Press. 

Russell, Bertrand. 1914. Our Knowledge of the External World. New York: 
Humanities Press, Inc. 

. 1921. The Analysis of Mind. New York: Macmillan Co. 

. 1927. The Analysis of Matter. New York: Dover Publications. 

Sachs, Wulf. 1937. Black Hamlet, The Mind of an African Negro Revealed 
by Psychoanalysis. London: Geoffrey Bles. 

Sapir, Edward. 1921. "The Life of a Nootka Indian," Queens Quarterly, 
28:232-43; 351-67. (Reprinted in Parsons, E. C. (ed.), American Indian 
Life. New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1922.) 

. 1924. "Culture, Genuine and Spurious," American Journal oj 

Sociology, 29:401-29; Pt 2, The Dalhousie Review (1922), q.v.; Pt. 1 
(under the title "Civilization and Culture"), The Dial (1919), q.v. 

. 1926. "Speech as a Personality Trait," Illinois Society for Mental 

Hygiene Health Bulletin. 

. 1927. "The Unconscious Patterning of Behavior in Society." In 

Dummer, E. S. (ed.), The Unconscious: A Symposium. New York: Alfred 
Knopf. Pp. 114-^-2. 

. 1932a. "Cultural Anthropology and Psychiatry," Journal of Abnor- 
mal and Social Psychology, 27:229-42. 

. 1932b. "Group." In Seligman, E. R. A. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the 

Social Sciences, Vol. 7. New York: Macmillan Co. Pp. 178-82. 

. 1934a. "The Emergence of the Concept of Personality in a Study 

of Cultures," Journal of Social Psychology, 5:408-15. 

. 1934b. "Personality." In Seligman, E. R. A. (ed.), Encyclopaedia oj 

the Social Sciences, Vol. 12. New York: Macmillan Co. Pp. 85-87. 

. 1937. "The Contribution of Psychiatry to an Understanding of Be- 
havior in Society," American Journal of Sociology: 42, 862-70. 

. 1938. "Why Cultural Anthropology Needs the Psychiatrist," Psy- 
chiatry, 1:7-12. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 87 

. 1949. Selected Writings of Edward Sapir. Edited by David Mandel- 

baum. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

Sargent, S. S., and Smith, Marian W. (eds.). 1949. Culture and Personality. 
(Proceedings of an Inter-Disciplinary Conference Under the Auspices of 
the Viking Fund, November 7-8, 1947.) New York: Viking Fund. 

Schneider, David M. 1954. "The Social Dynamics of Physical Disability in 
Army Basic Training." In Kluckhohn, C., and Murray, H. A. (eds.), with 
the collaboration of Schneider, D. M., Personality in Nature, Society, and 
Culture. New York: Alfred Knopf. Pp. 386-97. 

. 1955. Review of Gladwin, T., and Sarason, S. B., Truk: Man in 

Paradise, American Anthropologist, 57: 1098-1 101. 

-. 1957. "Political Organization, Supernatural Sanctions and the Pun- 

ishment for Incest on Yap," American Anthropologist, 59:791-800. 

Sears, R. R., Maccoby, E. E., and Levin, H. 1957. Patterns of Child Rearing. 
Evanston, Illinois: Row, Peterson & Co. 

Seligman, C. G. 1924. "Anthropology and Psychology: A Study of Some 
Points of Contact," (Presidential Address) Journal of the Royal Anthro- 
pological Institute, 54 : 13-46. 

. 1932. "Anthropological Perspective and Psychological Theory," 

(The Huxley Memorial Lecture for 1932), Journal of the Royal Anthro- 
pological Institute, 62 : 193-228. 

Sewell, W. H. 1952. "Infant Training and the Personality of the Child," 
American Journal of Sociology, 58 : 15059. 

Shub, Boris. 1950. "The Soviets Expose a Baby," New Leader, June 17, 

Sikkema, Mildred. 1947. "Observations on Japanese Early Child Training," 
Psychiatry, 10:423-32. 

Simmons, Leo W. (ed.) . 1942. Sun Chief. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Singer, Milton. 1955. "The Cultural Pattern of Indian Civilization: A Pre- 
liminary Report of a Methodological Field Study," Far Eastern Quarterly, 

and Piers, Gerhart. 1953. See Piers. 

Slotkin, J. S. 1951. Personality Development. New York: Harper & Bros. 

. 1953. "Social Psychiatry of a Menomini Community," Journal of 

A bnormal and Social Psychology, 48 : 10-1 6. 

Smellie, K. B. 1955. The British Way of Life. London: Wm. Heinemann, Ltd. 

Smith, Marian W. 1952. "Different Cultural Concepts of Past, Present, and 
Future, A Study of Ego Extension," Psychiatry, 15:395-400. 

Spencer, Katharine. 1956. "Mythology and Values: An Analysis of Navaho 
Chantway Myths," Memoirs of the American Folklore Society. 

Spindler, G. D. 1948. "American Character Structure as Revealed by the 
Military," Psychiatry, 11:275-81. 

. 1952. "Personality and Peyotism in Menomini Indian Accultura- 
tion," Psychiatry, 15:151-59. 

88 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Spindler, G. D. 1955. Sociocultural and Psychological Processes in Menomini 
Acculturation. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Publi- 
cations in Culture and Society, No. 5. 

Spindler, Louise, and Spindler, George. 1958. "Male and Female Adapta- 
tions in Culture Change," American Anthropologist, 60:217-33. 

Spiro, M. E. 1950. "A Psychotic Personality in the South Seas," Psychiatry, 

. 1951. "Culture and Personality; the Natural History of a False 

Dichotomy," Psychiatry, 14:19-46. 

-. 1952. "Ghosts, Ifaluk, and Teleological Functionalism," American 

Anthropologist, 54:497-503. 

-. 1954. "Human Nature in Its Psychological Dimensions," American 

Anthropologist, 56: 19-30. 

-. 1955. "Education in a Collective Settlement in Israel," American 

Journal of Ortho psychiatry, 25:283-92. 

-. 1958. Children of the Kibbutz. Cambridge: Harvard University 


Steed, Gitel P. 1955. "Notes on an Approach to a Study of Personality 
Formation in a Hindu Village in Gujarat." In Marriott, M. (ed.), Village 
India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 102-44. 

Stendler, C. B. 1950. "Sixty Years of Child-Training Practices," Journal of 
Pediatrics, 36:122-36. 

Steward, Julian, et al. 1956. The People of Puerto Rico. Urbana: University 
of Illinois Press. 

Straus, Jacqueline H., and Straus, M. A. 1953. "Suicide, Homicide, and So- 
cial Structure in Ceylon," American Journal of Sociology, 58:461-69. 

Sullivan, Harry Stack. 1940-1945. Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry. Wash- 
ington, D.C.: William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation. (Reprinted 
from Psychiatry, 3, No. 1, 1940, and 8, No. 2, 1945.) 

. 1948. "Towards a Psychiatry of Peoples," Psychiatry, 11:105-16. 

Swadesh, Morris. 1948. "Motivations in Nootka Warfare," Southwestern 
Journal of Anthropology , 4:76-93. 

Swartz, Marc J. 1958. "Sexuality and Aggression on Romonum, Truk," 
A merican A nthropologist, 60 : 467-86. 

"Symposium on Projective Testing in Ethnography." 1955. American An- 
thropologist, 57, No. 2, Part 1. 

Tax, S., Eiseley, L. C, Rouse, L, and Voegelin, C. F. (eds.). 1953. An Ap- 
praisal of Anthropology Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Thomas, W. L, and Znaniecki, F. 1917-18. The Polish Peasant in Europe and 
America. Boston: Richard Badger. (1927, New York: Alfred Knopf.) 

Thompson, Laura, and Joseph, Alice. 1944. The Hopi Way. Chicago: Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press. 

Thorpe, W. H. 1956. Learning and Instinct in Animals. Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press. 

SINGER: Culture and Personality Theory and Research 89 

Thurnwald, R. C. 1932. "The Psychology of Acculturation," American An- 
thropologist, 34:557-69. 

Tinbergen, N. 1951. Study of Instinct. Oxford and London: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press. 

Tooth, Geoffrey. 1950. Studies in Mental Illness in the Gold Coast. London: 
Colonial Research Publication, No. 6. 

Turi, Johan. 1931. Turi's Book of Lapland. Edited and translated into Dan- 
ish by Emilie Demant Hatt. Translated from the Danish by E. Gee Nash. 
London: Jonathan Cape. 

Underbill, Ruth. 1936. The Autobiography of a Papago Woman. Menasha, 
Wisconsin: American Anthropological Association, Memoir 46. 

Underwood, Frances W., and Honigmann, Irma. 1947. "A Comparison of 
Socialization and Personality in Two Simple Societies," American An- 
thropologist, 49:557-77. 

Vogt, E. Z. 1951, Navaho Veterans: A Study of Changing Values. Cam- 
bridge: Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and 
Ethnology, Harvard University, 41, No. 1. 

. 1955. Modern Homesteaders: The Life of a Twentieth-Century 

Frontier Community. Cambridge: Belknap Press of the Harvard Univer- 
sity Press. 

Volkhart, E. H. 1951. Social Behavior and Personality. New York: Social 
Science Research Council. 

. 1953. "Aspects of the Theories of W. I. Thomas," Social Research, 


Wallace, A. F. C. 1952a. "The Modal Personality Structure of the Tus- 
carora Indians as Revealed by the Rorschach Test," Bulletin t Bureau of 
American Ethnology, No. 150. 

. 1952b. "Individual Differences and Cultural Uniformities," Ameri- 
can Sociological Review , 17:747-50. 

-. 1958. "Dreams and the Wishes of the Soul: A Type of Psycho- 

analytic Theory among the Seventeenth-Century Iroquois," American 
Anthropologist, 60:234-48. 

Warner, W. Lloyd. 1953. American Life: Dream and Reality. Chicago: Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press. 

Weakland, John Hast. 1950. "The Organization of Action in Chinese Cul- 
ture," Psychiatry, 13:361-70. 

Weisskopf, W. A. 1951. "Industrial Institutions and Personality Structure," 
Journal of Social Issues, 7, No. 4; 1-6. 

White, Leslie A. 1925. "Personality and Culture," The Open Court, 

. 1947. "Culturological vs. Psychological Interpretations of Human 

Behavior," American Sociological Review, 12: 686-98. 

Whiting, John W. M. 1941. Becoming a Kwoma. New Haven: Yale Uni- 
versity Press. 

90 Culture and Personality Theory and Research 

Whiting, John W. M. 1954. "The Cross-Cultural Method." In Lindzey, G. 
(ed.), Handbook of Social Psychology, Vol. I. Cambridge: Addison- 
Wesley. Pp. 523-31. 

Whiting, J. W. M., and Child, I. L. 1953. Child Training and Personality. 
New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Wilbur, George B., and Muensterberger, Warner (eds.). 1951. Psychoanalysis 
and Culture. New York: International Universities Press. 

Williams, Roger. 1958. "The Improper Study of Mankind," The Texas 
Quarterly, 1, No. 1; 16-32. 

Wolfe, Bertram D. 1951. "The Swaddled Soul of the Great Russians," New 
Leader, January 29, 15-18. 

Wolfenstein, Martha. 1953. "Trends in Infant Care," American Journal of 
Orthopsychiatry, 33: 120-30. 

Wolfenstein, Martha, and Leites, Nathan. 1950. Movies: A Psychological 
Study. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

. 1955. "Trends in French Films," Journal of Social Issues, 11, No. 

2; 42-5 L 

Yap, P. M. 1951. "Mental Diseases Peculiar to Certain Cultures: A Survey 
of Comparative Psychiatry," Journal of Mental Science, 97:313-27. 

. 1952. "The Latah Reaction: Its Pathodynamics and Nosological 

Position," Journal of Mental Science, 98 : 515-64. 

Zborowski, Mark. 1953. "Cultural Components in Attitudes Towards Pain," 
Journal of Social Issues, 8, No. 1 ; 1 6-3 1 . 

Zborowski, Mark, and Herzog, Elizabeth. 1952. Life Is with People, The 
Jewish Little Town in Eastern Europe. New York: International Universi- 
ties Press. 



About the Chapter 

This chapter by Dr. Spiro, and subsequent chapters by Drs. Wallace, 
Devereux, and Parsons, attempt to define the primary theoretical issue of 
culture and personality study. Dr. Spiro's chapter places the field directly in 
relationship to the central issue in social science, the explanation of social 
cohesion and functioning. He sees personality as the organized system of 
motivational tendencies of the person. The motivations are deemed to be 
crucial variables in the functioning of social systems. Dr. Spiro further 
analyzes the nature of the social scientist's interest in personality processes 
and provides a framework for a specification of those aspects of personality 
with which the social scientist is directly concerned. 

About the Author 

MELFORD E. SPIRO is Professor of Anthropology at the University of 
Washington. He is on the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research 
Council. In 1958-59 he was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the 
Behavioral Sciences. He has done field work in Ifaluk (Micronesia) in 
1947-48 and in Kiryat Yedidim (Israel) in 1951-52. His current research un- 
der a fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health is in cross- 
cultural study of religion. His major interests are in comparative religion, 
culture and personality, theory of social systems, and cultures of Southeast 
Asia. Children of the Kibbutz is his most recent publication. 

A cknowledgments 

The following individuals who, of course, are not responsible for the 
content of this chapter, gave the author the benefit of their generous criti- 
cisms: Cora DuBois, Dorothy Eggan, Clifford Geertz, John Honigmann, 
Thomas Kuhn, Kaspar Naegele, George P. Murdock, Richard Rudner, 
George Spindler, and Jan Waterhouse. The Center for Advanced Study in 
the Behavioral Sciences provided the leisure and stimulation which made 
this chapter possible. 

Social Systems, Personality, and 
Functional Analysis 


University of Washington 


When anthropology was primarily interested in culture history, the 
question of how societies get their members to behave in conformity with 
cultural norms was of small concern. But when anthropology became in- 
terested in the problem of how societies operate, this question became 
and has remained salient, not only for culture-and-personality theorists 
but for other anthropologists as well. "Our great problem as anthropolo- 
gists," says Firth, is ". . .to translate the acts of individuals into the 
regularities of social process" (1954, p. 11). 

Since social systems are attributes of society and personality systems 
are attributes of individuals, it was formerly assumed, both by anthropol- 
ogists and by psychologists, that there was little relationship between "the 
acts of individuals" and the "regularities of social process." Before the 
development of culture-and-personality studies, this assumption seemed 
reasonable. First, although there is but one social system for a society, 
there are as many personalities as there are members of society. Secondly, 
since social systems are normative, their constituent activities are pre- 
scribed; but since personality systems are conative, their activities are 


94 Social Theory and Personality 

motivated. Finally, social systems serve social functions, while personali- 
ties serve individual functions. In short, although the functions of social 
systems are served by the activities of individuals, these activities were 
not seen as serving personal functions. Hence, older theories of cultural 
conformity * and social control ignored personality as an irrelevant vari- 

Classical cultural determinism, for example, attributed efficient causa- 
tion to the cultural heritage people perform this or that activity of the 
social system "because it's part of their culture." Although this theory 
represents an advance over still older biologistic theories, it begs the very 
question which is to be answered. As Nadel has put it: ". . . little is 
gained [in the study of social control] by adducing the force of custom and 
tradition, that is, the sheer inertia of habitual behavior and inherited prac- 
tice" (1953, p. 266). The mere existence of a cultural heritage does not 
imply that it will be inherited; or, if inherited, that behavior will be in 
conformity with its requirements. The notion that cultural behavior is 
inherited automatically from the cultural heritage is probably based on a 
confusion ultimately derived from Tyler's omnibus definition of culture 
(1874, p. 1). For it would seem that the model upon which the inherit- 
ance of cultural behavior is based, is the inheritance of, for example, 
tools, paintings, and houses all of which are, of course, inherited auto- 
matically, without either effort or motivation. Culture behavior, too, is 
transmitted from a previous generation; but it is inherited by learning, 
and not merely by being handed down. 

Another answer to the problem of cultural conformity is provided by 
the social sanctions theory. According to this theory, compliance with 
cultural norms is achieved through positive and negative sanctions re- 
wards and punishments which function as techniques of social control. 
Although the use of 'sanctions is probably universal, the thesis that cul- 
tural conformity is achieved primarily or exclusively through the use of 
social sanctions rests, at least implicitly, on two demonstrably false as- 
sumptions. These are the Rousseauist assumption that culture is neces- 
sarily frustrating, and the super-organistic assumption that cultural norms 
"exist" in the cultural heritage, but are not internalized by the members 
of society. 

Agreeing with the first, but disagreeing with the second of the above 
two assumptions, a third theory of cultural conformity views compliance 
with cultural norms as a function, primarily, of their internalization within 
personality. Although cultural norms are, indeed, internalized, and al- 
though conscience does play an important part in achieving cultural con- 
formity, this theory too is but a partial theory for, as we shall attempt to 
show, social control is frequently achieved without the necessity for norm 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 95 

Culture-and-personality studies suggest that though there is a large 
measure of truth in these theories, cultural conformity is most frequently 
achieved because social systems satisfy personality needs. This chapter, 
then, will attempt to show that there is an intimate relationship between 
social systems and personality; social systems operate by means of per- 
sonality, and personality functions by means of social systems. Many of 
the social functions of social systems can be served only when this inti- 
mate relationship obtains. 


Unlike other social animals, the social system of any particular human 
society cannot be predicted from a knowledge of the species (Homo sa- 
piens) of which the society is a member. Nevertheless, since human social 
systems are rooted in man's biological nature, any discussion of the ge- 
neric attributes of these systems must take its departure from certain 
biological dimensions of human existence. From a comparative biologi- 
cal perspective a human social system may be viewed as a functional re- 
quirement of human life. Ultimately it stems from the psychobiological 
needs of, what the biologist terms, a generalized, fetalized (Bolk, 1929), 
and highly plastic (Montagu, 1951, pp. 368-375) primate. Here we can 
only point to the consequences of these biological attributes for human 
social systems. (But cf. LaBarre, 1954; Roheim, 1943.) 

The combination of man's mammalian drives (hunger, sex, etc.) and 
his plastic hominoid constitution (paucity of instincts) requires that 
means of drive-reduction be learned. Again, the combination of man's 
organic needs (protection against weather, predatory beasts, etc.) and 
his hominoid constitution (generalized and fetalized) requires learned 
methods of protection and adaptation. Moreover, man's prolonged pri- 
mate dependency and his primate sexual behavior (lack of a breeding 
season) combine to produce the relatively permanent bi-parental family, 
and by extension larger collectivities (societies) consisting of two or 
more families. In the absence, however, of an instinctual base shop- 
worn comparisons of human with insect societies (Wheeler, 1928) are 
still much to the point human social life demands that forms of social 
interaction, methods of social cooperation, techniques of conflict resolu- 
tion, and the like be learned. But this is not enough. Social existence is 
necessarily an orderly and regulated existence. Unless the members of a 
group are able to predict with some probability far greater than chance 
the behavior of other members of the group with whom they interact, 
social action, let alone interaction, would be all but precluded. Hence, 
man must not only learn the various kinds of behavior patterns men- 
tioned above, but these learned behavior patterns must be prescribed by 

96 Social Theory and Personality 

society and shared with others. The configuration of these socially pre- 
scribed, learned, shared and transmitted behavior patterns which medi- 
ate and facilitate social relationships constitutes the social system of a hu- 
man society. We are here only concerned with those characteristics which 
make social systems necessary for human survival. We are not concerned 
with those characteristics a complex brain and central nervous system 
and the symbolic behavior to which they give rise (White, 1940; Mead, 
1934; Langer, 1942; Cassirer, 1944; Hallowell, 1950) which make 
their invention and transmission possible. 

To conclude: since man is a generalized, fetalized, and plastic animal 
and since everywhere he is necessarily social, a typically human existence 
depends on the existence of socially shared behavior patterns which sat- 
isfy his (1) biological needs, (2) those group needs that are an invariant 
concomitant of social life (Aberle, 1950) and (3) those emotional 
needs that develop in the interaction between biology and society. In 
this evolutionary perspective a social system may be viewed as an "in- 
strumental apparatus" (Malinowski, 1944) for the satisfaction of these 
needs. Social systems, then, have three types of functions. They promote 
the physical survival of society and of its constituent members (adaptive 
functions) ; they contribute to the persistence of the social structure of a 
society and, hence, to orderly social interaction (adjustive functions); 
they promote social solidarity by the reduction of inter- and intra-per- 
sonal tension (integrative functions). 

This is not to say, of course, that all aspects of every social system 
are functional, or that all social systems are equally functional, or that 
any social system is functional to the same degree for all the members 
of, or groups within, a society. The collapse of some social systems, the 
oppressive means used by powerful groups within a society to preserve 
others, the repeated history of successful and of unsuccessful rebellions 
against still others all these testify to the powerful dysfunctional forces 
operative in some, and potential in all, social systems. But these obser- 
vations serve to confirm, rather than to confute, the major thesis. Social 
systems have vital functions; that these functions be served is their 
raison d'etre. If they are not served, to a greater or lesser degree, the 
social system will, in the long-run, be modified, or the society will not 

Before proceeding with this discussion, it is necessary to emphasize 
an obvious characteristic of human social systems that is frequently ob- 
scured by the ambiguity of the word "learned," an ambiguity that some- 
times leads to hasty generalizations from small-group experiments to so- 
cial behavior in society. When it is observed that human social systems, 
as well as all other aspects of culture, are learned, the word "learned" 
has one meaning in a phylogenetic, and another in an ontogenetic con- 

SP1RO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 97 

text. "Learned" in a phylogenetic context means invented or discovered; 
"learned" in an ontogenetic context means acquired. Thus, the hypo- 
thetical Ur-mensch of the Paleolithic was, culturally viewed, a tabula rasa. 
The adaptive, adjustive, and integrative requirements of his society had 
to be satisfied by behavior patterns of his own invention and discovery. 
Succeeding generations of human societies have also, to be sure, invented 
and discovered behavior patterns, and their incorporation into the con- 
figuration of existing behavior patterns (which comprise their social sys- 
tems) is one of the unique dimensions of culture its cumulativeness. 
For the most part, however, all generations subsequent to the hypotheti- 
cal Ur-generation of a society have acquired their social systems from a 
previous generation, rather than inventing or discovering them them- 
selves. In short, the social system of any generation represents, in part, 
the cultural heritage of the succeeding generation; the social system of 
the latter, is acquired from the social system of the former. 

Social systems, like any other large configuration, can be and for 
certain purposes must be broken down into smaller components. These 
units, proceeding from the largest to the smallest, are generally termed 
sub-systems, institutions, roles. Thus, every social system includes an eco- 
nomic system an organized means for the production, consumption, 
and distribution of goods and services; a kinship system an organization 
of behavior within the family and among kinsmen; a political system a 
sanctioned means for the acquisition and use of legitimate power, and so 
forth. The universality of these sub-systems is sometimes referred to as 
"the universal culture pattern" (Wissler, 1923, Ch. 5). 

Each of these broad categories can usually be classified, in turn, into 
smaller units. It is rare for any one type of social group within society to 
perform all the activities which comprise any of these broad sub-systems. 
Thus the kinship system may embrace the activities of nuclear families, 
lineages and clans; or the economic system may include the activities of 
trade unions, banks, factories, and accounting firms. In short, since any 
society is differentiated and, therefore, consists of many types of social 
groups, and since each type serves different functions, either for its own 
members or for those of other social groups, each type of group per- 
forms different activities. The configuration of activities which charac- 
terizes these different types of groups may be termed an "institution." 
Thus the activities of the members of the family, qua family members, 
may be termed the "family institution"; the activities of the members of 
the lineage, qua lineage members, may be termed the "lineage institu- 
tion." Since, collectively, these institutions comprise the kinship system 
of a society, each may be termed a kinship institution. 

Although each type of social group within a society is characterized 
by a different institution, its constituent members do not, qua members, 

98 Social Theory and Personality 

perform the same activities. Each type of group, like the entire society 
of which it is a part, is structurally differentiated so that various members 
of the group occupy different positions within the group. Within the fam- 
ily, for example, different members may occupy such positions as father, 
mother, son, or daughter. Since each position ("status") within the 
group is associated with one (Linton, 1936) or more (Merton, 1957) 
sets of activities ("roles"), each institution may be broken down into its 
constituent roles. Thus the set of activities which comprises the role of fa- 
ther varies from that which comprises the role of mother. Each is a fam- 
ily role; collectively they comprise the family institution. The role, then, 
is the smallest unit of the social system; the operation of the social sys- 
tem, ultimately and most directly, depends on the proper performance of 

To sum up: the survival of a society depends on the operation of its 
social system; a social system is comprised of sub-systems which, in turn, 
are comprised of institutions; the functions of these institutions are served 
only if their constituent roles are performed. In turn, this requires the 
recruitment of individuals for the various statuses which comprise the 
social structure. If these propositions are valid, we are brought back to 
the central issue of this chapter the problem of cultural conformity. 
How does society induce its members to perform roles those that are 
instrumental to the attainment of a status, as well as those that are en- 
tailed by the occupancy of a status? (Nadel, 1957, Ch. 2, has suggested 
the terms "recruitment roles" and "achievement roles" to refer to these 
different types of roles.) This problem is best understood against the 
background of infra-human societies. 

Among lower social animals there is a remarkably high correlation be- 
tween species and social systems. If the environment is held constant, the 
description of the social system of one society within a species is more or 
less descriptive of all other societies within the species. Thus, if one knows 
the species to which a particular subhuman organism belongs, one can 
predict with high accuracy and with great detail the social system (assum- 
ing that it is social) in which it participates (Hine and Tinbergen, 1958; 
Thompson, 1958; Mayr, 1958). It is quite meaningful, therefore, to 
speak of species-specific social systems among lower animals. 

But though it is meaningful to speak of the red deer social system 
(Darling, 1937) or the howling monkey social system (Carpenter, 
1934) it is not at all meaningful, except on the highest level of generality, 
to speak of the human social system. Man differs dramatically from all 
other social mammals in the great variety of his intra-species social sys- 
tem differences. Indeed, the magnitude of social system differences 
within the human species may be as great as the magnitude of difference 
among animal species. Thus, for example, while the mating pattern of an 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 99 

entire mammalian species may be characterized, and thus distinguished 
from other species, by monogamy (e.g., gibbons Carpenter, 1940) or 
polygyny (e.g., baboons Zuckerman, 1932) or group marriage (e.g., 
howling monkeys Carpenter, 1934), such generalizations apply in the 
case of humans only to societies within the species and not to the species 
as a whole. Hence, the fact that one human society practices monogamy, 
or has patrilineal descent, or is governed by hereditary chiefs, or is strati- 
fied by caste, does not enable us to predict that other societies within the 
species will have the same marriage, descent, political or stratification 
systems. In short, if one knows that a particular organism belongs to the 
human species, one cannot predict in any detail the social system in which 
he participates even if the physical environment is specified. Thus, though 
paired groups such as California Indians and modern California Ameri- 
cans, pre-contact Hawaiians and the contemporary inhabitants of Ha- 
waii, Alaskan Eskimos and contemporary modern Alaskans have oe- 
cupied the same physical environment, their respective social systems are 
radically different. 

It is a reasonable inference, then, that though much of the social be- 
havior of animals is not instinctive (Beach, 1955; Lehrman, 1953) as 
was formerly believed to be the case so that each generation of social 
animals may learn a large percentage of its behavior patterns and social 
roles from a preceding generation, the range of species plasticity is so 
narrow that any animal has little alternative, if he is to learn at all, but 
to learn the behavior patterns which he is taught. What he must learn in 
order to participate in his society's social system and what he can learn 
are for the most part identical. Since humans, on the other hand, are 
highly plastic, what an individual jnust learn in order to participate in the 
social system of his society is not at all identical with what he can learn; 
for what he is taught represents, as the cross-cultural record clearly re- 
veals, but one alternative among a large number of behavior patterns 
and roles which he is potentially capable of learning or, at least, of think- 
ing of learning. 

Since humans are so enormously plastic it is not enough, if human 
social systems are to function properly, that social roles and the behavior 
patterns of which they are comprised be socially learned, shared, and 
transmitted; it is also necessary that these roles be prescribed (Newcomb, 
1 950, Ch. 3 ) . For, since what a person must do in order to participate in 
a given social system is not identical with what he can do, it may be in- 
consistent with what he would like to do. Hence in the process of sociali- 
zation children are not only taught how to behave, but they are taught that 
the ways in which they are taught to behave are the ways in which they 
ought to behave. In short, "every human social order," as Hallowell has 
put it, "operates as a moral order" (1950, p. 169). This normative, or 

100 Social Theory and Personality 

cultural dimension (Spiro, 1951, pp. 31-36) of the human social system 
is for humans the functional equivalent of restricted plasticity for lower 
animals. It is the basis for relatively uniform and, therefore, predictable 
role behavior. (The psychological basis for the emergence of a moral 
dimension in experience the self is discussed in Hallowell, 1954.) 

But this analogy cannot be pressed too far, and it is precisely at the 
point where it breaks down that human societies are uniquely different 
from animal societies. Since there is always a potential conflict between 
duty and desire, between cultural heritage and personality, this potential- 
ity which gives special poignancy to the human situation sets the 
problem of our present inquiry: how do human societies get their mem- 
bers to behave in conformity with cultural norms? Or, alternatively, how 
do they induce their members to perform culturally prescribed roles? 

It is at this juncture in the analysis that the concept of personality be- 
comes salient for the understanding of human social systems, for it is in 
the concept of role that personality and social systems intersect. If per- 
sonality is viewed as an organized system of motivational tendencies, 
then it may be said to consist, among other things, of needs and drives. 
Since modes of drive-reduction and need-satisfaction in man must be 
learned, one of the functions of personality is the promotion of physical 
survival, interpersonal adjustment, and intrapersonal integration by or- 
ganizing behavior for the reduction of its drives and the satisfaction of 
its needs. If some of these needs can then be satisfied by means of cul- 
turally prescribed behavior if, that is, social roles are capable of satis- 
fying personality needs these needs may serve to motivate the per- 
formance of the roles. But if social systems can function only if their 
constituent roles are performed, then, in motivating the performance of 
roles, personality not only serves its own functions but it becomes a 
crucial variable in the functioning of social systems as well. This is the 
thesis which will be explored in this chapter. 


Since role behavior is a sub-class of learned behavior, we may begin 
our discussion by asking under what conditions any learned behavior pat- 
tern is emitted. Many but not all behavioral scientists 2 seem to agree 
that behavior occurs when the contemplated action is believed by the ac- 
tor to be rewarding. An act is performed when a person wants something 
and when he has reason to expect that the performance of the act will 
supply his want. A simple ontogenetic model can illustrate how this ex- 
pectation is established. 

The ontogenetic model begins with a "drive" that is, with some felt 
tension or discomfort. "Drive" is used here in a psychological, not a 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 101 

physiological, sense, for even the biological drives are significant for be- 
havior only if they function as psychological stimuli; hence, "felt tension 
or discomfort." Behavior in an infant or in a naive experimental animal 
is instigated by the desire to "reduce" the drive. But since the drive is 
still uncanalized (Murphy, 1947, Ch. 8) it has no goal, no cathected 
object behavior approaches randomness. By trial-and-error some ob- 
ject or event, which has the property of reducing the drive, is chanced 
upon; the drive is gratified; homeostasis is restored. If this sequence is 
repeated a sufficient number of times, the drive-reducing object or event 
becomes a "goal" and the act which is instrumental to the attainment of 
the goal becomes a behavior pattern. An expectation of gratifying a drive 
by means of the goal attained by the behavior pattern has been estab- 

Using this psychological model two simple questions concerning be- 
havior may be answered. Why does a naive organism behave at all? Be- 
cause it has a drive. Why, after experience or training, does it behave in 
this, rather than in some other, way? Because it has learned that this way 
attains goals which are rewarding, i.e., drive-reducing. It should be em- 
phasized, of course, that "drive" refers to both innate and acquired drives, 
and that rewards need not be "physical" nor need they be administered 
by others. The rewards for exploratory and cognitive activity are fre- 
quently even in the case of lower primates (Harlow, 1953) inherent 
in the very act of exploration or intrinsic to the solution of a problem. It 
should also be emphasized that no assumption is made concerning fixed 
homeostatic states such that the achievement of drive-reduction leads to 
relative quiescence until the drive is reactivated. It is assumed, on the 
contrary, that there is always some discrepancy between achievement 
and aspiration levels (Lewin, et al. f 1944) so that present goal achieve- 
ment may become but a temporary way-station for contemplated further 
and different goal achievement. It is assumed, however, that drives are 
motivational variables and, although not every act is instigated by the 
anticipation of drive-reduction, that every drive must eventually be re- 
duced, either directly or indirectly. 

Can this psychological model help us to understand cultural behavior, 
in general, or the performance of the constituent roles of a social system, 
in particular? At first, the answer might appear to be negative. For social 
roles, it will be remembered, are not discovered at random by each in- 
dividual, and social systems are not invented de nova by each generation. 
On the contrary, since the social system of any generation is in the main 
acquired from its cultural heritage, from a previous generation, the goals 
which are attained by the performance of roles are either sanctioned or 
prescribed. 3 The roles which are instrumental for the attainment of these 
goals are prescribed. In short, since social systems are normative systems, 

102 Social Theory and Personality 

social roles unlike other learned behavior patterns very likely are per- 
formed not because they are rewarding but because they are mandatory. 

It is this imperative dimension of human social systems that has led 
many social theorists to interpret cultural conformity as a function, pri- 
marily, of special techniques of social control. Since social systems have 
vital social functions, which are served only if their constituent roles are 
performed, their operation requires that individuals behave in culturally 
desirable, rather than in personally desired, ways. The proponents of this 
theory see little relationship between personal motivation and cultural 
behavior. Conformity to cultural norms, they believe, is not a matter of 
personality drives primarily, but of social sanctions. 

All societies, of course, employ social sanctions as a means of achiev- 
ing social control, though the specific techniques and agents of control 
may differ from society to society. Thus, the sanctions may consist in 
quite different kinds of rewards or punishments. Similarly the agents 
who administer these sanctions (agents of control) may be one's peers 
who exercise control through the ubiquitious (informal) techniques of 
public opinion shame and praise. This may be termed "alter-ego" con- 
trol. Alternatively, the agents may be one's superiors, who exercise con- 
trol through numerous (formal) techniques of public recognition and 
punitive sanctions available to constituted authority. This may be termed 
"super-alter" control. These superiors, it might be added, may be natural 
or supernatural beings, and they may possess natural or supernatural au- 

It should be obvious, however, that even a social sanctions theory of 
social control, despite the anti-psychological bias of many of its propo- 
nents (Radcliffe-Brown, 1957, pp. 45-52), is essentially a motivational 
theory. No social sanction can compel a person to conform; it can only 
motivate him to do so. As Radcliffe-Brown himself observes (1933, p. 
531), "The sanctions existing in a community constitute motives in the 
individual for the regulation of his conduct in conformity with usage." 
Thus the positive sanction of material reward does not compel a person 
to perform an economic role; rather, it motivates him to perform it be- 
cause the material reward serves as a goal to reduce some drive such as 
hunger or prestige. Similarly malicious gossip or a jail sentence can in- 
duce a person not to steal only if either of these negative sanctions are 
painful to him; if incarceration or gossip were not painful, they could not 
compel him to conform to the injunction. Unless the members of society 
have certain personality drives which can be reduced by acquiring posi- 
tive, and avoiding negative, sanctions, it is unlikely that these sanctions 
would serve as techniques of social control. In short, social sanctions 
serve as techniques of social control because they function as motivational 

If social sanctions become incentives for action because of their ca- 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional A nalysis 103 

thexes as personal (positive or negative) goals, their efficacy may be ex- 
plained in terms of our psychological model. They function as anticipated 
rewards or punishments. Since these rewards and punishments are ex- 
trinsic to the performance of a role, and since they are administered by 
persons other than the actor, this type of cultural motivation 4 may be 
termed "extrinsic cultural motivation," and this type of social control may 
be termed "extrinsic social control." 

To the extent that all societies employ extrinsic social control in some 
degree as a means of achieving cultural conformity, personality motiva- 
tion enables the social system to serve its vital social functions. Though 
the performance of roles may be motivated by the fear of punishment or 
the desire for rewards, their social functions are served regardless of the 
personal motives for their performance. Even if social sanctions were the 
primary technique of social control, analysis of cultural conformity could 
not avoid the concept of personality. 

Although extrinsic social control is universal, it does not follow that 
its importance in achieving cultural conformity is paramount. Social sanc- 
tions may be necessary in order to achieve the conformity of some indi- 
viduals in some societies almost all of the time, and of most individuals 
in any society some of the time. Moreover, they are necessary to resolve 
those conflicts that frequently arise between two persons or groups, both 
of whom are behaving in conformity with the cultural norms. It is prob- 
ably safe to assume, however, that this type of control is only rarely the 
primary type in any society; it is most prevalent in those historical pe- 
riods of a society which are characterized by anomie. Thus, it is typically 
found as a primary type of control in transitional periods in which 
changes, either in tension-producing or tension-reducing social institu- 
tions seriously restrict the possibility of satisfying personality needs by 
culturally stipulated techniques (Sapir's, 1924, "Spurious culture"). In 
the long run, however, further changes in the social system will restore its 
tension production-reduction balance (Henry, 1953, p. 154), so that 
extrinsic control is no longer primary; or the psycho- and sociopathology 
that result from this cultural pathology will become so extensive that so- 
cial life is no longer viable. 


Personal Motives and Manifest Social Functions 

If social sanctions are not the primary means of achieving cultural con- 
formity, it is because social roles, though prescribed, satisfy personality 
needs. Fromm is undoubtedly correct when he writes: 

In order that any society may function well, its members must acquire the 
kind of character which makes them want to act in the way they have to act 

1 04 Social Theory and Personality 

as members of the society . . . They have to desire what objectively is 
necessary for them to do. (1944, p. 381) 

In order to understand this transformation of duty into desire we must 
first understand how the normative dimension of human social systems 
serves to qualify our psychological model. In this model, it will be re- 
called, behavior is instigated initially by the desire to reduce a drive, and 
any object or event which serves this end will do. Subsequently those ob- 
jects or events which gratify the drive may become cathected so that they 
function as goals. When this happens behavior is motivated by the desire 
not merely to gratify a drive, but to gratify it by attaining a particular 
goal. Canalization, as Murphy (1947, Ch. 8) has termed this process of 
drive-goal connection, is characteristic of much motivation. But cultural 
motivation is unique in that these canalizations are ordained by the cul- 
tural heritage prior to individual experience instead of arising in the con- 
text of individual experience. By stipulating that only a limited, out of a 
potentially large, number of objects or events may serve as goals for 
drives, and by prohibiting all others, the cultural heritage insists that if a 
drive is to be gratified at all, it must be gratified by means of these stipu- 
lated prescribed or sanctioned goals. Thus, though a New Guinea head- 
hunter must bring home a head if he is to gratify his prestige drive, an 
Ifaluk must not; and though an American is permitted to gratify his hun- 
ger drive by eating roast beef, a Hindu is not. 

If the goal of a behavior pattern is distinguished from its drive, much 
of the dramatic diversity found in the cross-cultural record reflects the 
diversity, not of man's "nature," but of his history and of his cognitive in- 
genuity. Since man is enormously plastic, a large variety of goals may, 
potentially, reduce the same drive. In the absence of biologically rigid 
drive-goal connections, different societies, as a function of their unique 
histories and ecologies, have "chosen" different goals for the same drives 
as well as different roles for the attainment of these goals. The resultant 
diversity in goals has led some anthropologists to insist that each culture 
is not only sui generis but that cross-cultural generalizations are impossi- 
ble to achieve. Such a position is, functionally viewed, wide off the mark. 
Although cultural goals are parochial, most human drives because of 
their rootedness in a common biology and in common conditions of social 
life are probably universal. Hence, it is generally not too difficult to 
demonstrate (on a fairly high level of generality, of course) that the 
quite diverse goals of different societies, as well as the roles which are in- 
strumental for their attainment, are functionally equivalent; they serve 
to gratify the same drives (Murphy, 1954, pp. 628-631). 

But the fact that goals are prescribed does not imply as some theorists 
take it to imply that they do not or cannot gratify drives. On the con- 
trary, culturally prescribed goals may be as rewarding as non-prescribed 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 105 

goals. By prescribing goals the cultural heritage does not frustrate drives, 
it merely limits the number of ways in which they may be gratified. To 
be sure, since man has few instincts, he must learn to perceive the pre- 
scribed goals as rewarding. But this is the function of child-training. In 
the process of socialization, children acquire not only drives, but they ac- 
quire goals as well; they learn which objects or events the culturally 
prescribed goals are drive-reducing. In short, socialization systems 
by techniques which cannot be described here are institutionalized 
means for transforming culturally-stipulated goals into personally- 
cathected goals (Erikson, 1950; Whiting and Child, 1953). If the per- 
sonal cathexis of a stipulated goal is termed a "need/' it is apparent that a 
need-satisfaction model is more appropriate than a drive-reduction model 
as a description of cultural motivation. For in general once a prescribed 
goal is sufficiently cathected, that goal which is culturally viewed as the 
only desirable, if not the only possible, goal for the gratification of a drive, 
becomes personally viewed as the most desired goal. Indeed, in some in- 
stances it, and no other, is perceived as drive-reducing, so that drive- 
frustration may be preferred to drive-reduction by non-cathected goals. 
An Orthodox Hindu, for example, refuses to eat beef, not only because 
it is prohibited, but because it is not desired; the very notion of eating 
beef may be disgusting to him. Hence the paradox: although evolution 
has produced a species characterized by the absence of drive-goal in- 
variants, culture produces personalities who behave as if there were. For 
after cultural goals are cathected, human beings sometimes behave as if 
their drive-goal connections were the only ones possible. 

To conclude: social roles, like other types of learned behavior, are per- 
formed if they are rewarding. But if the culturally stipulated goals, which 
are attained by their performance, are cathected, behavior is motivated 
by the expectation of attaining a goal not by the desire to reduce a drive. 
To be sure, the goal is desked because its attainment produces drive- 
reduction; if it did not, it would not, in the long run, continue to be de- 
sired. But this is precisely the point of the "need" concept: it looks, so to 
speak, in two directions. On the one hand it affirms that drive-reduction 
is rewarding, so that acts that do not reduce drives are not performed. On 
the other hand, it denies that the desire to reduce a drive is a sufficient 
explanation of cultural motivation; for when culturally stipulated goals 
are sufficiently cathected, action is motivated (with the possible exception 
of extreme deprivation) by the expectation of attaining these cathected 
goals. 5 

It is now perhaps clear how cultural imperatives can become personal 
desires how, in short, people can want to perform social roles. If the 
performance of social roles does in fact attain those culturally stipulated 
goals for whose attainment they are intended by the cultural heritage, 

106 Social Theory and Personality 

and if these goals have been cathected by the members of society, these 
roles are performed because of the desire to attain these goals. In short, 
although social roles are prescribed by the cultural heritage, their per- 
formance is motivated by the expectation of satisfying personality needs. 
Though these roles must be performed so that their functions for society 
can be served, individuals desire to perform them because personal func- 
tions are thereby served. 6 Thus, for example, the American army serves 
an important adaptive function for American society by defending its 
people against foreign enemies. Should an individual American become 
identified (in the psychoanalytic sense) with his society, he will inter- 
nalize this function as a personal drive and, therefore, he might cathect 
this stipulated goal as a personal goal. Should this happen he may be 
motivated to become a soldier and to perform its prescribed role because 
its performance satisfies a personality need. In short, if the social function 
of a role is internalized as a personal drive, its performance, which is in- 
tended to serve a social function, serves a personal function albeit unin- 
tentionally as well. Diagrammatically, this can be represented thus: 

, - , __- ^personal function (unintended) 
need ^performance of role. JJ^ function (intended) 

But if cultural goals are cathected as personal goals only when social 
functions are internalized as personal drives, the number of roles whose 
performance can serve personal functions would be small indeed. Indeed, 
it is precisely because the social functions of roles only rarely become per- 
sonal drives that some theorists have stressed the importance of social 
sanctions as a means, par excellence, of assuring cultural conformity. And 
surely the argument is plausible. For if a role has a social function, and 
if the serving of its function is not a personality need, how can its per- 
formance be motivated by the expectation of satisfying a personality 

This argument, however plausible, neglects to consider still another 
possibility. Stipulated goals may be cathected, and therefore social roles 
performed, although social functions are not internalized; and social func- 
tions may be served, although they are unintended. As Kroeber, general- 
izing from his analysis of religious change among the Kota, has put it: "In 
manipulating their culture for their personal ends, the participants often 
produce a cultural effect that may be enduring, as well as attaining their 
individual goal or tension reliefs'* (1948, p. 507). 

This can happen in two ways: when personal and social functions are 
members of the same functional class, and when they are members of dif- 
ferent functional classes. Both of these ways, beginning with the first, can 
be illustrated by returning to the soldier role and the motives for its per- 
formance. Since individuals exist qua members of society as well as qua 

SPIRO; Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 107 

individuals, their welfare is frequently dependent upon the welfare of so- 
ciety. Thus, though an individual may not internalize the adaptive (so- 
cial) function of the soldier role as a personal drive, he may nonetheless, 
if he believes that his personal survival depends on the survival of his so- 
ciety, cathect its goal of national defense; and he may then be motivated 
to perform the role in order to satisfy this personality need. But since the 
social (adaptive) function of the soldier role consists in the summation 
of its personal (adaptive) functions for individuals, the performance of 
the role not only serves a personal function, but it serves its social func- 
tion as well albeit unintentionally. 

There is still another way in which culturally stipulated goals can be- 
come personality needs. Not everyone who becomes a professional sol- 
dier, for example, is motivated to achieve or to perform this role in order 
to defend either himself or his society from enemy attack. Since the pro- 
motion of national defense is, at least in our society, one means for the 
attainment of prestige and power, this culturally stipulated goal may be- 
come the cathected goal for the reduction of these drives. The perform- 
ance of the soldier's role may then be motivated by the expectation of 
satisfying power and prestige needs. Nevertheless though the personal 
functions (integrative and adjustive) and social function (adaptive) of the 
role are members of different functional classes, and though its perform- 
ance is intended to serve personal functions, its social function although 
unintended is served as well. Diagrammatically, these last two cases can 
be represented thus: 

j f f T _^->personal function (intended) 

need > performance of role =CTL i * * / * jj\ 

r asocial function (unintended) 

To sum up, any act may be viewed from at least two perspectives: 
motive and function. The motive of an act is the consequence, either for 
the actor or for society, which is intended by its performance; its function 
is the actual consequence of its performance, either for the actor or for 
society. Functions may be positive or negative; that is, the consequence of 
an act may contribute to the welfare of the actor or of society or it may 
detract from their welfare. (We are here concerned with positive functions 
only, and the generic term, "function," refers to positive function ex- 
clusively.) Finally acts have intended and unintended functions. That is, 
the consequence of an act may be the consequence which was intended 
by its performance, or it may be one which was not intefjded by its per- 
formance. Since social roles have social functions, and since acts are per- 
formed only if they have personal functions, it has often been assumed 
that there is little intrinsic relationship between personality needs and 
the performance of roles except in those few instances in which an act is 
intended to serve both personal and social functions. A soldier, for ex- 

108 Social Theory and Personality 

ample, might be motivated to play his role because he intended to serve 
both himself and his country. 

But if acts can have unintended as well as intended consequences, it is 
possible for personal and social functions to be served in the performance 
of the same acts or roles. And this can happen in two ways: when their 
personal functions are intended and their social functions are unintended, 
and when their personal functions are unintended and their social func- 
tions intended. In either event since the performance of the roles serves 
personal as well as social functions, their performance is motivated 
without the operation of social sanctions because they satisfy personality 
needs. Since these needs consist in the personal cathexes of culturally 
stipulated goals, the performance of social roles is effected by, what may 
be termed, "intrinsic cultural motivation." Alternatively, the cultural 
conformity which results from this type of motivation is achieved by "in- 
trinsic social control," for the control function is, as it were, built into the 
very fabric of the role. By satisfying personality needs, its performance is 
assured, and its social functions performed, without the necessity for 
sanctions extrinsic to the role or for agents external to the actor. 

Personal Motives and Latent Social Functions 

Thus far it has been contended that personality plays an important 
part in the operation of social systems because, by motivating the per- 
formance of social roles, it enables the social system to serve its social 
functions. The discussion, however, has dealt with the manifest functions 
of roles exclusively, that is, with those social functions which, whether 
intended or unintended by the members of society, are recognized by 
them. But social systems, have latent functions as well, and sometimes 
their latent functions are more important for society than their manifest 
functions. It is here, moreover, that personality is uniquely important for 
the functioning of society. 

If manifest functions are those consequences of role performance 
which are recognized by the members of society, latent functions are those 
consequences which whether intended or unintended are not recog- 
nized by them. 7 That the paradox of an intended but unrecognized func- 
tion is apparent rather than real, becomes clear when one considers that 
motives may be unconscious, as well as conscious. In short, manifest 
(recognized) functions are served by the performance of roles when at 
least one of the motives for their performance is conscious; latent (un- 
recognized) functions are served when at least one of the motives for their 
performance is unconscious. Hence, before analyzing latent functions, it 
is necessary to examine the concept of unconscious motive. 

If the motive for behavior consists in an intention to satisfy a need by 
performing a particular act (and if a need consists in a drive and a goal) , 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 109 

a motive may be unconscious, i.e., unrecognized, In any one or all of 
these three dimensions. Thus a drive, its goal, and the desired means for 
the attainment of the goal may all be unconscious. With the exception of 
neurotic, i.e., idiosyncratic, repression, if any or all of these dimensions 
of a motive are unconscious in a typical member of a society, the 
motive has generally been rendered unconscious because of a cultural 
prohibition or because of its systematic frustration. In the latter case, 
since need-frustration as well as the memory of need-frustration are 
painful, repression of the frustrating experience as well as of the need is 
one possible defense against pain. We shall confine the discussion to the 
former basis for repression. Thus, for example, the cultural heritage may 
prohibit any reduction of the sex drive, as in sacerdotal celibacy; or it 
may prohibit a desired goal for its reduction, such as intercourse with 
kinsmen who fall within the boundaries of the incest taboo; or it may 
prohibit a desired means for the attainment of the goal, such as some 
"perverted" technique of sexual relations. In short the cultural heritage 
not only provides means of need-satisfaction for an animal without in- 
stinctive means for drive-reduction, but by prescribing these means 
it prohibits other means which this relatively plastic and imaginative 
animal may come to prefer. Moreover it may completely prohibit any 
conceivable (manifest) expression or reduction of certain drives. 

But motives do not disappear simply because they are prohibited. Even 
if the cultural prohibition is internalized as a personal norm, the culturally 
prohibited canalization may continue to persist as a personally preferred 
canalization, and the culturally prohibited drive may continue to seek ex- 
pression. The resultant incompatibility between internalized norm and 
personal desire leads to inner conflict which must be "handled" in some 
way. If these personally preferred, but culturally prohibited, canalizations 
are stronger than the internalized cultural prohibition, they may be ex- 
pressed directly. If, then, the resultant behavior is categorically pro- 
hibited, it is deemed criminal or psychologically aberrant (depending on 
the culture) by the members of society. Alternatively, if the behavior is 
culturally aberrant, but not clearly prohibited, it may be viewed as a 
cultural innovation that is, as a new, but culturally acceptable, behavior 

On the other hand, should the internalized cultural prohibition be 
stronger than the personal desire, the inner conflict may be resolved by 
repressing the desire. The prohibited motive, in short, becomes un- 
conscious. But unconscious as well as conscious motives seek expression 
and satisfaction. They may be expressed (and satisfied) in neurosis and 
psychosis; in private fantasy (day-dreams and night dreams) ; in sym- 
bolic, but culturally creative, ways (artistic and scientific work) ; or, and 
more germane to this chapter, in the performance of culturally prescribed 

110 Social Theory and Personality 

roles. Since unconscious motives cannot be satisfied directly if they 
could they would not be unconscious they may thus seek indirect satis- 
faction in the performance of culturally sanctioned behavior. In short, in 
addition to its conscious motivation, culturally sanctioned behavior, in- 
cluding role behavior, may be unconsciously motivated as well. Since, in 
the latter case, the performance of a role is motivated by an unconscious 
as well as by a conscious intention of satisfying a need, the role may have 
unrecognized though intended personal functions; and these, in turn, may 
produce unrecognized and unintended social functions. This thesis may be 
illustrated by examples from two societies: warfare among the Sioux 
Indians of the American Plains, and religion among the Ifaluk of 

Diagrammatically, the relationship between the motives for the per- 
formance of the Sioux warrior role and its various personal and social 
functions can be represented thus: 

intended and recognized person 
f function (prestige) 
/ intended and recognized person 

conscious needs (manifest // function (protection) 

(prestige, \ functions) - * //intended and recognized social 

protection) \ /// function (protection) 

x /// unintended and recognized social 

l/f function (solidarity) 

performance of role/ 

\\ intended an( * unrecognized person 
function (reduction of hostility) 
unintended and unrecognized person 
function (deflection of aggression 
from self) 

unconscious need (latent \ unintended and unrecognized social 

(in-group aggression) functions) > \ function (deflection of aggression 

V from society) 

unintended and unrecognized social 
function (solidarity) 

Sioux warfare was motivated by two conscious needs: prestige and 
protection from enemies. In satisfying these needs for prestige and pro- 
tection, warfare served manifest personal (integrative) and social (adap- 
tive) functions. It may be assumed, it served an unintended (integra- 
tive), but manifest social function, as well the promotion of social 
solidarity by the creation of esprit de corps among the warriors. 

But the "choice" of warfare as a preeminent institutionalized means of 
obtaining prestige leads us to suspect that the conscious motives for the 
performance of the warrior role, though genuine, were not its only 
motives. Warfare is an aggressive activity. Why did the Sioux act ag- 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 111 

gressively when the objective threat from the enemy was slight? Sioux 
war parties, it will be recalled, attacked rather than defended; they pre- 
ferred to attack when their "enemies" were least prepared, that is, when 
they constituted no threat; young bucks had to be restrained from going 
on the warpath, rather than having to be encouraged to do so. And why 
did they seek prestige through aggression when, as the cross-cultural 
record reveals, there are many non-aggressive roles through which pres- 
tige can be obtained? Sioux warfare apparently was motivated not only 
by the conscious needs of prestige and protection, but by yet another, 
unconscious, motive hostility against their fellows. 

As is the case in most societies, Sioux socialization, as well as the con- 
ditions of adult Sioux social life, created in each new generation a motive 
for aggression against their fellows (Erikson, 1939, 1945). Like most 
societies, moreover, the cultural heritage of the Sioux prohibited physical 
aggression against the in-group. However, only one of the three dimen- 
sions of this motive was prohibited. Neither the drive itself (hostility) 
nor the means of its reduction (physical aggression), but only its object 
(the in-group), was prohibited. It was assumed, then, that the specific 
dimension of physical aggression against fellows was repressed, i.e., 
rendered unconscious. But by displacing hostility from the in- to the out- 
groups, this motive could now be expressed. This motive, one may sug- 
gest, sought satisfaction in, and was therefore important in the moti- 
vation of, Sioux warfare. In addition to their motives of prestige and 
protection, Sioux war parties were also motivated by aggression. In satis- 
fying this motive, the warrior role served a latent personal function 
(integration), as well as its manifest personal and social functions. 

When the performance of roles is motivated by unconscious needs, it 
serves unintended and unrecognized social functions as well as intended 
but unrecognized personal functions. What possible unintended and un- 
recognized function for society was served by the Sioux institution of 
warfare? By displacing hostility, and its subsequent aggression, in war- 
fare against the outgroup, the warrior role protected Sioux society from 
the aggression of its own members (adaptive function). Had the original 
hostility not been displaced and subsequently gratified in socially sanc- 
tioned aggression, it might have sought undisguised and, therefore, so- 
cially disruptive expression. It might have sought expression in other ways 
as well. Indeed, Erikson interprets the sun dance, and its painful conse- 
quences for its participants staring into the sun and tearing of skewers 
from their flesh as the turning of aggression inward. It might be 
suggested, then, that in the absence of war, even more aggression would 
have been turned against the self. Hence, the performance of the warrior 
role served a latent, unintended personal function, as well as its latent un- 
intended social function. 

112 Social Theory and Personality 

But to return to the social functions of Sioux warfare: by deflecting 
hostility from in- to out-group, the preponderance of positive over 
negative sentiments concerning the members of the group was increased, 
thereby promoting in-group solidarity (integrative function). Neither of 
these unintended and unrecognized social functions would have been 
served had the performance of the warrior role been motivated exclu- 
sively by the motives of prestige and protection. Moreover, those anthro- 
pologists who are unaware of, or uninterested in, the latent personal func- 
tions of roles because unaware of, or uninterested in, unconscious 
motives would remain ignorant of the important latent social functions 
which are served by this role, and of the general functional significance of 
Sioux warfare within the total social system. 

The second example of the relationship between unconscious motives 
and social functions not only illustrates the importance of unconscious 
motivation in the functioning of social systems, but it also illustrates how a 
society and its social system may be affected by the intrinsic motivation of 
another cultural system religion. Most public religious rituals in the 
Micronesian atoll of Ifaluk are either therapeutic or prophylactic in na- 
ture; they are designed to maintain or restore health by exorcising 
malevolent ghosts (who cause illness by possessing their victims), or by 
preventing these ghosts from executing their intentions in the first place. 
It is not within the province of social science to decide whether one of the 
manifest, intended, functions of these rituals defeat of the ghosts is 
served; the Ifaluk, of course, believe that it is. But these rituals serve 
other manifest functions to which the behavioral scientist can testify. By 
their performance the twin fears of illness and of attack by ghosts are re- 
duced (manifest intended personal function), and by assembling and 
acting in concert for the achievement of a common end, good fellowship 
is strengthened (manifest unintended social function). 

But the performance of these rituals requires another motive in ad- 
dition to its therapeutic motive. These are aggressive rituals in which 
malevolent ghosls -are attacked and, it is hoped, routed. It requires little 
insight to infer that hostility, as well as fear, motivates the performance. 
Indeed, the Ifaluk are quite consciously hostile toward the ghosts. But 
though consciously hostile to ghosts, the Ifaluk, like all people, have oc- 
casion to be hostile to their fellows, particularly to their close kinsmen. 
By displacing hostility from fellows to ghosts, their hostility is acceptable, 
and their subsequent aggressive motive can be gratified in a socially 
sanctioned manner in the performance of these rituals (Spiro, 1953a). 
A latent personal function (integrative) of these rituals, then, consists 
in the opportunity which their performance affords for the satisfaction 
of this aggressive need. 

As in the Sioux example, however, the performance of these rituals 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 113 

also serves a latent unintended social function, one which is vital for this 
society. The Ifaluk social system, based on the strongly held values of 
sharing, mutual aid, and kindliness, is highly cooperative. If the Ifaluk 
were unable to express aggression symbolically in ritual, it is not im- 
probable that their hostility would eventually seek direct expression. If 
this were to happen, the probability of physical survival on an atoll, six- 
tenths of a mile square, would be effectively reduced. By serving to de- 
flect aggression onto malevolent ghosts, the performance of these rituals 
effectively increases the chances for survival. Moreover, as in the case of 
the Sioux, the belief in malevolent ghosts, which permits the displace- 
ment of hostility from the in-group to the wicked out-group, assures the 
persistence of the warm sentiments which the Ifaluk harbor towards each 
other. Hence the psychological basis for their cooperative social system 
probably the only kind of system which is viable in this demographic- 
ecological balance is preserved. In short, by serving its latent personal 
function, this ritual is also able to serve the latent social functions of pro- 
moting the group's survival and of preserving the viability of its social 
system (Spiro, 1952). 

Diagrammatically, the relationship between the motives for the per- 
formance of Ifaluk rituals, which attack and exorcise malevolent ghosts, 
and their personal and social functions can be represented in the following 

(?) intended and recognized person 
/ function (defeat of ghosts) 

conscious need (manifest / intended and recognized person 

(health) \ functions) > // function (emotional security) 

//^unintended and recognized social 
// function (solidarity) 

performance of ritual \ 


\\ intended and unrecognized person 
\ \ function (reduction of hostility) 
\ unintended and unrecognized social 

unconscious nee'd (latent \ function (deflection of aggression 

(in-group functions )---> ^ from society) 

aggression) unintended and unrecognized social 

function (solidarity) 

This discussion of unconscious motives, and of the latent social func- 
tions served by social roles (and other types of cultural behavior) whose 
performance is motivated by them, has been somewhat extended because, 
with the exception of culture-and-personality research, they are ignored 
in most analyses of social systems. Unconscious motives are frequently 
dismissed by social scientists as irrelevant to an understanding of so- 
ciety. "Oh," it is often said, "these unconscious motives may be im- 
portant for personality, but we're interested in the study of society." This 

114 Social Theory and Personality 

analysis has attempted to demonstrate that anyone interested in society 
should also be interested in unconscious motives. They are as important 
for the student of society as for the student of personality, not only be- 
cause they motivate the performance of social roles but because the latent 
social functions which they enable these roles to serve are often more im- 
portant than those which are served under conscious motivation. It 
should be emphasized, however, that unconscious motives, however im- 
portant, are not the only motives of behavior, that conscious motives are 
not merely rationalizations. Though this may sometimes be the case, the 
assumption that only unconscious motives are genuine is as fallacious as 
the contrary assumption. If the conscious motives of Sioux warfare and 
Ifaluk ritual are not sufficient explanations for their performance, neither 
are the unconscious motives: both are necessary, both are genuine, 
neither is sufficient. To assume that only unconscious motives are genuine 
is to perpetuate that vulgar interpretation of psychoanalytic theory in 
which schoolteaching, for example, is "nothing but" the sublimation of an 
unconscious sexual motive, or surgery is "nothing but" the displacement 
of unconscious aggression. 

Theories of social systems that ignore unconscious motives are not only 
truncated, but when social analyses which are based on such theories are 
applied by administrators, they often lead to unfortunate results. If we 
were to assume, for example, that Sioux warfare or Ifaluk religious rituals 
are means merely for obtaining prestige or reducing anxiety concerning 
illness respectively, and that by achieving these ends they also promote 
social solidarity the typical social anthropological functionalist analysis 
then it is a fair administrative conclusion that these "savage" and 
"superstitious" practices can be abolished without harm to society as long 
as the "civilized" practices with which they are replaced are their func- 
tional equivalents, as long, that is, as the new practices are also means 
for obtaining prestige, for reducing anxiety concerning illness, and for 
promoting social solidarity. But despite these good intentions, the new 
practices are not the functional equivalents of the old if they do not serve, 
as well, the latent personal function of displacing unconscious hostility. 
Unless this function is achieved, substitutes cannot serve the latent social 
function of deflecting aggression from the in-group. Hence, this uncon- 
scious motive may seek expression in numerous dysfunctional ways 
dysfunctional both for individuals and society. It may be expressed di- 
rectly, leading to crime, or indirectly, leading to drunkenness, etc.; it 
may be inverted, leading to anxiety and depression ("race suicide") , and 
so forth. By ignoring the importance of unconscious motivation in social 
behavior, the attempt of well-intentioned administrators (acting upon 
the findings of psychologically uninformed researchers) to substitute 
"unobjectionable" for "objectionable" native practices has often been a 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 115 

history of grave disappointments to the administrator and sordid results 
for the natives. 

It should be strongly emphasized that although personality needs are 
satisfied in and therefore motivate the performance of social roles, a per- 
son's personality cannot necessarily be inferred from a knowledge of the 
roles he performs. In the first place, although this chapter is concerned 
with the relationship between personality and the social system, it is ob- 
vious that only part of the personality is relevant to and is expressed 
through the social system. The relationship between personality and other 
cultural systems (religion, art, science, etc.), as weU as those private as- 
pects of personality that are not caught up in the sociocultural net 
(Murphy, 1958, part 3), are deliberately ignored. In short, a descrip- 
tion of a person's various social roles would not lead to an exhaustive 
description of his personality. 

More important, however, for our purposes, a knowledge of a per- 
son's social roles would not even lead to an accurate prediction of those 
aspects of his personality that are caught up in their performance. For, 
as this section has attempted to show, since different goals may be ca- 
thected by the same drive and since different roles may be instrumental 
for the attainment of the same goal, "a high degree of role differenti- 
ation," as Kaplan has put it, does not necessarily require "a similar de- 
gree of differentiation at the personality level" (1957, p. 100). At the 
same time, since the same goal may be cathected by different drives, 
and since the same role may be instrumental for the attainment of dif- 
ferent goals, a high degree of personality differentiation does not nec- 
essarily requke a similar degree of differentiation at the social system 
level. Thus, (1) different drives may be canalized by the same goal, 
which is attained by the performance of the same role; (2) the same 
drive may be canalized by different goals, which are attained by the per- 
formance of different roles; and (3) different drives may be canalized by 
the same goal which is attained by the performance of different roles. 
These alternatives are shown in the following diagrams. 

1. prestige drive 
aggression drive 
service drive 

2. prestige drive 

3. prestige drive 
aggression drive - 
service drive 

soldier role- 

->national defense goal 

scientist role 
->soldier role 

-^knowledge goal 
-^national defense goal 

^politician role ^legislation goal 

-^politician role- 
-> soldier role- 

^national defense goal 

~>scientist role- 

116 Social Theory and Personality 

But if this is true within a society, it is equally true among societies. 
Since there are fewer drives in man than there are goals in all his so- 
cieties, and since there are fewer goals in all human societies than there 
are roles in their social systems, it is reasonable to expect fewer modal 
personality systems than social systems. On the other hand, since drives, 
goals, and roles may vary independently of each other, it is possible for 
different modal personality systems to be associated with similar social 
systems, and for similar modal personality systems to be associated with 
different social systems. 

If this is so the student of social systems, who is interested in their 
motivational well-springs, must at the same time be a student of person- 
ality; and statements about the relationships between personality and so- 
cial systems must be based on personality investigations, and not inferred 
from a description of social systems (Inkeles and Levinson, 1954). Per- 
sonality investigation may entail the use of psychological instruments, 
such as projective tests (Hallowell, 1955), the analysis of dreams (Eg- 
gan, 1952), the collection of life histories (Kluckhohn, 1945), and depth 
interviewing. It may also be based, however, on the observation of be- 
havior when viewed from the perspective of, and interpreted in terms of, 
psychodynamic personality theory. For if the same set of activities can 
serve both personal and social functions, the same set of activities may be 
viewed from a personality perspective (as a means for serving personal 
functions) or from a social system perspective (as a means for serving 
social functions). If one's focus is on society and on those adaptive, ad- 
justive, and integrative prerequisites of a viable social life, a given set of 
activities is analyzed as a role within the social system. If, on the other 
hand, one's focus is on an individual and on the adaptive, adjustive, and 
integrative prerequisites of a viable individual life, the same set of activi- 
ties is analyzed as a means for satisfying the needs of the personality sys- 
tem. This last technique uses a powerful, but rare instrument a sensi- 
tive observer. 


Since intrinsic cultural motivation is based on the personal cathexis of 
culturally stipulated goals, it obviously cannot serve as a technique of so- 
cial control when these goals are not cathected. There are various con- 
ditions which reduce the probability of goal cathexis. The following are 
probably most important: (a) the goals of many taboos and prohibitions, 
since they lead to frustration, may increase rather than reduce the in- 
tensity of drives (Freud, 1930); (b) in societies undergoing rapid cul- 
ture change, many new goals will not reduce extant drives (Hallowell, 
1945); (c) a similar situation will obtain in the case of subordinate 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional A nalysis 111 

groups, whose culture has largely been imposed by a dominant group; 
(d) cathexis may be withdrawn from previously cathected goals because 
of the realization that they cannot be achieved (Merton, 1938). 

Even when goals are cathected it does not necessarily follow that the 
culture patterns or roles that attain them will be performed. There are 
other possibilities. Though the goal is desired, the role which is prescribed 
for its attainment may be odious. Thus, though everyone may desire clean 
public latrines, no one may desire to perform the role of latrine attend- 
ant. Again, a non-sanctioned means for the attainment of a desired goal 
may be perceived as more efficient or as less burdensome than the sanc- 
tioned role. Similarly, the cultural goal may be scarce, so that not all who 
strive for its attainment can be successful. Hence, competitive anxiety 
may motivate the performance of proscribed, but more efficient, tech- 
niques. Finally, the social structure, particularly in a stratified society, 
may effectively preclude certain categories of persons from performing 
the roles which attain the goals (Merton, 1938). 

In all of these situations social conformity will be achieved only by 
some technique of social control other than or in addition to intrinsic 
cultural motivation. Extrinsic social control is one such technique; but it 
is not the only one. For the importance of personality needs in the 
motivation of social roles is not restricted to intrinsic cultural motivation. 
The latter type of motivation is ultimately based on two kinds of person- 
ality needs id and ego needs, in psychoanalytic vocabulary. But person- 
ality has superego needs as well; and many roles may be performed 
(though id and ego are not satisfied, and may even be frustrated) be- 
cause their performance satisfies superego needs. 

If roles are motivated by the expectation of satisfying superego needs, 
social control is achieved by, what we may term, "internalized cultural 
motivation." For cultural conformity in this instance is achieved, not 
through external sanctions (extrinsic control), nor by intrinsic goals 
(intrinsic control), but by internalized norms. To put it in terms we 
have been employing, if extrinsic control is achieved (in the case of posi- 
tive sanctions) by the cathexis of the social sanction, and if intrinsic con- 
trol is achieved by the cathexis of the cultural goal, internalized control is 
achieved by the cathexis of the cultural norm. 

There has been a great deal of discussion concerning the internalization 
of norms. Some writers, following Ruth Benedict (1946, pp. 222-227, 
288-289), have suggested that norm-internalization is a phenomenon re- 
stricted to certain types of societies and absent from others. Cultures 
which give rise to norm-internalization are termed "guilt-cultures," for 
cultural conformity is motivated by guilt. Those which do not produce 
norm-internalization are termed "shame-cultures," for the members of 
society conform to cultural norms only when their fellows are present to 

118 Social Theory and Personality 

shame them. Hence, in societies with shame cultures extrinsic control is 
necessary to ensure cultural conformity assuming that the performance 
of roles is not intrinsically motivated. 

Although shame obviously operates as a control technique in any so- 
ciety, the validity of this shame culture guilt culture dichotomy is open 
to question (Piers and Singer, 1953). Since social systems are, to a great 
extent, normative many of their constituent roles and goals are pre- 
scribed by the cultural heritage it is improbable for the members of any 
society not to have internalized these norms. If norms were not internal- 
ized, parents would have none to transmit to their children because, ex 
hypothesi, they would not have internalized any in the course of their 
own socialization. Further, if no one has internalized the norms, who, in 
societies with shame cultures, would do the shaming? The existence of 
agents of shame implies that at least some members of society have in- 
ternalized at least some norms. 

In short, one may argue that although in any society there may hypo- 
thetically be some individuals who have internalized very few norms 
(the so-called psychopaths), and many individuals who have not inter- 
nalized some of the norms, in all societies most individuals not only 
(a) learn about their cultural norms, but they also (b) accept them, 
(c) evaluate their own acts in accordance with them, and (d) experience 
anxiety ("moral anxiety") should they desire to violate them. This 
anxiety serves as an important deterrent to norm violation. Indeed, even 
in societies whose cultures correspond most closely to the description of 
the ideal shame culture, ". . . blame, ridicule, or holding up to shame 
are controls only if they express commonly accepted values and corre- 
spond to the promptings of the superego" (Nadel, 1953, p. 272). 

How does this moral anxiety develop? And what does it represent? To 
answer the second question first, this anxiety presumably represents the 
largely unconscious expectation of punishment, as distinguished from the 
rational, conscious fear of being punished. This distinction must be ex- 

The individual who has internalized a norm, and not merely learned 
about it, perceives his anticipated violation of it as a transgression and 
hence as deserving of punishment. This perception induces anxiety (the 
anticipation of punishment) . The mere intention of committing an act 
which he himself labels as a "transgression," or of not performing an act 
which he deems compulsory, leads him to expect that his behavior (which 
in his eyes is deserving of punishment) will in some way be punished. 
Where the individual believes that punishment is his due, "expectation of 
punishment" is but another term for "moral anxiety." 

On the other hand, the individual who has merely learned about the 
norm, but has not internalized it, suffers no moral anxiety as a conse- 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 119 

quence of his anticipated violation of it. Because he himself has not 
internalized the norm, he does not (though others may) consider his 
anticipated violation to be deserving of punishment, since he does not 
consider his act to be "wrong." In short, he experiences no moral anxiety. 
He may, of course, experience considerable anxiety about the punish- 
ment which would be meted out to him were he caught. In moral anxiety, 
however, it is not the fear that one might be punished if caught, but the 
belief that one merits punishment that evokes anxiety. 

Moral anxiety, therefore, has both drive and cue properties. It informs 
the individual that his anticipated behavior is wrong (worthy of punish- 
ment) , and that its performance will lead to punishment; and it motivates 
him to reduce the anxiety by refraining from transgression. Hence, the 
anxiety serves as a motive for conformity. 

Since moral anxiety is not innate, how is it acquired? So far as our 
present knowledge permits, we may suggest that it arises out of certain 
universal features of human socialization systems. In all societies, agents 
of socialization are not only trainers, but they are also nurturers, satis- 
fying the child's most important need the need for love. To the extent 
that these agents employ rewards and punishments as part of their train- 
ing methods, and to the extent that such rewards and punishments are, 
for the child, symbolic of their love, the child is motivated to comply with 
the demands of these "significant others" (Mead, 1934) in order to ob- 
tain their love or, conversely, to preclude its withdrawal. Through their 
ability to give and withhold love, the child not only learns what the agents 
of socialization judge to be good and bad behavior, but he also learns to 
concur in their judgment; in short, he models his behavior in accordance 
with their norms. He learns to accept their judgment as his own because 
behavior which these significant others judge to be bad is indeed "bad" 
for him it leads to the withdrawal of love (punishment) by those whose 
love he so strongly desires. Since he agrees that certain acts are "bad," 
and therefore deserving of punishment, his mere intention to transgress 
leads to the anticipation of punishment (moral anxiety). He has de- 
veloped a superego, or a conscience. 

But having questioned the validity of one distinction that between 
shame and guilt cultures it is necessary to introduce another. The super- 
ego has been implicitly defined operationally as the configuration of those 
expectations of punishment, experienced as anxiety (either conscious or 
unconscious) that are evoked by the anticipated violation of an inter- 
nalized cultural norm. But we have not yet specified the agent of punish- 
ment, the "significant other" from whom punishment (withdrawal of 
love) was originally expected. Two types of superego, based on the agent 
of anticipated punishment, can be distinguished. This agent may be out- 
side the individual or "within" him. It is our hypothesis that societies in 

120 Social Theory and Personality 

which the child is trained by only a few agents of socialization, who 
themselves administer punishments, produce individuals who not only 
internalize the norms of the socializing agent but who "introject" the 
agent as well. This introjected figure, then, is the significant other for such 
individuals and it is withdrawal of its "love" that constitutes the an- 
ticipated punishment. Since this punishment, when it comes and it 
comes after the transgression is committed is experienced as guilt 
("pangs of conscience"), this type of superego may be termed "guilt- 

Other societies, we believe, in which the child is trained by a number 
of socializing agents, or in which the trainers discipline the child by 
claiming that other agents will punish him, do not produce individuals 
with "guilt oriented" superegos. For, though these individuals internalize 
the norms of the socializing agents, they do not introject the agents 
themselves. Since the significant others continue to remain external, it is 
withdrawal of the love of others that constitutes the anticipated punish- 
ment. Because this punishment, when it comes, is experienced as shame, 
this type of superego may be termed "shame-oriented." Of course, these 
two types of superego represent the polar extremes, conceived as ideal 
types, of a superego continuum. Most superegos would represent ad- 
mixtures of the two, weighted toward one or the other end of the con- 

A shame- no less than a guilt-oriented superego constitutes a con- 
science. By producing anxiety concerning anticipated punishment, both 
types inform the individual that his anticipated behavior is wrong, and 
both motivate him to refrain from transgressing a norm, whether others 
are present or not. Nevertheless, they function differently after a trans- 
gression has occurred. A person with a guilt-oriented superego suffers 
guilt when he transgresses, even if no one perceives his transgression, be- 
cause the agent of punishment (the introjected figure) is always with 
him. However, a person with a shame-oriented superego does not suffer 
shame when he transgresses unless others witness his transgression, for 
no agent of punishment (the external others) is present. Instead of ex- 
periencing actual punishment (shame) , he continues to anticipate punish- 
ment; he suffers from anxiety. 8 This anxiety may be so painful that it 
may lead some persons who live in societies with so-called shame-cultures 
to commit suicide. Incidentally, this fact is sufficient to cast doubt on the 
validity of the shame-culture guilt-culture dichotomy. The Japanese, 
who allegedly have a shame-culture, may be driven to suicide when they 
perceive themselves to have lost face, even in the absence of any other 
perceiver. In the terms we have been employing, the Japanese would be 
said to have shame-oriented superegos; they experience anxiety when 
they anticipate performing a forbidden act or not performing a prescribed 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 121 

act. After committing the transgression, they continue to anticipate pun- 
ishment, anxiety mounts, and suicide represents the last desperate at- 
tempt to remove the anxiety. 

To conclude, then, regardless of the type of superego that is pre- 
ponderant in the personalities of the members of any society, cultural 
conformity is frequently achieved by means of internalized cultural moti- 
vation. Though the goal attained by the performance of a role may not 
be cathected, and though a means other than the prescribed role may be 
preferred, the role may nevertheless be performed (and its social func- 
tions thereby served) without the necessity for extrinsic control. If the 
members of society have cathected and internalized their cultural norms, 
conformity with these norms serves to reduce the drive of moral anxiety. 
In short, in internalized, as well as in intrinsic, cultural motivation the 
members of society have acquired "the kind of character which makes 
them want to act in the way they have to act . . ." 


In the past, when the behavioral sciences were still reacting against 
instinctivist theories of social behavior, the relationship between social 
system and personality was viewed as primarily asymmetrical. Person- 
ality was viewed as a relatively passive agent affected by, but not af- 
fecting, the social system. Paris (1937, ch. 3), for example, refers to 
personality as the "subjective aspect of culture." Recent work in culture- 
and-personality, however, has tended to conceive of the social system 
personality relationship as more nearly symmetrical. These studies have 
suggested that although personality is, indeed, affected by the social sys- 
tem, the social system, in turn, is affected by personality. 

This changing conception of the relationship between personality and 
social system has had its influence on the study and analysis of social 
systems by culture-and-personality theorists. Instead of merely asking 
how the social system influences the development and structuring of 
personality, we are now equally interested in how personality affects the 
functioning of social systems. And, in general, it seems to be agreed that 
there is feed-back between social system and personality such that the 
social system creates those personality needs which, in turn, are satisfied 
by and motivate the operation of the social system (Kardiner, 1939). 
Since society has but one social system, while the component members 
of society have different personalities, this feed-back is effected be- 
cause the component roles of the social system can satisfy different needs, 
and its socialization system produces common needs, or a modal per- 
sonality (DuBois, 1944). 

This chapter has been exclusively concerned with the impact of per- 

1 22 Social Theory and Personality 

sonality on the social system, and specifically on the importance of 
personality for the motivation of role performance. Since the social sys- 
tem can serve its functions for society only if its component roles are 
performed, every society is confronted with the problem of social 
control the problem of getting people to behave in conformity with 
cultural norms, By supplying the psychological basis for cultural moti- 
vation, personality is a vital instrument in society's attempt to achieve 
social control. It serves as such an instrument in three ways. 

In the first place, although society provides sanctions as a means for 
achieving social control, these sanctions are effective only if the members 
of society have drives which can be reduced by the attainment of these 
goals. If this is the case these sanctions are cathected, and thereby be- 
come personality needs which motivate role performance, Second, if the 
cultural norms, which prescribe the performance of the role, are in- 
ternalized by the members of society, non-conformity induces anxiety. 
Since this anxiety can be reduced by the performance of the role, con- 
formity with these norms becomes a need which motivates role per- 
formance. Finally, the prescribed goals which are attained by role per- 
formance are, themselves, cathected and, hence, serve as personality 
needs to motivate the performance of roles. 

These three types of control have been termed, extrinsic, internalized, 
and intrinsic, respectively. We may summarize their differences and 
similarities, as follows: (a) In extrinsic control which is based on positive 
social sanctions, and (b) in intrinsic control which is based on manifest 
personal functions, the performance of roles is motivated by the desire to 
obtain a rewarding goal either the cathected social sanction or the ca- 
thected goal of the role, (c) In extrinsic control which is based on nega- 
tive social sanctions, (d) in internalized control, and (e) in intrinsic 
control which is based on latent personal functions, the performance of 
roles is motivated by the desire to avoid pain in the forms of physical or 
social punishment, moral anxiety, or unrelieved needs, respectively. 


1. The concept, "cultural conformity," is here taken to mean, behavior 
which is in conformity with cultural norms. Hence, "cultural conformity," 
as used in this chapter, is to be distinguished from "social conformity," which 
refers to behavior which is in conformity with the behavior of others. In a 
fully integrated and relatively unchanging society it would be difficult to 
distinguish between these two types of conformity: the behavior of others 
would be more or less identical with the requirements of the cultural heritage. 
In a somewhat less integrated and rapidly changing society (such as our 
own) the distinction between these two types of conformity is clearer; Ries- 
man's (1950) other-directed individuals, for example, represent social con- 
formity rather than (or more than) cultural conformity. In either case, 
though it might be difficult to distinguish between these types of conformity 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 123 

in overt behavioral terms, it is not at all difficult to distinguish between them 
in motivational terms. Social conformity is motivated by the desire to con- 
form to the behavior of others; cultural conformity, by the desire to conform 
to cultural norms. Cultural conformity, as we shall attempt to show, is a 
requisite for the functioning of human social systems, whereas social con- 
formity is not. 

2. This discussion is based primarily on psychoanalytic (Rapaport, 1951) 
and behavior theory (Miller and Dollard, 1941; Tolman, 1951). Despite the 
differences among contemporary psychological theorists, almost all agree 
that reward different terms are used to refer to the same concept is a 
crucial motivational variable (Nebraska Symposia on Motivation, 1953, 
V. 1, ff.). They differ primarily in their analysis of its referents and its prop- 
erties. It is with respect to performance, not to learning, that the notion of 
reward is here held to be crucial. 

3. "Sanctioned" goals are goals which are culturally approved; "pre- 
scribed" goals are goals which are culturally mandatory. Thus, though all 
prescribed goals are sanctioned, not all sanctioned goals are prescribed. The 
goal of achieving the status of physician, for example, is a sanctioned, not a 
prescribed, goal in our culture. That is, we approve of those who aspire to 
achieve the goal, but we do not expect everyone to aspire to It. On the other 
hand the goal of curing patients is not only a sanctioned, but a prescribed 
goal for physicians. From now on the expression, "culturally stipulated" 
will be used to embrace both "sanctioned" and "prescribed." 

4. The motivation for the performance of social roles is termed "cultural 
motivation" because these roles are culturally sanctioned and prescribed. 

5. This notion of "need" is almost identical with the notion of "need- 
disposition" in Parsons' action theory (Parsons and Shils, 1951, pp. 114- 
120). There are other points of convergence, as well, between the limited 
formulations of this chapter and those of Parsons (Parsons and Shils, 1951, 
parts 1 and 2; Parsons, 1951, chs. 1-3, 6-7). The serious student of the 
relationship between social system and personality is urged to read these two 
important volumes. 

6. For a preliminary typology of functionalism, see Spiro, 1953. For a 
detailed analysis of functionalism as "functional consequence," see Merton, 
1949. For illuminating discussions of functionalism, based on Merton's 
analysis, seeNagel, 1957, ch. 10, and Hempel, 1959. For a general review of 
recent functionalist theory and research, see Firth, 1955. 

7. Merton (1949), whose now-classic analysis of functionalism remains 
the incisive treatment of this subject, and who first introduced the terms 
"manifest" and "latent" into functional analysis, ignored a potentially power- 
ful mode of analysis by merging "intention" and "recognition." As he defines 
them, manifest functions are those which are both intended and recognized, 
while latent functions are those which are neither intended nor recognized. 
Since manifest functions as we have seen may be unintended, and since 
latent functions as we shall see may be intended, intention and recogni- 
tion may vary independently. 

8. For an empirical demonstration of this process, see Spiro, 1958, ch. 15, 
from which part of this discussion, with permission of the publisher, is taken. 

124 Social Theory and Personality 


Aberle, D. F., et al 1950. "The Functional Prerequisites of a Society," 
Ethics, 9:100-111. 

Beach, F. 1955. "The Descent of Instinct," Psychological Review, 62:401-10. 

Benedict, R. 1946. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Boston: Houghton 

Bolk, L. 1929. "Origin of Racial Characteristics in Man," American Journal 
of Physical A nthropology, 1 3 : 1-28. 

Carpenter, C. 1934. "A Field Study of the Behavior and Social Relations of 
the Howling Monkeys (Alouatta paliata)" Comparative Psychology 
Monographs, vol. 10. 

Carpenter, C. 1940. "A Field Study in Siam of the Behavior and Social Rela- 
tions of the Gibbon (Hylobates lar)" Comparative Psychology Mono- 
graphs, vol. 16. 

Cassirer, E. 1944. An Essay on Man. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
Darling, F. 1937. A Herd of Red Deer. London: Oxford University Press. 

DuBois, C. 1944. The People of Alor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 

Eggan, D. 1952. "The Manifest Content of Dreams: A Challenge to Social 
Science," American Anthropologist, 54:469-85. 

Erikson, E. H. 1939. "Observations on Sioux Education," Journal of Psy- 
chiatry, 7:10 1-5 6. 

. 1945. "Childhood and Tradition in Two American Indian Tribes," 

Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1 : 3 19-50. 

. 1950. Childhood and Society. New York: Norton. 

Faris, E. 1937. The Nature of Human Nature. New York: McGraw-Hill. 

Firth, R. 1954. "Social Organization and Social Change," Journal of the 
Royal Anthropological Institute, 84: 1-20. 

. 1955. "Function," Yearbook of Anthropology, 1:237-258. 

Freud, S. 1930. Civilization and its Discontents. New York: J. Cape and 
H. Smith. 

Fromm, E. 1944. "Individual and Social Origins Of Neurosis," American 
Sociological Review, 9:380-84. 

Hallowell, A. 1945. "Sociopsychological Aspects of Acculturation," in Lin- 
ton, R. (ed.), The Science of Man in the World Crisis. New York: Colum- 
bia University Press. 

-. 1950. "Personality Structure and the Evolution of Man," American 

Anthropologist, 52:159-173. 

-. 1954. "The Self and Its Behavioral Environment," Explorations, 


. 1955. "The Rorschach Test in Culture and Personality Studies," in 

Klopfer, B. et al. f Developments in the Rorschach Technique, vol. 2, 
Yonkers-on-Hudson: World Book Company. 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 125 

Harlow, H. 1953. "Motivation as a Factor in the Acquisition of New Re- 
sponses," Nebraska Symposia in Motivation, 4:24-49. 

Hempel, C. 1959. "The Logic of Functional Analysis," in Gross, G. (ed.), 
Symposium on Sociological Theory. Evanston: Row, Peterson and Co. 

Henry, J. 1953. "Towards a System of Socio-Psychiatric Invariants: A Work 
Paper," Journal of Social Psychology, 37: 133-161. 

Hilgard, E. 1956. Theories of Learning. New York: Appleton-Century- 

Hine, R. and Tinbergen, N. 1958. "The Comparative Study of Species- 
Specific Behavior," in Roe, A. and Simpson, G. (eds.), Behavior and Evolu- 
tion. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Inkeles, A. and Levinson, D. 1954. "National Character: The Study of Modal 
Personality and Sociocultural Systems," in Lindzey, G. (ed.), Handbook 
of Social Psychology. Cambridge: Addison- Wesley. 

Kaplan, B. 1957. "Personality and Social Structure," in Glttler, J., Review of 
Sociology, Analysis of a Decade. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 

Kardiner, A. 1939. The Individual and His Society. New York: Columbia 
University Press. 

Kluckhohn, C. 1945. "The Personal Document in Anthropological Science," 
in Gottschalk, L., Kluckhohn, C., and Angel, R. Use of Personal Docu- 
ments in History, Anthropology, and Sociology. Social Science Research 
Council, Bull. no. 53. 

, and Murray, H., with the collaboration of Schneider, D. 1953. 

Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture. New York: Knopf. 

Kroeber, A. L. 1948. Anthropology. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 

Langer, S. 1942. Philosophy in a New Key. Cambridge: Harvard University 

La Barre, W. 1954. The Human AnimaL Chicago: University of Chicago 

Lehrman, D. 1953. "A Critique of Konrad Lorenz' Theory of Instinctive 
Behavior," Quarterly Review of Biology, 28:337-363. 

Lewin, K., Dembo, T., Festinger, L., and Sears, P. 1944. "Level of Aspira- 
tion," in Hunt, J. (ed.) , Personality and the Behavior Disorders. New York: 
Ronald Press. 

Linton, R. 1936. The Study of Man. New York: Appleton-Century, 

Malinowski, B. 1944. A Scientific Theory of Culture. Chapel Hill: University 
of North Carolina Press. 

Mayr, E. 1958. "Behavior and Systematics," in Roe, A. and Simpson, C. 
(eds.), Behavior and Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Mead, G. 1934. Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago 

Murphy, G. 1947. Personality: A Biosocial Approach to Origins and Struc- 
ture. New York: Harper. 

126 Social Theory and Personality 

Murphy, G. 1954. "Social Motivation," in G. Lindzey, Handbook of Social 
Psychology. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley. 

. 1958. Human Potentialities. New York: Basic Books. 

Nadel, S. F. 1953. "Social Control and Self-Regulation," Social Forces, 

. 1957. The Theory of Social Structure. London: Cohen and West. 

Nagel, E. 1957. Logic Without Metaphysics. Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press. 

Nebraska Symposia on Motivation. 1953. Jones, M. R. (ed.), Lincoln: Uni- 
versity of Nebraska Press. 

Newcomb, T. M. 1950. Social Psychology. Dryden: New York. 
Parsons, T. 1951. The Social System. Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press. 

and Shils, E. 1951. Toward a General Theory of Action. Cambridge: 

Harvard University Press. 

Piers, G. and Singer, M. B. 1953. Shame and Guilt: A Psychoanalytic and a 
Cultural Study. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas. 

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. 1933. "Sanctions, Social," Encyclopedia of the So- 
cial Sciences, 13:531-34. 

. 1957. A Natural Science of Society. Glencoe, 111.: The Free Press. 

Rapaport, D. 1951. "The Conceptual Model of Psychoanalysis," Journal of 
Personality, 20:56-81. 

Riesman, D. 1950. The Lonely Crowd. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Roheim, G. 1943. The Origin and Function of Culture. New York: Nervous 
and Mental Disorder Monograph Series, Vol. 63. 

Sapir, E. 1924. "Culture, Genuine and Spurious," American Journal of So- 
ciology, 29:401-429. 

Spiro, M. E. 1951. "Culture and Personality: The Natural History of a 
False Dichotomy," Psychiatry, 14: 19-46. 

. 1952. "Ghosts, Ifaluk, and Teleological Functionalism," American 

Anthropologist, 54:497-503. 

. 1953 a. "Ghosts: An Anthropological Inquiry into Learning and 

Perception," Journal of A bnormal Social Psychology, 48 : 376-382. 

. 1953b. "A Typology of Functional Analysis," Explorations, 1:84-95. 

-. 1958. Children of the Kibbutz. Cambridge: Harvard University 


Thompson, W. 1958. "Social Behavior," in Roe, A. and Simpson, G. (eds.), 
Behavior md Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Tolman, E. C. 1951. Collected Papers in Psychology. Berkeley and Los An- 
geles: University of California Press. 

Tylor, E. B. 1874. Primitive Culture. Chicago: Brentano. 

Wheeler, W. M. 1928. The Social Insects Their Origin and Evolution. 
New York: Harcourt, Brace. 

SPIRO: Social Systems, Personality, Functional Analysis 127 

White, L. 1940. "The Symbol: The Origin and Basis of Human Behavior," 
Philosophy of Science, 7:451-463. 

Whiting, J. W. M. and I. Child. 1953. Child Training and Personality. New 
Haven: Yale University Press. 

Wissler, C. 1923. Man and Culture. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. 

Zuckerman, S. 1932. The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes. New York: 
Harcourt, Brace. 

About the Chapter 

Dr. Wallace's chapter considers the psychological characteristics upon 
which the unity of human social groups is based. He asks what makes com- 
munication and orderly behavior possible and advances a theory which, in its 
emphasis on common cognitive processes, has important implications for 
personality study and for a theory of cross-cultural communication. He ac- 
cepts the existence of a high degree of motivational diversity even within the 
same groups and explains group unity in terms of the possibilities of organi- 
zation and coordination inherent in human nature. 

About the Author 

ANTHONY F. C. WALLACE is currently Director of Clinical Research at the 
Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, and Visiting Research Associate 
Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania. 
In 1956-1957, he was a member of the Committee on Disaster Studies of 
the National Research Council. His major fields of interest are culture and 
personality, culture and religion and ethnohistory of the northeastern In- 
dians. He is author of King of the Delaware: Teedyuscung, 1700-1763; Tor- 
nado in Worcester; and numerous contributions covering a wide area from 
visionary experience to mathematical logic. 

A cknowledgments 

This chapter is based in part on research conducted under Grants M-883 
and M-1106 from the National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Public 
Health Service, and Grant 1769 (Penrose Fund) from the American Philo- 
sophical Society. Personal acknowledgment is due to the author's colleagues, 
John Atkins, James Casby, and Dr. Nathan Fine, who gave valuable assist- 
ance in the development of the logical and mathematical schemata; to Dr. 
Harold A. Rashkis, for insightful discussion of organizational functions in 
cognitive processes; and to the author's assistants, Mrs. Josephine H. Dixon 
and Mrs. Arlene Fonaroff, who read and abstracted certain source materials 
and typed the manuscript. 


The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 


Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute 

University of Pennsylvania 

t must people have in common, psychologically, in order to live 
together in culturally organized social groups? 

On the answer to this question will depend, in part, our expectations, 
not only for communicating more adequately with our own close kin 
and neighbors, but also for a reasonably orderly and humane world 
society. For the kind of psychological nature that is necessary and suf- 
ficient to a cultural way of life may set limits, broad or narrow, on the 
kind of life that culture can provide. The question is, of course, not cer- 
tainly answerable. (To know that a question is completely answer- 
able would make it trivial to ask.) A number of generations of poets, 
philosophers, politicians, religious reformers, and, finally, humane scien- 
tists have searched for the answer with but indifferent results. 

We scientists have come latest upon the scene; our tools are sharp and 
our hopes are bright, but we are sometimes a little provincial in the ways 
in which we formulate problems. The scientist starts with the knowl- 
edge that everywhere men satisfy their needs in culturally organized 
social groups. He tends to work back from this datum to propositions 


130 Social Theory and Personality 

about what these needs are, and what the motives are that give these 
needs cognitive form. Then he may assume, rather blithely, that if on 
some level of abstraction the needs are the same and the culture is the 
same, then the motives must be the same. The enthusiastic religious 
leader and the fanatical political reformer think along the same lines: 
they take the group as given, and declaim that its continued existence re- 
quires the sharing of motives. 

The humanist the poet, the novelist, the dramatist, the historian 
has tended to approach the question with a sense of tragedy (or 
humor) at the paradox, so apparent to him, that despite the continuing 
existence of the culture and the group, the individual is always partly 
alone in his motivation, moving in a charmed circle of feelings and per- 
ceptions which he cannot completely share with any other human being. 
This awareness of the limits of human communication, of the impossi- 
bility, despite all the labor of God, Freud, and the Devil, of one man fully 
understanding another, of the loneliness of existence, is not confined to 
any cult of writers; it is a pan-human theme. Shylock can declare: 

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimen- 
sions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same 
weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed 
and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick 
Us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do 
we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? 

But in the play at last, his common humanity avails Shylock nothing; his 
motives the form in which his common humanity expresses itself are 
portrayed (for Christians) -as being so incomprehensibly perverse in 
greed and bitterness as to justify his being stripped of his daughter, his 
wealth, and even his religion. And yet, it is not his punishment but the 
gulf in understanding between Shylock and his persecutors, and the im- 
possibility of a mutual knowledge, which excite sympathy. This theme of 
motivational loneliness, it need hardly be added, has been found to be 
as poignantly relevant to the relations of mothers and daughters, fa- 
thers and sons, husbands and wives, within the group, as to dealings 
among strangers. 

From the standpoint of the humanist and, for that matter, of any in- 
dividual in solitude, the narrow scientists' ponderous deductions of 
panels of common human drives, instincts, emotions, needs, tensions, 
affects, and whatnot, appear to be merely a sterile cataloguing of the 
obvious. To be sure, all men Jews and Christians, males and. females, 
young and old experience substantially the same feelings. But this 
merely recognizes the mammalian nature of man. To say that human 
culture depends on love, lust, fear, and hate would be no more significant 
than to say that it depends on hearts, lungs, livers, and kidneys. But when 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 131 

the scientist claims that all men, or at least all members of the same 
culturally organized group, must share a common panel of interests and 
motives (ideal states-of-affairs to which strong affects are attached), 
the humanist can only raise his eyebrows and smile a wry smile at the 
naivety of scientism. 

Thus, for the humanistic scientist, the intriguing aspect of the problem 
of the psychic unities must rest precisely in the paradox that cultures do 
exist, and societies do survive, despite the diversity of the interests and 
motivations of their members, the practical impossibility of complete 
interpersonal understanding and communication, and the unavoidable 
residuum of loneliness that dwells in every man. The technique for the 
unraveling of the paradox would seem to lie in abandoning the assump- 
tion that motivational unity is necessary for social coordination. Instead, 
those rational functions must be defined which make it possible for per- 
sons of diverse motivations to perform the cognitive tasks necessary to 
the maintenance and expansion of culture. Only when this is done, shall 
we be in a position to investigate the manner in which individuals 
organize their own motivations, and their perceptions of the motivations 
of others and of others' perceptions of them, in such a fashion as to maxi- 
mize both the meaningfulness of individual experience and the organi- 
zation of the social group. 

This chapter will present some considerations for a general theory 
relating the cognitive processes of individuals to the cultural organization 
of groups. For the purpose of anthropological analysis of culture-and- 
cognition relationships, the most convenient psychological model is one 
in which the individual organism is conceived to maintain an extensive 
set of learned meanings. A mazeway the organized totality of 
learned meanings maintained by an individual organism at a given time 
is the cognitive map of the individual's private world regularly evoked 
by perceived or remembered stimuli. Mazeway includes motivation but 
also includes much cognitive content that is not motivationally weighted. 
Meaning, degree of meaningfulness, and quantity of organization will be 
defined in this chapter by formal schemata based respectively on a logico- 
mathematical development of componential analysis, and on the mathe- 
matical theory of information. These schemata are intended to replace 
extended and ambiguous essays on the meaning of words like "meaning" 
and "organization." The full "meaning" of a stimulus includes the en- 
tire train of associated semantic matrices (which are parts of the maze- 
way) evoked by that stimulus, including the cognitive representation of 
discriminable features of the stimulus and of related motivations, pos- 
sible responses, and chosen response. Such "meaning" may be 
conscious but is not necessarily so, either in whole or in part. Societies of 
organisms will be, to a greater or lesser degree, culturally organized if 

132 Social Theory and Personality 

the organisms are sufficiently proximate and sufficiently capable of learn- 
ing so that their mazeways will contain either identical or merely equiva- 
lent 1 meanings for standard stimuli. Culture, personality, modal per- 
sonality structure, and national character are treated as abstractions from 
mazeway. It is suggested that a tendency toward maximizing the quan- 
tity of meaning, and organization of meaning, in cognitive structure is 
exhibited in organic behavior. 2 


The anthropologist can, from his knowledge of culturally organized 
systems of behavior, contribute possibly unique insights into psycho- 
logical function by writing certain functional specifications for a human 
brain based on a knowledge of the tasks which a cultural mode of 
existence requires that brain to perform. From this standpoint let us dis- 
cuss the general concept of "cultural nature:" those psychological prop- 
erties, determined by physical constitution, but not necessarily specific 
to a human or even hominid constitution, which seem to be necessary 
and sufficient conditions for a society to be culturally organized. By 
"psychological properties" I mean properties (including learned proper- 
ties) of the behavior of the central nervous system, such as cognitive 
processes or content, knowledge of which will enable the observer to 
predict the individual organism's response to specified internally or 
externally originated stimuli. By culture I mean those sets of equivalent 
or identical learned meanings by which the members of a society do in 
fact define stimuli. Culture, in this usage, thus is not behavior nor prod- 
ucts of behavior but inferences from observation of stimulus and re- 
sponse sequences concerning cognitive content (mazeway) maintained 
by one or more of a group of interdependent organisms. A culturally 
organized society is accordingly one whose organization (or "inte- 
gration," to use Schneirla's term) depends heavily upon the patterned 
relationship of the meanings of stimuli learned by members of the so- 

Not all societies are culturally organized. Some species do not main- 
tain any recognizable cultural organizations at all; "society," in fact, does 
not require "culture." But culture is not therefore species-bound and con- 
fined to man. A culturally organized society may be participated in by 
any organism which learns a set of meanings sufficiently extensive for his 
participation to be rewarding both to himself and to his associates. A 
non-culturally organized society requires only "instinctive" appropriate- 
ness of behavior. By implication, then, culturally-organized societies are 
no more apt to be species-limited than societies (such as those of non- 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 133 

mammalian vertebrates, invertebrates and plants) whose integration is 
more largely dependent on genetically acquired "instincts" or "tropisms." 

The suggestion of the irrelevance of culture to species per se has 
several justifications. Let us consider the fact that a number of non- 
human species do participate in human society. The extent of their 
participation is, of course, so limited and specialized that human beings 
do not concede them "membership in human society" nor, convention- 
ally, a capacity for culture. This official refusal to allow the participation 
of other species in human society to be dignified by the extension to them 
of the terms "human" and "culture" is, however, conventionally dis- 
regarded in such contexts as the relation between a pet, such as a cat, 
and its owner, or between a work-animal, such as a horse, and its master. 
Also, many groups of non-human creatures possess what seem to be rudi- 
mentary cultures. For instance, birds, cats, dogs, apes, and monkeys 
learn and transmit over generations local social arrangements (cf. 
Hallowell, 1956). Efforts to state the essence of the difference between 
man and animal by invoking "culture" have not been convincing; Hallo- 
well has even proposed a term, "proto-culture," to denote the cultures of 
pze-sapiens hominids. I would suggest that the term "proto-culture" be 
extended, in order to liberate the concept from an anatomically based 
taxonomy, to include any species in which the structure of social groups 
depends upon inter-generational learning. All of this emphasizes the 
proposition that the identification of "cultural nature" with "human 
nature" is not desirable and that "human nature" should be considered 
as just one kind of "cultural nature." 

As an entree to the problem of defining the psychological properties 
prerequisite to and sufficient for participation in a culturally organized 
society, let us examine a fictitious species which commonly goes under 
the label of "intelligent life on other planets" and which, both in science 
fiction and in sober speculation (Mead et al, 1958), is regarded as emi- 
nently capable of sharing in a super-culture with Homo sapiens. What 
psychological properties must this species possess in order that we hu- 
mans consider it to be "intelligent" and capable of participation in some 
sort of culturally organized meta-society with ourselves? 

Let us suppose that human space explorers briefly visit a planet 
which is inhabited by a variety of living things. Some specimens are col- 
lected. Anatomically they are bizarre to human eyes; even their bio- 
chemistry is grossly alien. Nevertheless, they are observed to ingest and 
to excrete matter, and in vitro studies indicate that their tissues conduct 
metabolic processes. Anatomical examination reveals the existence of 
tissues which suggest a central nervous system including receptors, a 
"brain," and effectors, and of tissues which resemble a muscular struc- 
ture. If, on psychological examination, it is found that these creatures 

134 Social Theory and Personality 

can learn, we may Infer their ability to perform several psychological 
functions: (1) perception; (2) memory (including fantasy, here con- 
ceived as reorganized memory data); (3) discrimination between per- 
ceptual and remembered stimuli; (4) continuous selective attention to 
sets of perceptual and/or remembered stimuli; (5) discrimination 
among sets of perceptual and/or remembered stimuli with respect to 
their "meaning" (including their value on some affective dimension); 
(6) a capacity for matching meanings of perceptual and/or remem- 
bered stimuli to overt responses. If the creatures can perform these func- 
tions sufficiently well to learn tasks of the complexity mastered by do- 
mestic animals, or by animals with proto-culture, we may say by rule 
of thumb that they are capable of participating with human beings in a 

Because no particular set of instincts is necessary to cultural nature, 
we have not alluded to particular "instincts" (or "drives," "needs," "or- 
ganic demands," etc.) although particular instincts have often been re- 
garded as essential aspects of human nature (see,Goldenweiser, 1933; 
Murdock, 1945; Bartlett, 1923). Even casual reflection will reveal that 
"the human instincts" are certainly not shared by all organisms which 
participate in '"human" culture. Let us take the "instincts proper" at- 
tributed to man in a recent work based on comparative ethology 
(Fletcher, 1957). They are: breathing, eating and drinking, tempera- 
ture control, sleep, rest, care for comfort of body surfaces, fear, excre- 
tion, play, curiosity, hunting, eroticism, sexual fighting and jealousy, 
parental activity, home-maintenance. None are peculiar to man; they 
are generalized mammalian behavior categories, and are consequently 
no more determinate of human culture than the backbone or the ma- 
ternal placenta. While any human society may depend on most of its 
individual members possessing all of these instincts (assuming, for the 
sake of argument, that the behaviors are indeed all instinctive), an indi- 
vidual organism can not only survive but make valued social contribu- 
tions in the context of a cultural organization without experiencing a 
number of them. Victims of disease and injury, persons with congenital 
anomalies of bodily structure or chemistry, persons with sex or age-spe- 
cific limitations of instinctual motives, and various animals with muti- 
lated genital and other organs can and do participate effectively in human 
culture. One cannot, then, say that any particular set of instinc- 
tively governed behaviors, any more than a special type of anatomy, is 
necessary to culture per se, even though it may be an empirical fact that 
all, or most, of the members of some particular society do share certain 
anatomical features and certain instincts (which then, as anthropology 
and other disciplines commonly observe, are modulated and satisfied 
by culturally restricted patterns of behavior) . Culture is rarely defined 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 135 

with respect to instinct, although it is very often defined with respect 
to learning (Wissler, 1923; Murdock, 1945; Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 

The "degree" to which organisms must be able to perform the func- 
tions listed above before a culture of human proportions emerges, in- 
cluding an extensive body of tools and an elaborate language, is a diffi- 
cult question to answer in the present state of knowledge. Ultimately, 
we shall be able to state this parameter in terms of the complexity of 
the cognitive tasks which an organism can learn and reliably perform. 
Some initial insight may be gained from considering the phenomenology 
of psychosis among human beings. The participation of a psychotic in- 
dividual in his culture is defective. We may define a psychotic person 
as one who so frequently commits culturally defective acts as to lead 
his fellows or himself to limit his participation in culturally organized so- 
ciety. An act may be defined as socially psychotic whenever, but only 
when, three conditions are satisfied: (1) the response of the actor is not 
included in the range of responses culturally defined as appropriate to 
the stimulus; (2) the situation to which the act is a response has been 
given a meaning by the actor which does not include culturally essential 
criteria because the actor is unable to entertain a meaning sufficiently 
complex; and (3) the actor has in the past regularly given "correct" 
cultural meanings and responses. Both the cultural meaning of, and the 
cultural response to, the situation, may be relatively simple in com- 
parison with the richness of the individually experienced meaning of 
the individually expressed normal response; the non-psychotic indi- 
vidual meaning and response are thus sub-types of the cultural mean- 
ing and cultural response. The psychotic meaning and response are too 
limited to be sub-types at all. This definition excludes the mentally 
deficient who has never learned the correct cultural meaning or re- 
sponse; the newly arrived alien whose meanings and responses, despite 
apparent inappropriateness, are complex and appropriate to his own 
culture; the criminal, who is sharply aware of the cultural meaning but 
deliberately makes an unsanctioned response in order to obtain private 
advantage; and the neurotic, whose meaning is included in the cultural 
meaning of the situation but whose response either is not included in the 
appropriate cultural response, or who responds culturally but experi- 
ences severe, anxiety and discomfort. 

With respect to the six functions mentioned above, it is likely that seri- 
ous chronic interference with the performance of any one function 
amounts to a mental disorder. For human beings, it would appear super- 
ficially that the most vulnerable of the functions are the perception-vs.- 
memory discrimination function and the capacity for construing seman- 
tic relationships. When the former function fails, the organism may be 

136 Social Theory and Personality 

lescribed as "hallucinating." In regard to the second function, psychia- 
.rists and psychologists have for years explained certain deficiencies of 
anguage and thought in schizophrenia as being the result of a relative in- 
ibility of the schizophrenic to perform complex operations with abstrac- 
ions or "concepts." Von Domarus (1954) and his disciple Arieti (1955, 
1956) have gone so far as to postulate a "paleologic," supposedly com- 
non to schizophrenics, children, and primitive people, which differs in 
quality from the classical Aristotelian logic in that "identity" in paleologic 
is given by the identity of the predicates rather than of the subjects (or 
arguments). In the "correct" form, if the argument is that x is a p, 
and that y is also a p, one cannot say that x is identical with y. In 
Von Domarus' paleologic, however, one can say that x is identical with 
y if x is a p and y is a p. The force of Von Domarus' distinction depends 
entirely upon the analyst's ability to consider that there is at least one 
other predicate q such that x is a q and y is not a q. In this event, of 
course, x is not identical to y. But, if in fact the only statements that 
san be made about x and y are p(x) and p(y) (if no statement, in 
other words, is possible about spatial and temporal separation, or any 
other conceivably distinguishing feature), then x does indeed have to 
be regarded as being identical with y, since no distinguishing predicate 
can be introduced. Thus the "paleologic" of Von Domarus would ap- 
pear to be the same old formal logic, operating, in psychotic thinking, 
with a drastically limited range of predicates. The attribution of 
paleologic to children and primitives appears to be even less justified 
than its attribution to schizophrenics. 

The principle of limited predicates leads to an interesting specula- 
tion, however. The number of predicates which can enter effectively 
into a consideration of x and y during a given period of time may be a 
function of either the temporal span or the complexity span of attention. 
Anything which restricts the span of attention must restrict the individ- 
ual's ability to perform continuous semantic or other logical operations 
involving a large number of predicates. Evidently, in order for an in- 
dividual to participate satisfactorily in a culturally sanctioned transac- 
tion, he must be able to attend, during the duration of the transaction, 
to the entire relevant repertoire of cultural meanings and cultural re- 
sponses: i.e., he must be able to maintain cognitive representations of 
a number of predicates simultaneously and continuously (whether 
consciously or not) . If, for example, the individual is discussing a serious 
pending business transaction with his partner, and the discussion re- 
quires several hours, he must have under attention during the whole of 
that time (with only fleeting lapses) the cultural meaning of the whole 
situation and the boundaries of culturally permissible responses. Other- 
wise his behavior will appear bizarre, "crazy," to his partner. In humans, 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 137 

it seem to be particularly scope and continuity of attention, rather 
than memory, sensory perception, logical form, or affective sensitivity, 
which fail in varying degrees in psychosis. (Hallucination is a poor in- 
dex of psychosis: not all psychotics hallucinate, and many non-psy- 
chotics do so under a variety of conditions.) In extreme cases, attention 
span is apparently so brief that sensation becomes virtually divorced 
from meaning; the victim is unable to assign meaning to experience 
beyond distinguishing between small and large objects, and is unable to 
make more complex responses than an almost automatic placing of 
small objects in the mouth (Arieti, 1955). Full participation in a cul- 
turally organized society of human proportions becomes impossible 
long before this level of de-semantication is reached, however. 

In summary, then, I have suggested that "cultural nature" has noth- 
ing in particular to do with anatomy, instincts, motivations, or even a 
uniquely human set of cognitive capacities. Culture as such is not 
a species-associated phenomenon, and all organisms capable of cul- 
ture can participate in some common meta-culture. Capacity for learn- 
ing is capacity for culture. And the degree of learned capacity depends 
upon the fineness of sensory perception and the flexibility of motor exe- 
cution, the amplitude and reliability of memory, the scope and the sta- 
bility of attention, and the semi-automatic processing of sensory inputs 
by a semantic process which gives meaning to experience and 
matches that meaning to response. A group of social organisms possess- 
ing this basic mechanism will produce a culture whatever their species. 

This view stands in sharp opposition to theories which make the shar- 
ing of interests and motivations a central requirement for common cul- 
tural participation. In our conception, while motivational content may, 
as a matter of fact, be more or less fully shared, this sharing is neither a 
necessary nor a sufficient condition for the existence of a cultural or- 
ganization. The extent of sharing of motivational content, and the ex- 
tent to which specific acts are dependent upon specific motivations, 
thus becomes a matter for empirical investigation rather than an article 
of faith. The attitudes of individuals and groups toward motivational 
unity also provide an interesting subject for study. In some groups, 
particularly those involved in new religious and political movements 
in fact, in revitalization movements in general there probably will be 
a strong insistence on the virtue, even the necessity, of motivational 
unity. In other groups, particularly in old, stable, and sophisticated in- 
stitutions this does not necessarily imply high technological develop- 
ment motivational unity will be less important than reliability of per- 
formance, however motivated, of those minimal tasks necessary to 
cultural and group continuity. Whatever else the individual does with his 
spare time, for whatever reasons, is his own business, and is justifiable 

138 Social Theory and Personality 

by its cathartic or recreative value, and its potentiality for useful in- 
novation. A useful index of the cultural sophistication of a person 
might be a function of the number of different motivations conceivable 
to him as co-existing in some single social system or institution. 


When in the 1930's anthropologists first began seriously to investi- 
gate the relationship between cultural and personality processes, they 
encountered a curious semantic dilemma. The concept personality re- 
ferred to psychological structures which were motivational i.e., they 
were both affective and cognitive. But the term was in itself ambigu- 
ous about the relationship between affect and cognition. In fact, a prob- 
lem of basic research in personality has been to define the rules govern- 
ing that relationship. Personality, furthermore, was an individual concept, 
Culture, on the other hand, insofar as it referred to psychological 
structures, was primarily a cognitive and not an affective or motiva- 
tional concept. It described sequences of action, criteria of choice, pat- 
terns of coordination, and so forth, which had cognitive status for the 
members of a group whose affective status was a "personality" ques- 
tion. Furthermore, culture was a group concept. In sum, personality was 
an affective-cognitive and individual concept; culture was a cognitive 
and group concept. Relationships between culture and personality were 
therefore awkward to discuss: the two concepts, like the gingerbread 
dog and the calico cat in the children's jingle who ate one another up, 
were mutually incorporating on different dimensions. 

The anthropologist responded intuitively to this dilemma. First, he be- 
lieved that affective processes were dynamically related to the cogni- 
tive tasks he described under the rubric culture. Second, one or both of 
the concepts had to be redefined if the semantic tangle was to be elimi- 
nated. Sometimes he redefined the concept of culture so that it, too, in 
one of its senses, was a motivational (affective-cognitive) and an indi- 
vidual concept. And sometimes he redefined both culture and personal- 
ity so that, in one sense of each, both were affective-cognitive and 
group, and in another sense of each, both were affective-cognitive and 
individual. Both redefinitions were rationalized by the argument that 
culture and personality were "really" the same in substance, that 
there was no ontological difference between them, that they formed, 
not a dichotomy, but a tautological equivalence (Spiro, 1951). 

The desirability of these tautological redefinitions is open to grave 
doubt, however, despite their convenience in theoretical discussion. 
Operationally, culture and personality have been and stiE are two dis- 
tinct bodies of phenomena; their description depends on different ob- 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 139 

servations, and must in fact do so unless studies of their inter-relation- 
ships are to be entirely circular, via the "cultural-deductive" method 
whereby personality is merely a re-description of culture and vice 
versa (Wallace, 1952). Furthermore, cultural and personality data are 
relatable only by means of correlations and associations far smaller 
than unity. They display no one-to-one correspondence such that, 
given a cultural description, one can infallibly predict what the per- 
sonality data will show. In other words, except in the use of the cul- 
tural-deductive method, cultural and personality data are not only not 
tautologically equivalent, they are not even materially equivalent. 

A second solution of the semantic dilemma, which avoids the risks 
inherent in manufacturing new tautologies out of old concepts, is to 
introduce a new concept. In several publications (Wallace, 1956a, 
1956b, 1957) I have suggested that the conceptual armamentarium of 
the anthropologist requires such a new concept. It should be some- 
what different from, but related to, the concept of personality, in order 
to deal adequately with those cognitions of individuals the abstrac- 
tions of which are culture. The meaningfully organized totality of 
learned cognitive representations of people, things, processes, and values 
held at a given time by an individual I have termed "mazeway." This 
totality includes precisely the kind of category which the anthropologist 
employs when he is dealing with the organized totality of statuses, arti- 
facts, customs, laws, language, moral values, and so forth which he at- 
tributes to a society as its "culture" (see Sapir, 1949, p. 515). Thus, 
the description of how Iroquois Indian men make wooden masks has as 
its counterpart the description of how an individual Iroquois Indian man 
makes wooden masks. The complex of meanings which determine the 
sculpturing and painting activity of the mask-maker involves such 
things as knowing ways to discriminate kinds of wood, selection of 
tools to use for various parts of the work, the techniques for sharpen- 
ing drills, an adequate manner of mixing paint, the boundaries of de- 
sign variation among acceptable masks, and so forth. This cognitive 
equipment of the individual mask-maker is not, in any useful sense 
of that word, an attribute of his "personality." Personality is a valuable 
concept, on a higher level of abstraction, for certain broad and stable 
attributes of a mazeway, organized around major motives, such as (to 
use the same example) a tendency to prefer making masks to plowing 
fields, because mask-making is associated with a deeply felt commit- 
ment to an Indian identity. Similarly, the simple notion that to light a 
cigarette one must touch its end to a flame or a red-hot surface while 
drawing air through the cylinder is not a personality attribute. It is an 
element of mazeway and also an element of culture. Whether or not I 
like to smoke may well be termed a personality characteristic, however, 

140 Social Theory and Personality 

just as an emphasis on the providing of many tension-reducing oral play 
activities, like tobacco, mid-morning coffee, candy, pop-corn, and chew- 
ing gum may be described as a (perhaps minor) theme in my culture. 
Personality, an abstraction from mazeway, thus is parallel to such ab- 
stractions from culture as "themes," "national character," and "ethos." 
Modal personality, correspondingly, is an abstraction from personality, 
parallel to culture as an abstraction from mazeway. The relationships 
are exemplified in the following diagram (Fig. 1): 



Level 1 Level 2 

Concrete, detailed, map of Complex patterns ab- 
cognitive "world" includ- stracted and generalized, 
ing motives as cognitive 



w Level I 

^ Individual 


^ Personality 








N 1 



x x Modal Per- 


N \ sonality 


Ethos> x Struc- 

Level II 

theme, \ ture 

H Group 


^ pattern, \ 
values, N \ 


national x N 

character \ 



The elements of mazeway are the totality of what has been learned 
and is now known. But it is a totality which possesses an organization, a 
structure, that is not wholly inherent in the separate learnings them- 
selves, but has been formed by such processes as generalization, logical 
analysis, and imagination reconstructing learned materials in memory. 
Whatever the relationship between the individual learnings and maze- 
way Gestalt, however, by vktue of the learning process the individual 
members of a society will learn to predict one another's behavior. 
They will maintain a set of mutually equivalent (not necessarily identi- 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 141 

cal) learned meanings for stimuli which are continuously available, 
during all of their transactions, as statements of the boundaries and 
conditions of their mutual behavior. Thus the statement that given 
learning capacity, the members of a society will produce a culture, has 
as its corollary the statement that the members of that society will 
individually possess mazeways whose contents, including mutually pre- 
dictive cognitions, are equivalent. In other words, the culture con- 
cept implies a Principle of Mazeway Equivalence for members of a cul- 
turally organized social group. 

This view does not require that motivational content be shared in or- 
der that cultural organization exist, but only that cognitive content be 
equivalent, and thus mutually predictable. Motivation, of course, is 
experienced subjectively as one kind of data which has been given mean- 
ing by incorporation into mazeway, and motivation may be attributed to 
others (often very inaccurately). 

One further psychological component of cultural nature must be 
postulated at this point to account for certain aspects of both psychologi- 
cal and cultural dynamics. This component is a primary association of 
pleasure with maximal complexity and orderliness of the mazeway, and 
of discomfort with minimal complexity and order (see Wallace, 
1956a and 1957; Hebb, 1944). This association makes it possible to 
learn, and to be motivated, to increase mazeway organization. In sim- 
pler language, organisms possessing cultural natures (and perhaps all 
organisms) act in such ways as to maximize the meaningfulness of ex- 
perience: they follow a Principle of Maximal Meaning. This princi- 
ple has, as its consequence, such dynamic phenomena as growth and 
revitalization in both psychological and cultural systems. It may in- 
deed be a function in mental economy whose affective intensity in man 
is in large measure responsible for those extraordinary reciprocating 
evolutions of culture and brain which the newer paleontology finds it 
difficult to explain by a principle of Darwinian natural selection alone 
(Eiseley, 1958). It suggests, indeed, that in an operational sense, as 
biological and cultural evolution has proceeded, the universe has be- 
come more meaningful. And it leads us to a consideration of the formal 
structure of "meaningfulness" as a property of experience essential to 
an understanding of individual participation in culturally organized so- 



Anthropologists have always been interested in the phenomenon of 
meaning. On its simplest level this interest is evoked by the necessity of 
translating unfamiliar linguistic and other behavior into a scientific Ian- 

1 42 Social Theory and Personality 

guage. The anthropologist must always ask: What does this event 
"mean" in my language? The problem of making adequate translation 
leads directly to inquiry into the nature of meaning itself. On a more 
advanced level, the anthropologist must constantly keep in mind that 
meaning is culturally relative. Hallowell in particular has repeatedly 
pointed out, and emphasized, that the meanings of standard stimuli 
vary from group to group, depending on the nature and degree of cul- 
tural definition. The semantic structure of experience, in effect, de- 
pends on culture, whether the experience be that of seeing a Rorschach 
ink-blot, or of hearing a sound in the woods at night (Hallowell, 
1955). Nevertheless, in spite of the cultural relativity of the content and 
perhaps degree of meaning of standard stimuli, it is possible that the 
cognitive process of perceiving and learning the meanings of stimuli, 
and of relating these meanings in thought, follows constant laws irrespec- 
tive of culture, and, indeed, of species. The Whorfian and other hy- 
potheses of extreme cultural relativism (Whorf, 1956; Hoijer, 1954; 
Levi-Strauss et al, 1953) assert a radical dependence of the very form 
of rationality upon the local structure of language. But it seems more 
likely that the elemental notions which are the common base of the vari- 
ous logical and semantic calculi notions of "not," of "and," of 
"and/or," of "identically equal," of "equivalent," of "order," and the 
like are symbolic representations of processes intrinsic to such evi- 
dently universal psychic functions as discrimination, conditioning, and 
the generalization of learning. Indeed, a radical linguistic relativism 
would probably be, by its own axioms, not only incapable of proof but 
incapable of being described. Logical processes, and a few axioms 
based upon their combinations, have been regarded by mathematicians 
and philosophers like George Boole (1854) as "laws of thought" which 
are universal, certainly for. mankind, and possibly for any organism 
which can learn. 

In a recent development of major importance to anthropology, efforts 
have been made by anthropologists and linguists (Goodenough, 1956; 
Lounsbury, 1956; Wallace and Atkins, 1960) to adapt the technique 
of componential analysis from phonemics to serve as a semantic 
calculus for the explication of the meanings of kinship terms and other 
culturally patterned behavior. These efforts are justifiable only under 
the premise that the meaning of behavior (whatever the language and 
culture of the speaker) is contained in a particular and universal type 
of logicosemantic cognitive structure. Under such a premise, the mean- 
ing of any culture's terms can be analyzed with the same type of- struc- 
ture as a model, without doing violence to the principle of cultural rela- 
tivity of content. Since the matrices of definitive and connotative learned 
meaning which constitute the elements of mazeway, and therefore of 
culture and personality, can be considered as being formed according to 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 143 

this model, a brief and general description of its structure will be given 

The fundamental and intuitive idea on which the semantic calculus 
is based is a simple one: that the signification of a "term" (which 
may be an extrinsic linguistic symbol, such as a word, or any other overt 
behavior) is given by a particular pattern of predicates which evoke, or 
are evoked by, that term. A predicate is a symbol for the common prop- 
erty of the members of a class. In the technique of componential analy- 
sis, the various criteria (predicates) relevant to the definition of the 
terms in a lexicon are conceived as values on dimensions, and a seman- 
tic space is defined as the product of the several dimensions, such that 
each cell in the space represents a unique combination of values, one 
from each dimension. Each term can then be mapped onto the space 
by stating to which combination or combinations of the criteria it cor- 
responds. When all the terms have been so mapped, their logico- 
semantic relationships can be explicitly stated. 3 Thus one of several 
possible analyses of the definitional meanings of several Trukese kin- 
ship terms may be graphically represented on a semantic space as fol- 
lows (Fig. 2): 


BI Bo -E*3 

E 2 C-1 


E 2 EI 










B (seniority of generation) 

BX (senior), B 2 (same) 
C (sex of relative) 

Ci (male), C 2 (female) 
E (sex relative to ego's sex) 

EI (same), E 2 (opposite) 
L (degree of affinal removal) 

LI (consanguineal), L 2 (one), L 3 

34 cells are occupied by 7 

terms shown. 
2 cells (B 2 E 2 L 3 ) are not 
occupied by any of the 
7 terms shown. 

All 36 cells are occupied by 
an 8th term tefej ("kins- 
man"), not shown. 

144 Social Theory and Personality 

Now, inspection of the paradigm of Trukese terms displayed in Fig. 2 
reveals an interesting feature: when each cell is plotted to contain the 
same area, the areas occupied by the several terms are not equal be- 
cause the number of cells occupied by the terms are not equal. This in- 
equality is determined by the variation in the levels of specificity of the 
terms themselves: terms which are highly specific, which "answer" many 
questions, occupy the minimal areas, while more general terms, which 
"answer" only one or two questions, occupy larger areas. All this sug- 
gests that the quantity of semantic information given by a term, or a 
set of terms, may be measured by a function of the number of cells in 
its semantic space and of the number of cells in the sub-space corre- 
sponding to the term or terms (see Shannon and Weaver, 1949, and 
Bar-Hillel and Carnap, 1954). 4 

This leads us, at last, to precisely the point to which I intended to 
come: a concept of degree of meaningfulness of experience. We con- 
ceive of the meaningfulness of experience as being limited by the quan- 
tity of semantic information contained in the semantic spaces availa- 
ble for defining sensory stimuli (including affects), and as varying 
with the complexity of the patterns of stimulation. If an individual is un- 
able to maintain a varied and extensive set of semantic spaces con- 
tinuously available for the definition of sensory situations, not only will 
his experiences be introspectively barren, but (if the poverty of predi- 
cates is severe) he will be unable to maintain matrices complex enough 
even to include all the relevant dimensions of cultural meaning de- 
manded by his society. For cultural participation requires that the indi- 
vidual be capable of maintaining mazeway sets complex enough to 
accommodate the minimal cultural definitions of stimuli necessary to per- 
formance of the cognitive tasks required by the culture. 


The question was raised, in the preceding section, of how much 
semantic capacity is necessary for full participation in a given culturally 
organized human society. The question thus returned us to the problem 
of defining the human variety of cultural nature. Before continuing with 
the discussion of meaning and experience in human nature let us pause 
briefly to consider the existing literature which approaches the matter 
from a different point of view. 

There exists an extensive but curiously unsatisfying special litera- 
ture on the nature of human nature. Until recent years, much of it was 
singularly barren of description. Bastian, Morgan, Tylor and others con- 
cerned with explaining the psychological basis both of a unilinear cul- 
tural evolution, and of extensive diffusion, found it necessary to postu- 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 1 45 

late a psychic unity for man. But they rarely descended to describing 
in any detail what it was that was uniform (see Lowie, 1937). Later 
theorists emphasized the universality and importance of learning in 
the mediation of instinctual drives (Wissler, 1923; Murdock, 1945) 
as the psychological sine qua non of culture. Other writers have 
been less concerned with the uniformity of the human mind than with 
its uniqueness. Man has been described as the only symbol-using, tool- 
making, culture-building animal; "symboling" in particular (to use 
White's expression) has appealed to the searcher for the essence of 
man's uniqueness (Cassirer, 1944; White, 1949; Sidney, 1953; Spiro, 
1951, 1954). The concern with uniqueness has posed something of a 
dilemma for anthropology. On the one hand the facts of comparative 
anatomy and the fossil record demonstrate man's physical affinities 
with the rest of the animal kingdom. On the other hand, man's behavior 
particularly his culture-producing behavior, of which he is so ex- 
tremely proud insofar as it is unique, has separated him sharply in 
some spiritual or psychological dimension. Such an awkward discon- 
tinuity between man and his primate relatives has troubled paleon- 
tologists (cf. Eiseley, 1958) and cultural anthropologists alike (Hallo- 
well, 1956). Hallowell (1956) has recently stated the problem sharply 
in his paper on the "Cultural and Psychological Dimensions of a Human 
Existence." As noted earlier, he has suggested the term "proto-cul- 
ture" to refer to the cultural achievements of non-sapiens hominids. 
Since "proto-culture" is, after all, culture, he has in effect denied to 
modern man the exclusive proprietorship of those psychological facul- 
ties which are necessary to a cultural mode of life. Correspondingly, 
Eiseley (1956) has suggested that many of the distinctively human 
features of our cerebral anatomy are of extremely recent origin, more 
recent than the cultural remains of the lower and middle Paleolithic. 
Dobzhansky and Montague (1947), Tappen (1953), and others have 
suggested that the human mentality is itself a product of selection for 
educability and intelligence under cultural conditions. 

Perhaps the most elaborate effort to describe human nature in an 
anthropological context has been undertaken by psychoanalysts and 
psychoanalytic anthropologists (Fenichel, 1945; Fromm, 1951; 
Roheim, 1943; Devereux, 1945, 1956; LaBarre, 1954, 1958). Based 
essentially on considerations of human sexual and aggressive instincts 
(in rather special and abstract senses of those terms) and of human 
anatomy, physiology, and the universal culture pattern, the psy- 
choanalytic tradition utilizes comparative data on psychopathology, 
dreams, and religious myths and ritual to support universalistic proposi- 
tions about human motivational content and process. There are 
propositions about a universal symbolic language of dreams, myth, 

146 Social Theory and Personality 

ritual, and expressive behavior generally; propositions about universal 
neurotic structures (Oedipal conflict, sibling rivalry, castration anxi- 
ety) ; propositions about universal mental functions (the Ego-Id-Super 
Ego and the Conscious-Preconscious-Unconscious trichotomies, and 
the various mechanisms of defense); and propositions about univer- 
sal fears, delusions, and fantasies concerning fundamental human ex- 
periences like eating, excretion, sleep, dreams, birth, death, sexual 
function, conception, and so forth. There would hardly seem to be 
much room for doubt about the universality of the mechanisms of 
defense and of certain processes involved in the psychological dy- 
namics of various emotional disorders, such as the very tendency of 
insecure persons to insist on the motivational identity of their friends, or 
their enemies. The difficulty, as far as psychic unity is concerned, again, 
lies in motivational content. The problem here is not so much the un- 
reasonableness of supposing that some minimal core of cognitive ex- 
perience, of meaning, is universal with regard to basic and nearly uni- 
versal physiological needs, but of separating what is universal from 
what might be, but in fact is not universal but merely common, or even 
rare, although discoverable in a wide range of societies. The criterion 
that seems to be involved is level of specificity. Pan-human, psychically 
universal meanings should in general be abstract or simple, involving 
few dimensions, in comparison with the meanings attributable to indi- 
vidual cultures, and, even more emphatically, in comparison with the 
meanings entertained by individual persons, which will be much richer, 
more detailed, more concrete and idiosyncratic. 

The notion of semantic information offers a way of approaching the 
problem by defining human nature, as opposed to generalized primate 
or mammalian nature, as a level of semantic capacity minimally ade- 
quate to the performance of the cognitive tasks required by known 
human cultures. Such a level of semantic capacity should function as a 
lower boundary on the complexity and degree of organization of the 
motivations, as well as of other mazeway content, and thus should de- 
termine the boundary between human and non-human levels of per- 
sonality organization. As suggested earlier, the determination of 
this boundary is highly relevant to the definition of mental disorders. 
Preliminary findings in studies being conducted by me and my associ- 
ates, for instance, suggest that folk social typologies (i.e., non-scientific 
taxonomies, such as kinship terminologies, categories of military 
rank, etc.) contain, irrespective of the language, about four bits of 
semantic information per most specific level of concept in a lexicon. 
That is to say, proper use of the most specific concepts for which there 
are conventional terms requires, within the context of the relevant 
lexicon, the equivalent of about four binary discriminations. Whether 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 147 

or not the figure of four will be found to be a constant for folk typologies 
in all languages, we feel that we now have a grip on the operational 
problem of defining the complexity of the cognitive task. At present we 
are extending the theory and procedures in the direction of a formal 
calculus which will make possible the analysis of both semantic and 
pragmatic sequences in terms of quantity of semantic information. 

Such categories of human cognitive content as concept of self, self- 
evaluation, morality, and the development of language, may be the in- 
evitable precipitates of brains with high levels of semantic capacity 
operating in social groups. 


Let us now turn to a more detailed consideration of the distribution 
of mazeway, personality, and motivational content. 

Sometimes we regard human societies as populations and not as 
groups when we make psychological statements. A population of indi- 
viduals may be described without reference to their interrelation- 
ships; but a group cannot be considered apart from its organizational 
structure. Thus physical, demographic, or personality characteristics 
of the members of a population can be stated, explicitly or implicitly, 
as a statistical distribution on one or more dimensions. To the extent 
that the data permit, some measure or estimate of central tendency can 
be calculated which will allow the attribution of some value or range 
on one or more dimensions to the entire population, or a specified sub- 
population. The logical form of such an operation is simple enough: 
the researcher wants to be able to select a sub-set of individuals from 
the population to whom, with a known degree of confidence, an identi- 
cal predicate can be applied. The sub-set may or may not be the entire 
population. The definition of the predicate is usually related to the 
distribution by the requirement that its probability value lie within a 
standard confidence limit (e.g., .95 or .99). The final product is a state- 
ment of the form: for all members x of the population X, any given x is 
a p, with a probability greater than k. 

Now most modal personality statements are of this kind. The infer- 
ence to be drawn is that if the statement is true, then almost all the x's 
have in common some mazeway element (motivational or personality 
attribute) p. If p represents "introversion," for example, then almost 
all x's are asserted to be "introverts" (however loosely p may be de- 
fined) and non-p's are "deviants" from the norm. The identification of 
predicates which are identical for almost all of a population is in part 
the aim of ethnography, of modal personality investigation, and of the 

148 Social Theory and Personality 

analysis of language. We shall return to the relevant methodologica 
problems shortly. 

Such predicates, applicable to all or almost all members of a popula- 
tion, are too rare to be adequate for the psychological analysis of thai 
population as a group. As an elementary consideration will reveal: mosi 
culturally organized groups not merely permit but require that then 
members perform different roles and address themselves to different in- 
terests. By our theory, this implies that the mazeways of participants ir 
an interaction situation are in general semantically different. Thus the 
relationship among the mazeway definitions (p, q, . . .) by an} 
groups of organisms (x, y, . . .) of a given stimulus situation will, 
semantically, be one of various combinations of equivalence, con- 
trariety, implication (which, in the form of a partial ordering, defines 
the property of scaling), and independence (in the logical sense, 
which corresponds to the empirical situation of correlation significantly 
greater than zero and less than unity). 

All of these relations are interesting, but perhaps the most important 
relationship, for the purposes of psycho-cultural analysis, is that of ap- 
proximate equivalence. Two propositions are equivalent when the truth 
of either one implies the truth of the other [if p(x), then q(y), and if 
q(y), then p(x)]; the two propositions themselves may contain very 
different predicates. Approximate equivalence is recognizable empiri- 
cally when the correlation or association between two phenomena under 
some constant condition approaches unity. Social structure depends, 
not on the identity of predicates, but on the near equivalence of proposi- 
tions concerning tasks and motivations. Indeed identity of predicates 
representing tasks and motives would be possible only in a social struc- 
ture resembling that of a horde of lemmings. It is important to note that 
the concept of complementary distribution, which linguists have em- 
ployed effectively in descriptive structural linguistics, is a special case of 
paired equivalence, having the form: if pi(x), then qi(y) and not q2(y) ; 
if ps(x) then q2(y) and not qi(y) ; if qi(y), then pi(x) and not p2(x) ; 
if q2(y), then p 2 (x) and not pi(x). The recognition of complementary 
distributions is also used as a primary methodological tool in Good- 
enough's type of structural analysis of the "rules" of culture (Good- 
enough, 1951). 

We shall now generalize the Principle of Mazeway Equivalence: the 
members of a culturally organized group maintain mazeways whose 
content is equivalent, but rarely identical, over wide situational param- 
eters. Since contents are equivalent, they are as reliably predictable as 
if they were identical. But because they are not identical, statistical 
generalizations concerning central tendencies of content may reveal 
only very limited congruence. This, I believe, is the major limitation on 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 149 

statistical efforts to describe the substance of the cognitive and motiva- 
tional unity of human cultural groups, on a level of specificity below cul- 
tural or human nature. Furthermore, the magnitude of the statistical 
task necessary to establish semantic equivalence is altogether formida- 
ble. This may also be a reason why the more intuitive students in this 
field, like Margaret Mead and her co-workers, find so little use in sta- 
tistical generalization. For the essence of culturally relevant psychologi- 
cal "pattern," as I understand Mead's sense of that term, lies in the 
apprehension of equivalences rather than of identities. It is indeed the 
equivalence of mazeways, rather than their identity, which makes possi- 
ble culturally organized society. The formulation of "end-linkage" (i.e., 
of complementary patterns) by Bateson and others in The Study of Cul- 
ture at a Distance (Mead and Metraux, 1953) represents this approach, 
albeit in a language somewhat less formal than the one employed here, 
and less exact than the analysis of complementaries performed by 
Goodenough (Goodenough, 1956). 

We now return to the methodological problems encountered in 
the search for identities. It is possible to discover some descriptive predi- 
cates in mazeway of personality data which are identical for all or al- 
most all of a population, or for all or almost all of a sub-group of a popu- 
lation. The statistical problem has been discussed at some length in an 
earlier monograph (Wallace, 1952). Very briefly, it is presented by two 
empirical observations : first, that few universally appropriate predicates 
can be discovered in any body of data concerning the individual mem- 
bers of a culturally defined population, and these few may be trivial; 
and second, the more complex a compound predicate is, the smaller 
the proportion of the population for which that compound predicate will 
be true. The statistical difficulty is further increased by whatever un- 
reliability is associated with the chosen method of observation and 
coding, and by problems of sampling. Sampling problems in modal per- 
sonality investigation may be readily enough overcome when the popu- 
lation is small (a few hundred persons, perhaps) and the observations 
required are simple and brief. But when the population is large (and 
populations of up to hundreds of millions of persons have been ap- 
proached) and the observations are, let us say, of the psychoanalytic 
sort which require tens or hundreds of hours of interviewing under spe- 
cial conditions of privacy, with extended time also required for analysis 
then the problem of making significant statistical abstractions be- 
comes truly formidable. These sampling problems, furthermore, cannot 
be shrugged off by arguing that the individuals selected can be ac- 
curately characterized in regard to their social position. The impractica- 
bility of characterizing all individuals in large populations is pre- 
cisely the reason why a sample is selected in the first place. 

150 Social Theory and Personality 

Granted, however, that problems of observation, coding, and sam- 
pling are overcome, the task resolves itself into developing methods of 
stating which predicates can be applied to which sub-sets of the popula- 
tion with what degree of confidence. The simplest technique is to pro- 
ceed dimension by dimension, discovering the frequency distribution, 
point of central tendency, and measure of dispersion for each dimension 
independently. This will yield conclusions of the following kind: 92 per 
cent of the X population are p, 49 per cent of X are q, 71 per cent of X 
are r. But unhappily these observations do not indicate how many of the 
p's are also q's, how many p's and q's are also r's, and so forth. Indeed, 
in the above case, not more than 49 per cent, and not less than 12 per 
cent, can be simultaneously p and q and r. Evidently, furthermore, we 
can identify eight structural psychological types on this matrix of three 
binary dimensions: pqr, pqr, pqr, pqr, pqr, pqr, pqr, pqr. If we are in- 
terested in structure, we are then interested in the frequency with which 
a given compound predicate (such as pqr) is to be found in a popula- 
tion. Since a predicate matrix of, say, twenty binary dimensions (a much 
less complex matrix than is actually employed in Rorschach analysis) 
will yield up to 1,048,576 structural types, the uniformity of the popula- 
tion on each dimension must be impressive, or the types must be very 
crudely defined, before any one type is likely to acquire prevalence over 
any substantial proportion of the group, and before any conveniently 
small sample will be informative. Various methods of statistical analysis 
of the multi-dimensional modalities of population characteristics are 
available: factor analysis by one technique or another, which depends 
on the computation of coefficients of correlation; trial-and-error sorting 
of the sample by types; and the modal technique described in the previ- 
ously mentioned monograph (Wallace, 1952). Simple, separate calcula- 
tions of measures of central tendency on numerous dimensions are un- 
satisfactory if the dimensions are considered to be structurally related, 
as is often the case with psychological data, or if the question of rela- 
tionship is being raised in the investigation. 

Turning now to the methodological problems of the analysis of equiv- 
alence, we find an equally formidable task. The problem here is to dis- 
cover a unity in pattern rather *han a unity in uniformity. In formal 
terms, we are now not seeking to say of the X population that each x is a 
p, or a q, or a pq, or a pqr, but rather that whenever the stimulus is N, 
then whenever Xi is a p, x 2 is a q, . . . , and x n is an s. Let us put the 
matter in Rorschach terms, for the sake of example. The standard analy- 
sis is of the form: if the response to Card N of Xi is p, of x 2 is q, . . . , 
of x n is s, and Xi, x 2 , . . . , x n give the "same (in whatever coding sys- 
tem we employ) response, then p = q = . . . = s, and we say, in 
brief, that all the x's are p's. But the equivalence analysis (retaining the 

WA LLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 151 

same symbols) would be of the form: if xi, x 2 , . . . x n give "different" 
responses to Card N, but Xi regularly responds with p, x 2 with q, . . . , 
and x n with s, then p(Xi) <^ q(x 2 ) <B> . . . *-> s(x n ), and we can say 
in brief that the x's may be predicated by a system of equivalent mean- 
ing-sets p, q, . . . , s. 

To give a crude example, if all the males in the sample saw Card 1 as 
a flying bat, scored FM, and all the females saw it as a fuzzy skin cut to 
look like a bat, scored Fc, then we might say that the male and female 
responses were equivalent even though they might contribute to a con- 
siderably different psychological interpretation for males and females. 
This I suggest is the psychological test analogue to the equivalence of 
mazeways in culturally organized societies. 

In "real life," however, the standard stimulus will not be an ink-blot 
but a situation, and there are various kinds of equivalence-structures 
which empirical reality may approximate, in addition to the comple- 
mentary distribution model we mentioned earlier, and the psychologi- 
cal test model mentioned above. Consider a group of airmen at a de- 
fense airbase. At the sound of the claxon, they run to their aircraft, 
each taking an assigned seat, and commence the performance of their 
various highly specialized roles. There is one stimulus the claxon but 
its meaning, and the consequent responses, are different for each man. 
Nevertheless, the meanings and the responses can be defined as 
equivalent because whenever the claxon sounds, each responds in 
the same way that he had before. It is this equivalence of meanings 
which makes possible that coordinated specialization of responses to 
standard stimuli which is achieved in culturally organized societies. 

Equivalence analysis of social behavior, however, will rarely find 
so simple a case as that offered by a well-organized system of highly 
trained specialists each of whom is able to make extended but socially 
coordinated responses to a stimulus without reference to the actions of 
his colleagues. More commonly, each overt event in the sequence serves 
as a stimulus to all participants (including the actor himself, via "feed- 
back"), each of whom defines the new situation differently and produces 
a response. A simple example of this kind of system would be an 
evenly-matched pair of people playing a game of tennis: the velocities 
of the ball and of the players are the common stimulus sequence, and 
the responses of the competitors approximate equivalence with respect 
to footwork and stroking. To the extent that the meanings are equiva- 
lent, the grouped responses will be "organized." 

The discovery and description of such semantic and overt behavioral 
equivalences is done formally or informally by the anthropologist when- 
ever he describes how a group of people carry out some joint activity, 
such as a religious ritual, a war-raid, a fishing expedition, and the 

152 Social Theory and Personality 

like. It is implicit in the analysis of kinship and other types of cul- 
tural structures, by both anthropologists and sociologists. It is my impres- 
sion, however, that it is but rarely undertaken in psychologically ori- 
ented investigations, although exceptions can be adduced: the theory 
of complementary needs in mate selection, certain aspects of psy- 
choanalytic theory of interpersonal relations, and so forth. Evidently 
the statistical problem here is to establish high-order correlations or 
associations between different predicates describing the responses of 
different persons over a series of temporally successive presentations 
of the "same" stimulus sequence or of different categories of persons 
independently but approximately simultaneously exposed once to the 
"same" stimulus sequence. Such equivalence analysis would go farther, 
I suspect, in revealing the psychological structure of groups than the 
search for identities which has so largely occupied our efforts until 
now. Furthermore, equivalence analysis will reveal differences be- 
tween groups which identity analysis may gloss over. Two populations 
may be very similar in the uniformities which they display, and yet 
differ sharply in the nature and relationship of their equivalence 

Let us now summarize some of the implications of the foregoing 
rather complex train of discussion of the relationship between fre- 
quency distribution and structure. While a few identities of mazeway 
content may be discoverable in any given group, such as a culturally 
organized society, or population, such as all human beings, they will 
be difficult to observe, both for the scientist and for the individual in 
society. Societies in general must depend for their structure on equiva- 
lences rather than identities of mazeway content. It is difficult to go. 
beyond this, at the present state of knowledge, to a statement of the 
actual relationship between frequency distribution and equivalence 
structure in a group of particular content categories. But for the sake 
of further defining the sort of questions at issue, we may offer some 
hunches. Mazeway content might, for instance, be divided analytically 
into two dimensions of cognitive data: goal states, and instrumental 
cognitive tasks. Social groups can be characterized on a combined di- 
mension of group restriction localization and specificity of function 
from intra-societal role groups all persons within a given society who 
play some common role or roles, determined by age, sex, training, or 
whatever through band or community, to intra-societal class, caste, 
ethnic group, region, or interest group, to political group, to culture- 
area and trans-political social types, and finally, to humanity as a 
whole. Within any such grouping, any set of predicates descriptive of 
mazeway content can be characterized with respect to both fre- 
quency distribution and equivalence structure. 

WALLACE; The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 1 53 

Culture can be conveniently defined as the complete equivalence 
structure of mazeway content characteristic of a group. Other categories, 
however, are less global in content than culture and mazeway, and also 
may refer either to individuals or to groups or both. Among such cate- 
gories let us consider five in particular: goal state; cognitive task; 
motivation; values; and personality. A motivation is a combination of a 
goal state and a cognitive task; values are classes of goal states, and 
personalities are equivalence structures of classes of stimuli and motiva- 
tions whose locus is the individual. Although we assume that for most 
practical purposes both affects and cognitive processes are nearly identi- 
cal for all members of all the groups named, this is not the case with the 
five special concepts. On the localization-specificity dimension, the 
more restricted the group, the larger the proportion of identical cognitive 
task, goal state, and motivational elements to those which are not iden- 
tical but are equivalent or independent, and the larger the proportion 
of equivalent to independent. In general, furthermore, the rank order of 
proportion of identity to nonidentity and of equivalence to independ- 
ence, is constant for cognitive task, goal state, and motivation, in that 
order, in all groups. Values and personality, while they also follow the 
same role of proportionality with respect to the group restriction di- 
mension, are more difficult to place in rank order, because they include 
abstractions on a variety of levels. 

My intuition, however, would be that it is precisely in personality and 
motivation the combinations of ends and means in which men 
differ most from one another, and are least predictable, and that it is in 
cognitive tasks, goals, and values that they have most in common, and 
are most predictable. 


In the field of psychological processes relevant to an understanding of 
the psychic unity of culturally organized human groups, we find a host 
of problems refractory to analysis because of the inconveniences im- 
posed by temporal extension. Temporal extension in psychological 
process may be observed over ranges from milliseconds (e.g., for an 
event of synaptic transmission) to hundreds or even thousands of years 
(e.g., for the "life-history" of a concept). Neglecting the extremes and 
devoting our attention to processes which occur within the life-span 
of an individual, we find such processes as personality development, 
enculturation, acculturation, psychotic episode, religious conversion 
and inspiration, revitalization movements, the disaster syndrome, and 
the like, which in general occupy sufficient time to require analysis in 

154 Social Theory and Personality 

terms of stages. Major sub-disciplines and special subject areas within 
psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and other behavioral sciences 
concern themselves with one or another of these fields, both on pan- 
human and particular-culture levels of generalization. 

Methodology in these areas is still relatively primitive. Because of 
the duration and phenomenological complexity of these types of 
events, continuous first-hand observation is difficult to arrange, and the 
investigator is often forced to rely on historical and autobiographical 
data whose reliability, completeness, and standardization is low. Sam- 
pling is awkward because the universe of events is difficult to define. 
Typologies are hazardously constructed because of the extreme com- 
plexity of the dimensions. 

In an effort to simplify the conceptual model, a general tactic in such 
research is to formulate as early as possible, an ideal set of stages and 
a matrix of dimensions for the description of each stage. Thus Piaget, 
working on the intellectual development of children, and Gesell and his 
colleagues, concerned with behavior generally, organize their material 
by stages; psychoanalysis emphasized stages of psychosexual develop- 
ment, of ego function, and so forth; learning theorists arrange the 
events of a learning sequence stage-wise, from "drive" to "extinction." 
In my own work, stages in the evolution of types of events in disasters 
and in revitalization movements, in particular have been a major 
methodological tool. 

The aim of stage-description in processual analysis is to state that a 
particular stage sequence on a given matrix of dimensions is universal, 
or at least highly probable, for all organisms of a certain type (e.g., for 
all humans, or for all members of some society) under a given limited 
set of conditions. But, unless the process is a simple partial ordering 
(a unilinear scale), different events are possible at each stage. If the out- 
come at each stage is to some degree dependent on the outcome in 
the preceding stage or stages, and if this dependence can be expressed 
as a set of conditional probabilities, then the sequence has the general 
mathematical form of a stochastic process. In an area of interest to 
behavioral science, information theory is based on stochastic processes; 
the analysis of learning as a stochastic process has been undertaken 
by Bush and Mosteller (1955) and others. The importance of these 
processes to us, however, lies in the circumstance that such processes 
may be analyzed with respect to their quantity of organization. 

The concept of a quantity of organization is centrally important in 
any consideration of the psychic unity of culture-maintaining groups. 
Cultures, like the physical bodies of their executors, are not static: they 
evolve, over long periods of time, and they oscillate, during briefer 
periods, between states of climax and states of disorganization. While 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 155 

for some purposes it is not necessary, or even desirable, to invoke psy- 
chological processes in the analysis of culture change, it is necessary to 
do so for any general behavior theory which relates levels of abstraction. 
One overtly observable process which it is important to explain in such 
a theory of behavior is the tendency of living things to maintain and in- 
crease the quantity of organization in the field which they and their 
environment together constitute. This process is connoted by such 
terms as evolution, growth, and adaptation. It is convenient to think of 
this process as depending upon a "drive" to increase the quantity of 
organization in the mazeway i.e., in the organism's cognitive repre- 
sentation of the phenomenological field. Such a "drive" is evident in be- 
havioral processes like learning, curiosity, play, fantasy, emotional ma- 
turation, the desire for health, and the urge to master and control both 
self and environment. 

The measure of organization of a system should increase both 
with the orderliness of the system and with its complexity. 5 Complexity 
should be clearly distinguished from size (e.g., one would not say that 
a large pattern is more complex than a perfect replica of smaller size). 
Complexity essentially is a function of the number of possible events 
within the system. Orderliness, on the other hand, is a function of the 
relative probability of these events. This argument agrees with intui- 
tion. When we refer to a system as "highly organized" we mean that it 
is highly predictable; if we observe A, we can be reasonably certain 
that we will find B rather than some alternative. Conversely with a "dis- 
organized" system, we are very uncertain whether we will find B or not 
if A is observed. In other words, organization is inversely related, in our 
intuitive apprehension, to uncertainty (information). Also, when we 
compare "large organization" and "small organization," we use com- 
plexity (or, more exactly, that complexity that is associated with large 
numbers of people) as another, different, and equally intuitive measure 
of the organization quantity. One kind of stochastic process, the peri- 
odic Markov chain (Feller, 1950), appears to be a suitable elementary 
model for the representation of any process or phenomenon whose 
stages or aspects may be repeatedly observed in a fixed order. 

I shall not undertake here to describe the method (see Miller, 1952) 
for obtaining the stable distribution of probabilities of the joint events 
(Ei) in a periodic Markov chain; it is sufficient to note that the periodic 
Markov chain AiBjCk . . . N m A r . . . generates an aperiodic Mar- 
kov chain in (Ej-) and in (E i? Ej). The basic information function as 
defined by Shannon (1949) for aperiodic Markov processes is: 


156 Social Theory and Personality 

For joint events (E i3 Ej) in aperiodic processes of the type considered 
here, the expression takes the form: 

1.2 H(Ei, Ej) = -2 P(Ei, Eti Iog 2 P(E i} Ej). 

The measure H gives the average entropy (information) of the process 
per joint event. The measure of the average entropy per event is 
given by: 

1.3 H (EJ) = -2 P(Ei) ' P(fy \ Ei) Iog 2 P(E j \ ft). 



i 4 

The significance of the measure H for this study lies in the fact that 
it is a function of the predictability of the process: the more predictable 
the process, the lower the value of H. One may take (1.3) as the 
fundamental measure for our purposes. 

As I have argued, the measure of organization should be a function 
of both the orderliness and the complexity of the system. The measure of 
the orderliness of the system may be conceived in the following way: 
H, the average amount of information produced by the system at event 
EJ, can vary from zero (for a completely deterministic system) toward 
some finite limit (as the system approaches complete randomness). The 
difference between the maximum possible information output, and the 
actual information output, is the amount of information which the sys- 
tem retains. 










tr TT 

The ratio ma is the measure of the relative orderliness of the system. 


The ratio j=- is defined by Shannon as the relative entropy, and 

/ H \ 

M _ J as the redundancy. 

\ Umax/ 

The measure of the complexity of the system may be conceived in the 
following way: let the number of possible events Ej in the system be 
represented by N, and let the measure of complexity be log 2 N, so that 

WALLACE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 157 

for each doubling of the number of possible system events, the measure 
of complexity increases by one. 

If we now define the measure of quantity of organization in a system 
as the product of the measure of its relative orderliness by the measure 
of its complexity, we have 

2.1 O = 

But H m ax = log2-W. Therefore, 

2.2 O = ffmax H. 

Equation (2.2) defines the fundamental measure of quantity of organi- 

The argument of this section may be summarized in a Principle of 
Maximal Organization. This principle asserts that an organism acts in 
such a way as to maximize, under existing conditions, and to the extent 
of its capacity, the amount of organization in the dynamic system rep- 
resented in its mazeway; that is to say, it works to increase both the 
complexity and the orderliness of its experience. Such a mode of action 
should simultaneously maximize intra-psychic and group organization. 


This inquiry began by asking what people must have in common, 
psychologically, in order to live together in culturally organized social 
groups. After initially questioning whether motivational uniformities 
are a necessary condition for a cultural way of life, I proceeded to 
outline a theory relating the cognitive structures of individuals to the 
cultural organization of groups. This theory emphasizes the importance 
of capacity to learn and to maintain a semantic organization (mazeway) 
sufficiently complex to permit the performance of the cognitive tasks re- 
quired by the culture. Semantic process was defined operationally by the 
procedures of componential analysis. It was emphasized that this type 
of cognitive process permits cultural participants to act on the basis of 
perceived semantic equivalences, without a necessary uniformity of 
motivation, and that, in fact, motivational uniformity would make social 
structure of a human kind impossible. Next, I examined the methodo- 
logical problems involved in the investigation of the distribution of 
motivational and other cognitive content of mazeway from the stand- 
points of identity and equivalence analysis. Finally, I suggested that a 
primary drive to increase the quantities of meaning and organization in 
mazeway should be postulated in order to conceptualize as non-prob- 
lematical the tendency for behavioral systems, like culture and per- 
sonality, to evolve in the direction of increased organization. 

158 Social Theory and Personality 

The viewpoint expressed throughout the discussion, that motiva- 
tional uniformity is neither demonstrable nor necessary to social co- 
ordination, has an evident bearing on the problems of cross-cultural 
communication and of defining desirable social systems including, ulti- 
mately, a world organization. It seems characteristic of reformist, 
authoritarian political and religious movements to insist strongly on the 
importance of an almost complete motivational uniformity as a con- 
dition for the achievement of the ideal society. To the extent that social 
scientists also are convinced that this is the case, they are sharing in one 
of the illusions characteristic of new movements of thought. Intuitive 
humanistic perception, the data available in existing monographs, and 
methodological considerations all reveal that motivational uniformity is 
not only unnecessary (and is even antithetical) to the development of 
highly organized civilizations, but is also not empirically observed or 
observable in human behavior, by either scientist or the individual in 
culture. This does not mean, of course, that all men do not have in com- 
mon a set of basic affective and cognitive processes, but only that the 
semantic content which these processes produce must be highly diverse, 
and the more diverse the larger the size and complexity of the group. 

Thus the most effective base for cross-cultural communication, in the 
long run, would seem to be the assumption by all parties concerned 
that social coordination is entirely feasible, given the common posses- 
sion of a cultural nature, without uniformity of motive or interest. 
This is, in fact, precisely the achievement of the cultural mode of or- 
ganization. Such an assumption lies at the root of such notions as the 
ideas of justice, of law, of convention, and of a minimally necessary be- 
havioral conformity without sacrifice of individuality, which have 
been associated with the concept of "freedom" in sophisticated civiliza- 
tions. Without such an assumption, indeed, motivational diversity is 
merely hidden, under mutual illusions of motivational identity (-and 
mutual suspicions of "disloyalty"), by the ritualization of all expression, 
by the frustration of the drive for maximal meaning and organization 
of experience, and by the blocking of the evolution of human personali- 
ties and cultures. Neither order nor complexity can be immolated on the 
other's altar without violating the laws of cultural nature. 


1. The concepts of identity and equivalence, which are used extensively 
in this paper, are formal logical concepts. They may be applied to predicates, 
which are the descriptive elements of propositions (for instance, in the propo- 
sition, "The table is round," "is round" is the predicate). Two symbols, 'p' 
and *q,' are said to stand for identical predicates only if the predicates are 
one and the same. The two symbols 'p' and 'q* are said to stand for strictly 
equivalent predicates if, whenever p is true, q is true also, and whenever q 
is true, p is true. Evidently identity implies equivalence; but equivalence does 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 159 

not imply identity. Tautological equivalence is established by definitions. 
Empirical data may reveal that under some conditions two variables (two 
sets of predicates) approach equivalence, over certain values of each, by 
virtue of the fact that whenever a particular value of one variable is true, 
some particular corresponding value of the other variable is true. The dis- 
covery of this kind of non-tautological or material equivalence, expressible 
in statistical associations and mathematical functions like differential equa- 
tions, is a main object of scientific research. 

2. Some readers may feel discomfort at an attempt to treat cognition 
independently of motivation. They may justly point out, with Mannheim 
(1936), that human cognition rarely if ever occurs in a complete motiva- 
tional vacuum. Nevertheless, it is important to distinguish between "pure" 
cognition and motivational cognition in order to consider their respective 
bearings on culture. Scientific analysis frequently requires the conceptual 
separation of elements which in experience are inextricable. An obvious 
example from physics is the formulation of the laws of motion of two bodies, 
gravitationally independent of other bodies, in a perfect physical vacuum: 
an experimentally impossible condition. 

3. It is not desirable to go farther into the theory of componential analy- 
sis here, since that would require an extended technical discussion in the 
language of symbolic logic and set theory which would be out of place in 
this context. It may however be noted that there are several other logical 
systems available for the formal exhibition of semantic relations: for in- 
stance, Morris' "semiotic" (Morris, 1955), and Carnap's calculus of state- 
descriptions (Caraap, 1955). With the assistance of John Atkins, I have 
made some progress in formulating a semantic calculus based on preposi- 
tional logic and set theory. Our calculus, we believe, accurately represents 
the intuitive operations of linguists, anthropologists, and other behavioral 
scientists when they perform componential and other kinds of semantic 
analysis, and must, indeed, be postulated in order to justify these operations 
rationally. Furthermore, this calculus promises to be useful in designing 
more efficient scientific taxonomies. We believe also that this approach is 
compatible with the theory of logical nets based on the simple prepositional 
calculus which underlies the efforts of certain mathematicians to describe 
the data-processing functions of the brain (cf. George, 1958). This calculus 
is not related to that of Osgood (1957) whose "semantic differential" deals 
with connotative rather than definitive meaning. 

4. Semantic information (H s * m ) is distinguished from statistical informa- 
tion (H 8 tat) by the property that H sero of a term is a function solely of the 
ratio of the number of cells corresponding to the term to the number of cells 
in the space on which the term is defined. H s t n t of a term, on the other 
hand, is a function solely of the relative conditional probability within the 
lexicon of the term's occurrence in a sequence of terms. A lexicon (L) 
contains u terms 1, each of which is defined by a subset of w cells in a space 
(M) of v cells. The following definitions refer to H S( . m : 

Def. 1. Each of the v cells m in semantic space (M) contains a quantity 

of semantic information which is equivalent to ( Iog 2 "~~); 

v " 

160 Social Theory and Personality 

Def. 2, The quantity of semantic information H M contained in the space 
(M) is equivalent to the sum of the quantities of semantic informa- 
tion contained in the v individual cells; 

H M = -vlog 2 ~. 

Def. 3. The quantity of semantic information Hi conveyed by a term I is 
equivalent to the sum of the quantities of semantic information 
contained in the w cells which define 1; 

Hi = -w log, . 

Def. 4. The quantity of semantic information H L conveyed by the lexicon 
(L) is equivalent to the sum of the quantities of semantic informa- 
tion conveyed by the u individual terms 1; 

1^ = 2 Hi. 


5. The multiplicative relation of order and complexity is one criterion, 
among others, which distinguishes organization measure from BirkhofFs 
"aesthetic measure," which also is a function of order and complexity 
(M = O/C) (see Birkhoff, 1933). Coon's concept of "level of complexity," 
which he applies to cultures, concerns complexity alone and implicitly as- 
sumes constant order (see Coon, 1948). 


Arieti, S. 1955. Interpretation of Schizophrenia. New York: Robert Brunner. 

. 1956. "Some Basic Problems Common to Anthropology and Mod- 
ern Psychiatry," American Anthropologist, 58:26-39. 

Bar-Hillel, JL, and Carnap, R. 1954. "Semantic Information," British Journal 
for the Philosophy of Science, 4:147-157. 

Barflett, H. C. 1923. Psychology and Primitive Culture. New York: Mac- 
millan Co, 

Bidney, D. 1953. Theoretical Anthropology. New York: Columbia Univer- 
sity Press. 

Birkhoff, G. 1933. Aesthetic Measure. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
Boas, F. 1911. The Mind of Primitive Man. New York: Macmillan Co. 

Boole, G. 1854. The Laws of Thought. New York: Reprinted by Dover 
Publications, Inc. 

Bush, R. R., and Mosteller, F. 1955. Stochastic Models for Learning. New 
York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

Carnap, R. 1955. "Foundations of Logic and Mathematics," International 
Encyclopedia of Unified Science, 1:141-213. 

Cassirer, E. 1944. An Essay on Man. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Coon, C. S. 1948. A Reader in General Anthropology. New York: Henry 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 1 6 1 

DeLaguna, G. 1949. "Culture and Rationality," American Anthropologist, 

Devereux, G. 1945. "The Logical Foundations of Culture and Personality 
Studies," Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 7, series 
2; 110-130. 

. 1956. "Normal and Abnormal: The Key Problem of Psychiatric 

Anthropology," in Casagrande, J. B. and Gladwin, T. (eds.), Some Uses 
of Anthropology: Theoretical and Applied, 23-49. Washington, D.C.: 
Anthropological Society of Washington. 

Dobzhansky, T., and Montagu, M. F. Ashley. 1947. "Natural Selection and 
the Mental Capacities of Mankind," Science, 105:587-590. 

Domains, E. von. 1954. "The Specific Laws of Logic in Schizophrenia," in 
Kasanin, J. S. (ed.), Language in Thought and Schizophrenia, 104-114. 
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

Eiseley, L. 1956. "Fossil Man and Human Evolution," in Thomas, W. L. 
(ed.), Current Anthropology, 6178. Chicago: University of Chicago 

. 1958. Darwin's Century. New York: Doubleday & Co. 

Feller, W. 1950. An Introduction to Probability Theory and Its Applications; 
v. 1. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 

Fenichel, O. 1945. The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. New York: 
W. W. Norton Co. 

Fletcher, R. 1957. Instinct in Man in the Light of Recent Work in Com- 
parative Psychology. New York: International Universities Press. 

Frank, L. K. 1951. Nature and Human Nature. New Jersey: Rutgers Uni- 
versity Press. 

Fromm, E. 1951. The Forgotten Language. New York: Rinehart & Co., Inc. 
George, F. H. 1958. "Machines and the Brain," Science, 127:3309, 1269-74. 
Goldenweiser, A. 1933. History, Psychology and Culture. New York: Knopf. 

Goodenough, W. 1956. "Componential Analysis and the Study of Meaning," 
Language, 32, 1:195-216. 

. 1951. Property, Kin, and Community on Truk. New Haven: Yale 

University Press. 

Hallowell, A. I. 1950. "Personality Structure and the Evolution of Man," 
American Anthropologist, 52:15973. 

. 1955. Culture and Experience. Philadelphia: University of Penn- 
sylvania Press. 

1956. "The Structural and Functional Dimensions of a Human 

Existence," Quarterly Review of Biology, 31:88-101. 

Hebb, D. O. 1949. Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory. 
New York: John Wiley & Sons. 

Hoijer, H., (ed.). 1954. Language in Culture (American Anthropologist 
Memoir 79). 

Kasanin, J. S., (ed.). 1954. Language and Thought in Schizophrenia. Berke- 
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

1 62 Social Theory and Personality 

Kluckhohn, C. 1953. "Universal Categories of Culture," in Kroeber, A. L., 
(ed.), Anthropology Today, 507-523. Chicago: University of Chicago 

Kroeber, A. L. 1955. "On Human Nature," Southwestern Journal of Anthro- 
pology, 11:195-204. 

Kroeber, A. L., and Kluckhohn, C. 1952. Culture: A Critical Review of 
Concepts and Definitions. Papers of the Peabody Museum, XL VII, no. 1. 
Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

La Barre, Weston. 1954. The Human Animal. Chicago: University of Chi- 
cago Press. 

. 1958. "The Influence of Freud on Anthropology," American Imago, 


Langer, S. K. 1942. Philosophy in a New Key. Cambridge: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press. 

Levi-Strauss, C., Jakobson, R., Voegelin, C. R, and Sebeok, T. A. 1953. 
Results of the Conference of Anthropologists and Linguists. Baltimore: 
Waverly Press. 

Lounsbury, F. G. 1956. "A Semantic Analysis of the Pawnee Kinship 
Usage," Language, 32:158-194. 

Lowie, R. H. 1937. History of Ethnological Theory. New York: Farrar & 

Mannheim, Karl. 1936. Ideology and Utopia. New York: Harcourt, Brace 

Mead, M. 1948. "Anthropological Data on the Problem of Instinct," in 
Kluckhohn, C. and Murray, H. (eds.), Personality in Nature, Society, 
and Culture, 109-112. New York: Knopf. 

Mead, M., and Metraux R., (eds.). 1953. The Study of Culture at a Dis- 
tance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Mead, M., Michael, D. N., Lasswell, H. D., and Frank, L. K. 1958. Man 
in Space: A Tool and Program for the Study of Social Change. (Annals 
of the New York Academy of Sciences, 72: 165-214.) 

Miller, G. A. 1952. "Finite Markov Processes in Psychology," Psycho- 
metrika, 17:149-167. 

Morgan, L. 1877. Ancient Society. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr. 

Morris, C. W. 1955. "Foundations of the Theory of Signs," International 
Encyclopedia of Unified Science, 1:79-137. 

Murdock, G. P. 1945. "The Common Denominator of Culture," in Lin- 
ton, R. (ed.), The Science of Man in the World Crisis, 123-142, New 
York: Columbia University Press. 

Osgood, C. E. 1952. "The Nature and Measurement of Meaning," Psycho- 
logical Bulletin, 49 : 197-237. 

. 1957. The Measurement of Meaning. Urbana: University of Illinois 


Rashkis, H. A. 1957. "A General Theory of Treatment in Psychiatry," 
Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 78:491-99. 

WALLA CE: The Psychic Unity of Human Groups 1 63 

Redfield, R. 1952. "Primitive World View," Proceedings of the American 
Philosophical Society, 96:30-36. 

Roheim, G. 1943. The Origin and Function of Culture. (Nervous and Men- 
tal Disease Monographs, No. 69.) 

Sapir, E. 1949. Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in Language, Culture, 
and Personality, Mandelbaum, D. G. (ed.). Berkeley and Los Angeles: 
University of California Press. 

Shannon, C. E., and Weaver, W. 1949. The Mathematical Theory of Com- 
munication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 

Spiro, M. E. 1951. "Culture and Personality, The Natural History of a False 
Dichotomy," Psychiatry, 14:19-40. 

. 1954. "Human Nature in Its Psychological Dimensions," American 

A nthropologist, 56 : 1 9-29. 

Tappen, N. C. 1953. "A Mechanistic Theory of Human Evolution," Ameri- 
can Anthropologist, 55:605-07. 

Tylor, E. B. 1871. Primitive Culture, 2 vols. London: J. Murray. 

Wallace, A. F. C. 1952. Modal Personality of Tuscarora Indians. Bureau of 
American Ethnology Bulletin 150, Washington, D.C. 

. 1956a. "Mazeway Resynthesis: A Biocultural Theory of Religious 

Inspiration," Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 18, 
series 11:626-38. 

-. 1956b. "Revitalization Movements," American Anthropologist, 58: 


. 1956c. Tornado in Worcester. Washington, D.C.: National Acad- 
emy of Sciences, National Research Council. 

-. 1957a. "Mazeway Disintegration: The Individual's Perception of 

Socio-Cultural Disorganization," Human Organization, 16:23-27. 

-. 1957b. "Study of Processes of Organization and Revitalization 

of Psychological and Socio-cultural Systems, Based on a Comparative 
Study of Nativistic Religious Revivals," Yearbook of the American Phil- 
osophical Society, 310-1L 

-, and Atkins, John. 1960. "The Meaning of Kinship Terms," Ameri- 

can Anthropologist, 62:58-80. 
White, L. 1949. The Science of Culture. New York: Farrar, Straus & Co. 

Whorf, B. L. 1956. Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of 
Benjamin Lee Whorf, Carroll, J. B. (ed.). Cambridge: Technology Press. 

Wissler, C. 1923. Man and Culture. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. 
Wundt, W. 1916. Elements of Folk Psychology. New York: Macmillan Co. 

About the Chapter 

The problem of personality development or socialization occupies a key 
position in culture and personality theory. In this chapter Dr. Parsons defines 
a variety of processes in socialization which produce the kind of personality 
processes that support the individual's appropriate participation in society. 
Unlike the psychologist who is concerned with how personality becomes 
what it is, Dr. Parsons* interest centers on how personality becomes shaped 
so that it motivates the kind of behavior that society requires. This develop- 
ment, which is seen in relationship to Freud's theory of object relations, is 
held to involve the organization of the motivational system through three 
processes: identification, object-cathexis and internalization. 

About the Author 

TALCOTT PARSONS is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. He 
received his A.B. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from the University 
of Heidelberg, Germany. In earlier years he taught economics as well as 
sociology. He was formerly Chairman of the Department of Sociology at 
Harvard and from 1946-56 was Chairman of the Department of Social Re- 
lations there. He was Visiting Professor of Social Theory at the University 
of Cambridge in 195354, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced 
Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1957-58. He has written Structure of 
Social Action; Essays in Sociological Theory; Toward a General Theory of 
Action (with collaborators); The Social System, Working Papers in the 
Theory of Action (with collaborators); Family, Socialization and Interaction 
Process (with R. F. Bales); Economy and Society (with N. J. Smelser); and 
Structure and Process in Modern Society. 

A cknowledgment 

The bulk of this chapter, in substantially the same form, first appeared in 
Psychiatry 21, 4, Nov. 1958 (copyright 1958 by the William Alanson White 
Psychiatric Foundation, Inc.), and is published here by permission. However, 
new material has been added in the first part of the chapter. 

Social Structure and the Development 
of Personality 

Harvard University 

In the United States the ideological needs of the intellectual classes 
have led to an interpretation of Freud's work which places primary em- 
phasis on the power of the individual's instinctual needs and the 
deleterious effects of their frustration. On the occasion of the recent 
centenary of Freud's birth there were a number of statements to this 
effect. 1 They viewed Freud mainly as a psychologist who tended to 
bring psychology closer to the biological sciences. Accordingly, the rela- 
tion of the individual personality to society and culture is relatively un- 
important, except as society and culture constitute agencies of the unde- 
sirable frustration of man's instinctual needs. 

There is, however, another side to Freud's thinking, which became, I 
think, progressively more prominent in the course of the complicated 
evolution of his theoretical scheme through time. It culminated in the 
works dealing with the structural differentiation of the personality into 
id, ego and superego, and in Freud's late treatment of anxiety. This- 
trend concerns two main themes: the problem of the organization of the 
personality as a system, and the relation of the individual to his social 
surroundings especially in the course of his personality development. In 


166 Social Theory and Personality 

psychoanalytic terminology, this is the field of "object relations" the 
most important area of articulation between the psychoanalytic theory of 
the personality of the individual and the sociological theory of the struc- 
ture and functioning of social systems. 

This latter aspect of Freud's thought will form the subject-matter of 
this chapter. 2 It is my main thesis that there is, in the structure of 
Freud's own theoretical scheme, a set of propositions which can, with 
relatively little reinterpretation, be very directly integrated with the 
sociological analysis of the family as a small scale social system. Further, 
these propositions can be applied to the problems of the child's transi- 
tion from membership mainly in his own family to participation in wider 
circles which are not, in societies like ours, mainly organized in terms 
of kinship. Freud's own contribution here centers mainly in the earlier 
stages of socialization, through the oedipal resolution. But the same 
basic principles of analysis can be extended to the later stages. 

The most important of Freud's concepts in this respect are identifica- 
tion, object-cathexis, internalization or introjection, and the superego. 
Most attention has been given to the concept of the superego. Though 
many difficult problems of interpretation cluster about that concept, 
it undoubtedly refers to the internalization becoming a constitutive 
part of the structure of the personality itself of aspects of the norma- 
tive culture of the society in which the individual grows up. 

Very important clues are given by the remarkable convergence, in 
these respects, between Freud's views on internalization and those de- 
veloped, independently and at nearly the same time in sociological 
quarters, by Emile Durkheim in France and by C. H. Cooley and G. H. 
Mead in the United States. This convergence is one of the few truly 
momentous developments of modern social science, comparable per- 
haps to the convergence between the studies of experimental breeding 
in the tradition of Mendel and the microscopic studies of cell divi- 
sion from which the conceptions of the chromosomes as the vehicles of 
biological heredity developed. The two together produced the modern 
science of genetics. 

The fundamental principle on which Freud's idea of the superego was 
based, can be extended, not merely across disciplines to the sociologi- 
cal treatment of the relations between social structure and personality, 
but within the personality, to the constitution of its other sectors and 
structural components. Some have tended to treat the superego as a very 
special case within the personality, as the only point at which the norms 
of the culture enter into it. A major objective of the present chapter, 
however, is to show that the whole logic of Freud's later position implies 
that the same is true for the structure of the ego also. Indeed it follows 
from Freud's whole main treatment of the process of socialization 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 1 67 

and, at least at one point, was explicitly stated in his writings (see 
passage quoted on p. 193) that the major structure of the ego is a 
precipitate of the series of object relations which the individual has ex- 
perienced in the course of his life-history. Internalization of the socio- 
cultural environment provides the basis, not merely of one specialized 
component of the human personality, but of what, in the human sense, 
is its central core. In the light of the main traditions of modern psychol- 
ogy this is a very radical position, so radical that its import has not yet 
been very widely appreciated. 

The final question inevitably arises as to whether even the third of 
Freud's famous three subsystems of the personality, the id, should be 
completely exempted from this central interpretation of the importance 
of object relations and internalization. In the final section of the chap- 
ter, I shall argue very briefly that the interpretation of the id as a mani- 
festation of "pure instinct" is, in Freud's own terms, untenable. Though 
it is the primary channel of transmission of instinctual energy and 
more particularized impulses into the personality, it also is structured 
through internalized object-relations. It involves above all the residues 
of the earliest object relations of the life history of the individual, which 
have had to be rather drastically reorganized in, the course of later 

In order to provide a frame of reference in which to approach the in- 
terpretation and to some extent, I hope, the extension of Freud's ideas in 
the field of object relations, it should be useful to give a broad outline 
of the relations of the basic categories of the phenomena or factors in- 
volved in the behavior of human organisms as they appear in the light 
of contemporary social science. 

The essential point in this framework which I have called the "the- 
ory of action" is that one can distinguish four systems; namely (1) the 
organism, in that aspect most directly concerned with the energy 
and the facilities involved in behavior; (2) the personality, or the psy- 
chological systems concerned with the situation-oriented behavior of the 
individual organism; (3) the social systems generated by the interac- 
tion of a plurality of acting persons; and finally (4) the cultures de- 
veloped in and through interaction but also regulating its processes. All 
four of these must be regarded as analytically distinguishable systems 
which are not mutually reducible in the analytical-theoretical sense 
to terms of each other. This is, at the same time, both a theoretical and 
a substantive view. It maintains that, in the course of organic evolution, 
those aspects of the organism directly involved in the mechanisms of 
behavior have come to be differentiated from those involved in the 
transmission of inheritance through the genes, and from those involved 
in the more "vegetative" functions {see Alexander, 1950) of the or- 

168 Social Theory and Personality 

ganism which entail interchanges with the environment on bio- 
chemical levels such as nutrition-elimination and respiration. 

I should like then to refer to the "behavioral organism" as consti- 
tuting a system conceived to stand in relations of interdependence with 
the other three systems of action, the personality of the individual, the 
social system and the cultural system. The personality is conceived as an 
analytically independent system, constituted by the behavior of the single 
living organism itself; in other words it is always conceived in relation to 
objects in the environment other than the organism of reference. 3 The 
social system then is generalized by a plurality of living organisms (and 
personalities) interacting with each other. A particular social system 
may, of course, "engage" only a part of the personality of a living or- 
ganism, first because objects other than other persons are important to 
personalities, and second because the same personality may be, indeed 
on differentiated levels always is, engaged in interaction in a plurality 
of different systems of social interaction; a person has, as sociologists 
say, a plurality of roles. Finally, cultural systems must also be treated as 
independent not only of social systems, but of the other two, in the same 
basic analytical sense in which they are independent of each other. 
One basis of this analytical independence is that the same system of 
cultural components may be involved in, and regulate, action in a plural- 
ity of distinct social systems. Furthermore, the basis of their integra- 
tion is different in that cultural integration concerns the pattern-com- 
ponents in their relations to each other on the level of meaning rather 
than the mutual adjustment of the congruence of the actor-units as 
such, which is the focus of integration of social systems. 

What then can be said about the relations of these four systems to 
each other? They must, of course, be considered to be interdepend- 
ent; processes in any one will partially determine and, in turn, be de- 
termined by processes in each of the others. But even more than that, 
they must be considered on some level to be subsystems of a single more 
comprehensive system what some of us have been calling a system of 
action. What is a system of action? 

It is constituted by the behavior of living organisms. For some pur- 
poses on all levels, and for all purposes on the lowest level of the dif- 
ferentiation and organization of behavior, this behavior can be treated 
as a single system. This is essentially what is done on the "stimulus- 
response" level of psychological analysis, and in some cases in other 
types of study of animal behavior. But particularly on the human socio- 
cultural levels it becomes essential to discriminate different types of 
subsystems of this more general system. Methodologically this is 
necessary because in analyzing more differentiated and complex phe- 
nomena we face two alternatives. One is the introduction into our analy- 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 169 

sis, ad hoc, of more and more distinct variables. Up to a point this may 
add to the empirical realism of an analytical scheme. But as the num- 
ber of variables grows, the possibilities of analytical inference with 
respect to their interrelations diminish very rapidly. The only logical 
alternative to this scientifically self-defeating procedure, is to repeat 
essentially the same basic analysis of systems at many different levels in 
application to many different systems and subsystems. This, essentially, 
was Freud's procedure and it is the one I shall follow in this chapter. 

Action, then, is the set of processes by which the relations between 
organisms and their situations of action come to be organized and regu- 
lated. The focus of this organization and regulation is the building up of 
systems of the meanings of objects as signs or symbols so that the "reac- 
tion" of the organism to the presence or expected presence of a given 
object or class of objects in the situation becomes organized and stabi- 

Since reactions to objects become stabilized in patterned ways, we 
can speak of action as being inherently "goal-directed" in the sense that 
there are optimum relations to given objects. When such optimum rela- 
tions are disturbed, the organism-object system will tend to change its 
state in the direction of the optimum. Secondly, action as process is 
fundamentally and inherently dependent on learning. Of course, the 
major anatomical structures involved in behavior are laid down in the 
genetic constitution of the organism. But the most essential property of 
the higher organisms is their adaptive capacity. High adaptive capacity 
in the individual organism and rigid specification of behavior patterns 
on a constitutional basis are inherently incompatible. The distinctive 
feature of human organisms is a hereditary constitution which provides 
a high capacity for learning. Certainly man has gone a significant step 
beyond any other species in this respect. This means, as Freud, far 
more than most psychologists even today, says, that the "instinctual" 
basis of behavior must be highly nonspecific, and that the primary spe- 
cific patterns of behavior are learned by the individual. It is of par- 
ticular importance that primary life-goals must be treated as learned. 


Let us now take up the two subsystems of action which are most 
critical for our present purposes, personality and social system. Rela- 
tive to the organism, the personality may be regarded as a system of 
mechanisms of control. It is the set of ways in which organized patterns 
of learned response to objects in the situation operate to control the 
organism's goal-directed and adaptive activity. The personality thus 
mediates between the organism and the environment in which it lives. 

1 70 Social Theory and Personality 

The facilities utilized by the organism in its life processes come to it to 
large extent in forms, in timing sequences, etc. organized through the a< 
tion of the personality. For example, human beings must as organisms t 
adequately fed, but what they eat, at what times, in what circumstance 
and how secured, are mediated through personality controls. Respiratic 
is a vital function relatively little subject to personality control on a roi 
tine basis, but personality intervention is very prompt when there is a 
interference with respiratory function. 

Conversely, the organism is, for the personality, the source of tt 
energy, or in the most general sense "motivation," and also the primai 
immediate source of facilities for the achievement of personality goal 
Besides the underlying energy-producing "power house" of the orgar 
ism, these facilities may be classified as information processing facilitk 
(such as organs of perception), as instrumentalities for securing re 
wards (e.g., musculo-skeletal mechanisms), and integrative-stoi 
age facilities (such as the central nervous system which serves as mem 
ory and paramount control organ). 

Later, I shall have something further to say about the relations c 
organism and personality. But first let us discuss the most essential re 
lations of personality and social systems. The focal point is that, fo 
man at any rate, as Freud made clear, the most critically importau 
objects in the situation are other human beings. It is the exposure of th 
human infant to other human beings, particularly the mother, in a spe 
cial kind of social relationship, which lays down the genetic basis of th 
development of his personality. 

Secondly, the essential feature of the relation of the child to other 
lies in his dependence on the relationship to the mother for the basi 
rewards involved in the attainment of his goals or the gratification of hi: 
wishes. Third, it is inherent in the interactive character of human socia 
relationships that there should be a contingent element in the relation 
ship. The securing of the essential rewards is made contingent on ttu 
child's performance in areas and in respects other than the process o 
organic gratification itself. This contingency of reward is the basL 
source of leverage for motivating the process of learning. 

Two further points are critical in this connection. One is that, as al 
ready stated, the goals of the human individual in the human personality 
sense, are not primarily given in his biological constitution, bu 
must be learned in the process of socialization. The other is that no' 
only are other human beings, as discrete objects, individually anc 
severally the most significant objects in the child's, and indeed any hu- 
man being's, situation of action, but the system of relationships in whicl 
these objects stand to each other, and which includes the child himself, 
constitutes the most fundamental structure of the situation or environ- 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 111 

ment in which his action takes place. A child, throughout his life cycle, 
Is never exposed to just one person or "social object" but always to 
structured systetns of social objects. In this sense the social system (or 
systems) in which he participates always constitutes the essential envi- 
ronment of any personality in its action processes, so far as this system 
operates on the social interaction level, rather than in relation to the in- 
dividual's own organism, and the bodies of others. 

Finally, something needs to be said about the status of the cultural 
system relative to the other three. Its focus is the cultural pattern com- 
ponent of all action the system of the meanings of the objects experi- 
enced by individuals. Meanings, like object relations, are primarily 
learned. Moreover there is an immensely heavy premium on the im- 
portance of the respects in which meanings are shared with other indi- 
viduals; only through meeting this criterion can such meanings facilitate 
the processes of communication. Meanings, looked at from the point 
of view of the individual, define norms governing action. This conclusion 
follows from the primary significance of the social object whose re- 
action to ego's action is the prototypical example of meaning. The 
meaning of ego's own actions is essentially the codification of the set of 
consequences for him that his own action evokes in relation to the en- 
vironment. But if the objects concerned are also actors in the same so- 
cial system, the meanings can be stabilized only if ego recognizes 
alter's expectations of action as a norm which should govern his action 
and vice versa. Complementarity of expectations, then, is the basis of 
the commonness of norms. These common norms, or values, constitute 
the cultural core of any system of social interaction. As part of the total 
system of action, the cultural system is that aspect which is oriented 
to the maintenance of such a set of common values in the system. 

I have noted that relative to the organism the personality may be con- 
ceived as a system of controlling agencies. Essentially the same relation 
is repeated as we follow through the relations of personality to the other 
subsystems of action. Social systems, that is, in certain essential respects 
control personalities, and cultural systems in some respects control 
social systems. There is a hierarchy of control relations. 

The distinction between the aspects of the system of action centering 
on the individual and his behavior on the one hand, and the transindi- 
vidual factors of society and culture on the other hand, is a very old one. 
In one major tradition at least, it stems from the problems of Darwinian 
biology as applied to human behavior. More recently it has seemed 
necessary to draw lines within each of the two categories resulting 
from that distinction namely between cultural and social systems on 
the one hand, between organism and personality on the other. 

The importance of the latter distinction will be strongly stressed in 

172 Social Theory and Personality 

what follows. It is emergent in Freud's own work and was progres- 
sively more strongly stressed. 4 This distinction is crucial to the under- 
standing of the place of the theory of instincts in Freud's total psy- 
chological theory, and to the whole problem of the role of pleasure and 
of eroticism. The main emphasis in my analysis, however, will be on the 
relations between personality and social system. I believe that, while 
[the main content of the structure of the personality is derived from so- 
cial systems and culture through socialization, the personality be- 
comes an independent system through its relations to its own organism 
and through the uniqueness of its own life-history experience; it is not a 
mere epiphenomenon of the structure of the society. There is, how- 
ever, not merely interdependence between the two, but what I call 
interpenetration. From the sociological side the essential concept of role 
designates this area of interpenetration. From the personality side a cor- 
responding concept of relational needs may be used. The psychoanalyti- 
cally central need for love may serve as an example. 


Let us now turn to Freud's theory of object relations. Following up my 
initial remarks about instinct, it may be said that there are two main 
directions of thinking about the nature of personality development. One 
may be illustrated by analogy with the plant where the main qualities of 
the mature organism for example, the number and qualities of wheat 
grains produced, or the brilliance and shape of the flowers are pre- 
determined in the genetic constitution of the species.' There will be dif- 
ferences in outcome as a function of the favorableness or unfavorable- 
ness of the environment within which development takes place. The 
main pattern, however, is not determined by this process of interaction 
with the environment, only the degree of excellence with which it 
"comes out." The other direction of thinking sees the genetic constitu- 
tion as a nonspecific base from which the pattern of the adult per- 
sonality will be evolved. 5 The main pattern-setting components are not 
so much the genetic elements, but are the values of the culture and the 
meanings of social objects experienced in the course of personality de- 
velopment, "v 

These two directions of thinking are not mutually exclusive. Their dif- 
ferences are primarily a matter of relative emphasis. It is my contention 
that the main significance of Freud's work for the social sciences consists 
in the seriousness and the fruitfulness with which he explored the 
second direction of thinking. This is not to say that the theory of ob- 
ject relations is "more important" than the theory of instincts. Rather, 
in Freud's treatment of human personality, object relations acquire a 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 1 73 

quite different order of significance than they do in botany. This line of 
thinking colors Freud's whole theory of personality including the theory 
of instincts. 6 

As noted above, three fundamental concepts in Freud's theory bear 
most directly on the problem of object-relations, namely identification, 
object-cathexis (or object-choice) and internalization or "introjection." 
Freud associated these concepts particularly, though by no means ex- 
clusively, with three different levels of the process of socialization. The 
first, identification, referred in the first instance to the relation estab- 
lished between mother and child in the oral phase. The second, object- 
cathexis, was used preponderantly to characterize the relation of 
mother and child in the later phase standing between the oral and the 
oedipal, while the third, internalization or introjection, referred mainly 
to the process of establishment of the superego in the oedipal phase. It 
will be my thesis that each of these concepts, in different ways, desig- 
nates an aspect of the integration of the personality of the individual 
in a social system, an integration which is characterized by a particular 
process of learning in a particular context of object-relations. 

Therefore, I suggest: first that Freud tended to confuse the genetic 
and the analytical uses of these concepts and, second, that for the theory 
of personality in general, the analytical meaning of them is more im- 
portant than the genetic. 7 

In order to establish a basis for clarifying some theoretical implica- 
tions of Freud's treatment of these processes, I shall attempt to sketch 
them in my own terms, though with continual references to Freud. 
Freud, in common with many other writers, maintained s that the start- 
ing point for the process of socialization, was the action of persons re- 
sponsible for gratifying the child's constitutionally given organic needs 
in the first instance the mother. Though there is a plurality of such 
needs, in the earliest phases, that for nutrition is presumably para- 
mount. In addition, however, the mother is the primary object for grati- 
fication of a series of instinctual responses at the behavioral level. 

The psychological importance of physiological dependence on a hu- 
man agent hinges only partly on the adequacy of the "satisfaction" the 
agent gives to the inborn needs. It also depends on physiological 
mechanisms by which the feeling of satisfaction is experienced as a 
reward in the form of internal organic pleasure. 9 Satisfaction cannot 
acquire this meaning, unless the child learns that instinctual gratifica- 
tions are in some sense contingent, both on the action of the mother, 
and on that of the child. To take one instinctual response for illustra- 
tion, it seems to be established that there is an inborn sucking response, 
but the child early learns to suckle better than he is equipped to do by 
sheer "instinct." He learns motions of the lips, posture, when to exert 

1 74 Social Theory and Personality 

effort and when to relax (see Grinker, 1953). The amount of milk he 
gets and the ease with which he gets it are contingent to an apprecia- 
ble degree on his own goal-oriented action. This holds true apart 
from any influence he may exert on when and under what circum- 
stances the breast or bottle will be presented to him. These factors he 
can also learn to influence through crying and other procedures. 

On the mother's side also, feeding a baby is by no means purely 
"instinctive" but involves elements of skill and of "intentional" (not 
necessarily conscious) regulation. She tries to "get him" to nurse 
properly. She can influence this through her manner of holding the baby, 
through her sensitivity to his "need to rest/' through judgment as to how 
far to "force" him, as to when he has "had enough." In addition, it is 
clearly she who is the primary agent of imposition of any sort of sched- 
ule on the timing of feeding. It is she who determines the "picking up" 
and the "setting down" of the baby, the way he is dressed, covered, 
bathed, cleaned, etc., along with the feeding. 

Thus even at this very elementary level, the relations between mother 
and infant constitute a genuine process of social interaction of which 
"care" in the sense of sheer attending to physiological needs, is clearly 
only one component. The child, from the beginning, is to some degree 
an active agent who "tries" to do things and is rewarded or punished 
according to his "success" in doing them. Obviously the degree to which 
this is true increases rapidly with time. The mother, on her side, actively 
manipulates the situation in which this learning process takes place. 
However genuine the process of interaction as such, she is in the over- 
whelmingly predominant position of power, as manifested in her ca- 
pacity to control the timing of feeding and other acts of care, indeed 
the whole setting of the experience. 

Whatever the relation between the mother's agency in caring for 
basic metabolic needs and whatever the child's own instinctual responses 
on the behavioral level, this agency is the primary factor in developing 
an attachment to her as an object. The organization of the emerging 
motivational system is a function, not simply of the needs of the child, 
but of the way in which the mother's responses to these needs have them- 
selves been organized. 10 

Translating these familiar psychological facts into sociological terms 
the essential consideration is that the infant in the first few weeks, if 
not days, of life, comes to be integrated into a social system. There are 
built up relatively definite expectations of his behavior, not only in the 
predictive, but in the normative sense. He nurses "well" or "badly"; he 
cries only when he "should" and is quiet the rest of the time, or he cries 
"when there isn't any good reason." Inevitably, the behavior of adults 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 175 

takes on the character of rewarding him for what they feel to be "good" 
behavior, and punishing him including omission of reward for what 
they feel to be bad behavior, and otherwise manipulating sanctions in re- 
lation to him. 

From the point of view of the infant, there are two particularly crucial 
aspects which present cognitive problems to him. The first is the 
problem of "understanding" conditions on which his gratifications and 
frustrations depend. What are the cues, or conditional stimuli, which 
indicate the direction of consequences for him, if he acts in a given 
way? From the psychology of learning we know that it does not require 
any high level of "rationality" or "higher mental process" for significant 
learning to take place if certain modes of action consistently produce re- 
wards, while others do not. The second basic problem to him is the 
focus of organization of this system of cues. This is not simply the 
question of what specific cues indicate probable gratification or depriva- 
tion of specific needs, but rather, of what general formula of action can 
improve the chances of generalized gratification. 

Here again, it is not necessary to assume any rationalistic hypotheses. 
If the pattern of sanctions imposed is consistent over a range of more 
specific actions, we may assume that there will be generalization from 
the more specific items to the pattern. 11 Thus, where the child "tries" to 
nurse properly in the sense of "cooperating" with the mother, he is more 
likely to be gratified. In a way, she presents cues and supplementary 
rewards. It is not a very long step from this level to think of the organized 
pattern of sanctions in terms of the intentions of the mother. The sig- 
nificance of this step derives from the fact that there is generally a 
single primary agent of early child care, 12 and that in a variety of signifi- 
cant respects, the actions of this agent come to be contingent on what 
the child does. In these circumstances, the learning of the meaning of a 
cue is, I think, synonymous with the imputation of intention to the 

The concept of intention as here used involves two central compo- 
nents. The first is the contingency of what alter (the agent of care) does 
on what ego (the child) has done or is expected to do, so that alter's 
action may be treated as a sanction in relation to ego's action. The 
second is the component of generalization. There exist not merely 
discrete, disconnected sanctions, but a pattern of sanctions. This pat- 
tern is relatively systematic and organized and eventually leads to the 
learning of a complementary pattern of responses which is also or- 
ganized and generalized. In its relation to discrete, particularized acts on 
either side of the interaction process, the pattern component of the sanc- 
tion system acquires the character of a set of values or norms. These 

176 Social Theory and Personality 

norms define the relation between acceptable, rewarded behavior on 
the one hand, and unacceptable, nonrewarded or punished behavior on 
the other. 

Because of the immense inequality of the power relationship, the most 
important change brought about by this early phase of the process of 
interaction is the change in the personality of the child. Presumably 
there is also some change in the personality of the mother. The pri- 
mary change in the child is the introduction of a new level of organiza- 
tion into his behavior system. It is a new level of capacity for organized 
behavior in the external world, for successfully attaining his goals and 
for coping with a variable situation. Internally, it is a new level of or- 
ganization of his motivational or instinctual impulses or needs. A sys- 
tem of control over these impulses is introduced and a pattern provided 
for their utilization in the interest of the newly learned goals and inter- 
ests. In Freud's famous metaphor (1933), 13 this new organization de- 
rived from contact with objects, the ego, was likened to a rider on the 
impulse system, the id, a horse which may ordinarily do the rider's 
bidding, but on occasion may be difficult or impossible to control. 

The essential point here is that this system of internal control over the 
child's own instinctual or impulse system has become established through 
a generalized pattern of sanctions imposed by the mother. The child 
learns to respond, not simply to specific proffered rewards, but to 
"intentions" and thereby to "conform" with her wishes or expectations. 
In so doing he has learned a new generalized goal. It is no longer simply 
to gratify his constitutionally given instinctual needs, especially for 
food, but to "please" his mother. It is the attainment of this new level 
of generalized organization of the motivation of behavior, including a 
new goal, which I think Freud primarily designated as identification. 
This is a mode of organization of the ego with reference to its relation 
to a social object. We can clearly say that, at the same time, it is learning 
to act in conformity with a set of norms. 

Let me sum up the main characteristics of this basic learning process. 
It depends on the establishment of a determinate set of relations be- 
tween inborn mechanisms of the organism, on both metabolic and be- 
havioral levels, and stimuli from the environment. There are particulari- 
ties, of organic and instinctual gratification and of practices of care; 
but equally on both sides there is generalization. For the learning infant 
the most important vehicle of generalization probably is the pleasure 
mechanism, 14 not to be confused with sheer organic or instinctual gratifi- 
cations in the particularized sense. On the environmental side it is the 
patterning of the system of sanctions which constitutes the element of 

It is the correspondence of these two patterns of generalization which 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 111 

is the essential basis on which a new motivational structure the ego 
is built up. Important as this correspondence of pattern is, it is also essen- 
tial to discriminate between these two references. The external, environ- 
ment-oriented process, which may be called "goal-gratification," con- 
cerns the relation of the child to a social object outside itself. The in- 
ternal, organism-oriented process concerns his relation to a generalized 
neurological mechanism by which a plurality of gratifications is organ- 
ized to produce or maximize what we have come to call pleasure. 

Freud speaks of the ego as an organization established through learn- 
ing to govern the relations between internal organic processes and the 
environment. Externally, the goal of the ego must be the attainment of 
goal-gratifications the establishment of optimal relations to environ- 
mental objects. Internally, we may speak of the ego which Freud 
treated as originally a subsystem of the id as oriented to the maximiza- 
tion of pleasure. The external situation and the internal physiological 
system are to an important degree independent of each other. This fact 
is the fundamental basis of Freud's contention that the pleasure princi- 
ple and the reality principle must be treated as analytically independent. 
At the same time their integration is the most fundamental condition of 
the functioning of a personality as a system at this nodal point of articu- 
lation between the organism and the external world. 

Freud's commonest formula for instinctual impulse (governed by 
the pleasure principle) is that it is the "representative" of the needs of 
the organism to the psychic apparatus the ego. 15 This formula is ac- 
ceptable for our analysis. The most crucial part of "reality" even at the 
oral level, and predominantly from then on, is social. It is "mother" as 
a social object, acting in a role in a system of social interaction. 

Even at the oral level one aspect of reality is non-social, e.g., milk as 
food-object. But in terms of learning and of personality development it 
is the agency of the mother as the source of the milk which organizes 
the learning process. It is in terms of generalization that the social 
qualities of the significant object become crucial. 

Let us look at the structure of this aspect of the mother-child sys- 
tem. Identification implies that the child's basis of "interest" in the 
mother is, after a time, no longer exhausted by the fact that she acts as 
an instrumentality of discrete organically or instinctually significant 
goal-gratifications such as food or clinging. She, as role-person, becomes 
on a higher level a meaningful object. Inevitably, in the learning process, 
the meaning of the mother as object must be established through gener- 
alization from gratification (and deprivation) experiences on non-social 
levels. But once this meaning has become established, then in a sense 
the tables are turned. The discrete, instinctually significant gratifications 
and deprivations become symbols of the intentions or attitudes of the 

178 Social Theory and Personality 

mother. Food then is no longer sought only because it produces the or- 
ganic pleasure specific to alimentary stimulation. Perhaps just as im- 
portant, it is no longer rejected simply because of alimentary discom- 
fort associated with it. More generally, a primary, indeed the primary 
goal of the developing personality, comes to be to secure the favorable 
attitude, as it is often called, the love of the mother. Specific gratifica- 
tions on lower levels then have become part of an organization on a 
wider level. Their primary meaning derives from their relation to the 
paramount goal of securing or maximizing love. Indeed, it seems a legit- 
imate interpretation of Freud to say that only when the need for love 
has been established as the paramount goal of the personality can we 
say that there is a genuine ego present. This need then, in an important 
sense, comes to control the ontogenetically older goal-needs of the or- 
ganism including, eventually, that for pleasure. There must be provision 
for the adequate gratification of the latter, but at the same time, they 
must each take their place in an organized system of gratifications. 

What, now, of the internal aspect at the level of oral generalization? 
Undoubtedly one of Freud's greatest discoveries was the significance of 
childhood eroticism and its tracing back to the oral stages of develop- 
ment. 16 I have suggested that the integration of external and internal 
references, of reality principle and pleasure principle, is the most im- 
portant single condition of attainment of an organized ego. Though 
Freud was not able to spell out its physiological character very far, I 
think that his discovery of childhood eroticism is essentially the dis- 
covery of a built-in physiological mechanism of the generalization of 
internal reward, which matches the generalization of external goal- 
gratification. Erotic pleasure seems to be essentially a diffuse generalized 
"feeling" of organic well-being which is not attached to any one discrete 
instinctual need-fulfillment. When hungry, feeding produces gastric 
pleasure, when cold, being warmed produces another specific feeling 
of pleasure, as does clinging, etc. But erotic pleasure is not as such de- 
pendent on any one of these or any specific combination of them. The 
mouth, Freud held, is an erogenous zone. This means that oral stimula- 
tion through sucking is one important, specific source of this more gen- 
eralized erotic pleasure. The essential points about oral stimulation are 
two: first it produces a pleasure which is independent of that produced 
by the ingestion of food, e.g., through sucking as such, and second, this 
pleasure is capable of generalization to a higher level. Organically 
the main manifestation of oral eroticism seems to be the capacity for 
pleasure in diffuse bodily contact. This is connected by generalization 
with stimulation of the mouth, 17 so that holding, fondling, and the like, 
produce pleasure as a fundamental type of generalized reward. 

Certain capacities of the organism thus operate as mechanisms which 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 179 

facilitate the generalization of cathexis, and hence of goals, from the 
goal-objects which immediately gratify particularized needs, to the 
agent of these gratifications (treated as an organized system of sanc- 
tioning behavior). Eroticism, whatever the physiological processes in- 
volved, 18 is a mechanism of internal reward by which fixation on the 
more specific instinctual gratifications is overcome in favor of pleasure 
in the diffuse and generalized relationship to a nurturing social object. 
This establishment of an organized ego in the personality through 
a pattern of sanctions designates essentially what Freud meant by 
identification. Several of Freud's own formulations of the concept stress 
the striving to be like the object. This emphasis requires elucidation 
and some qualification. Only in a very qualified sense can we say that 
an infant learns to be like his mother. The important sense, for us, is that 
he learns to play a social role in interaction with her. His behavior (hence 
his motivation) is organized according to a generalized pattern of 
norms. These norms define shared meanings of the acts which are in- 
ternalized in terms of values and norms. Together, that is, mother and 
child come to constitute a collectivity in a strict sociological sense. But 
this does not mean that the two members of the collectivity are alike in 
the sense that they play identical roles; on the contrary their roles are 
sharply differentiated as are the norms which define the respective ex- 
pectations. In the light of these considerations I should like to speak of 
identification as the process by which a person comes to be inducted 
into membership in a collectivity through learning to play a role comple- 
mentary to those of other members in accord with the pattern of values 
governing the collectivity. The new member comes to be like the others 
with respect to their common membership status and to the psychologi- 
cal implications of this, above all the common internalized values. 
Psychologically the essential point is that the process of ego develop- 
ment takes place through the learning of social roles in collectivity 
structures. Through this process the normative patterns of the collec- 
tivity in which a person learns to interact become part of his own per- 
sonality and define its organization. 19 


The other two of Freud's basic concepts in this area are object-choice 
or cathexis, and internalization, or what is sometimes called by Freud's 
translators "introjection." 20 I have emphasized that for the infant the 
mother is a social object and becomes the most important part of his 
"reality," the environment external to him. But though he comes 
to be profoundly "attached" to her (i.e., to "cathect" her as an object) 
the infant can scarcely be said to have "chosen" her. Object choice is an 

1 80 Social Theory and Personality 

act of the ego, and the neonate does not yet have an ego. He can be 
rejected by the mother, but he can neither choose nor reject her at first. 

In the phase of primary identification the infant is in the process of 
learning a role in, and the values of, a collectivity. There is of course an 
essential element of spontaneity or autonomy in response to the actions 
of alter. But the motivation to action which is in conformity with the 
expectations of the new role is still directly dependent on the sanctions 
appropriate to the learning process. There is a period of capacity to ful- 
fill alter's expectations in anticipation of reward. This period precedes 
the development of the capacity autonomously to implement the newly 
learned values in the absence of the accustomed goal-gratification re- 
wards. Freud clearly recognizes this when he speaks of identification 
as having fully taken place only when the object has been re- 
nounced or lost. 21 

The process of learning a role vis-a-vis the mother, 22 as we have 
seen, involves at least two levels of generalization and organization. 
The pattern of sanctions imposed by the mother incorporates and ex- 
presses the higher of these two levels. Successful identification enables 
the individual to implement this higher pattern level in his own auton- 
omous behavior and not merely in response to the expected rewards 
of another. This capacity to implement independently is perhaps the 
most important respect in which the child has through identification 
come to be like the mother. 

If, however, action in accordance with the newly acquired value- 
pattern is to be reality-directed, it must establish goals in relation to ob- 
jects. The object world is not to be treated merely as given, taking over 
the care of the helpless infant. Rather, the new ego actively "tries out" its 
capacity for organized behavior in its object-environment. Object- 
choice, in Freud's sense, is the "spontaneous" investment by the ego of 
libido in seeking attachment to an object in the external world. 

Typically, at the first main stage of this process, the object "chosen" 
is the same concrete person, the mother, who was the primary agent of 
care in the oral phase. But it is a mother who comes to play a different 
role vis-a-vis her child. She shifts from rewarding his conformity with 
the minimum expectations of being a "good child" to rewarding his at- 
tempts to perform above that minimum. His role shifts, in turn, from 
an emphasis on ascription to one on achievement. The minimum base 
is taken for granted, but beyond that his rewards depend far more 
heavily on how well he performs. 

There is a sense in which this shift involves a turning of the tables. If 
the diffuse attitude of the mother toward her child in the oral phase 
could be called love, then we may say that by his identification the child 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 181 

has become capable of displaying and acting upon a similar attitude to- 
ward another object. He can love an object, normally his mother. 

If the child's need to love and be loved is strongly attached to an ob- 
ject, then this object gains a very strong point of leverage for motivating 
him to new levels of achievement. The mother not only dispenses spe- 
cific rewards for specific performances, but she can treat these as sym- 
bols of her reciprocation of his love. 

It is undoubtedly significant that the period when the love-attachment 
to the mother is paramount, is the period of the learning of the basic 
skills of action. Pre-eminent among these are learning to walk, which is, 
in a sense, the foundation of the whole complex of motor skills, and 
learning to talk, which is the foundation of skills in communication. 
Object-choice thus is the motivational foundation of that aspect of so- 
cialization in which basic performance patterns are learned. The diffuse 
attachment to the object of cathexis is the basis for the motivational 
meaning of the more specific rewards of specific performances. 

It is worth while here to note the double reference of the category of 
meaning. In speaking of the process by which identification is estab- 
lished, I referred to the organized pattern of sanctions as establishing 
the meaning of the specific acts of the child, and of the mother. This was 
the factor of generalization in the process of interaction as such. Now, in 
speaking of the process of achievement-learning, I refer to the diffuse 
love-attachment as the primary reference of the meaning of particular 
rewards and of course of ego's own acts of performance in relation to 
these rewards. This, essentially, is what is meant by the internalization 
of a value-pattern: it comes to define meanings for the personality sys- 
tem as such. The first set of meanings is organized about the sanctions 
applied to the child, the second about a set of performances he has spon- 
taneously tried out and learned successfully to complete. 

Freud's concept of object cathexis designates the primary basis on 
which one type of process of differentiation in the structure of the per- 
sonality takes place. 23 The base-line starting point for this process is the 
"internalized mother" established through the previous identification. 
But from this base comes to be differentiated an autonomous subsystem 
of the personality oriented to active manipulation of the object-world. 
The dependency component of the personality then becomes the re- 
structured residue of the internalized mother, which gives a more diffuse 
and generalized motivational meaning to the specific acts and rewards 
involved in the exercise of motor and communication skills. On the other 
hand, the "self," or the ego in a more differentiated sense than at the 
oral level, assumes the role of autonomous initiative in the performance 

182 Social Theory and Personality 

The great increases in performance capacity which occur in this pre- 
oedipal love-attachment period lead to an immense widening of the 
child's range of contacts with the world in which he lives. He is continu- 
ally engaged in trying out new motor skills and in learning about his 
world, both by direct observation and by insistent questioning through 
the newly learned medium of language. 

In the phase of infancy the mother plays a role determined to a very 
important degree by her commitment to roles other than that of mother 
of this particular child: her relation to her husband, to older siblings of 
the infant, to the family-household and to various extrafamilial respon- 
sibilities. In infancy these other involvements of the child's mother ap- 
pear to him mainly as sources of restrictions on her exclusive devotion 
to him. But with growing mobility and wider ranges of communication, 
the other persons to whom his mother is related become more and more 
clearly defined objects to him also. Though he has various relations to 
extrafamilial persons, typically it is the other members of his family, his 
father and his siblings including perhaps by now a younger sibling 
which form the primary focus of this new structuring of the situation in 
which he acts and learns. 

Gradually, a new phase in the processes of identification emerges. 
This time, its focus is the assumption of membership in the child's total 
nuclear family of orientation. This is a far more complex process than 
the original identification with the mother. It involves at least three such 
identifications which are interdependent but also are partially independ- 
ent, namely identification with the family as a collectivity, identifica- 
tion defined in terms of sex with those family members of his own sex, 
and identification by generation as defined by himself and his siblings 
as contrasted with the parents. 

The child must now internalize a higher level of generality and/or 
organization in his personality system. In his relation with his mother he 
has already learned the fundamentals of reciprocal role-behavior in a 
diadic relationship, the simplest type of social system. In this relation- 
ship the most fundamental question is that of the balance between de- 
pendency and autonomy, the ranges within which the child can take in- 
dependent initiative and within which on the other hand, he must give 
way to the wishes and sanctions of his role-partner. We may say that the 
circumstances of early socialization have stacked the cards in favor of 
dependency. Therefore, the problem of independence training is a focal 
one in the pre-oedipal period. 

In the oedipal period the child begins to have a plurality of diadic rela- 
tions: to mother, to father, to sister, to brother, but these in turn must 
be organized into a higher-order system, the family as a whole. It is in 
this context that Freud most prominently raises the problems of the su- 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 1 8 3 

perego and its place in the personality. I have mentioned the way in 
which he treats identification with the mother as producing an internal- 
ized base from which object choices are made. In a parallel way he 
speaks of the superego as providing, for the latency period and later, the 
internal surrogate of the parental function as it operated in the control 
of the pre-oedipal child (see Freud, 1933, p. 91). 

During the primitive mother-identification the situation was socio- 
logically very simple because the child was primarily related to a single 
person as object. The essential points were that it was a social object, and 
that mother and child together formed a collectivity. Now the situation 
has become much more complex, but nevertheless the same basic prin- 
ciples obtain. What Freud refers to as the parental function may be in- 
terpreted to mean a function in the family as a system. Moreover it in- 
cludes the functions of both parents as what, sociologically, may be 
called the "leadership coalition" of the family. Seen in these terms, the 
family is an object with which the child identifies. Through this identifi- 
cation he now becomes a full-fledged member of that family. He and its 
other members come to constitute a collectivity which, if not new, is 
at least, through his altered status and the adjustments made by other 
members, a changed one. 

The superego, then, is primarily the higher-order normative pattern 
governing the behavior of the different members in their different roles 
in the family as a system. It is first impressed upon the child through the 
pattern of sanctions applied to his behavior, through rewards and pun- 
ishments. If the family is at all well integrated, these sanctions, though 
administered by all the members of the family in different ways, have a 
certain coherence as a system which derives mainly from the coordi- 
nated leadership roles of the two parents. Therefore a new element of 
organization is introduced into the personality by this process of identi- 
fication. It is an organization on a higher level of generality and com- 
plexity than before, which gives the child new goals and values. 

Through this process the child comes to be "like" the object of his 
identification in the same essential sense, and with the same qualifica- 
tions, as he came to be like his mother at the earlier stage of identifica- 
tion. He has acquired a pattern of orientation which he holds in common 
with the other, more socialized members of his family. When this pat- 
tern has been internalized he can act in relation to the extrafamilial 
world, in terms of that pattern without reference to the continuing ad- 
ministration of the earlier pattern of external sanctions. In the same 
sense in which for the post-oral child, the oral mother became a "lost ob- 
ject," for the latency child his family of orientation eventually becomes 
a lost object. The completion of this process normally occurs in late ado- 

184 Social Theory and Personality 

Within the family, the child's role has become far more complex than 
it was earlier; he has as many subroles as there are diadic relations to 
other family members. But from the point of view of the wider society, 
he plays only one role, namely that defined by his age-status as latency- 
period child of his family, and by his sex. 24 


One aspect of the greater complexity of the new system of identifica- 
tions and object-relations is the fact that the child cannot identify indis- 
criminately with all the available objects of his nuclear family. Two of 
the subsidiary identifications within the nuclear family, by sex and by 
generation, are to become structurally constitutive for his status in the 
wider society, and these are cross-cutting. It is essential to the under- 
standing of the differential impact of the oedipal situation on the sexes 
that for the boy the tie to his mother, the original object of identification 
and of subsequent object-cathexis, is not included in either of these new 
identifications, whereas for the girl the tie to the mother is included in 
the identification by sex. 

Hence the girl can, in relation to her mother, repeat on a higher level 
the infantile identification. She can, to a degree, take over the mother's 
role, which she does as an apprentice in the household and, in phantasy, 
in doll-play. She is, however, precluded from taking over the mother 
role in relation to the father by her categorization as belonging to the 
child generation. 

The boy, on the other hand, must break radically with his earlier 
identification pattern. He cannot turn an object-cathexis into an identi- 
fication except on the familial level which has to be shared with the other 
members. The mother has been the boy's primary object of cathexis and 
previously of identification. But he is blocked by the importance of the 
sex categorization from identifying with her in intraf amilial function and 
he is blocked by the generation categorizatior?. from taking a role like the 
father's in relation to her. Moreover, the father is a more difficult object 
of identification for a child because so much of his role is played outside 
the household. Considerations such as these seem to be as important in 
explaining the boy's ambivalent attitudes toward the father as is the 
boy's subjection to his father's authority. The authority factor is only one 
component in a larger complex. It is not, as has often been held, the one 
central factor which overshadows all others. The authority factor does 
explain, however, why the child, at the oedipal period begins to have 
much more important relations outside his family. In a sense, the father 
is the primary representative of the family in the outside society, and vice 
versa of the latter in the family. 

Another important complexity in the identification situation in the 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 185 

oedipal period is that the ascribed identification is selective except for 
the overall familial identification among the members of the family. 
The very important possibilities of object choice of the child for the par- 
ent of opposite sex and vice versa are excluded from the main formal 
identification structure. They are relegated to the status of "secondary" 
or informal attachments which, if they become too strong, can become 
both disruptive of the family as a system and distorting factors in the per- 
sonality development of the child. 

This relates to two fundamental and interrelated sociological problems 
in which Freud took a considerable interest those of the roles of the 
sexes, and of the incest taboo. Freud was clear and insistent about the 
existence of what he called constitutional bisexuality. He believed that 
the motivational structure of sex role was importantly influenced by the 
individual's object-relations in the course of his life-history. We may go 
further and say that the learned aspect of sex role provides an essential 
condition for the maintenance of the family as an integral part of the so- 
cial structure, and hence of its functions in the socialization of the child. 

The feminine role is primarily focused on the maternal function 
which, through the combination of instrumental child care and love, 
seeks to provide a suitable object for the child's earliest identification, 
and subsequently his autonomous object-cathexis. The agent of these 
functions must be anchored in an organizational unit of the larger so- 
ciety; otherwise the leverage for socialization beyond the earliest stage 
would not be adequate. The family which, in its membership, includes 
an adult male, is of course the usual unit. 

The masculine role, on the other hand, is not primarily focused on 
socialization, but on the performance of function in the wider society, 
economic, political or otherwise. If boys are to achieve in this arena they 
must make the proper set of transitions between the intrafamilial context 
of early socialization and the larger societal context. The coalition of the 
two parents in the family leadership structure is the main sociological 
mechanism which makes this possible (see Bales, 1953, Chapter 4). 
Clearly, also, the relation of girls to their fathers, and hence to men in 
general, is just as important as that of boys to their mothers in balancing 
these forces. 

Consideration of the incest taboo brings us back to the role of eroti- 
cism in the socialization process. Throughout the oral stage, the stage of 
first main object-choice and the oedipal stage, the main principle operat- 
ing in the socialization process is internaHzation of cultural patterns of 
the organization of behavior. It takes place through successive identifi- 
cations on progressively higher levels of generalization. These new iden- 
tifications lead to new object-choices and new definitions of goals in rela- 
tion to these objects. 

At the oral level, eroticism is primarily significant because it provides 

1 86 Social Theory and Personality 

a vehicle for the generalization of reward in its internal physiological 
aspect. There seems to be a duality of levels of the object relation to the 
mother which can be matched with a duality of hedonistic rewards which 
makes oral eroticism so important. I am not competent to follow the sub- 
sequent course on a physiological level. With a difference, there is prob- 
ably a repetition of this pattern in the ''phallic" stage. The erotization of 
the genital organs at this stage is presumably partly instinctive and partly 
learned, either through masturbatory activities or through some kind of 
adult stimulation, or both. 

At this period, the differentiation of personalities by sex role becomes 
of critical significance for the first time. The genital organs are clearly the 
primary anatomical differentiae by sex, particularly in the prepubertal 
period. Hence they are particularly appropriate as symbols of sex-iden- 
tification. The erotic gratification attained through genital stimulation 
constitutes a type of internal pleasure which can become directly as- 
sociated with learning to act in the role of a member of the appropriate 
sex group. The diffuse sense of bodily well-being which is the critical 
feature of erotic gratification in its generalized aspect may then come to 
be associated with proper fulfillment of the expectations of sex role. 

These considerations are essential as background for the discussion 
of the incest taboo. Eroticism, I have suggested, operates on two levels: 
through the stimulation of one or more specific erogenous zones and 
through the induction of a diffuse sense of bodily well-being, through 
affectionate physical contact with another person. In the case of identifi- 
cation with the mother, the primary object of identification is a single 
person. Physical contact with her, being caressed or fondled, remains 
the prototype of erotic gratification on the more generalized level. 

In the oedipal period, the significant object for identification is not a 
human individual, but a collectivity. Tender physical contact with a com- 
plex collectivity is clearly not possible. Thus eroticism cannot play the 
same role as a socialization mechanism as it did in the pre-oedipal pe- 
riod. Indeed, the necessity to achieve a fundamental identification with- 
out the help of this internal reward constitutes one of the main sources of 
strain in this stage. This, more than the punishing aspects of paternal 
authority, may be why the superego stands out as being peculiarly "im- 
personal and in some respects threatening. 

In the process of socialization, the incest taboo functions primarily as 
a mechanism by which the child is both forced and enabled to internalize 
value systems of a higher order than those which can be exclusively em- 
bodied in a diadic two-person relation or in a social system as simple and 
diffuse as the nuclear family. The inherent tendency of erotic relations 
is to reinforce solidarity a deux, to give the single person an object prior- 
ity over the larger collectivity or system of collectivities in which the diad 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 1 87 

is embedded. To internalize these higher-order value-systems the child 
must learn, in the requisite contexts, to do without the crutch of erotic 

Looked at from the point of view of the society as a system, the incest 
taboo has another order of functional significance, closely linked with 
the above. This concerns the importance of maintaining a diversity of 
cultural patterns on the lowest level of internalization in personalities, so 
that their combinations on the higher levels of generality can support the 
high-level patterns without too strong a tendency to "reduce" them to a 
less general common denominator. The incest taboo insures that new 
families of procreation will be set up by persons socialized in two distinct 
families of orientation. The culture internalized in the early stages by the 
children of the new family will then have a dual origin, and will in cer- 
tain respects constitute a new variant a little different from either of the 
parental ones. The argument is not that the process of crossing of famil- 
ial cultures will reduce them to greater uniformity. On the contrary, by 
preserving variability at the lower levels of generality it protects against 
the establishment of a uniformity which might lessen the pressure to 
achieve higher levels of generality capable of including all the variable 

Another aspect of the problem which ties these two together is the 
bearing of the incest taboo on the internal structure of the nuclear fam- 
ily. The erotic relation of the parents to each other is a primary focus of 
their solidarity. Its exclusiveness tends to symbolize their solidarity vis- 
a-vis third persons even the small child. As the child becomes more ac- 
tive and develops higher capacities for performance there is a strong 
pressure for him to develop or reinforce erotic relationships to both par- 
ents, in different ways. The developing importance of sex as an ascribed 
focus of status then fosters attachment to the parent of the opposite sex, 
thereby implicitly challenging the relationship to the parent of the same 
sex. In the face of this competition, the erotic solidarity of the parents 
tends to lead to rejection of these advances. This forces the child's pri- 
mary new identification into the mold of member of the family as a 
whole, and his sex and generation roles within it. It does not allow him 
to concentrate on a single diadic relation within the family. He is forced 
to a higher level of value-internalization than that governing any diadic 
relation. It thus prepares him, in his latency period and in subsequent 
orientations outside his family, to internalize still higher-level patterns 
of value. 

These considerations alone do not adequately account for the brother- 
sister aspect of the incest taboo. While this is the weakest of the taboos 
within the nuclear family, it is none the less very strong. I believe that 
this version of the taboo is internalized, at least in part, by emphasis on 

188 Social Theory and Personality 

the factor of generation as an institutionalized status-component. Erotic 
relations to parents are prohibited because they are inadmissible in the 
age-status of the oedipal child. He is too old for infantile erotic gratifica- 
tions, and too young for adult. He must be classed with the parent of the 
same sex with respect to sex, but cannot presume to the adult privilege 
of genital eroticism. The identifications with the family as a whole and 
by sex create a configuration in his environment which leaves no place 
for an erotic relation to a sibling or even another person of the opposite 
sex. Two siblings having both internalized the same "generalized par- 
ent" cannot maintain the internalized generation differentiation as well 
as when their parental figures are independent. 

More generally, in one major aspect the significance of the oedipal 
transition lies in the fact that the child reaches a level of internalized 
values and a complex structure of identifications, which enables him to 
dispense with erotic rewards as a primary mechanism of further socializa- 
tion. The basic difference between the pre-oedipal stages within the 
family and the post-oedipal stages mainly outside it, lies in the fact that 
in the former, identification and object-choice involve an erotic attach- 
ment to a primary personal object, whereas later they do not. This shift 
is, as we have seen, essential if the internalization of social value systems 
on high levels of generality is to be achieved. 25 

The immediately pre-oedipal attachment of erotic significance to sex- 
role, and the symbolization of this by the awakening of genital eroticism 
at the phallic level, has laid the foundations for the formation later by 
the individual, through his marriage, of a new family in which he or she 
will play conjugal and parental roles, In the new family, erotic attach- 
ment will form one primary component in the solidarity of the parental 
pair, a solidarity which is the essential prerequisite of their successful 
performance of their socialization function. But the erotic need, thus 
restructured, is allowed expression only in the context of an adult char- 
acter structure in which the higher-level value-patterns have had an op- 
portunity to develop and consolidate their position. It is only through 
this non-erotic component of the individual's personality structure that 
parents have a sufficiently strong superego and a sufficiently mature ego 
to be able to serve as a model for identification for their children, and 
that socialization beyond the stages of early childhood becomes possible. 

In the light of these considerations Freud's famous view about the 
sexual genesis of all the neuroses may perhaps be interpreted in current 
socio-psychological terms. The most important point is that the person- 
ality structure, as a precipitate of previous identifications and of lost 
objects., develops by a process of differentiation from the earliest and 
simplest identification with the mother. Both this early relationship of 
identification and the succeeding object-choice relationship contain in 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 189 

their motivation an essential erotic component. Without the element of 
erotic attachment there could not have existed sufficient motivational 
leverage to bring about the learning processes involved in the identifica- 
tion and in the performance learning later based upon it. The erotic 
needs thus built up are never extinguished but remain permanent parts 
of the personality structure. 

Neuroses, like other disturbances of personality functioning, involve 
important regressive components because the more generalized moti- 
vational structures as distinguished from social values where the order 
of generality is the reverse are laid down- in early childhood. Regres- 
sion to deep enough levels then will always involve motivational struc- 
tures in which erotic needs form an essential component. Hence in a 
neurosis which pervades the personality as a whole, an erotic component 
will always be present, not to say prominent. By the same token, in so 
far as the etiology of the neurosis goes back to early childhood experi- 
ences which if it is pervasive enough will always be the case there 
will of necessity, be a prominent component of erotic disturbance. 

This does not mean that "all motivation is in the last analysis sexual." 
Rather, on the genetically earliest and hence in one sense most funda- 
mental levels, the sexual (or better erotic) element is always promi- 
nently involved, both symptomatically and etiologically. This does not in 
any way contradict the importance of the capacity to develop and oper- 
ate motivational structures which are not primarily oriented to erotic 
gratifications, but rather to impersonal or "affectively neutral" patterns 
of behavior. This occurs by the process which Freud usually referred to 
as sublimation. 26 


Let us now return to a brief discussion of the post-oedipal sequence 
of development. Freud treated the relation between oedipal and latency 
periods as essentially parallel to the earlier oral and object-choice peri- 
ods. The oedipal period involves an identification process through which 
the "parental function" is internalized to form the superego. The identi- 
fication, I have argued, must be interpreted to refer to membership in the 
nuclear family as a collectivity, and within that, with the child's own sex 
and generation roles. But once this process of identification has been 
completed, the child can turn to a new process of object-choice, this time 
in relationships primarily outside his family of orientation. What may be 
called his "dependency base" still remains inside that family; he "lives" 
with his parents and siblings and they remain responsible for his sub- 
sistence and general protection. Moreover, his place in the community is 
still defined primarily by his family membership. 

1 90 Social Theory and Personality 

But from this base, which is analogous to his identification with his 
mother at the earlier period, the child ventures out to establish impor- 
tant relations outside the family. In a differentiated society of the mod- 
ern Western type this occurs typically in two overlapping contexts 
the school, in which his formal education begins, and the informal "peer 
group," usually composed of age-mates of his own sex (see Parsons, 
1959). There are two particularly prominent features of these new ob- 
ject-relations. First, none of them is overtly erotic in content or tone 
hence Freud's concept of "latency." Second, for the first time, the pat- 
tern of relationship is not ascribed in advance. Age and sex status are 
ascribed, but not the level of performance and the rewards for it which 
the child may gain in the school and in his relations with his peers. He is 
exposed, within the limits permitted in the community, to open competi- 
tion with his age-peers. A significant structuring of the social groups in 
question will result which is independent of the structure of the families 
from which the competitors come. 27 

This structuring seems to revolve about two main axes. The first is the 
learning of achievements which can be evaluated by universalistic stand- 
ards. The prototype of these achievements is the mastery of the intel- 
lectual content of the school curriculum; but other things like athletic 
prowess fall into the same category. It is certainly of first-rate significance 
that the foundations of the more abstract skills involved in intellectual 
function are laid down in the latency period, notably the use of written 
language and the skills of abstract reasoning, as Piaget has so fully 

The second axis is the establishment of position in more or less or- 
ganized groups where status is not ascribed in advance. The focus is on 
such roles as leadership and followership, and on primarily task-ori- 
ented or primarily integrative roles in relation to one's fellows. The con- 
texts in which this learning takes place range all the way from the school 
class itself, under the direct supervision of the teacher, to wholly informal 
peer activities entirely removed from adult participation. 

It is a striking fact, perhaps particularly striking in the United States 
with its tradition of coeducation in the schoolroom, that in the latency 
period the peer group is overwhelmingly a one-sex peer group. The child 
is here "practicing" his sex role in isolation from the opposite sex. When 
this isolation begins to break down and cross-sex relations assume a 
prominent place, this is in itself a sign of the approach of adolescence. 
With this a further differentiation begins to take place, namely into first 
a sphere in which erotic interests are revived, which leads over into mar- 
riage and eventually the family of procreation, and second a sphere of 
organizations and associations where the direct expression of erotic in- 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 191 

terests remains tabooed. 28 The essential point is the existence of a dis- 
crimination between the contexts in which erotic interests are treated as 
appropriate from those in which they are not. Thek appropriateness is 
clearly confined to a single role-complex within a much larger context, 
most of which is treated as non-erotic. 

It is my principal thesis that, in the analysis of object relations, there 
is complete continuity in the basic conceptual framework appropriate to 
identification in the oral stage, and of object-choice in the post-oral stage 
on the one hand, and the analysis of latency period and adolescent so- 
cialization on the other. The learning of roles in school and peer group 
occurs through the mechanisms of object-choice, motivated by prior 
identifications. But, in the first instance, it is now much more clearly col- 
lectivities rather than persons which are the most significant objects. Just 
as within the nuclear family significant new diadic relations besides the 
relation to the mother develop and influence the child's personality de- 
velopment, so in school and peer groups significant new diads form, 
with the teacher and with particular age-mates. But the significance of 
these diads must be understood within the context of the new collectivity 
structures in which the child is in process of learning to play a role, or a 
complex of roles. 

Similarly, this later process of object-choice leads to a new set of iden- 
tifications, which involve the collectivity-types outside his family in 
which the child acquires memberships and roles. As in the case of the 
mother-child diad and of the nuclear family, he internalizes the values 
of these collectivities as part of the process of identification with them 
and assumption of a role in them. The differences lie in the greater di- 
versity of memberships the child acquires, the higher level of generality 
of the values he internalizes, and the mechanisms of the learning process. 
One of the most striking features of the differences is the absence of 
erotic rewards made possible by the more highly differentiated and or- 
ganized personality structure with which the post-oedipal child ap- 
proaches his object relations. The regressive associations of erotic ex- 
perience would militate against attaining the higher disciplines which 
have now become necessary. 

By the completion of the major phase of adolescence, the normal child 
has, outside the family of orientation, achieved identification with four 
main types of collectivity, and has hence internalized their values and 
become capable of pursuing the goals appropriate to them independent 
of the detailed pattern of sanctions which have operated during the in- 
ternalization process. These are represented by ( 1 ) the subsociety of his 
age-peers as a whole, i.e., the values of the so-called "youth culture," 
(2) the school, which is the prototype of the organization dedicated to 

1 92 Social Theory and Personality 

the achievement of a specified goal through disciplined performance, 
(3) the peer-association, the prototype of collective organization to sat- 
isfy and adjust mutual interests, and (4) the newly emerging cross-sex 
diad, which is the prototype of the sole adult relationship in which erotic 
factors are allowed an overt part. 

These identifications, which are normally achieved in adolescence, 
form the main basis in personality structure on which adult role-partici- 
pations are built. Through at least one further major step of generaliza- 
tion of value-level, participation in the youth culture leads over to par- 
ticipation in the values of the society as a whole. The participation in the 
school leads over into the adult occupational role with its responsibility 
for a productive contribution, for independent choice of occupation, and 
for self-support in the role. The peer-association identification leads over 
into the roles of cooperative association memberships in a variety of 
fields, of which the role of citizen in a democratic society is perhaps the 
most important. Finally the "dating" pattern of adolescence leads over 
to marriage and to the assumption of parental responsibilities in the fam- 
ily of procreation. 

I emphasize this continuity from the objects of identification in child- 
hood to the role and collectivity structure of the adult society in order 
to bring out the central point of the whole analysis. This is that Freud's 
theory of object-relations is essentially an analysis of the relation of the 
individual to the structure of the society in which he lives. Freud ana- 
lyzed this relation from the point of view of the individual rather than 
from the point of view of the structure of the social systems concerned. 
His perspective also was primarily developmental in the psychological 
sense. Sociologically stated, he was mainly concerned with the processes 
by which the individual comes to acquire membership in social collec- 
tivities, to learn to play roles in them, and to internalize their values. 
Moreover, he was most interested in the identifications entered into in 
early childhood. 

But straight through, the process of identification, of object-choice and 
of internalization are processes of relating the individual to and integrat- 
ing him in the social system and through it, the culture. Since this process 
is a relational matter, eventually technical analysis has to be applied to 
both sets of relata as well as to the relationship itself. Had Freud lived 
long enough to enter more deeply into the technical analysis of the ob- 
ject-systems to which the individual does become related, he would in- 
evitably have had to become in part a sociologist, for the structure of 
this object system is it is not merely "influenced by" the structure of 
the society itself. Essentially Freud's theory of object-relations is a the- 
ory of the relation of the individual personality to the social system. It is 

PARSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 1 93 

a primary meeting ground of the two disciplines of psychology and soci- 


If the importance of the individual's object-relations in the course of 
his life-history is as great as it seems to be, then the significance of in- 
ternalized social objects and culture cannot, as some psychoanalysts 
have tended to assume, be confined mainly to the content of the super- 
ego. On the contrary since, with all his emphasis on its differentiation, 
Freud consistently treated the human personality as an integrated sys- 
tem, it ought to permeate the whole system, and not be confined to one 
restricted part of it. 

In certain respects the ego should provide the key test case of this 
hypothesis. Indeed the increasing attention of Freud himself in his later 
years to problems of ego psychology, a tendency which has been con- 
siderably further developed in the work of such authors as Hartmann 
and Kris, seems to be closely related to his increasing attention to the 
field of object relations. At the same time I do not think that the id 
should be exempted from the logic of this development. 

Since the ego is the primary location of interchange between the per- 
sonality and the outside world of reality, and since the most important 
aspect of reality itself is social, the conclusion is inescapable that the ego 
is "socially structured." It is a particularly welcome confirmation of this 
hypothesis, much of which has been worked out from a sociological 
point of view, that Freud himself explicitly recognized this conclusion. 
The most striking passage I have found deserves to be quoted at length. 

When it happens that a person has to give up a sexual object, there quite 
often ensues a modification in his ego which can only be described as a rein- 
statement of the object within the ego, as it occurs in melancholia; the exact 
nature of this substitution is as yet unknown to us. It may be that by under- 
taking this introjection, which is a kind of regression to the mechanism of 
the oral phase, the ego makes it easier for the object to be given up or renders 
that process possible. It may even be that this identification is the sole condi- 
tion under which the id can give up its objects. At any rate, the process, 
especially in the early phases of development, is a very frequent one, and it 
points to the conclusion that the character of the ego is a precipitate of 
abandoned object-cathexes and that it contains a record of past object- 
choices. 29 (1935, p. 36, italics added) 

It can, then, quite safely be said that object-cathexes and identifica- 
tions do not, in Freud's own mature view, simply "influence" the devel- 
opment of the ego, in the sense in which environmental temperature or 
moisture influences the growth of a plant, but that the structure of the 

1 94 Social Theory and Personality 

object-relations a person has experienced is directly constitutive of the 
structure of the ego itself. 

If the ego can be regarded as a precipitate of abandoned object- 
cathexes, there does not seem to be any serious doubt that the superego 
is primarily social and cultural in origin. Indeed this has been clearly 
recognized by psychoanalysts from the introduction of the concept by 
Freud. Freud's formula that it represents the "parental function" is to 
my mind the most adequate one. He also quite explicitly refers to it as 
the focus of "that higher nature" representing the "moral, spiritual side 
of human nature," (1935, pp. 46-7) which we have "taken into our- 
selves" from our parents. 

The role of the id has been focal to the issue with which the present 
discussion started, namely the relative importance of "instinctive" as 
compared with cultural, social and other "environmental" influences in 
the motivation of personality. The concept of the id in Freud's later work 
is of course one primary heir, though by no means the only one, of such 
concepts as the unconscious, the primary process and the libido in his 
earlier work. Furthermore in the strong enthusiasm of discovery the id 
tended to be contrasted as sharply as possible with the ego which seemed 
to be the closest of all the components of the personality to traditionally 
rationalistic common sense. Freud sometimes makes extreme statements 
of this contrast when he speaks of the id as entirely lacking in organiza- 
tion (see e.g., 1933, p. 103). 

Against the tendency to highlight the conflicts between the ego and id 
must be set the conception of the ego as a system of control, as implied in 
the metaphor of the horse and rider. Furthermore, the id is treated at 
many points in specific relation to the pleasure principle, and we have 
seen a variety of reasons for assuming that pleasure is an organizing 
mechanism which integrates diverse motives at lower levels of organiza- 

A still further consideration is the progressive increase in the general- 
ity which Freud attributed to the basic instinctual urges, ending up with 
only a single underlying duality. This is not inconsistent with Bowlby's 
views of the importance in more specialized contexts of various more 
particularized instinctual responses. But it does imply that, from a very 
early phase of development, the basic organization of the motivational 
system cannot be derived from instinctual sources, but must resort to 
identifications and internalized objects. 

It is my own view that the distinction between instinctual and learned 
components of the motivational system cannot legitimately be identified 
with that between the id on the one hand, the ego and superego on the 
other. I believe that the two distinctions cut across each other. The id 
like the other subsystems, is organized about its experience in object rela- 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 195 

tions. It differs, however, in two fundamental respects from the other 
subsystems. First it is oriented, as the other two are not, to the individ- 
ual's own organism as object. This seems to me to be the essential sig- 
nificance of the pleasure principle as the governing principle of the id. 
Secondly, however, the object-cathexes which are constitutive of the 
structure of the id are predominantly those of the earlier phases of the 
process of socialization. In any internal conflicts involving the problem 
of regression, id-drives represent the regressive side of the conflict. 

However much it may be true that to advance beyond certain early 
levels of development it is necessary to transcend the fixation on these 
early cathexes, and however much the mature personality must effec- 
tively control them through ego and superego mechanisms, it still re- 
mains true that these are particular cases of identification and internal- 
ized objects, not the leading example of motivation in their absence. 

Thus it seems to me that the general principles involved in the signifi- 
cance of object-relations through identification, object-cathexis and in- 
ternalization, must be extended to the whole psychoanalytic theory of 
personality. Indeed, though he had not ironed out all the inconsisten- 
cies in his treatment, nor reconciled many earlier with later statements, 
in his latest phase of development Freud himself had, in all essential 
respects, come to this position. 

There are two particular virtues of this position when seen in a more 
general setting than is often done. First, it formulates psychoanalytic 
theory in a set of terms where direct and detailed articulation with the 
theory of social systems is enormously facilitated. This is of the first im- 
portance to the theory of the motivation of social behavior and hence, 
in my opinion, an essential prerequisite of the advance of sociology. But 
at the same time there are reciprocal benefits for psychoanalysis, for ex- 
ample, in enabling it to do far greater justice to the problem of the senses 
which requires that personality theory take account of variations in the 
structure of the social systems on which it impinges. 

On a still more general level, this view should do much to relieve dis- 
cussion of psychoanalytic theory from involvement in a false dilemma 
through its use of the categories of heredity and environment. As has by 
now become clear in general biology, the main question is not whether 
or how much one or the other factor influences outcomes. The trend is 
strongly away from a "predominant factor" explanation of the phenom- 
ena of life toward a more analytical one. Analytically conceived varia- 
bles, except for limiting cases, are always all important. The salient 
technical problems concern their clear definition and analysis of their 
intricate modes of interrelationship with each other. This chapter is in- 
tended as a contribution to what I conceive to be the major trend of psy- 
choanalytic theory in this direction. 

196 Social Theory and Personality 


1. Notable ones were made by Lionel Trilling (1955), and by Alfred 
Kazin (1956). It is perhaps significant that this view is particularly strong 
in literary circles. 

2. This chapter belongs in a series of my own writings on the relations 
between psychoanalytic theory and the theory of social systems. The most 
important of these are: "Psychoanalysis and the Social Structure" (1950); 
"The Superego and the Theory of Social Systems" (1952); "Psychoanalysis 
and Social Science" (1954); Twenty Years of Psychoanalysis; Family, 
Socialization and Interaction Process (1955); "The Incest Taboo in Rela- 
tion to Social Structure and the Socialization of the Child" (1954); and "An 
Approach to Psychological Theory in Terms of the Theory of Action" 

3. Of course, from the point of reference of the personality as system, 
the organism, that is the person's own body, is itself an object of his situa- 

4. See Lord Adrian, 1953. This stands in contrast to the interpretation 
of many other commentators, less qualified in biology than Lord Adrian. 
Compare also the formula that the instinct is the "representative" of the 
needs of the organism to the "psychic" apparatus. 

5. This, for example, is clearly what happens in learning intellectual con- 
tent. Such learning requires "capacity"; but a textbook of algebra, for ex- 
ample, to one not previously trained in the subject, is not just a "relatively 
favorable influence" on the outcome; it is the primary source of the content 
of the learned pattern. 

6. In this connection I am particularly indebted to a paper by Dr. John 
Bowlby, "The Nature of the Child's Tie to its Mother," 1958, and to per- 
sonal discussions with Dr. Bowlby. The most essential point for our purposes 
is that there are two main levels in Freud's treatment of the problem of 
instinct. One tended to predominate in his earlier work, the other in the 
later. The first is closer to the main biological tradition in emphasizing 
relatively specific inborn patterns of behavior which do not need to be 
learned. It is a type of mechanism prominently emphasized by current 
"ethologists" like Lorenz and Tinbergen. Bowlby emphasizes five such "in- 
stinctual responses," as he calls them, which figure prominently in the first 
year or so of life, namely sucking, crying, smiling, clinging and following. 
The second level concerns the more diffuse "motivational energy" which is 
particularly involved in Freud's later conception of the id. 

The role attributed by Bowlby to the more specific instinctual responses 
does not seem to me to be incompatible with the general thesis of this chap- 
ter. That these and other patterns are definitely inborn is certain. But the 
higher level of organization of the behavioral system, which we think of as 
the personality, cannot be derived from the organization of these responses 
without reference to the influence of object relations exerted in the course 
of the process of socialization. It has, however, been necessary to revise a 
Dumber of statements made in an earlier draft of this chapter in the light of 
these considerations. Essentially the "instinctual responses" may be thought 
of as a set of mechanisms of behavior which operates at a level intermediate 
between the metabolic needs of the organism, on which Freud himself and 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 197 

many later psychoanalysts have laid such great emphasis, and the higher 
order mechanisms of control of behavior through internalized objects. 

7. There is a notable parallel in this respect between Freud and Durk- 
heim. Though the empirical subject-matters of their concern are far apart. 
Durkheim, in his discussion of the relations of mechanical and organic 
solidarity, particularly in his Division of Labor, tended to treat these con- 
cepts as associated with stages in the evolution of social systems. He also 
tried to put them in the context of an analytical theory of social systems. 
See my paper, "Durkheim's Contribution to the Theory of the Integration 
of Social Systems." 

8. The thesis is perhaps most clearly stated in The Problem of Anxiety. 

9. In this connection I am particularly indebted to the work of James 
Olds who strongly emphasizes the independence of pleasure-reward mech- 
anisms from the instinctual needs. Frustration of the latter is closely as- 
sociated with pain and other compulsion mechanisms. See Olds, 1958. 

10. Part, however, of the mother's position vis-a-vis the child is deter- 
mined by the fact that third parties are always involved in the relationship. 
Typically there is a father also present in the situation; he may not partici- 
pate very actively in early child care, but the fact that the mother "lives 
with" him in a common household greatly affects her treatment of her child. 
There may also be older siblings. Then of course this family is a part of a 
larger society which imposes both relational constraints and a set of values 
which, among many other things, set certain norms for what is considered 
proper treatment of infants. 

11. The presumption is that the generalized pleasure mechanism plays a 
crucial part in this learning process and is a primary reason for the impor- 
tance of childhood eroticism. 

12. This proposition needs qualification for certain types of variability 
in the structure of social situations (i.e., kinship systems). 

13. It goes without saying that in terms of "motivational force" the id is 
"stronger" than the ego, as a horse is far stronger than its human rider. 
The ego, however, is not an energy system but a "cybernetic" type of con- 
trol system. For this function relatively little energy is needed. 

14. For some purposes it may well be necessary to distinguish different 
kinds of pleasure; thus, erotic pleasure may be a special type. 

15. In somewhat different and more strictly theoretical terms we might 
say that it constitutes an input from the organism to the personality system. 

16. My own previous views on eroticism and its functions have been 
stated most fully in "The Incest Taboo . . . " 1954. 

17. It may be that a special connection is thus established between the 
independent instinctual responses of sucking and clinging. Such a connec- 
tion between discrete gratifications would imply a generalized medium 
analogous to money in social systems. It is as such a medium that I con- 
ceive pleasure. (See Olds, 1958.) 

18. Olds's work implies that they operate at the level of the central nerv- 
ous system, not of the "erogenous" peripheral areas alone. 

198 Social Theory and Personality 

19. Freud (1935) clearly recognized the duality of being both like and 
unlike the object in speaking of the boy's identification with the father, and 
the girl's with her mother in the oedipal period. 

20. The German term used by Freud is Introjektion. 

21. The Ego and the Id, pp. 36-7. 

22. Throughout this discussion I speak of the mother as the primary 
object of cathexis. More strictly one should refer to a "generalized parent" 
since before the oedipal transition presumably the category of sex has not 
yet been fully internalized, nor the agency-roles of the two parents fully 

23. I have analyzed this elsewhere at considerably greater length than is 
possible here. See Parsons and Bales, (1955) especially Chapter II. This 
book may be used for general reference though my views have changed in 
a few respects since its writing. 

24. See Merton (1957), for an excellent discussion of the complexity of 

25. The taboo on homosexuality is dynamically closely related to that on 
incest. It applies, however, mainly to emancipation from the latency-period 
one-sex peer group, not from the family of orientation. Homosexuality 
would be the most tempting latency-period form of eroticism. 

26. Freud's own analysis of these processes is, in my opinion, consider- 
ably less satisfactory than his analysis of the earlier ones. 

27. On the sociological significance of this transition see S. N. Eisenstadt 
(1956), especially Chapters I and III. 

28. Same-sex friendship seems to occupy an intermediate position be- 
tween these two types. See Eisenstadt (1956), p. 43. 

29. The relation of this passage to Freud's late view of the role of anxiety 
in The Problem of Anxiety as concerned primarily with the fear of object- 
loss, is clear. 


Adrian, Lord. 1953. "Review of Jones, E. The Life and Work of Freud," 
The Observer. London. Vol. I. November. 

Alexander, F. 1950. Psychosomatic Medicine. New York: Norton. 

Bales, R. F. 1953. "The Equilibrium Problem in Small Groups," in Parsons, 
T., Bales, R. F. and Shils, E. A. Working Papers in the Theory of Action. 
Glencoe: The Free Press. 

Bowlby, John. 1958. "The Nature of the Child's Tie to His Mother," Inter- 
national Journal of Psycho-analysis, Vol. 39, Pt. V. 

Eisenstadt, S. N. 1956. From Generation to Generation. Glencoe: The Free 

Freud, S. 1933. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis. New York: 

. 1935. The Ego and the Id. London: Hogarth. 

PA RSONS: Social Structure and Personality Development 199 

. 1936. The Problem of Anxiety. New York: Norton. 

Grinker, R. 1953. Psychosomatic Research. New York: Norton. 

Kazin, A. 1956. "The Freudian Revolution Analyzed," New York Times 
Magazine, May 6, p. 22. 

Merton, R. K. 1957. "The Role Set," British Journal of Sociology, 8:2. 
Olds, J. 1958. "Self Stimulation of the Brain," Science, Feb. 14, 127:315-24. 

Parsons, T. 1950. "Psychoanalysis and the Social Structure," Psychoanalytic 
Quarterly, 19:371-94. 

~. 1952. "The Superego and the Theory of Social Systems," Psychiatry, 


. 1 954a. "Psychoanalysis and Social Science," in Alexander and Ross 

(eds.) , Twenty Years of Psychoanalysis. 

-. 1954b. "The Incest Taboo in Relation to Social Structure and the 

Socialization of the Child," British Journal of Sociology, June, pp. 101-17. 
-. 1958. "Durkheim's Contribution to the Theory of the Integration 

of Social Systems," in Wolff, K. (ed.) Volume Honoring the Centenary of 
Emile Durkheim. Ohio State University Press. 

-. 1959a. "An Approach to Psychological Theoiy in Terms of the 

Theory of Action," in Koch, S. (ed.), Psychology, A Science. Vol. III. 
New York: McGraw-Hill. 

. 1959b. "The School Class as a Social System," Harvard Educa- 
tional Review, Fall, 1959. 

Parsons, T. and Bales, R. F. 1955. Family, Socialization and Interaction 
Process. Glencoe: Free Press. 

Parsons, T., Bales, R. F. and Shils, E. A. 1953. Working Papers in the 
Theory of Action. Glencoe: Free Press. 

Parsons, T. and Shils, E. A. 1951. Toward a General Theory of Action. 
Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Trilling, L. 1955. Freud and the Crisis of Our Culture. Boston: Beacon Press. 

About the Chapter 

In relationship to the more theoretical chapters in this section, this chap- 
ter may be regarded as a case study. Jt is a prototype of researches linking 
modal personality to the functioning of a social system. The authors com- 
pare their Russian sample with an American control group. Their analysis 
is divided into a description of Russian modal personality trends and an 
analysis of the relationship of these trends to the needs and pressures of the 
Soviet socio-political system. Particular attention is given to congruence be- 
tween personality modes and social systems and the implications of in- 
congruence for the functioning of the Soviet system. 

About the Authors 

ALEX INKELES is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, and Di- 
rector of Studies in Social Relations at the Russian Research Center. He is 
the author of Public Opinion in Soviet Russia, and co-author of How the 
Soviet System Works and The Soviet Citizen. The inter-relations of person- 
ality and social structure are at the center of his research interests, and he is 
currently engaged in comparative studies of the social-psychology of indus- 
trial societies. 

EUGENIA HANFMANN is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Stu- 
dent Counseling Center at Brandeis University. She is a diplomate of the 
American Board of Examiners in the specialty of Clinical Psychology. She 
obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Jena in 1927. She 
has done research, teaching and clinical work at Smith College, Worcester 
State Hospital, Mount Holyoke College, the Office of Strategic Services and 
Harvard University. Her special research interests are in the fields of disturb- 
ances of thinking, personality dynamics and projective techniques. 

HELEN BEIER studied at the Universities of Munich, Jena, London, Berlin, 
and in 1933 received her doctoral degree in psychology from the University 
of Danzig. She holds the position of Instructor in Psychology in the Depart- 
ment of Psychiatry of Boston University, as well as that of Chief Psycholo- 
gist in the Child Guidance Center of the Boston City Hospital. She formerly 
did research at the Russian Research Center at Harvard. 

A cknowledgments 

This chapter, in slightly different form, was published first in Human Rela- 
tions, XI, 1, 1959. The authors wish to express their warm appreciation for 
the prolonged support of the Russian Research Center at Harvard. Revisions 
were made by the senior author while he was a Fellow of the Center for Ad- 
vanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; the Center's support is gratefully 

Modal Personality and Adjustment to 
the Soviet Socio-Political System 

ALEX INKELES, Harvard University 

EUGENIA HANFMANN, Brandeis University 

HELEN BEDER, Boston University 

I wo main elements are encompassed in the study of national character. 1 
The first step is to determine what modal personality patterns, if any, are 
found in a particular national population or in its major sub-groups. In 
so far as such modes exist, one can go on to the second stage: studying 
the interrelations between the personality modes and various aspects of 
the social system. Even if the state of our theory warranted the drafting 
of an "ideal" research design for studies in this field, they would require 
staggering sums and would probably be beyond our current methodologi- 
cal resources. We can, however, hope to make progress through more 
restricted efforts. In the investigation reported here we studied a highly 
selected group from the population of the Soviet Union, namely, former 
citizens of Great Russian nationality who "defected" during or after 
World War II. Attention is focused mainly on one aspect of the complex 
interrelations between system and personality; our subjects' participa- 
tion in and adjustment to their Communist socio-political order. 2 We 
found that certain personality modes were outstanding in the group, and 
believe that we can trace then: significance for our subjects' adjustment 
to Soviet society. 


202 Social Theory and Personality 


An intensive program of clinical psychological research was conducted 
as part of the work of the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System. 3 
The Project explored the attitudes and life experiences of former Soviet 
citizens who were displaced during World War II and its aftermath and 
then decided not to return to the USSR. Almost 3,000 completed a long 
written questionnaire, and 329 undertook a detailed general life history 
interview. The individuals studied clinically were selected from the lat- 
ter group. Criteria of selection were that the interviewee seemed a nor- 
mal, reasonably adjusted individual who was relatively young, had 
lived most of his life under Soviet conditions, and was willing to under- 
take further intensive interviewing and psychological testing. 

The group studied clinically included 51 individuals, 41 of whom 
were men. With the exception of a few Ukrainians, all were Great Rus- 
sians. Almost half were under 30, and only 8 were 40 or older at the 
time of interview in 1950, which meant that the overwhelming majority 
grew up mainly under Soviet conditions and were educated in Soviet 
schools. Eleven had a minimum education of 4 years or less, 22 had be- 
tween 4 and 8 years, and 18 had advanced secondary or college train- 
ing. The group consisted predominantly of urban residents. But if those 
who had moved from the countryside to the city were included with the 
rural, then approximately half fell in each category. As might be ex- 
pected from the education data, the group included a rather large pro- 
portion of people in high status occupations, with 1 1 professionals and 
members of the intelligentsia, 7 regular army officers, and 9 white col- 
lar workers. Sixteen were rank and file industrial and agricultural work- 
ers, and 5 rank and file army men. In keeping with the occupational 
pattern but running counter to popular expectations about Soviet refu- 
gees, a rather high proportion were in the Party (6) or the Young Com- 
munist League (13). Again running counter to popular expectations 
about refugees, the group was not characterized by a markedly high in- 
cidence of disadvantaged family background as reflected either in mate- 
rial deprivation, the experience of political arrest, or other forms of re- 
pression at the hands of the regime. Ten were classified as having been 
extremely disadvantaged, and 15 as having suffered minor disadvantage. 

All of the Soviet refugees have in common their "disaffection" from 
Soviet society. The clinical group included mainly the more "active" 
defectors, who left Soviet control on their own initiative rather than the 
"passive" who were removed by force of circumstance. Thirty-four had 
deserted from the military 4 or voluntarily departed with the retreating 
German occupation armies. In general, however, the clinical group was 
not more vigorously anti-Communist than the other refugees. They 
overwhelmingly supported the principles of the welfare state, including 

1NKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 203 

government ownership and state planning, and credited the regime with 
great achievements in foreign affairs and economic and cultural develop- 
ment. They refused to return for much the same reasons given by other 
refugees: fear of reprisal at the hands of the secret police, memories of 
former oppression, opposition to institutions like the collective farm, or 
resentment of the low standard of living and the absence of political 
freedom. In psychological adjustment, finally, they seemed to reflect 
fairly well the tendency toward adequate adjustment which character- 
ized the refugees as a whole. 

With regard to the parent refugee population, then, the clinical group 
was disproportionately male, young, well educated, well placed occupa- 
tionally and politically, and "active" in defecting. 5 In its internal com- 
position, the sample was also unbalanced in being predominantly male. 
Otherwise the sample gave about equal weight to those over and under 
35, manual and white collar occupations, urban or rural backgrounds, 
and education above or below the advanced secondary level. 

Each respondent was interviewed about his childhood experience, 
some aspects of his adult life, and his adjustment to conditions in a dis- 
placed persons camp. Each took a battery of tests which included the 
Rorschach, TAT, a sentence completion test of 60 items, a "projective 
questions" test including 8 of the questions utilized in the authoritarian 
personality study, and a specially constructed "episodes" or problem- 
situations test. We regard the use of this battery of tests as a matter of 
special note, since most attempts to assess modal tendencies in small 
scale societies have relied upon a single instrument, particularly the 
Rorschach. The various tests differ in their sensitivity to particular di- 
mensions or levels of personality, and differentially reflect the impact of 
the immediate emotional state and environmental situation of the sub- 
ject. By utilizing a series of tests, therefore, we hope that we have in sig- 
nificant degree reduced the chances that any particular finding peculiar 
to the special combination of instrument, subject, and situation will have 
been mistakenly interpreted as distinctively Russian. In addition, the use 
of this battery enables us to test our assumptions in some depth, by 
checking for consistency on several tests. 

Each test was independently analyzed according to fairly standard 
scoring methods, and the results reported separately. 6 In reporting their 
results, however, each set of analysts made some observations on the 
character traits which seemed generally important to the group as a 
whole. Further, in drawing these conclusions the analysts made use of a 
criterion group of Americans matched with the Russian sample on age, 
sex, occupation, and education. The availability of such test results 
posed a challenge as to whether or not these general observations, when 
collated and analyzed, would yield any consistent patterns for the group 
as a whole. 

204 Social Theory and Personality 

To make this assessment we selected the eight major headings used 
below as an organizing framework. We believe that they permit a fairly 
full description of the various dimensions and processes of the human 
personality, and at the same time facilitate making connections with 
aspects of the social system. These categories were, however, not part 
of the design of the original clinical research program, and were not 
used by the analysts of the individual instruments. While this circum- 
stance made for lesser comparability between the tests, it forestalled the 
slanting of conclusions to fit the analytic scheme. The statements in the 
conclusions drawn by the analysts of each instrument were written on 
duplicate cards, sorted, and grouped under all the categories to which 
they seemed relevant. The evidence with regard to each category was 
then sifted and weighed. Where there were ambiguous findings the origi- 
nal tables were re-examined for clarification. Relevant impressions based 
on the interviews were also used. Similarities and differences between 
those in our sample and the matching Americans aided in grasping the 
distinctive features of the Russian pattern. On this basis a characteriza- 
tion of the group was developed under each heading of the analytic 

It should be clear that the sketch of modal personality characteristics 
presented below is not a simple and direct translation of particular test 
scores into personality traits. Rather, it is an evaluative, summary state- 
ment, following from the collation and interpretation of conclusions 
drawn from each test, conclusions which were in turn based both on test 
scores and supplementary qualitative material. The word "modal" 
should not be taken too literally in this context. We have relied on some 
test scores when only a small proportion of the sample manifested the 
given response or pattern of responses, if this fit with other evidence in 
developing a larger picture. In stating our findings we have been freer 
with the evidence than some would permit, more strict than others would 
require. We attempted to keep to the canons of the exact method, with- 
out neglecting the clinical interpretations and insights. In this way we 
hoped to arrive at a rich and meaningful picture of the people studied, a 
picture that would provide an adequate basis for an analysis of their ad- 
justment to the socio-political system. 


1. Central Needs 7 

Since all human beings manifest the same basic needs, we cannot as- 
sert that some need is unique to a given national population. Among 
these universal needs, however, some may achieve greater strength or 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 205 

central importance in the organization of the personality, and in this 
sense be typical of the majority of a given group. 

Probably the strongest and most pervasive quality of the Russian per- 
sonality which emerged from our data was a need for affiliation. By this 
we mean a need for intensive interaction with other people in immedi- 
ate, direct, face-to-face relationships, coupled with a great capacity for 
having this need fulfilled through the establishment of warm and per- 
sonal contact with others. Our subjects seemed to welcome others into 
their lives as an indispensable condition of their own existence, and gen- 
erally felt neither isolated nor estranged from them. In contrast to the 
American subjects, the Russians were not too anxiously concerned about 
others' opinion of them and did not feel compelled to cling to a relation- 
ship nor to defend themselves against it. Rather, they manifested a pro- 
found acceptance of group membership and relatedness. These orienta- 
tions were especially prevalent in test situations dealing with relations 
between the individual and small face-to-face groups such as the fam- 
ily, the work team, and the friendship circle. 

Closely linked with the need for affiliation is a need for dependence 
very much like what Dicks (1952) spoke of as the Russians' "strong 
positive drive for enjoying loving protection and security," care and af- 
fection. This need shows not only in orientation towards parents and 
peers, but also in the relations with formal authority figures. Unlike 
Dicks, we did not, however, find a strong need for submission linked 
with the need for dependence. In addition there is substantial evidence 
for the relatively greater strength of oral needs, reflected in preoccu- 
pation with getting and consuming food and drink, in great volubility 
and in emphasis on singing. These features are especially conspicuous by 
contrast with the relative weakness of the more typically compulsive 
puritanical concern for order, regularity and self-control. However, our 
data do not permit us to stress this oral component as heavily as does 
Dicks, who regards it as "typical" for the culture as a whole. 

Several needs rather prominent in the records of the American con- 
trol group did not appear to be of outstanding importance in the per- 
sonality structure of the Russians. Most notable, the great emphasis on 
achievement found in the American records was absent from the Rus- 
sian ones. Within the area of interpersonal relations our data lead us to 
posit a fairly sharp Russian-American contrast. Whereas the American 
records indicate great strength of need for approval and need for auton- 
omy, those needs were rather weakly manifested by the Russians. In 
approaching interpersonal relations, our American subjects seemed to 
fear too close or intimate association with other individuals and groups. 
They often perceived such relations as potentially limiting freedom of 
individual action, and therefore inclined above all to insure their inde- 

206 Social Theory and Personality 

pendence from or autonomy within the group. At the same time the 
Americans revealed a strong desire for recognition and at least formal 
acceptance or approval from the group. They are very eager to be 
"liked," to be regarded as an "all right" guy, and greatly fear isolation 
from the group. Finally we noted that certain needs important in other 
national character studies were apparently not central in either the 
American or the Russian groups. Neither showed much need for domi- 
nance, for securing positions of superordination or for controlling or 
manipulating others and enforcing authority over them. Nor did they 
seem markedly distinguished in the strength of hostile impulses, of de- 
sires to hurt, punish, or destroy. 

2. Modes of Impulse Control 

On the whole the Russians have relatively high awareness of their 
impulses or basic dispositions such as for oral gratification, sex, ag- 
gression, or dependence and rather freely accept them as something 
normal or "natural" rather than as bad or offensive. 8 The Russians 
showed evidence, furthermore, of giving in to these impulses quite read- 
ily and frequently, and of living them out. Although they tended after- 
wards to be penitent and admit that they should not have "lived out" so 
freely, they were not really punitive towards themselves or others for 
failure to control impulses. Of course, this does not mean complete ab- 
sence of impulse control, a condition which would render social life pa- 
tently impossible. Indeed, the Russians viewed their own impulses and 
desires as forces which needed watching, and often professed the belief 
that the control of impulses was necessary and beneficial. The critical 
point is that the Russians seemed to rely much less than the Americans 
on impulse control to be generated and handled from within. Rather, 
they apparently felt a need for aid from without in the form of guidance 
and pressure exerted by higher authority and by the group to assist them 
in controlling their impulses. This is what Dicks referred to as the Rus- 
sian's desire to have a "moral corset" put on his impulses. The Ameri- 
cans, on the other hand, vigorously affirm their ability for ^//-control, 
and seem to assume that the possession of such ability and its exercise 
legitimates their desire to be free from the overt control of authority and 
the group. 

In this connection, the review of individual cases revealed a relative 
lack of well developed defensive structures in many of the Russian sub- 
jects. Mechanisms which serve to counteract and to modify threatening 
feelings and impulses including isolation, intellectualization and reac- 
tion formation seem to figure much less prominently among them than 
among the Americans, The Russians had fewer defenses of this type 
and those they had were less well established. 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 207 

3. Typical Polarities and Dilemmas 

Within certain areas of feelings and motives individuals may typically 
display attitudes and behavior that belong to one or the opposite poles of 
the given variable, or else display a preoccupation with the choice of 
alternatives posed by these poles. Such preoccupation may be taken to 
define the areas of typical dilemmas or conflicts, similar to the polarized 
issues, such as "identity vs. role diffusion" and "intimacy vs. isolation," 
which Erikson (1950) found so important in different stages of psycho- 
logical maturation. 

In our Russian subjects we found a conscious preoccupation with the 
problem of trust vs. mistrust in relation to others. They worried about 
the intentions of the other, expressing apprehension that people may not 
really be as they seem on the surface. There was always the danger that 
someone might entice you into revealing yourself, only then to turn 
around and punish you for what you have revealed. Another typical 
polarity of the Russians' behavior is that of optimism vs. pessimism, or 
of faith vs. despair. One of our projective test items posited the situation 
that tools and materials necessary for doing a job fail to arrive. In re- 
sponding to this item our Russian subjects tended to focus on whether 
the outcome of the situation will be good or bad for the actor, while the 
Americans at once sprang into a plan of action for resolving the situa- 
tion. Finally, we may include under the typical polarities of the Russians' 
attitude that of activity vs. passivity, although in the case of this variable 
we found little indication of a sense of a conscious conflict. However, 
the subjects' choices of alternatives in the projective tests tended to be 
distributed between the active and the passive ones, while the Ameri- 
cans' preference for the active instrumental response was as clear-cut 
and strong as was their generally optimistic orientation. 

The pronounced polarities of the Russians' orientation lend support 
to Dicks's assertion that "the outstanding trait of the Russian personality 
is its contradictoriness its ambivalence" (1952, p. 168). Two qualifi- 
cations, however, must be kept in mind. First, the strength of our Rus- 
sian subjects' dilemmas may have been greatly enhanced by the condi- 
tions of their lives, both in th Soviet Union and abroad. Second, the 
American subjects also show some involvement in problematic issues, 
though the issues were different from the Russian ones. Thus the prob- 
lem of "intimacy vs. isolation" or "autonomy vs. belongingness" to 
which we have already alluded, seemed a major dilemma for Ameri- 
cans but not for the Russians. 

4. Achieving and Maintaining Self-Esteem 

In their orientations toward the self, the Russians displayed rather 
low and unintense self-awareness and little painful self-consciousness. 

208 Social Theory and Personality 

They showed rather high and secure self-esteem, and were little given to 
self-examination and doubt of their inner selves. At the same time they 
were not made anxious by examination of their own motivations or that 
of others, but rather showed readiness to gain insight into psychological 
mechanisms. The American pattern reveals some contrasts here, with 
evidence of acute self-awareness, substantial self-examination and 
doubting of one's inner qualities. 

We were not able to discern any differences between Americans and 
Russians in the relative importance of guilt versus shame as sanctions. 
There were, however, some suggestive differences in what seemed to 
induce both guilt and shame. The Americans were more likely to feel 
guilty or shamed if they failed to live up to clear-cut "public" norms, as 
in matters of etiquette. They were also upset by any hint that they were 
inept, incompetent, or unable to meet production, sports, or similar per- 
formance standards. The Russians did not seem to be equally disturbed 
by such failures, and felt relatively more guilty or ashamed when they 
assumed that they had fallen behind with regard to moral or interper- 
sonal behavior norms, as in matters involving personal honesty, sincer- 
ity, trust, or loyalty to a friend. These latter qualities they value most 
highly and they demand them from their friends. 

5. Relation to Authority 9 

Our clinical instruments presented the subjects with only a limited 
range of situations involving relations with authority. No pronounced 
differences in basic attitudes between Russians and Americans ap- 
peared, except that Russians seemed to have more fear of and much less 
optimistic expectations about authority figures. Both of these manifesta- 
tions might, of course, have been mainly a reflection of their recent ex- 
periences rather than of deeper-lying dispositions. Fortunately, we can 
supplement the clinical materials by the life history interviews which 
dealt extensively with the individual's relations with authority. A definite 
picture emerges from these data. Above all else the Russians want their 
leaders whether boss, district political hack,, or national ruler to be 
warm, nurturant, considerate, and interested in the individuals' prob- 
lems and welfare. The authority is also expected to be the main source 
of initiative in the inauguration of general plans and programs and in 
the provision of guidance and organization for their attainment. The 
Russians do not seem to expect initiative, directedness, and organized- 
ness from an average individual. They therefore expect that the author- 
ity will of necessity give detailed orders, demand obedience, keep check- 
ing up on performance, and use persuasion and coercion intensively to 
insure steady performance. A further major expectation with regard to 
the "legitimate" authority is that it will institute and enforce sanctions 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 209 

designed to curb or control bad impulses in individuals, improper moral 
practices, heathen religious ideas, perverted political procedures, and 
extreme personal injustice. It is then the government which should pro- 
vide that "external moral corset" which Dicks says the Russian seeks. 

An authority which meets these qualifications is "good" and it does 
what it does with "right." Such an authority should be loved, honored, 
respected, and obeyed. Our Russian subjects seemed, however, to ex- 
pect that authority figures would in fact frequently be stern, demanding, 
even scolding and nagging. This was not in and of itself viewed as bad 
or improper. Authority may be, perhaps ought to be autocratic, so long 
as it is not harshly authoritarian and not totally demanding. Indeed, it is 
not a bad thing if such an authority makes one rather strongly afraid, 
makes one "quake" in expectation of punishment for trespassing or 
wrongdoing. Such an authority should not, however, be arbitrary, aloof, 
and unjust. It should not be unfeeling in the face of an open acknowledg- 
ment of one's guilt and of consequent self-castigation. Indeed, many of 
our subjects assumed that authority can in fact be manipulated through 
humbling the self and depicting oneself as a weak, helpless person who 
needs supportive guidance rather than harsh punishment. They also 
assumed that authority may be manipulated by praise or fawning, and 
seduced through the sharing of gratificatory experiences provided by 
the supplicant as through the offer of a bottle of liquor and the subse- 
quent sharing of some drinks. Russians also favor meeting the pressure 
of authority by evasive tactics, including such devices as apparently well- 
intentioned failure to comprehend and departures from the scene of ac- 

Throughout their discussions of authority our respondents showed 
little concern for the preservation of precise forms, rules, regulations, 
exactly defined rights, regularity of procedure, formal and explicit limi- 
tation of powers, or the other aspects of the traditional constitutional 
Anglo-Saxon approach to law and government. For the Russians a gov- 
ernment which has the characteristics of good government listed above, 
justifies its right to rule by virtue of that performance. In that case, one 
need not fuss too much about the fine points of law. By contrast, if gov- 
ernment is harsh, arbitrary, disinterested in public welfare which it is 
apparently expected to be more often than not then it loses its right to 
govern no matter how legal its position and no matter how close its ob- 
servance of the letter of the law. 

6. Modes of Affective Functioning 

One of the most salient characteristics of the Russian personality was 
the high degree of their expressiveness and emotional aliveness. On most 
test items the Russian responses had a stronger emotional coloring, and 

210 Social Theory and Personality 

covered a wider range of emotions than did the American responses. The 
Russians' feelings were easily brought into play, and they showed them 
openly and freely both in speech and in facial expression, without much 
suppression or disguise. In particular they showed a noticeably greater 
freedom and spontaneity in criticism and in the expression of hostile 
feelings than was true for the Americans. There were, further, two emo- 
tions which the Russians showed with a frequency far exceeding that 
found in the Americans fear, and depression or despair. Many of the 
ambiguous situations posited in the tests were viewed by them in terms 
of danger and threat, on the one hand, and of privation and loss on the 
other. Undoubtedly this was in good part a reflection of the tense social 
situation which they had experienced in the Soviet Union, and of their 
depressed status as refugees, but we believe that in addition deeper ly- 
ing trends were here being tapped. These data provide some evidence 
in support of the oft noted prevalence of depressive trends among the 

7. Modes of Cognitive Functioning 

In this area we include characteristic patterns of perception, memory, 
thought, and imagination, and the processes involved in forming and 
manipulating ideas about the world around one. Of all the modes of per- 
sonality organization it is perhaps the most subtle, and certainly in the 
present state of theory and testing one of the most difficult to formulate. 
Our clinical materials do, however, permit a few comments. 

In discussing people, the Russians show a keen awareness of the 
"other" as a distinct entity as well as a rich and diversified recognition of 
his special characteristics. Other people are usually perceived by them 
not as social types but as concrete individuals with a variety of attributes 
distinctly their own. The Russians think of people and evaluate them 
for what they are rather than in terms of how they evaluate ego, the lat- 
ter being a more typically American approach. The Russians also paid 
more attention to the "others' " basic underlying attributes and attitudes 
than to their behavior as such or their performance on standards of 
achievement and accomplishment in the instrumental realm. 

Similar patterns were evident in their perception of interpersonal 
situations. In reacting to the interpersonal relations "problems" pre- 
sented by one of the psychological tests they more fully elaborated the 
situation, cited more relevant incidents from folklore or their own ex- 
perience, and offered many more illustrations of a point. In contrast, the 
Americans tended more to describe the formal, external, characteristics 
of people, apparently being less perceptive of the individual's motiva- 
tional characteristics. The Americans also tended to discuss interper- 
sonal problems on a rather generalized and abstract level. With regard 

INKELES, et al. : A djustment to the Soviet System 211 

to most other types of situation, however, especially problems involving 
social organization, the pattern was somewhat reversed. Russians tended 
to take a rather broad, sweeping view of the situation, generalizing at 
the expense of details, about which they were often extremely vague 
and poorly informed. They seemed to feel their way through such situa- 
tions rather than rigorously to think them through, tending to get into a 
spirit of grandiose planning but without attention to necessary details. 

8. Modes of Conative Functioning 

By conative functioning we mean the patterns, the particular behav- 
ioral forms of the striving for any valued goals, including the rhythm or 
pace at which these goals are pursued and the way in which that rhythm 
is regulated. In this area our clinical data are not very rich. Neverthe- 
less, we have the strong impression that the Russians do not match the 
Americans in vigor of striving to master all situations or problems put be- 
fore them. Rather, problems are met primarily through adaptive instru- 
mental orientations. Though by no means listless, Russians seem much 
more passively accommodative to the apparent hard facts of situations. 
In addition, they appeared less apt to persevere systematically in the 
adaptive courses of action they did undertake, tending to backslide into 
passive accommodation when the going proved rough. At the same time, 
the Russians do seem capable of great bursts of activity, which suggests 
the bi-modality of an assertive-passive pattern of strivings in contrast to 
the steadier, more even, and consistent pattern of strivings among the 

To sum up, one of the most salient characteristics of the personality of 
our Russian subjects was their emotional aliveness and expressiveness. 
They felt their emotions keenly, and did not tend to disguise or to deny 
them to themselves, nor to suppress their outward expression to the same 
extent as the Americans. The Russians criticized themselves and others 
with greater freedom and spontaneity. Relatively more aware and tol- 
erant of impulses for gratification in themselves and others, they relied 
less than the Americans on self-control from within and more on external 
socially imposed controls applied by the peer group or authority. 

A second outstanding characteristic of the Russians was their strong 
need for intensive interaction with others, coupled with a strong and se- 
cure feeling of relatedness to them, high positive evaluation of such be- 
longingness, and great capacity to enjoy such relationships. The image 
of the "good" authority was of a warm, nurturant, supportive figure. Yet 
our subjects seemed to assume that this paternalism might and indeed 
should include superordinate planning and firm guidance, as well as 
control or supervision of public and personal morality, and if necessary, 
of thought and belief. It is notable, in this connection, that in the realm 

212 Social Theory and Personality 

of conative and cognitive functioning orderliness, precision of planning 
and persistence in striving were not outstandingly present. Such qualities 
were rather overshadowed by tendencies toward over-generalizing, 
vagueness, imprecision, and passive accommodation. Countering the 
image of the good authority, there was an expectation that those with 
power would in fact often be harsh, aloof, and authoritarian. The effect 
of such behavior by authority is alienation of loyalty. This fits rather 
well with the finding that the main polarized issues or dilemmas were 
those of "trust vs. mistrust" in relations with others, "optimism vs. pessi- 
mism," and "activity vs. passivity," whereas the more typically Ameri- 
can dilemma of "intimacy vs. isolation" was not a problem for many 

Though strongly motivated by needs for affiliation and dependence 
and wishes for oral gratification in contrast to greater strength of 
needs for achievement, autonomy, and approval among the Americans 
our Russian subjects seemed to have a characteristically sturdy ego. 
They were rather secure in their self-estimation, and unafraid to face up 
to their own motivation and that of others. In contrast to the Americans, 
the Russians seemed to feel shame and guilt for defects of "character" in 
interpersonal relations rather than for failure to meet formal rules of 
etiquette or instrumental production norms. Compared to the Ameri- 
cans, however, they seemed relatively lacking in well developed and 
stabilized defenses with which to counteract and modify threatening im- 
pulses and feelings. The organization of their personality depended for 
its coherence much more heavily on their intimate relatedness to those 
around them, their capacity to use others' support and to share with 
them their emotions. 


In the following comments we are interpreting "political partici- 
pation" rather broadly, to cover the whole range of the individual's role 
as the citizen of a large-scale national state. We therefore include his 
major economic and social as well as his specifically political roles. This 
may extend the concept of political participation too far for most na- 
tional states, but for the Soviet Union, where all aspects of social life 
have been politicized, it is the only meaningful approach. Specifically, 
the questions to which we address ourselves are as follows: 

Assuming that the traits cited above were widespread among the 
group of Great Russians studied by our project, what implications would 
this have for their adjustment to the role demands made on them by the 
social system in which they participated? To what extent can the typi- 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 213 

cal complaints of refugees against the system, and the typical com- 
plaints of the regime against its own people., be traced to the elements 
of non-congruence between these personality modes and Soviet social 

A full answer to these questions would involve us in a much more 
extensive presentation and a more complex analysis than is possible 
here. We wish to stress that our analysis is limited to the Soviet socio- 
political system as it typically functioned under Stalin's leadership, 
(Bauer, Inkeles and Kluckhohn, 1956; Fainsod, 1953) since this was 
the form of the system in which our respondents lived and to which 
they had to adjust. To avoid any ambiguity on this score we have fairly 
consistently used the past tense. We sincerely hope that this will not lead 
to the mistaken assumption that we regard the post-Stalin era as mas- 
sively discontinuous with the earlier system. However, to specify in 
any detail the elements of stability and change in post-Stalin Russia, and 
to indicate the probable effects of such changes on the adjustment of 
Soviet citizens to the system, is beyond the scope of this chapter. As for 
the personality dimensions, we wUl discuss each in its relations to sys- 
tem participation separately, rather than in the complex combinations 
in which they operate in reality. Only those of the personality traits 
cited above are discussed that clearly have relevance for the individual's 
participation in the socio-political system. 

Need Affiliation 

Virtually all aspects of the Soviet regime's pattern of operation seem 
calculated to interfere with the satisfaction of the Russians' need for 
affiliation. The regime has placed great strains on friendship relations 
by its persistent programs of political surveillance, its encouragement 
and elaboration of the process of denunciation, and its assignment of 
mutual or "collective" responsibility for the failings of particular indi- 
viduals. The problem was further aggravated by the regime's insistence 
that its elite maintain a substantial social distance between itself and the 
rank-and-file. In addition, the regime developed an institutional system 
which affected the individual's relations with others in a way that ran 
strongly counter to the basic propensities of the Russians as represented 
in our sample. 

The desire for involvement in the group and the insistence on loyalty, 
sincerity, and general responsiveness from others, received but little op- 
portunity for expression and gratification in the tightly controlled Soviet 
atmosphere. Many of the primary face-to-face organizations most im-. 
portant to the individual were infiltrated, attacked, or even destroyed 
by the regime. The breakup of the old village community and its replace- 
ment by the more formal, bureaucratic, and impersonal collective farm 

214 Social Theory and Personality 

is perhaps the most outstanding example, but it is only one of many. 
The disruption and subordination to the state of the traditional family 
group, of the Church, the independent professional associations and the 
trade unions are other cases in point. The regime greatly feared the de- 
velopment of local autonomous centers of power. Every small group was 
seen as a potential conspiracy against the regime or its policies. The 
system of control required that each and all constantly watch and report 
on each other. The top hierarchy conducted a constant war on what it 
scornfully called "local patriotism," "back scratching" and "mutual se- 
curity associations," even though in reality it was attacking little more 
than the usual personalizing tendencies incidental to effective business 
and political management. The people strove hard to maintain their 
small group structures, and the regime persistently fought this trend 
through its war against "familieness" and associated evils. At the same 
time it must be recognized that by its emphasis on broad group loyalties, 
the regime probably captured and harnessed somewhat the propensities 
of many Russians to give themselves up wholly to a group membership 
and to group activity and goals. This is most marked in the Young Com- 
munist League and in parts of the Party. 

Need Orality 

The scarcity element which predominated in Soviet society, the strictly 
rationed economy of materials, and men, and the physical requirements 
of daily life seem to have aroused intense anxieties about further oral 
deprivation which served greatly to increase the impact of the real 
shortages which have been chronic to the system. Indeed, the image of 
the system which most individuals in our sample held is very much that 
of an orally depriving, niggardly, non-nurturant leadership. On the other 
hand, the regime can hope to find a quick road to better relations with 
the population by strategic dumping or glutting with goods. To some ex- 
tent, this was attempted during the period of Malenkov's ascendancy, 
although perhaps more in promise than reality. 

Need Dependence 

The regime took pride in following Lenin in "pushing" the masses. It 
demanded that individuals be responsible and carry on "on their own" 
with whatever resources were at hand. It clamored for will and self- 
determination (see Bauer 1952). Clearly, this was not very congruent 
with the felt need for dependent relations. At the same time certain as- 
pects of the regime satisfied the need for dependence. The popular image 
of the regime as one possessed of a strong sense of direction fits in with 
this need. Similarly emphasis on a massive formal program of social- 
welfare measures helped, even if they were not too fully implemented. 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 2 1 5 

This directedness has a bearing also on the problem of submission. Al- 
though the regime had the quality of a firm authority able to give needed 
direction, it did not gain as much as it might because it was viewed as 
interested in the maximation of power per se. This appears to alienate 
the Russian as represented in our sample. 

The Trust-Mistrust Dilemma 

Everything we know about Soviet society makes it clear that it was 
extremely difficult for a Soviet citizen to be at all sure about the good in- 
tentions of his government leaders and his immediate supervisors. They 
seemed always to talk support and yet to mete out harsh treatment. This 
divided behavior pattern of the leadership seemed to aggravate the 
apparent Russian tendency to see the intentions of others as proble- 
matical, It intensified the dilemma of trust-mistrust. On the basis of our 
interviews one might describe this dilemma of whether or not to grant 
trust as very nearly the central problem in the relations of former Soviet 
citizens to their regime. The dilemma of optimism vs. pessimism, of 
whether outcomes will be favorable or unfavorable, presents a very 
similar situation. 

The Handling of Shame 

The regime tried exceedingly hard to utilize public shame to force or 
cajole Soviet citizens into greater production and strict observance of 
the established rules and regulations. Most of our available public 
documentary evidence indicates that the regime was not outstandingly 
successful in this respect. Our clinical findings throw some light on the 
reason. The regime tried to focus shame on nonperformance, on fail- 
ures to meet production obligations or to observe formal bureaucratic 
rules. To judge by the clinical sample, however, the Russian is little 
shamed by these kinds of performance failures, and is more likely to 
feel shame in the case of moral failures. Thus, the Soviet Russian might 
be expected to be fairly immune to the shaming pressures of the regime. 
Indeed, the reactions of those in our sample suggest the tables often 
get turned around, with the citizen concluding that it is the regime which 
should be ashamed because it has fallen down in these important moral 

Affective Functioning 

The general expansiveness of the Russians in our sample, their easily 
expressed feelings, the giving in to impulse, and the free expression of 
criticism, were likely to meet only the coldest reception from the regime. 
It emphasized and rewarded control, formality, and lack of feeling in 
relations. Discipline, orderliness, and strict observance of rules are what 

216 Social Theory and Personality 

it expects. Thus, our Russian subjects could hope for little official re- 
ward in response to their normal modes of expression. In fact, they 
could be expected to run into trouble with the regime as a result of their 
proclivities in this regard. Their expansiveness and tendency freely to 
express their feelings, including hostile feelings, exposed them to re- 
taliation from the punitive police organs of the state. And insofar as 
they did exercise the necessary control and avoided open expression 
of hostile feelings, they experienced a sense of uneasiness and resent- 
ment because of this unwarranted imposition, which did much to color 
their attitude to the regime. 

Conative Functioning 

The non-striving quality of our Russian subjects ties in with the 
previously mentioned characteristics of dependence and non-instru- 
mentality. The regime, of course, constantly demanded greater effort 
and insisted on a more instrumental approach to problems. It empha- 
sized long-range planning and deferred gratification. There was a con- 
tinual call for efforts to "storm bastions," to "breach walls," "to strive 
mightily." With the Russian as he is represented in our sample, it does 
not appear likely that the regime could hope to meet too positive a 
response here; in fact it encountered a substantial amount of rejection 
for its insistence on modes of striving not particularly congenial to a 
substantial segment of the population. Indeed, the main influence may 
have been exerted by the people on the system, rather than by the sys- 
tem on them. Soviet official sources have for many years constantly 
complained of the uneven pace at which work proceeds, with the usual 
slack pace making it necessary to have great, often frenzied, bursts of 
activity to complete some part of the Plan on schedule, followed again 
by a slack period. It may well be that this pattern results not only from 
economic factors such as the uneven flow of raw material supplies, but 
that it also reflects the Russian tendency to work in spurts. 

Relations to Authority 

In many ways the difficulties of adjustment to the Soviet system ex- 
perienced by our subjects revolved around the gap between what they 
hoped a "good" government would be and what they perceived to be the 
behavior of the regime. Our respondents freely acknowledged that the 
Soviet leaders gave the country guidance and firm direction, which in 
some ways advanced the long-range power and prestige of the nation. 
They granted that the regime well understood the principles of the wel- 
fare state, and cited as evidence its provision of free education and 
health services. The general necessity of planning was also allowed, in- 
deed often affirmed, and the regime was praised for taking into its own 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 217 

hands the regulation of public morality and the conscious task of 
"raising the cultural level" through support of the arts and the encour- 
agement of folk culture. 

Despite these virtues, however, the whole psychological style of 
ruling and of administration adopted by the Bolsheviks seems to have 
had the effect of profoundly estranging our respondents. A great gulf 
seemed to separate the rulers and the ruled, reflected in our respond- 
ents' persistent use of a fundamental "we" "they" dichotomy. "They" 
were the ones in power who do bad things to us, and "we" were the 
poor, ordinary, suffering people who, despite internal differences in 
status or income, share the misfortune of being oppressed by "them." 
Most did not know that Stalin had once asserted that the Bolsheviks 
could not be a "true" ruling party if they limited themselves "to a mere 
registration of the sufferings and thoughts of the proletarian masses." 
(Stalin, 1933) Yet our respondents sensed this dictum behind the style 
of Soviet rule. They reacted to it in charging the leaders with disinterest 
in individual welfare and extraordinary callousness about the amount 
of human suffering engendered in carrying out their plans. Our subjects 
saw the regime as harsh and arbitrary. The leaders were characterized 
as cold, aloof, "deaf" and unyielding to popular pleas, impersonal and 
distant from the people's problems and desires. The regime was seen not 
as firmly guiding but as coercive, not as paternally stern but as harshly 
demanding, not as nurturant and supportive but as autocratic and ra- 
paciously demanding, not as chastening and then forgiving but as 
nagging and unyieldingly punitive. 

The rejection of the regime was however by no means total, and the 
Bolshevik pattern of leadership was in many respects seen not as totally 
alien but rather as native yet unfortunately exaggerated. This "ac- 
ceptance" did not extend to the coldness, aloofness, formality, and 
maintenance of social distance which were usually rejected. It did, how- 
ever, apply to the pressures exerted by the regime, which were felt to 
be proper but excessive. Coercion by government was understandable, 
but that applied by the regime was not legitimate because it was so 
harsh. The scolding about backsliding was recognized as necessary, but 
resented for being naggingly persistent and caustic. And the surveillance 
was expected, but condemned for being so pervasive, extending as it did 
even into the privacy of one's friendship and home relations, so that 
a man could not even hope to live "peacefully" and "quietly." The ele- 
ments of acceptance within this broader pattern of rejection have im- 
portant implications for the future of the post-Stalin leadership. They 
suggest that the regime may win more positive support by changing the 
mode of application of many of its authoritarian and totalitarian policies 
without necessarily abandoning these policies and institutions as such. 

218 Social Theory and Personality 

Indeed in watching the public behavior of men like Khrushchev and 
Bulganin one cannot help but feel that their style of leadership behavior 
is much more congenial to Russians than was that of Stalin. 

The preceding discussion strongly suggests that there was a high de- 
gree of incongruence between the central personality modes and dis- 
positions of many Russians and some essential aspects of the structure 
of Soviet society, in particular the behavior of the regime. Most of the 
popular grievances were clearly based on real deprivations and frus- 
trations, but the dissatisfactions appear to be even more intensified and 
given a more emotional tone because they were based also on the poor 
"fit" between the personality patterns of many Soviet citizens and the 
"personality" of the leaders as it expressed itself in the institutions they 
created, in their conduct of those institutions and the system at large, 
and in the resultant social climate in the USSR. 


Since personality traits found in the Russian sample are merely 
modal rather than common to the group at large, it follows that sub- 
groups can meaningfully be differentiated by the choice of appropriate 
cutting points on the relevant continua. As a way of placing the indi- 
viduals in our sample on a common scale, three elements from the total 
range of characteristics previously described were selected. They were 
chosen on the grounds that they were most important in distinguishing 
the Russians as a group from the Americans, and also because they 
seemed meaningfully related to each other as elements in a personality 
syndrome. The three characteristics were: great strength of the drive for 
social relatedness, marked emotional aliveness, and general lack of well 
developed, complex, and pervasive defenses. The two clinicians rated all 
cases for a combination of these traits on a three point scale. Cases 
judged on the basis of a review of both interview and test material to 
have these characteristics in a marked degree were placed in a group 
designated as the "primary set." Individuals in whom these charac- 
teristics were clearly evident but less strongly pronounced, were desig- 
nated as belonging to a "variant" set. The "primary" and "variant" sets 
together constitute a relatively homogeneous group of cases who clearly 
revealed the characteristics which we have described as "modal." All 
the remaining cases were placed in a "residual" category, characterized 
by markedly stronger development of defenses, and in most instances 
also by lesser emotional expressiveness and lesser social relatedness. 
This group was relatively the least homogeneous of the three because its 
members tended to make use of rather different combinations of de- 
fenses without any typical pattern for the set as a whole. Subjects placed 

INKELES, et al: A djustment to the Soviet System 2 1 9 

in the "residual" group appeared to differ more from those in the "vari- 
ant" set than the "primary" and the "variant" sets differed from each 
other. However, even the "residual" pattern was not separated from the 
others by a very sharp break: emotional aliveness and relatedness to 
people was present also in some members of this group. 

Each of our 51 cases was assigned to one of four social status cate- 
gories on the basis of occupation and education. All those in group A 
were professionals and higher administrative personnel most of whom 
had university training, and all those in the D group were either peas- 
ants, or unskilled or semi-skilled workers with no more than five years of 
education. Placement in the two intermediary categories was also de- 
termined by the balance of occupation and education, group B con- 
sisting largely of white collar workers and semi-professional and middle 
supervisory personnel, and group C of more skilled workers with better 

Table 1 gives the distribution of cases among the three personality 
types within each of the four status groups. It is evident that the pri- 
mary pattern has its greatest strength in the lower classes, becomes rela- 
tively less dominant in the middle layers, and plays virtually no role at 
all in the top group. The "residual" pattern predominates at the top 
level and is very rare among peasants and ordinary workers. 

Table 1 


Personality Type 
Status primary 


B 2 

C 3 

D _8 

total 13 

The distinctive patterns of adjustment to the Soviet system by the 
various socio-economic groups are discussed in detail in another pub- 
lication (Inkeles and Bauer 1959). Here we restrict ourselves to a few 
general observations. First, we wish to stress that, as our interviews 
indicate, both the more favored and the rank-and-file share substantially 
the same range of complaints against the regime, find the same broad 
institutional features such as the political terror and the collective farm 
objectionable, and view the same welfare features such as the system of 
education and free medical care as desirable. In spite of these common 



















220 Social Theory and Personality 

attitudes, our data suggest that personality may play a massive role 
with regard to some aspects of participation in and adjustment to the 
socio-political system. The educational-occupational level attained 
and/or maintained by an individual in an open-class society is one of 
the major dimensions of such participation. This is particularly the case 
in the Soviet Union where professional and higher administrative per- 
sonnel are inevitably more deeply implicated in the purposes and plans 
of the regime, are politically more active and involved, and are sub- 
jected to greater control and surveillance. It seems plausible that per- 
sons in whom the affiliative need was particularly strong, expressiveness 
marked and impulse control weak, and the defensive structures not well 
developed or well organized, would be handicapped in competition for 
professional and administrative posts in any society; they certainly 
could not be expected to strive for or to hold on to positions of responsi- 
bility in the Soviet system. 

The pattern of marked association between certain traits of person- 
ality and educational-occupational level clearly invites a question as to 
whether the personality really affected the level attained and held, or 
whether the appropriate personality traits were merely acquired along 
with the status. This question raises complex issues which we cannot ex- 
plore here. We do wish to point out, however, that the characteristics on 
which our psychological grouping was based belong to those that are 
usually formed at an early age and are relatively long enduring and 
resistant to change. At first glance this affirmation of the early origins of 
the patterns described seems to be inconsistent with their observed 
association with educational-occupational level. However, the con- 
tradiction exists only if one assumes that obtaining a higher education 
and a superior occupation in Soviet society is a matter either of pure 
chance or exclusively of ability, unrelated to family background and 
the person's own attitudes and strivings. The data on stratification and 
mobility in Soviet society show, however, that persons born into fami- 
lies of higher social and educational level have a much better chance 
than do others to obtain a higher education and professional training 
(Feldmesser, 1953; Inkeles, 1950). Consequently, many people of the 
professional and administrative class grew up in families of similar 
status, and in those families were apparently reared in a way dif- 
ferent from that typical of the peasant and worker families (see Rossi, 
1954). Presumably, this produced enduring effects on their personality, 
which were important prior to exposure to common educational ex- 

In Addition, mobility out of the lower classes may have been mainly 
by individuals whose personality was different, for whatever reason, 
from that of the majority of their class of origin. Such differences can 

INKELES, et al : A djustment to the Soviet System 22 1 

easily express themselves in a stronger drive for education and for a 
position of status. We must also allow for the role played by the re- 
gime's deliberate selection of certain types as candidates for positions 
of responsibility. Finally, there is the less conscious "natural selection" 
process based on the affinity between certain personality types and the 
opportunities offered by membership in the elite and near elite cate- 
gories. In this connection we are struck by the relative distinctness of the 
highest status level in our sample, since only one person with either of 
the two variants of the modal personality of the rank and file shows up 
among them. These results bear out the impression, reported by Dicks, 
of radical personality differences and resultant basic incompatibilities 
between the ruled population and the rulers. The latter, we assume, are 
still further removed from the "modal pattern" than are our subjects in 
the elite group. 

We have yet to deal with the question of how far our observations 
concerning a group of refugees can be generalized to the Soviet popu- 
lation and its adjustment to the Soviet system. The answer to this ques- 
tion depends in good part on whether personality was an important 
selective factor in determining propensity to defect among those in the 
larger group who had the opportunity to do so. 10 It is our impression 
that personality was not a prime determinant of the decision not to re- 
turn to Soviet control after World War II. Rather, accidents of the indi- 
vidual's life history such as past experience with the regime's 
instruments of political repression, or fear of future repression because 
of acts which might be interpreted as collaboration with the Germans, 
seem to have been the prime selective factors. Furthermore, such ex- 
periences and fears, though they affected the loyalty of the Soviet 
citizen, were not prime determinants of his pattern of achievement or 
adjustment in the Soviet socio-political system. The refugee popu- 
lation is not a collection of misfits or historical "leftovers." It includes 
representatives from all walks of life and actually seemed to have a 
disproportionately large number of the mobile and successful. 

Though we are acutely aware of the smallness of our sample, we 
incline to assume that the personality modes found in it would be found 
within the Soviet Union in groups comparable in nationality and occu- 
pation. We are strengthened in this assumption by several consider- 
ations. First, the picture of Russian modal personality patterns which 
emerges from our study is highly congruent with the traditional or classic 
picture of the Russian character reported in history, literature and 
current travellers' accounts. 11 Secondly, much of the criticism directed by 
the regime against the failings of the population strongly suggests that 
some of the traits we found modal to our sample and a source of strain 
in its adjustment to the system are widespread in the population and 

222 Social Theory and Personality 

pose an obstacle to the attainment of the regime's purposes within the 
U.S.S.R. Third, the differences in personality between occupational 
levels are consistent with what we know both of the general selective 
processes in industrial occupational systems and of the deliberate se- 
lective procedures adopted by the Soviet regime. Because of the meth- 
odological limitations of our study, the generalization of our findings to 
the Soviet population must be considered as purely conjectural. Un- 
fortunately we will be obliged to remain on this level of conjecture as 
long as Soviet citizens within the U.S.S.R. are not accessible to study 
under conditions of relative freedom. We feel, however, that, with all 
their limitations, the findings we have reported can be of essential aid in 
furthering our understanding of the adjustment of a large segment of the 
Soviet citizens to their socio-political system and of the policies adopted 
by the regime in response to the disposition of the population. 


1. For a discussion of the basic issues and a review of research in this 
field see Inkeles, A. and Levinson, D. J. (1954). 

2. For analysis of another aspect of the psychological properties of this 
group, see Hanfmann, 1957. 

3. The research was carried out by the Russian Research Center under 
contract AF No. 33(038)-12909 with the former Human Resources Re- 
search Institute, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. For a general account 
of the purposes and design of the study see: Bauer, Inkeles and Kluckhohn, 
1956. The clinical study is described by Hanfmann and Beier, 1958. 

4. This was in part a result of our selection procedure. The larger project 
was particularly interested in post-war defectors, almost all of whom came 
from the Soviet military occupation forces in Germany. Half of the men 
fell in that category. 

5. The young post-war defectors on the whole did prove to be less stable 
and more poorly adjusted. Apart from their adjustment or "integration," 
however, they shared with the rest of the sample much the same range of 
outstanding personality traits. Therefore, no further distinctions between 
that group and the rest are discussed in this chapter. See Hanfmann and 
Beier, 1958. 

6. See Hanfmann and Getzels, 1955, for a detailed report on the "Epi- 
sodes Test." A brief account of results on the Projective Questions has also 
been published in Beier and Hanfmann, 1956. Some of the TAT results are 
described in Rosenblatt, 1960. The other results were described in the fol- 
lowing unpublished reports of the Project, which may be examined at the 
Russian Research Center: "Some Systematic Patterns of Relationship be- 
tween Personality and Attitudes among Soviet Displaced Persons," by Marc 
Fried, October 1954, 133 pages; "Relationships between Personality and 
Attitudes among Soviet Displaced Persons: A Technical Memorandum on 
the Derivation of Personality Variables from a Sentence Completion Test," 
by Marc Fried and Doris Held, August 1953, 125 pages; "A Comparative 

INKELES, et al: Adjustment to the Soviet System 223 

Analysis of the Responses to a Sentence Completion Test of a Matched 
Sample of Americans and Former Russian Subjects," by H. E. Roseborough 
and H. P. Phillips, April 1953, 80 pages. 

7. See H. Murray, 1938. We do not strictly follow Murray In our use of 
the "need" terminology. 

8. Such a statement must of course always be one of degree. We do not 
mean to say that such threatening impulses as those toward incest are present 
in the awareness of Russians or are accepted by them more than by Ameri- 

9. Relations to authority may be thought of as simply one aspect of a 
broader category "conceptions of major figures," which includes parents, 
friends, etc. We have included some comments on the Russians' perceptions 
of others under "cognitive modes" below. 

10. It is impossible to estimate accurately how many former Soviet citi- 
zens had a real chance to choose not to remain under Soviet authority. The 
best available estimates suggest that at the close of hostilities in Europe in 
1945 there were between two and a half and five million former Soviet citi- 
zens in territories outside Soviet control or occupation, and of these between 
250,000 and 500,000 decided and managed to remain in the West (see 
Fischer, 1952). 

11. After this article was completed we discovered a report based almost 
entirely on participant observation which yielded conclusions about modal 
personality patterns among Soviet Russians extra-ordinarily similar to those 
developed on the basis of our tests and interviews (see Pfister-Ammende, 


Bauer, R. 1952. The New Man in Soviet Psychology. Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press. 

Bauer, R., Inkeles, A. and Kluckhohn, C. 1953. "How the Soviet System 
Works." In Fainsod, M. (ed.) , How Russia is Ruled. Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press. 

. 1956. How the Soviet System Works. Cambridge: Harvard Univer- 
sity Press. 

Beier, H. and Hanfmann, E. 1956. "Emotional Attitudes of Former Soviet 
Citizens as Studied by the Technique of Projective Questions," Journal of 
A bnormal and Social Psychology, 53 : 143-53. 

Dicks, H. V. 1952. "Observations on Contemporary Russian Behavior," 
Human Relations, 5:11 1-74. 

Erikson, E. 1950. Childhood and Society. New York: Norton. 

Fainsod, Merle, (ed.) 1953. How Russia is Ruled. Cambridge: Harvard Uni- 
versity Press. 

Feldmesser, R. 1953. "The Persistence of Status Advantages in Soviet Rus- 
sia," American Journal of Sociology, 59: 19-27. 

Fischer, G. 1952. Soviet Opposition to Stalin. Cambridge: Harvard Univer- 
sity Press. 

224 Social Theory and Personality 

Hanfmann, E. 1957. "Social Perception in Russian Displaced Persons and an 
American Comparison Group," Psychiatry, 20: 131 49. 

Hanfmann, E. and Beier, H. 1958. "The Mental Health of a Group of Rus- 
sian Displaced Persons," American Journal of Ortho psychiatry, 28:24155. 

Hanfmann, E. and Getzels, J. 1955. "Interpersonal Attitudes of Former 
Soviet Citizens as Studied by a Semi-Projective Method," Psychological 
Monographs, 69, No. 4. 

Inkeles, A. 1950. "Stratification and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union: 
1 940-1 950," A merican Sociological Review, 1 5 : 465-79. 

Inkeles, A. and Bauer, R. 1959. The Soviet Citizen. Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press. 

Inkeles, A. and Levinson, D. J. 1954. "National Character: The Study of 
Modal Personality and Sociocultural Systems." In Lindzey, G, (ed.) , Hand- 
book of Social Psychology. Cambridge: Addison- Wesley, 11:977-1020. 

Murray, H. 1938. Explorations in Personality. New York: Oxford University 

Pfister-Ammende, M. 1949. "Psychologische Erfahrungen mit Sowjetrus- 
sischen Fliichtlmgen in der Schweiz." In Pfister-Ammende, M. (ed.), Die 
Psychohygiene: Grundlagen und Ziele. Bern: Hans Huber. 

Rosenblatt, D. 1960. "Responses of Former Soviet Citizens to Selected TAT 
Cards," Journal of General Psychology, 63:273-84. 

Rossi, A. 1954. "Generational Differences Among Former Soviet Citizens." 
Unpublished Ph.D. thesis in sociology, Columbia University. 

Stalin, J. 1933. Leninism. New York: International Publishers, 1:95-96. 

About the Chapter 

Dr. Devereux's chapter analyzes the modal personality concept, one of 
the most central and widely utilized concepts in the culture and personality 
field. He distinguishes between psychological and sociological interpretations 
of the concept. The former deal with the actual motivations that occur in 
individuals in a particular group, the latter emerge from the sociologist's need 
to explain uniformities in social behavior by positing some shared motiva- 
tion. In his discussion of the motivational bases of revolutionary behavior 
during the Hungarian uprising of 1956, Dr. Devereux suggests that the 
sociologists' conception of modal personality implies socially relevant mo- 
tives like "patriotism," "economic interest," and others which stand in an 
"instrumental" relationship to the actual motives of persons, and serve to 
channel the diversity of motives into shared behavior patterns, which sup- 
port social processes. He contends that the modal personality concept, when 
used in this way, does not require that persons participating in a social proc- 
ess be homogeneous in their motivational dispositions/ This position is related 
to Dr. Spiro's analysis in Chapter 2. 

About the Author 

GEORGE DEVEREUX is Professor of Research in Ethnopsychiatry, Temple 
University School of Medicine, Lecturer in Anthropology, Columbia Univer- 
sity School of General Studies and a licensed psychologist in the State of 
New York, He is a graduate of the University of Paris, the University of 
California, and the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis. He did field work 
among various American Indian tribes, especially the Mohave, and in Papua, 
New Guinea and Indochina. He was formerly Director of Research of 
Winter V.A. Hospital, Topeka, Kansas and of the Devereux Schools, Devon, 
Pa. and taught in the Menninger School of Psychiatry, the Topeka Institute 
for Psychoanalysis and various universities. In 1959 he was the Geza Roheim 
Memorial Lecturer. His main field of interest is psychoanalytic anthropology 
and ethnopsychiatry. His scientific contributions include 6 books and over 
150 articles. 

A cknowledgments 

For permission to use data obtained from a group of recent Hungarian 
refugees by a multidisciplinary team, the author is indebted to Professors 
Harold G. Wolff, M.D. and Lawrence E. Hinkle, Jr., M.D., who direct the 
Study Program in Human Health and Human Ecology at Cornell Medical 
College, and to the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, which 
supported the study of Hungarian refugees. Many of the data were presented 
by Drs. Hinkle and Stephenson in the Second Seminar on the Hungarian 
Revolution of October 1956 in papers of exemplary psycho-social sophistica- 
tion. Somewhat different interpretations of the material by certain other so- 
cial scientists who participated in that seminar induced the author to offer 
a rebuttal at that time. That rebuttal eventually led to the writing of the 
present chapter. The papers just mentioned, the supplementary discussions 
and the author's rebuttal of certain interpretations other than those of Drs. 
Hinkle and Stephenson were published by the Society for the Investigation 
of Human Ecology in 1958. 


Two Types of Modal 
Personality Models 


Temple University School of Medicine 

Columbia University School of General Studies 

JLt is one of the hallmarks of a maturing science that each empirical 
problem which it solves creates new questions concerning the nature of 
the science itself. This chapter reappraises the view that the basic con- 
struct of culture and personality studies the socio-psychological con- 
ception of the personality represents a true synthesis of the data and 
frames of reference of both psychology and social science. This new 
conceptual model is usually supposed to be a homogeneous, structurally 
integrated and coherent whole, equally relevant, in the same way, for 
the social scientist and for the psychologist. Logical qualities supposedly 
characterize all personality models of this type, regardless of variations 
in their actual form, content or theoretical orientation. Thus, regardless 
of whether a given (psychoanalytic, HuHian, Tolmanian, etc.) model 
represents the "modal" personality of Mohaves, of males, of shamans, 
or of old persons, or the much more concrete and specific "modal 59 
personality of old Mohave male shamans, it is usually supposed to 
possess all the above mentioned criteria of homogeneity, coherence 
and dual relevance. Finally, it has been claimed that all such personality 
models are identical types of logical constructs and belong to the same 


228 Social Theory and Personality 

universe of discourse, in the broad sense in which triangles, squares, 
pentagons . . . and circles are all polygons belonging to the domain of 
plane geometry. 

This chapter seeks to disprove the belief that all "modal" personality 
constructs used in culture and personality studies are, in fact, specimens 
of one and the same category of logical constructs. It will be demon- 
strated that there are actually at least two ways in which current models 
of "modal" personalities have been constructed and that each of these 
two procedures produces a distinctive, sui generis model of the "modal" 
personality. These two models do not differ from each other in form and 
content only, the way the model of the "Mohave male" may differ from 
the conjugate model of the "Mohave female," or from the non-conjugate 
model of the "Hottentot female." Actually these models belong to 
wholly different conceptual species, having different relevances and 
demanding to be used in wholly different ways. It is unfortunate that 
there should almost inevitably exist two logically distinct types of 
models of the "modal" personality. It is infinitely worse that this fact is so 
systematically ignored, that the two models are treated as interchange- 
able. Yet, because social scientists and psychologists ask entirely dif- 
ferent questions, they must, of necessity, construct different models of 
the "modal" personality, if they are to find meaningful answers 
within their own frames of reference. 

Those social scientists who are not exponents of the extreme culturo- 
logical position and take cognizance of the existence of real people, seek 
to develop the kind of model of "modal" personality which will ex- 
plain the type of cooperative, or conjugate, or parallel action on the 
part of many individuals, which permits the unfolding of social and 
cultural processes. The question such social scientists ask, with various 
degrees of sophistication, is: "Given all the known facts about society 
and culture, what characteristics must I impute to real people to make 
their actualization of social and cultural processes understandable?" A 
typical "modal" personality model evolved in order to answer this ques- 
tion is "the economic man," whom no one ever met in the flesh, for the 
good and sufficient reason that he does not exist. The logical construction 
process which culminates in the model of "the economic man" is funda- 
mentally the same as the one which culminated in certain learning 
theorists' model of the "stat rat," which, even though it does not exist, is 
a construct or "thought token" enabling one to build one type of logi- 
cally coherent pattern out of disparate facts related to "learning." 

The psychologist who is not too biologically oriented, nor too indi- 
vidual-centered, to ignore society and culture is faced with one of two 

(1) Whenever he observes certain biologically inexplicable con- 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 229 

gruences between the behavior of two or more individuals, he seeks to 
develop the kind of model of society and culture which renders these 
congruences understandable. In so doing he may develop models of so- 
ciety and culture which are quite as esoteric and quite as unsociologistic 
and unculturalistic as the social scientist's concept of "economic man" is 
unpsychologistic. He may then, by circular reasoning, explain these 
psychological uniformities of behavior in terms of a psychologistic model 
of society and culture, exactly as the naive social scientist circularly ex- 
plains socio-cultural uniformities in terms of a sociologists; model of man. 

(2) The more sophisticated psychologist, aware of society and 
culture, will construct a "modal" personality which, by social and cul- 
tural means, can be made to fit the prevailing socio-cultural climate and 
to operate in a manner which implements social and cultural processes. 
The key characteristic ascribed to this model is socio-cultural teacha- 
bility, reinforced by a primary orientation to society and culture. 

This model of man is definitely psychologistic though its systematic 
use tends to produce, in the long run, a habitual lack of concern with the 
non-socio-cultural aspects of the personality. Where the "stat rat" of at 
least some extreme learning theorists has practically no sensorium and is 
made up almost entirely of an imaginary sort of "inner motor," which 
has only the remotest connection with the real neurophysiology of living 
rats, the "stat human" of the culture-and-personality extremist seems to 
be all sensorium and no "inner works" or backbone. At this point the 
extremist, though remaining a psychologist, comes singularly close to the 
exponent of superorganic or culturalistic extremism. 1 The extreme 
culturalist position in culture and personality studies is held by the 
neo-Freudians. Probably because they can do so only by fleeing every- 
thing reminding them of the non-socio-cultural segment of man's 
personality, they have managed to be accepted by many anti- 
psychological anthropologists and sociologists as more "modern" and 
more "realistic" than Freud. At this point it seems expedient to turn 
to a set of carefully documented facts, obtained from a group of some 
seventy recent Hungarian refugees by a multidisciplinary team which 
included the present writer. 


The type of motivation in terms of which certain historians and 
political scientists tried to explain the participation of actual persons in 
the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (see Society for the Investigation of 
Human Ecology, 1958) proved, on careful psychological scrutiny, to 
have played an almost negligible role in the case of those individuals 

230 Social Theory and Personality 

who actively participated in that struggle. Whenever such a discrepancy 
between the explanations of two types of behavioral scientists occurs, it 
is a methodological error especially at first to tackle the problem 
primarily in terms of concrete facts. Such discrepancies are best ap- 
proached by determining the actual relationship between the divergent 
frames of reference with which the contending disciplines operate. 

In such cases one deals essentially with the vexing problem of the real 
relationship between psychological-psychiatric (subjective) and 
socio-cultural-historical-economic-political (collective) explanations of 
human phenomena. These two sets of disciplines study radically dif- 
ferent phenomena. The basic difference between the two subject matters 
can be clarified most easily by means of an analogy from physical 
science. (1) The behavior of the individual, when seen as an indi- 
vidual and not in terms of his membership in human society, is under- 
standable only in a specifically psychological frame of reference and in 
terms of psychological laws sui generis. In the same sense, the behavior 
of the individual molecule in a given gas model must be understood in 
terms of classical mechanics, dealing with reversible phenomena. (2) 
The behavior of a group, seen as a group, and not primarily as an aggre- 
gate of discrete individuals, is understandable only in terms of a specific 
sociologistic frame of reference and in terms of socio-cultural laws sui 
generis. In the same sense, the behavior of the gas model as a whole must 
be understood in terms of statistical mechanics pertaining to irreversible 
phenomena (Devereux, 1940). 

Somewhere between these two extremes lies a borderline or tran- 
sitional set of phenomena, whose usual locus is the small group. We may 
define as "small" any group in which the over-all interaction pattern is 
about equally determined by, or equally understandable in terms of, 
the individual makeup of the individuals composing it and in terms of 
the fact that these discrete individuals constitute a group. In such cases 
it is possible to explain even certain group events equally satisfactorily 
in exclusively social-collective and in exclusively psychological-indi- 
vidual terms. The extent to which this is possible depends primarily on 
the number of the members. As their number increases, exclusively 
psychological-individual explanations account for increasingly smaller, 
and more and more peripheral, portions of the total group behavior, 
causing the explanations to become increasingly vague. A good physical 
analogy is the fact that the behavior of two bodies in relative motion to 
each other can be fully and precisely accounted for in terms of classical 
mechanics. By contrast, the behavior of three or more bodies can be 
described only approximately in terms of classical mechanics because 
the problem of three bodies has never been solved in general terms. 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 23 1 

Moreover, such approximations become less and less accurate as the 
number of bodies in relative motion to each other increases. Hence, at 
the point where the number of bodies to be studied becomes unmanage- 
ably large, it becomes more efficient, economical and accurate to ig- 
nore the individual particles and to study instead the system, or aggre- 
gate itself, in terms of statistical mechanics. In so doing, one not only 
shifts one's frame of reference, but even seeks to obtain new and 
different kinds of results. The relevance of this analogy for an under- 
standing of the difference between the psychological and the social is 
obvious (Devereux 1940, 1945, 1955, 1958). 

Thus, in abstract terms, the question is never: "At what point do 
individuals and individual phenomena become irrelevant and society 
and social phenomena all important?" nor vice versa, of course. The 
real question is simply this: "At what point is it more economical to use 
the sociological, rather than the psychological approach?" The same is 
true, mutatis mutandis, hi regard to the nature-nurture controversy 
(Devereux 1945). 

Where only individuals and relatively small groups are concerned, 
the actual outcome of a given process can be equally effectively pre- 
dicted and equally fully explained either sociologically or psychologi- 
cally. Thus, it was possible to show (Devereux 1960) that the self- 
incited (provoked) murder of a Mohave lesbian witch was as absolutely 
inevitable in terms of Mohave cultural mandates as in terms of that 
witch's distinctive and unique personality makeup. Moreover, in this 
case, and in numerous others as well, there is an almost incredibly 
compendious, perfect and subtle dovetailing of individual and socio- 
cultural processes: each intrapsychic development mobilizes certain 
reinforcing cultural mandates and each cultural response mobilizes 
reinforcing subjective motives and processes. The real objective is not to 
determine whether the phenomenon is "ultimately" a psychological or a 
socio-cultural one, but to analyze, as precisely as possible, the dove- 
tailing, interplay and mutual reinforcement (most often through a 
"feedback") of the psychological and socio-cultural factors involved. 

The possibility of adequately predicting and understanding an event 
in terms of a particular frame of reference, such as psychology, does 
not mean in the least that the phenomenon is primarily a psychological 
one and that equally satisfactory explanations and predictions could 
not have been formulated in socio-cultural terms. Indeed, even though 
any frame of reference necessarily uses and operates in terms of partial 
abstractions, it can, nonetheless, provide an operationally satisfactory 
and '"complete" explanation and prediction of a given phenomenon. 
A failure to grasp this point is largely responsible for Kroebefs ( 1948) 

232 Social Theory and Personality 

recurrent objections to alleged attempts to "reduce" anthropology to 

Even more important perhaps is the fact that there appears to obtain 
a quite genuine complementarity relationship between the individual 
(psychological) and the socio-cultural (collective) understanding of a 
given phenomenon (Devereux 1945, 1958). Thus, the more fully I 
understand John Doe's anger over the arrival of his mother-in-law in 
socio-cultural terms (autonomy of the U.S. nuclear family, the tra- 
ditional stereotype of the mother-in-law, etc.) the less I can understand 
it simultaneously in psychological terms (John's irritability, his wife's 
infantile dependency on her mother, the mother-in-law's meddlesome- 
ness, etc.) and vice versa, of course. It is logically impossible to think 
simultaneously in terms of two different frames of reference, especially 
if, in terms of one of these, the key explanation is: "All mothers-in-law 
are defined by our culture as nuisances," while in the other system the 
key explanation is: "Mrs. Roe systematically interferes with her 
daughter's marriage." Needless to say, the same complementarity re- 
lationship also obtains between the sociological and the psychological 
understanding of phenomena involving large groups and nations. This 
accounts for many of the exquisite complexities of problems involving 
"national character" and of many problems in social psychology as 
well. The difficulty is simply that consistent thinking in terms of, for 
instance, the psychological frame of reference makes it impossible to 
think, at the same moment, also in consistently socio-cultural terms. 

The social scientist is, thus, literally forced to develop an individual 
"psychology" to fit his data. In order to understand how a large scale 
phenomenon can be produced by an inherently heterogeneous col- 
lection of individuals, he must assume that these individuals func- 
tion in accordance with a series of pseudo psychological specifica- 
tions. This "as if" approach is quite legitimate, but only in regard to 
that particular set of phenomena, 2 and only as long as one knows that 
one is dealing with "thought tokens" and "thought experiments." What 
is not legitimate though it is done day after day is to go one step 
further and ascribe or impute to the real and living individual members 
of that group the specific characteristics ascribed to the explanatory 
model of man. Such a procedure is as scurrilous as though a student of 
statistical mechanics said: "Since certain gas molecules go from the 
denser segments of the gas model to the less dense portions thereof, 
they obviously wish to escape crowding." This is strange reasoning in- 
deed. Yet, it is precisely the type of reasoning used by some historians 
and political scientists who assume that everyone who rebels and fights 
against an economically unfair and politically oppressive system has 
been personally underpaid and harassed. No matter how sophisticated 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 233 

the manner in which such a statement is made, it is still factually in- 
correct and logically fallacious. 

The reverse process psychologistic sociologizing is equally ille- 
gitimate. Since man is, both actually and by definition, a social being, 
even the student of the individual must learn to view him as part of a 
society and as the product of a culture. For example, if one is a Freud- 
ian, one must explore and clarify the nexus between the superego, the 
ego ideal and the patterning of ego functions on the one hand, and the 
structure of the socio-cultural matrix on the other hand. This is both 
necessary and legitimate. What is by no means legitimate, however, is 
the transposition of conceptual models pertaining to the individual to 
the socio-cultural system as a whole, and the interpretation of the 
socio-cultural structure and process purely in terms of the psychology 
of the individual, even if he does happen to belong to the society whose 
structure and processes one "interprets" in this manner. Specifically, 
and in simplest terms, the Constitution of the United States is not and 
can never be the "superego" or the "ego ideal" of American society. 
Moreover, it can never function in that capacity within that or any 
other society, for the good and sufficient reason that society does 
not have a superego or an ego ideal, any more than the psyche of an 
individual has a Constitution or a Supreme Court. What can and does 
happen, is that a particular individual may incorporate into his psyche 
but only in the form of psychological materials certain aspects of 
his society and culture and then assign these incorporated psychic repre- 
sentations of outer socio-cultural realities to the sphere of his superego 
or of his ego ideal. A jurist may subjectively adapt his superego to the 
Constitution, while a pious Catholic may adapt his to the Creed of the 
Apostles. Conversely, in times of stress, society may change its formal 
tenets to fit the average superego needs of the citizen. All this does not 
make the Constitution a social superego, nor the superego a psychic 

The social scientist must view his conception of "modal" man as a 
model valid only in the study of social phenomena, just as the psy- 
chologist must view his conception of society and culture as valid only in 
the study of individual phenomena. In the individual-psychological 
universe of discourse, society and culture are simply means for the 
implementation of subjective needs and psychic mechanisms, just as in 
the collective-sociological universe of discourse individual psychic 
structures and processes are simply means for the implementation of 
the collective needs and mechanisms of the socio-cultural system. 

A summary analysis of facts and fancies regarding the actual moti- 
vation of individual Hungarians as distinct from the "motivation" of 
the Hungarian people who revolted against the system under which 

234 Social Theory and Personality 

brute force on the part of their enemies and timid tergiversation on the 
part of their friends obliged them to live will demonstrate with striking 
clarity the points just made. 


A tabulation of the conscious motivation of individual Hungarian 
freedom fighters revealed that many of them had no genuinely personal 
experiences with cynical exploitation and brute oppression. In fact, 
quite a few of them were in relatively privileged positions and, ex- 
ternally at least, better off than they might have been under the Horthy 
regime. Hence, some political scientists held that those fighters who had 
no private grievances of a tangible type and may even have had 
much to lose by participating in the revolution were effectively and 
subjectively actuated by their indignation over the inherent viciousness 
of the system and the brazenness of alien rule, or else by national pride 
and the like. In so interpreting the motivation of these individuals, these 
political scientists actually ascribed to individuals certain characteristics 
of a sociologistic "modal" personality construct, developed strictly in 
order to account for collective participation in mass movements and 
social processes. 

It is true, of course, that some of those who had no real personal 
grievances did, themselves, interpret their conduct in terms of sociolo- 
gistic and socially respectable motives, such as patriotism, love of free- 
dom and the like. It would, indeed, be quite fallacious to deny that they 
were in part actuated by such motives, which are essentially components 
of the sociologistically conceived motivational structure of the soci- 
ologist's construct of the "modal" personality. 

Unfortunately, this explanation of the active fighting in which these 
persons had voluntarily engaged, raises more questions than it solves. 
It leaves unexplained at least the following challenging facts: 

( 1 ) Those fighters who did have private and personal grievances and 
did cite these grievances in explanation of their participation in combat 
did not, in general, explain their own conduct also in terms of patriotism 
and the like, or at least did not explain it primarily and convincingly on 
those terms. This raises the question whether admittedly gallant fighters, 
who did have personal grievances, were simply unpatriotic and un- 
idealistic individuals, seeking to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a 
tooth. A supplementary question is whether those who, despite un- 
pleasant personal experiences with the Communist system, did not 
fight, were unidealistic, unpatriotic, or cowardly, or else simply pious 
Christians, who refuse to kill and who leave vengeance to the Lord. 

(2) The second, and theoretically more relevant, question is 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 235 

whether it has not become customary to cite sociologistically conceived 
motives only where no Information about the individual's subjective 
motivation is available. In practice, it is precisely this criterion which is 
used in courts of law to determine the legitimacy of a plea of "not guilty 
by reason of insanity." A careful scrutiny of what actually happens when 
such a plea is made, shows that the plea is accepted only if the judge and 
the jury do not seem able to "understand" what could cause a person to 
commit such a crime. The accused is held to be "not guilty by reason of 
insanity" if his judges cannot emphathize with his deed, as distinct from 
his motivation. Once the court feels that the deed itself is understandable 
in terms of the layman's conception of "common sense" (i.e., sociolo- 
gistically defined) motives, the plea of insanity is nearly always rejected. 
Hardly ever is there an attempt to inquire into the accused's real, in- 
stead of imputed, motivation. Yet, only an understanding of the ac- 
cused's real motives enables one to determine- in a valid manner 
whether or not his seemingly "understandable" deed actually had the 
"sane" motivation imputed to it by judge and jury. 

The fact is that if the list of non-subjective reasons for the individual 
fighter's participation in the revolution is supplemented by certain 
psychiatric insights, derived from data provided by the same informants 
to the interviewing psychiatrist (Dr. F. Kane) and to the present writer, 
one suddenly realizes that even these socio-culturally motivated indi- 
viduals were also motivated in a highly subjective manner, though 
their motivation may not have been entirely conscious to them, and may 
have had no direct relationship to the social issues of the 1956 revo- 

The simple fact is that, as a Roman common sense psychologist 
pointed out long ago: "Si bis faciunt idem, nan est idem" (If two people 
do the same thing, it is not necessarily the same thing) . Where one man 
revolts because he had been exploited, another because, twelve years 
earlier, the Russians had raped his wife, another because he hates all 
authority, still another may revolt because he wishes to impress his girl 
friend with his patriotism and valor. All these men may fight with equal 
ardor, kill an equal number of secret police and Russians, and therefore 
achieve militarily and socially identical results. Psychologically, how- 
ever, the results may not be the same. Thus the one who thought that he 
fought from idealism may, in the long run, experience fewer guilt feel- 
ings than will the one who sought to destroy a hated father image by 
killing a secret police captain or the one who, at great personal risk and 
with conspicuous courage, blew up a Russian tank to impress his girl 
friend or to reaffirm his membership in a nation noted for its valor. 

An interesting case is that of a gentle, well-behaved and well brought 
up teen age Jewish girl, who, at the risk of her life, carried hand gre- 

236 Social Theory and Personality 

nades to the active fighters. Except for the routine nationalization of 
her father's luxury goods store, this girl's family had not been par- 
ticularly persecuted by the Communists. On the other hand, while she 
was still quite small, this girl and her family had been cruelly perse- 
cuted by the Nazis, and had twice escaped execution at the very last 
moment. Speaking in terms of so-called common sense (sociologistic) 
psychology, the last person on earth who had real and "obvious" reasons 
to risk her life in the revolutionary fighting was this girl. Moreover, 
given her sweet and gentle disposition, she was the last person one 
would using a "common sense" conception of the personality have 
expected to engage in violence, be it but to the extent of carrying hand 
grenades to the fighters. 

On closer scrutiny, however, it became obvious that this girl, who 
had been a helpless child during the Nazi regime, was abreacting, 
twelve years later, her hatred of oppression and of oppressors. The most 
telling proof of this is the fact that she merely carried grenades to the 
fighters, but unlike some other teen age girls did not lob them per- 
sonally at the foe, though, in so doing, she would have incurred little 
additional risk. In other words, she functioned in the revolution simply 
as a gallant child, doing what even a child can do: bring ammunition to 
adult fighters, as did countless children raised on the American frontier. 

Many other examples of unconscious motivations of an authentically 
subjective nature, hiding behind a conscious facade of sociologistic 
motivation, could be given. This, however, would represent only a labor- 
ing of the obvious. 

The real point to be stressed is that both organized and spon- 
taneous social movements and processes are possible not because all 
individuals participating in them are identically (and sociologistically) 
motivated, but because a variety of authentically subjective motives 
may seek and find an ego syntonic outlet in the same type of collective 
activity. This is equally true of spontaneous revolutionary movements 
and of extreme conformity. Indeed, there are few groups so rent by 
internecine squabbles as revolutionary cells and hyperconformist or- 
ganizations. Moreover, just as a revolutionary may fight because he 
hates father figures, or because he has personal grievances, or else be- 
cause he wishes to impress his girl friend, so a man may be a hyper- 
conformist from sheer opportunism, from a fear of his own spontaneity, 
or else because emotionally he still needs his mother's approval. 

The way in which the subjective motivations of various individuals 
find an outlet In the same type of activity, be it revolutionary or con- 
ventional, is rather uniform, as far as social effects are concerned. 
Individual differences in real motivation find a behavioral expression 
only in differences in the specific details of one's fighting pattern or 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 237 

conformity. Yet, though socially often unimportant, these individual 
motivational differences may determine intense psychological reactions 
to the deed which one has performed as a member of a collectivity. 
Just as the conscious idealist among revolutionaries will, in the long ran, 
probably experience fewer guilt feelings and self punitive urges than the 
one who killed an anonymous oppressor instead of killing his father, so 
the conformist actuated by a loyalty to the existing system will feel less 
shame in an hour of lonely self-appraisal than will the cowardly oppor- 

The real theoretical import of the finding that many, highly divergent, 
types of conscious and unconscious subjective motives can impel people 
to seek gratification through participation in a given social process is that 
it simplifies rather than complicates the possibility of obtaining a psy- 
chological understanding of the motivational structure of participation. 
Indeed taking the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 as our paradigm 
were we to assume that all freedom fighters were identically "moti- 
vated" (in the sociologistic sense of that term) we would have 
"solved" the problem of motivation only to be confronted with an even 
more complex problem. We would have to explain the mystery of a 
sudden and synchronous mass intensification of one type of motivation 
or need at a given point in history. At the same time, we would also have 
to account for its prolonged latency and non-exacerbation from 1944 to 
1956. Figuratively speaking, we would have to imagine a single, mas- 
sive, but subterranean torrent erupting suddenly and inexplicably 
from the ground, in a single huge explosion. By contrast, if we use the 
model of multiple psychologistic motivations, all of which can derive a 
certain amount of gratification from a given collective act, we have to 
imagine only a very commonplace river, fed by a variety of tiny tribu- 
taries coming from various directions. 

Hence, it is sufficient to postulate that a large number of differently 
motivated persons may come to perceive a given historical moment or 
event as suitable for the gratification of their various subjective needs. 
In the psychological frame of reference, this position enables us to see 
the Hungarian revolution of October 1956 as a sudden opportunity and 
means for the actualization and gratification of a variety of private 
needs, which had been present all along. Moreover, we can visualize 
various items of "motivation" formulated by some sound sociologists, 
historians and political scientists nationalism, class struggle, resistance 
to oppression, idealism, etc. as psychologically instrumental motives, 
which render ego syntonic, and not only socially acceptable, the acting 
out of certain needs. Were these needs acted out privately, they would 
not only be unsanctioned socially, but would also be highly anxiety 
arousing and productive of intense guilt feelings. Conversely, in the 

238 Social Theory and Personality 

sociologistic frame of reference, this position permits us to view the va- 
riety of preexisting and highly individualized needs and motives as the 
raw material from which a social process, spontaneous or traditional, 
can crystallize just as a variety of fuels, when thrown in the same fur- 
nace, can heat the same boiler. 

These considerations do not imply that one must discard, as useless 
and senseless, the sociologistic motivational structure of a given model 
of the "modal personality." Indeed, a variety of differently and highly 
subjectively motivated individuals may find that one and the same 
process in society at large can provide certain long desired gratifications. 
If they gratify their needs by participation in this social process, they 
may be able to render the necessary gratifying acts more ego syntonic 
than if these acts had to be performed privately. ITius, people go to 
church for many reasons: to seem respectable; because of piety, and 
all that piety implies in the unconscious; to show off a new Easter bon- 
net, and so on. All derive some gratification from this act, even though 
they are not actuated by a homogeneous set of motives, nor by one 
massive social motive. Their actual motives, when juxtaposed, form 
nothing more than a conglomerate, which can be studied only as a con- 
glomerate and not as a motivational torrent, since each qualitatively dif- 
ferent motivational "unit" present in that conglomerate will be gratified 
by the collective act in a different way, and to a different extent. 

The difference in the degree of gratification obtainable in this manner 
is of some importance. One young Hungarian freedom fighter, who 
fought with real courage and efficiency, would certainly have been a 
great deal happier had he been able to fight from the deck of a battle- 
ship flying the banner of the Holy Virgin, "Patrona Hungariae," not be- 
cause he was an expert sailor or a religious traditionalist, but for purely 
subjective reasons. He could think of nothing more glorious than Naval 
Service (Horthy was an admiral!) unless it was a holy and virginal 
woman. Yet, this naive worshipper of the Navy and of virgins fought as 
well as another, almost delinquent, young worker, who simply hated 
fathers and father representatives, or as well as still another worker, 
who was angry over Rakosi's betrayal of the idealistic-socialistic "es- 
sence" of communism, or another who had actually suffered persecu- 
tion. The Russians which each of these men killed were, moreover, 
equally dead. 

In brief, one must sharply differentiate between psychologistic con- 
ceptions of motivation and sociologistic conceptions of motivation, both 
in the construction of models of "modal personality" and in the inter- 
pretation of participation in social movements. 

In the psychologistic model the motivation is and must be subjective. 
Hence, the motivational structure of the "modal" personality of a 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 23 9 

given group must be made up of motives and needs which are system- 
atically stimulated either through constant and expectable gratification 
or through systematic frustration in that society. In the sociologistic 
model, the motivation must be collective and the motivational structure 
of the "modal" personality of a given group must be constructed out of 
the type of "common sense" motives which the social scientist must im- 
pute to all members of a given group in order to be able to explain 
their participation in collective activities: patriotism, economic self- 
interest, idealism, traditional conformism and the like. 

In a sound culture-and-personality theory, the psychologist's concep- 
tion of the "modal" personality's motivation will be considered as "op- 
erant" and the sociologistic conception of the "modal" personality's 
motivation will be considered as "instrumental." In interpretations, 
these two sets of motives will be brought into play only consecutively, 
because one cannot think of the same phenomenon simultaneously both 
in sociologistic and in psychologistic terms. The common denominator 
of individual motivations which are statistically frequent in a given so- 
ciety will be defined as the true operant mainsprings of social actions. 
The sociologistic type of motivation obtaining in that culture and society 
and closely related to its value system will be defined as the instru- 
mental motivational means for the gratification of the more basic needs. 

This theory does not undermine the sociologistic interpretation of col- 
lective events. It does show that the psychologistic definition of the 
"modal" personality's motivation leads to a science of operant motives, 
whereas its sociologistic definition forms the basis of a science of in- 
strumental motives, or of "outlets." This view, implies that society and 
culture provide, by means of something like a feedback mechanism, 
supplementary motivations which do not modify the initial operant 
motivation of the personalities but reinforce, trigger and channel them, 
by making their implementation ego syntonic and by providing the oc- 
casion, and often also the means for their implementation and gratifi- 
cation. This explains why a single exasperated but decent man may 
not be able to bring himself to shoot down secretly the Gestapo, MVD 
or AVO man representing a hated father figure, although he will be 
able to do so if society provides him with the means of defining his act 
as an ethical and patriotic one. Psychologically, this way of defining 
the situation may be a simple "rationalization," facilitating the perform- 
ance of acts leading to gratification. Sociologically, however, this defini- 
tion of the act represents also its sanctioning. Thereafter the sanctioning 
itself functions as a bona fide motive, but only instrumentally, and only 
insofar as the execution of a subjectively desired act is concerned. 

This thesis implies, in turn, that one must sharply differentiate be- 
tween substantive, subjective and operant motives which are often quite 

240 Social Theory and Personality 

unconscious, and externally provided instrumental motives pertaining to 
the actualization of behavior permitting need gratification. The psychol- 
ogizing social scientist must know that his proper universe of discourse, 
in the psychological frame of reference, is the problem of instrumental 
motives. The sociologizing psychologist must know that his proper 
sociological universe of discourse is the actualization of substantive basic 
needs, representing operant motives, through socially provided means, 
which, in sociology but not in psychology, can also function as instru- 
mental motives. 


Any explanation of behavior which uses the conceptual structures 
known as models of "modal personality" must consist of a series of 

( 1 ) The first, psychologistic, step is the listing of the real motives of 
the actual participants in a given collective activity. These motives may 
be discovered through interviewing techniques, psychological tests, psy- 
choanalytic procedures and other psychological means. 

(2) This list serves as a basis for the construction of a psychologistic 
model of the modal personality, whose need-and-motivation structure 
is limited to those needs which are statistically prevalent in, and appear 
to be closely linked to the structure of a particular society-and-culture. 

(3) Next, it must be specified that the needs-and-motivations 
ascribed to this model of the "modal" personality can be, jointly and 
severally, gratified in various social or cultural sub-contexts such as 
participation in rituals, in parties, in revolutions, in counter-revolutions, 
or in the acceptance of certain mandates of culture, in certain attitudes, 
and so forth. 

(4) Next, a sociologistic model of the modal personality must be 
constructed, to which are ascribed needs-and-motives that explain so- 
ciologically in terms of a social "common sense" psychology related to 
value systems the actual participation of individuals in a given social 
process. This list may include terms like economic interest, patriotism, 
piety, class consciousness, or conformism. 

(5) This list of sociologically meaningful "motives" is then psychol- 
ogized, by being redefined as "instrumental." These motives then serve 
to sanction actual individual maneuvers seeking to gratify subjective and 
genuinely psychologically "operant" needs and motives; they are also 
means for the actualization of gratification seeking behavior. 

Of these five steps only the fifth and last permits the formulation of 
statements genuinely pertaining to, and relevant in terms of, the cul- 
ture-and-personality frame of reference. 

DEVEREUX: Two Types of Modal Personality Models 241 


1. It is probably more than a coincidence that the most extreme current 
exponent of the culturological position took his Master's degree in psy- 
chology at a time when the most primitive sort of behaviorism dominated 
all learning theory and most of American psychology. 

2. In order to grasp the significance of this specification, it suffices to 
imagine what would happen were an economist to decide to fill in existing 
"gaps" in the present model of "economic man" and wrote a paper on "The 
sexual and love life of economic man." His essay would be too weird even 
for a science fiction magazine. 


Devereux, George. 1940. "A Conceptual Scheme of Society," American 
Journal of Sociology, 54:687-706. 

. 1945. "The Logical Foundations of Culture and Personality Stud- 
ies," Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Series II. 

. 1955. A Study of Abortion in Primitive Societies. New York: Julian. 

. 1958. "The Anthropological Roots of Psychoanalysis." In Masser- 

man, J. H. (ed.), Science and Psychoanalysis, I: Integrative Studies. New 
York: Grune and Stratton. 73-84, 171-3. 

. 1960. Mohave Ethnopsychiatry and Suicide. Bureau of American 

Ethnology, Bulletin No. 175. Washington; Government Printing Office. 

Kroeber, Alfred L. 1948. Anthropology. (New, revised edition.) New York: 
Harcourt, Brace. 

Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology. 1958. Second Seminar on 
the Hungarian Revolution of October 1956. Forest Hills, L.I., N.Y. 
Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, Inc. (Mimeographed). 
(See papers by Hinkle and by Stephenson and discussion by Devereux.) 

About the Chapter 

The author of this chapter is a historian who is concerned with the problem 
of character change in the American Negro in the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries as he was detached from cultural backgrounds in Africa and sub- 
jected to slavery In the large plantations of the South. Dr. Elkins compares 
the Middle Passage and the closed system of slavery in the United States to 
the Nazi concentration camp and explains why both created a particular 
kind of character. The analysis focuses on the process of character change 
that occurs when social requirements are altered. Dr. Elkins suggests that 
character (or personality) is really a kind of action taken in response to so- 
cially defined alternatives. This view differs somewhat from the generally ac- 
cepted belief that character develops into a more or less hard mold as a re- 
sult of experiences during the socialization period. 

About the Author 

STANLEY M. ELKINS studied at Harvard and received his M.A. and Ph.D. 
degrees in history from Columbia. He is the author of Slavery: A Problem in 
American Institutional and Intellectual Life,' and is currently at work on a 
study of politics and culture in 19th century America. Mr. Elkins is now as- 
sistant professor of social sciences at the University of Chicago. 

A cknowledgment 

Portions of this essay have been incorporated into the author's more ex- 
tensive study entitled Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and 
Intellectual Life, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1959. 


Slavery and Personality 

University of Chicago 


L he study by Gunnar Myrdal of the American Negro, and the great va- 
riety of writing on that subject done in the late 1930s and early 
1940s under Myrdal's direct or indirect inspiration, left a vast deposit 
of knowledge. The by-products, on the whole, have been salutary and 
enlightening. There was one consequence, however, of this in- 
tense intellectual involvement with the Negro problem in American life 
that may not have fully operated in the interests of enlightenment. This 
by-product was a moral embargo on generalizations about Negro per- 
sonality types. Since "race" has been so completely and so properly dis- 
credited as an explanation for any aspect of human behavior, the appli- 
cation of personality stereotypes which for the American Negro have 
meant virtually the same thing as race stereotypes can hardly have 
helped falling into similar discredit. None of us believes in race any 
more. Yet a great many of us have had the disturbing suspicion that in 
censoring the once-familiar "Sambo" stereotype from all forms of dis- 
course, we have actually been rather furtively sweeping something 
under the rug. For present-day society, in all its complexity, we may 


244 Social Theory and Personality 

have been doing the right thing. But for a historical reconstruction of 
Negro personality in slavery times, such a taboo may not be justified. 

In this chapter, at any rate, we shall lift the embargo and assume that, 
as a generalization, the Southerner's description of "Sambo," the ante- 
bellum plantation slave, is essentially trustworthy. This picture referred 
not necessarily to a universal type, but to a dominant plantation type, 
and well over 50 per cent of the antebellum slaves lived on the large 
plantations. "Sambo," in Southern lore, was docile but irresponsible, 
loyal but lazy, humble but addicted to lying and stealing; his behavior 
was full of infantile silliness and his talk inflated with childish exaggera- 
tion. His relationship to his master was one of utter dependence and 
childlike attachment: it was this childlike quality that was the very key 
to his being. Our strategy here will be not to challenge either the exist- 
ence of the type, or even the rough accuracy of its description. Rather 
we shall take that much for granted, and consider instead how to account 
for the development of such a type over a wide range of the slave popu- 
lation. What, in short, were the conditions, and what were the mecha- 
nisms, that could sustain infantilism within the structure of antebellum 

In contrast to the looseness and openness of structure found in the 
legal and social arrangements of Latin American slavery, the plantation 
system of the United States was essentially a closed system. The sanc- 
tions of authority were virtually self-contained within the plantation 
unit. Authority, though exercised, by and large, for non-malignant ends, 
was absolute. The "given/* then, for the present purpose, is absolute 
power in a closed system, and the problem for personality is that of ad- 
justment to such power within such a system. 

Two kinds of material will be invoked in an effort to picture the mech- 
anisms whereby this adjustment, whose end-product included infantile 
features of personality, may have been effected. One is drawn from 
the theoretical knowledge presently available in social psychology, and 
the other in the form of an analogy is derived from some of the data 
that have come out of the German concentration camps. Most the- 
ory holds that social behavior is regulated in some general way by ad- 
justment to symbols of authority however diversely "authority" may 
be defined, either in theory or in culture itself and that this adjust- 
ment is closely related to the very formation of personality. The more 
diverse those symbols of authority are, the greater is the permissible va- 
riety of adjustment to them and the wider the margin of individuality, 
consequently, in the development of the self. The question here con- 
cerns the wideness or narrowness of that margin on the antebellum 

The other body of material, involving an experience undergone by 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 245 

several million men and women in the concentration camps of our own 
time, contains certain items of relevance to our problem. The experience 
was analogous to that of slavery, and was one in which wide-scale in- 
stances of infantilization were observed. The material is sufficiently de- 
tailed, and sufficiently documented by men who not only took part in the 
experience itself but who were versed in the use of psychological the- 
ory for analyzing it, that the possible advantages of drawing upon 
these data for purposes of analogy seem to outweigh the risks the 
risks being those of not using the material intelligently. 

The introduction of this second body of material must to a certain 
extent govern the theoretical strategy itself. It has been recognized 
both implicitly and explicitly that the psychic impact and effects of the 
concentration camp experience were not anticipated in existing theory, 
and that consequently such theory would require some major supple- 
mentation. It might be added, parenthetically, that almost any published 
discussion of this modern Inferno, no matter how learned, demonstrates 
how "theory," operating at such a level of shared human experience, 
tends to shed much of its technical trappings and to take on almost 
a literary quality. The experience showed, in any event, that infantile 
personality features could be induced in a relatively short time among 
large numbers of adult human beings coming from very diverse back- 
grounds. The particular strain which was thus placed upon prior theory 
consisted in the need to make room not only for the cultural and environ- 
mental sanctions that sustain personality which Freudian theory al- 
ready had but also for a virtually unanticipated problem: actual 
change in the personality of masses of adults. Hence came a reappraisal 
and new appreciation of how completely and effectively prior cultural 
sanctions for behavior and personality could be detached to make way 
for new and different sanctions, and of how adjustments could be made 
to a species of authority vastly different from any previously known. One 
of the revelations for theory, in short, was the process of detachment. 

These cues, accordingly, will guide the argument on Negro slavery. 
Several million people were detached with a peculiar effectiveness from 
a great variety of cultural backgrounds in Africa a detachment operat- 
ing with infinitely more effectiveness upon those brought to North Amer- 
ica than on those who came to Latin America. Detachment was 
achieved partly by the shock experience inherent in the very mode of 
procurement, but most especially by the type of authority-system to 
which these people were introduced and to which they had to adjust for 
physical and psychic survival. The new adjustment to absolute power in 
a closed system involved infantilization. The detachment was so com- 
plete that little trace of prior and thus alternative cultural sanc- 
tions for behavior and personality remained for the descendants of the 

246 Social Theory and Personality 

first generation. For them, adjustment to clear and omnipresent author 
ity could be more or less automatic as much so, or as little, as it ii 
for anyone whose adjustment to a social system begins at birth and tc 
whom that system represents normality. We do not know how generally 
the full adjustment was made during the first generation of fresh slave* 
from Africa. But we do know from a modern experience that sue! 
an adjustment was possible: not only within the same generation bui 
within two or three years. It was possible even for a people in a full state 
of complex civilization for men and women who were not black anc 
not savages. 


Just as no set of characteristics, Sambo-like or otherwise, may pos- 
sibly be accounted for in terms of "race" or "inborn nature," so must 
another "explanation" for Negro character, the one which hinges upon 
survivals of African culture, likewise be eliminated. The slave traders 
of the eighteenth century were themselves aware that there was no such 
thing as a particular "African" type; they recognized, as their writings 
show, a wide diversity in physical, temperamental, and cultural types; 
and they had to be sensitive to the great variety of customs, social and 
political arrangements, and languages of the people with whom they 
had to deal. Slaves were brought to them from many different places. 
Not only were their own trading stations scattered along an immense 
stretch of the West African coast, but to each station slave coffles usu- 
ally were brought from great distances inland, sometimes hundreds 
of miles. The result, in sheer diversity, does much to undermine any ef- 
fort to generalize about African cultural types and cultural survivals. 
Even if we could in fact make out such continuities, they would be so 
general as to be of very little value in explaining either the individual or 
social behavior of slaves on our American plantations. The fact is that 
every African who became a slave whether light or dark, timid or war- 
like, primitive or in a high state of culture underwent an experience 
whose crude psychic impact must have been staggering, and whose con- 
sequences superseded anything that had ever previously happened to 

The majority of slaves were taken in native wars. This meant that no 
one neither persons of high rank nor warriors of prowess was 
guaranteed against capture and enslavement. Great numbers were 
caught in surprise attacks upon their villages. Since the tribes acting as 
middlemen for the trade had come to depend on regular supplies of 
captives in order to maintain that function, the distinction between wars 
and raiding expeditions was rather dim. The first shock, in an experi- 
ence destined to endure many months and to leave its survivors irrevo- 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 247 

cably changed, was thus the shock of capture. The second one, the 
long march to the sea, drew out the nightmare for many weeks. Under 
the glaring sun, through the steaming jungle, they were driven along like 
beasts tied together by their necks. Hardship, brutalities, thirst, and 
near-starvation penetrated the experience of each exhausted man and 
woman who reached the coast. The next shock aside from the fresh 
physical torments which accompanied it was the sale to the European 
slavers. After having been crowded into pens near the trading stations 
and kept there sometimes for days, the slaves would be brought out for 
examination. Those rejected were abandoned to starvation; the re- 
maining ones those who had been bought were branded, given 
numbers inscribed on leaden tags, and herded on shipboard. The epi- 
sode that followed almost too protracted and stupefying to be called 
a mere "shock" was the dread Middle Passage, brutalizing to any man, 
black or white, who was involved in it. The holds, packed with squirm- 
ing and suffocating humanity, became stinking infernos of filth and 
pestilence, savagery and death. Stories of the things that happened on 
the terrible two months' voyage darken the testimony which did much 
toward ending the British slave trade forever. 

The final shock in the process of enslavement came with the Negro's 
introduction to the West Indies. Bryan Edwards, describing the arrival 
of a slave ship, writes of hov 7 in times of labor scarcity crowds of people 
would come scrambling aboard, manhandling the slaves and throwing 
them into panic. The Jamaica legislature eventually "corrected the enor- 
mity" by enacting that the sales be held on shore. Seeing the Negroes 
exposed naked in public, Edwards felt a certain mortification, similar to 
that felt by the trader Degrandpre at seeing them examined back at the 
African factories. Yet here they did not seem to care. "They dis- 
play . . . very few signs of lamentation for their past or of apprehen- 
sion for their future condition; but . . . commonly express great eager- 
ness to be sold" (Edwards, 1806, p. 340). The "seasoning" process 
which followed completed the series of steps whereby the African Negro 
became a slave. 

The mortality had been very high. One-third of the numbers 
first taken, out of a total of perhaps fifteen million, had died on the 
march and at the trading stations; another third died during the Middle 
Passage and the seasoning. Since a majority of the African-born slaves 
who came to the North American plantations did not come directly but 
were imported through the British West Indies, one may assume that the 
typical slave underwent an experience something like that just out- 
lined. This was the man one in three who was about to enter our 
"closed system." What would he be like if he survived and adjusted to 

Actually, a great deal had happened to him already. Much of his past 

248 Social Theory and Personality 

had been annihilated; nearly every prior connection had been severed. 
The old values, the tribal sanctions, the standards already unreal 
could no longer furnish him guides for conduct, for adjusting to the ex- 
pectations of a completely new life. Where then was he to look for new 
standards, new cues? Who would furnish them now? He could now look 
to none but his master, the one man to whom the system had committed 
his entire being: the man upon whose will depended his food, his 
shelter, his sexual connections, whatever moral instruction he might be 
offered, whatever "success" was possible within the system, his very se- 
curity in short, everything. 

The thoroughness with which African Negroes coming to America 
were detached from prior cultural sanctions should thus be partly ex- 
plainable by the very shock sequence inherent in the technique of pro- 
curement. But it took something more than this to produce "Sambo." A 
comparable experience was also undergone by slaves coming into Latin 
America; but very little that resembled our "Sambo" tradition ever de- 
veloped there. So whereas the Middle Passage and all that went with 
it must have been psychologically numbing, and should certainly be re- 
garded as a long thrust toward the end product, its full fruition depended 
on the events that followed. The process of detachment was completed 
by the kind of authority-system into which the slave was introduced and 
to which he had to adjust the "closed system" referred to above. At 
any rate, a test of this detachment and its thoroughness is virtually 
ready-made. Students of African cultural features among New World 
Negroes agree that the contrast between North America and Latin 
America is immense. In Brazil, according to Arthur Ramos, survivals 
from African religion and other institutional practices are not only 
encountered everywhere, but such carry-overs are so distinct that they 
may even be identified with particular tribal groups. Fernando Ortiz, 
writing of Cuba in 1905, considered the African witchcraft cults flourish- 
ing on the island a formidable social problem. One of our own anthro- 
pologists, on the other hand, despite much dedicated field work, has 
been put to great effort to prove that in North American Negro society 
any African cultural vestiges have survived at all. 


The system of the concentration camps was expressly devised in the 
1930s by high officials of the German government to function as an in- 
strument of terror. The first groups detained in the camps consisted of 
prominent enemies of the Nazi regime. Later, when these had mostly 
been eliminated, it was still felt necessary to institutionalize the system 

&LK1NS: Slavery and Personality 

and make it a standing weapon of intimidation which required a con- 
tinuing flow of incoming prisoners. The categories of eligible persons 
were greatly widened to include all real, fancied, or "potential" opposi- 
tion to the state. Prisoners were often selected on capricious and random 
grounds. Together they formed a cross-section of society which was 
virtually complete: criminals, workers, businessmen, professional peo- 
ple, middle-class Jews, even members of the aristocracy. The teeming 
camps thus held all kinds not only the scum of the underworld but also 
countless men and women of culture and refinement. During the war a 
specialized objective was added, that of exterminating the Jewish popu- 
lations of subject countries. This required special mass-production meth- 
ods of which the gas chambers and crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau 
were outstanding examples. Yet the basic technique was everywhere 
and at all times the same: the deliberate infliction of various forms of 
torture upon the incoming prisoners in such a way as to break their 
resistance and make way for their degradation as individuals. These 
brutalities were not merely "permitted" or "encouraged"; they were pre- 

The concentration camps and everything that took place in them were 
veiled in the utmost isolation and secrecy. Although a continuing 
stream of rumors circulated among the population, so repellent was the 
nature of these stories that in their enormity they transcended the experi- 
ence of nearly everyone who heard them. In self-protection it was some- 
how necessary to persuade oneself that they could not really be true. 
The results, therefore, contained elements of the diabolical. The individ- 
ual who actually became a prisoner was in most cases devastated with 
fright and utterly demoralized to discover that what was happening to 
him was not less, but rather far more terrible than anything he had im- 
agined. The shock sequence of "procurement," therefore, together with 
the initial phases of the prisoner's introduction to camp life, is not with- 
out significance in assessing some of the psychic effects upon those who 
survived as long-term inmates. 

The arrest was typically made at night, preferably late. This was 
standing Gestapo policy, designed to heighten the element of shock, 
terror, and unreality surrounding the arrest. After a day or so in the 
police jafl came the next major shock, that of being transported to the 
camp itself. "This transportation into the camp, and the 'initiation' into 
it," wrote Bruno Bettelheim (1943, p. 424), an ex-inmate of Dachau 
and Buchenwald, "is often the first torture which the prisoner has ever 
experienced and is, as a rule, physically and psychologically the worst 
torture to which he will ever be exposed." It involved a planned series 
of brutalities inflicted by guards making repeated rounds through the 
train over a twelve to thirty-six hour period during which the prisoner 

250 Social Theory and Personality 

was prevented from resting. If transported in cattle cars instead of 
passenger cars, the prisoners were sealed in, under conditions not dis- 
similar to those of the Middle Passage. Upon their arrival if the camp 
were one in which mass exterminations were carried out there might 
be sham ceremonies designed to reassure the exhausted prisoners tem- 
porarily. The fresh terrors in the offing would then strike them with re- 
doubled impact. An SS officer might deliver an address, or a band might 
be playing popular tunes, and it would be in such a setting that the ini- 
tial "selection" was made. The newcomers would file past an SS doctor 
who indicated, with a motion of the forefinger, whether they were to go 
to the left or to the right. To one side went those considered capable of 
heavy labor; to the other would go wide categories of "undesirables"; 
those in the latter group were being condemned to the gas chambers. 
The laborers would undergo the formalities of "registration," full of 
indignities, which culminated in the marking of each prisoner with a 

Certain physical and psychological strains of camp life were espe- 
cially debilitating in the early stages. These should be classed with the 
introductory shock sequence". There was a state of chronic hunger whose 
pressures were unusually effective in detaching prior scruples of all 
kinds; even the sexual instincts no longer functioned in the face of the 
drive for food. The man who at his pleasure could bestow or withhold 
food thus wielded, for that reason alone, abnormal power. Another 
strain at first was the demand for absolute obedience; the slightest 
deviation brought savage punishments. The prisoner had to ask permis- 
sion by no means granted as a matter of course even to defecate. 
The power of the SS guard, as the prisoner was hourly reminded, was 
that of life and death. A more exquisite form of pressure lay in the fact 
that the prisoner had never a moment of solitude: he no longer had 
a private existence; it was no longer possible, in any imaginable sense, 
for him to be an "individual." Another factor having deep disintegra- 
tive effects upon the prisoner was the prospect of a limitless future in 
the camp. In the immediate sense this meant that he could no longer 
make plans for the future. But there would eventually be a subtler mean- 
ing: it made the break with the outside world a real break. In time the 
"real" life would become the life of the camp the outside world 
an abstraction. Had it been a limited detention, whose end could be 
calculated, one's outside relationships one's roles, one's very "per- 
sonality" might temporarily have been laid aside, to be reclaimed 
more or less intact at the end of the term. Here, however, the prisoner 
was faced with the apparent impossibility of his old roles or even his old 
personality ever having any future at all; it became more and more 
difficult to imagine himself resuming them. A final strain, which must 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 25 1 

have been particularly acute for the newcomer, was the omnipresent 
threat of death and the very unpredictable suddenness with which death 
might strike. Quite aside from the periodic gas-chamber selections, the 
guards in their sports and caprices were at liberty to kill any prisoner any 

In the face of all this, one might suppose that the very notion of an 
"adjustment" would be grotesque. The majority of those who entered 
the camps never came out again. But our concern here has to be with 
those who survived an estimated 700,000 out of nearly eight million. 
For them, the regime must be considered not as a system of death but as 
a way of life. These survivors did make an adjustment of some sort to 
the system; it is they themselves who report it. After the initial shocks, 
what was the nature of the "normality" that emerged? 

A dramatic species of psychic displacement seems to have occurred at 
the very outset. This experience, described as a kind of "splitting of 
personality," has been noted by most of the inmates who later wrote of 
their imprisonment. The very extremity of the initial tortures produced 
in the prisoner what actually amounted to a sense of detachment. These 
brutalities went so far beyond his own experience that they became 
somehow incredible. They seemed to be happening no longer to him," 
but almost to someone else. "[The author] has no doubt," writes Bruno 
Bettelheim (1943, p. 431), "that he was able to endure the transporta- 
tion, and all that followed, because right from the beginning he became 
convinced that these horrible and degrading experiences somehow did 
not happen to 'him' as a subject, but only to 'him' as an object." This sub- 
ject-object "split" appears to have served a double function: not only 
was it an immediate psychic defense mechanism against shock, but it 
also acted as the first thrust toward a new adjustment. This splitting-off 
of a special "self" a self which endured the tortures but which was not 
the "real" self also provided the first glimpse of a new personality 
which, being not "real," would not need to feel bound by the values 
which guided the individual in his former life. One part of the prisoner's 
being was thus, under sharp stress, brought to the crude realization that 
he must thenceforth be governed by an entire new set of standards in 
order to survive. "... I think it of primary importance," writes Elie 
Cohen (1953, p. 136), "to take into account that the superego acquired 
new values in a concentration camp, so much at variance with those 
which the prisoner bore with him into camp that the latter faded." But 
then this acquisition of "new values" did not take place immediately; 
it was not until some time after the most acute period of stress was over 
that the new, "unreal" self would become at last the "real" one. 

"If you survive the first three months you will survive the next three 
years." Such was the formula transmitted from the old prisoners to the 

252 Social Theory and Personality 

new ones. Its meaning lay in the fact that the first three months 
would generally determine a prisoner's capacity for survival and adapta- 
tion. "Be inconspicuous" was the golden rule. Any show of bravado, any 
heroics, any kind of resistance condemned a man instantly. There were 
no rewards for martyrdom: not only did the martyr himself suffer, but 
mass punishments were wreaked upon his fellow-inmates. To "be in- 
conspicuous" required a special kind of alertness almost an animal in- 
stinct against the apathy which tended to follow the initial shocks. To 
give up the struggle for survival was to commit "passive suicide"; a care- 
less mistake meant death. There were those, however, who did come 
through this phase and who managed an adjustment to the life of the 
camp. It was the striking constrasts between this group of two- and 
three-year veterans and the perpetual stream of newcomers which made 
it possible for men like Bettelheim and Cohen to speak of the "old pris- 
oner" as a specific type. 

The most immediate aspect of the old inmates' behavior which struck 
these observers was its child-like quality. "The prisoners," writes Dr. 
Bettelheim (1943, p. 441), "developed types of behavior which are 
characteristic of infancy or early youth. Some of these behaviors de- 
veloped slowly, others were immediately imposed on the prisoners and 
developed only in intensity as time went on." The inmates' sexual im- 
potence brought about a disappearance of sexuality in their talk; in- 
stead, excretory functions occupied them endlessly. They lost many of 
the customary inhibitions as to soiling their beds and their persons. Their 
humor was shot with silliness and they giggled like children when one of 
them would expel wind. Their relationships were highly unstable; they 
could fight each other savagely one minute and become close friends 
the next. Dishonesty, lying, and theft among the prisoners themselves 
became chronic. Benedikt Kautsky (1946, p. 188) observed of his own 
behavior: "I myself can declare that often I saw myself as I used to be in 
my school days, when by sly dodges and clever pretexts we avoided being 
found out, or could 'organize' something." Bruno Bettelheim remarks on 
the extravagance of the stories told by the prisoners to one another: 

They were boastful, telling tales about what they had accomplished in their 
former lives, or how they succeeded in cheating foremen or guards, and 
how they sabotaged the work. Like children they felt not at all set back or 
ashamed when it became known that they had lied about their prowess. 
(1943, pp. 445-46) 

This development of childlike behavior in the old inmates was the 
counterpart of something even more striking that was happening to 
them. "Only very few of the prisoners" Cohen says (1953, p. 177), 
"escaped a more or less intensive identification with the SS" As Bettel- 
heim puts it (1943, p. 447) : "A prisoner had reached the final stage of 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 253 

adjustment to the camp situation when he had changed his personality 
so as to accept as his own the values of the Gestapo." To all these men, 
reduced to complete and childish dependence upon their masters, the 
SS had actually become a father-symbol. "The SS man was all-power- 
ful in the camp, he was the lord and master of the prisoner's life. As a 
cruel father he could, without fear of punishment, even kill the pris- 
oner and as a gentle father he could scatter largesse and afford the 
prisoner his protection." The result, admits Dr. Cohen (1953, pp. 
176-77), was "That for all of us the SS was a father image. . . ." The 
closed system, in short, had become a kind of grotesque patriarchy. Few 
cases of real resistance were recorded; there was a relative scarcity of 
purposeful suicides, and even afterwards a surprising absence of 
hatred toward the SS. "It is remarkable," Hottinger noted (1948, p. 32) 
of the survivors, "how little hatred of their wardens is revealed in their 


The immense revelation for psychology in the concentration camp 
literature has been the discovery of how elements of dramatic personal- 
ity change could be brought about in masses of individuals. And yet it is 
not proper that the crude fact of "change" alone should dominate the 
conceptual image with which one emerges from this problem. 
"Change" per se change that does not go beyond itself, is productive of 
nothing; it leaves only destruction, shock, and howling bedlam be- 
hind it unless some future basis of stability and order lies waiting to 
guarantee it and give it reality. So it is with the human psyche, which is 
apparently capable of making terms with a state other than liberty as 
we know it. The very dramatic features of the process just described 
may shatter the nicety of this point. 

There is the related danger, moreover, of unduly stressing the indi- 
vidual psychology of the problem at the expense of its social psy- 
chology. To minimize these hazards, it may be strategically judicious to 
maintain a conceptual distinction between two phases of the group ex- 
perience. The process of detachment from prior standards of behavior 
and value is one of them, and is doubtless the more striking but there 
must be another one. That such detachment can, by extension, involve 
the whole scope of an individual's culture is an implication for which the 
vocabulary of individual psychology was caught somewhat unawares. 
Fluctuations in the state of the individual psyche could formerly be 
dealt with, or so it seemed, while taking for granted the more or less 
static nature of social organization, and with a minimum of reference 
to its features. That such organization might itself become a potent 

254 Social Theory and Personality 

variable was therefore a possibility not highly developed in theory. 

The other phase of the experience should be considered as the "sta- 
bility" side of the problem. It stabilized what the "shock" phase only 
opened the way for. This phase was essentially a process of adjustment to 
a standard of social normality though in this case a drastic re-adjust- 
ment, and compressed within a very short time. This process, under typi- 
cal conditions of individual and group existence, is supposed to begin at 
birth and last a lifetime and be transmitted in many and diffuse ways 
from generation to generation. Normally, the adjustment is slow and 
organic. Its numerous aspects extend much beyond psychology and 
have in the past been treated at great leisure within the rich provinces 
not only of psychology but of history, sociology, and literature as well. 
What rearrangement and compression of those provinces may be needed 
to accommodate a mass experience that not only involved profound in- 
dividual shock but also required rapid assimilation to a profoundly dif- 
ferent form of social organization, can hardly be known. But perhaps a 
conservative beginning may be made with existing psychological theory. 

The theoretical system whose terminology was orthodox for most of 
the Europeans who have written about the camps was that of Freud. It 
was necessary for them to do a certain amount of improvising, since the 
scheme's existing framework provided only the narrowest leeway for 
dealing with such radical concepts as out-and-out change in personal- 
ity. This was due to two kinds of limitations which the Freudian vo- 
cabulary places upon the notion of the "self." One is that the superego 
that part of the self involved in social relationships, social values, ex- 
pectations of others, and so on is conceived as only a small and highly 
refined part of the "total" self. The other is the assumption that the con- 
tent and character of the superego is laid down in childhood and under- 
goes relatively little basic alteration thereafter. Yet a Freudian diagnosis 
of the concentration camp inmate whose social self, or superego, did 
appear to change and who seemed basically changed thereby is still 
possible, given these limitations. Elie Cohen's thorough analysis spe- 
cifically states that "the superego acquired new values in a concentra- 
tion camp." The old values, according to Dr. Cohen, were first silenced 
by the shocks which produced "acute depersonalization" (the subject- 
object split: "It is not the real 'me' who is undergoing this"), and by 
the powerful drives of hunger and survival. Old values, thus set aside, 
could be replaced by new ones. It was a process made possible by 
"infantile regression" regression to a previous condition of childlike 
dependency in which parental prohibitions once more became all- 
powerful and in which parental judgments might once more be internal- 
ized. In this way a new "father-image," personified in the SS guard, 
came into being. That the prisoner's identification with the SS could be 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 255 

so positive is explained by still another mechanism: the principle of 
"identification with the aggressor." The child's only "defense" in the 
presence of a cruel, all-powerful father is the psychic defense of identifi- 

Now one could, still retaining the Freudian language, represent all 
this in somewhat less cumbersome terms by a slight modification of the 
metaphor. It could simply be said that under great stress the superego, 
like a bucket, is violently emptied of content and acquires, in a radically 
changed setting, new content. It would thus not be necessary to postu- 
late a literal "regression" to childhood. Something of the sort is suggested 
by Leo Alexander. "The psychiatrist stands in amazement," he writes, 

before the thoroughness and completeness with which this perversion of es- 
sential superego values was accomplished in adults. ... it may be that the 
decisive importance of childhood and youth in the formation of [these] 
values may have been overrated by psychiatrists in a society in which alle- 
giance to these values in normal adult life was taken too much for granted 
because of the stability, religiousness, legality, and security of the 19th Cen- 
tury and early 20th Century society. ( 1 948, p. 1 73 ) 

A second theoretical scheme is better prepared for crisis and more 
closely geared to social environment than the Freudian adaptation. It 
may consequently be more suitable for accommodating not only the 
concentration camp experience but also the more general problem of 
plantation slave personality. This is the "interpersonal theory" devel- 
oped by the late Harry Stack Sullivan. One may view this body of work 
as the response to a peculiarly American set of needs. The system of 
Freud, so aptly designed for a European society in which stability of 
institutional and status relationships could always to a large extent be 
taken for granted, turns out to be less clearly adapted to the culture of 
the United States. The American psychiatrist has had to deal with indi- 
viduals in a culture where the diffuse, shifting, and often uncertain qual- 
ity of such relationships has always been more pronounced than in 
Europe. He has come to appreciate the extent to which these relation- 
ships actually support the individual's psychic balance the full extent, 
that is, to which the self is "social" in its nature. Thus a psychology 
whose terms are flexible enough to permit altering social relationships 
to make actual differences in character structure would be a psychol- 
ogy especially promising for dealing with our problem. 

Sullivan's great contribution was to offer a concept whereby the 
really critical determinants of personality might be isolated for pur- 
poses of observation. Out of the hopelessly immense totality of "in- 
fluences" which in one way or another go to make up the personality, or 
"self," Sullivan designated one the estimations and expectations of 
others as the one promising to unlock the most secrets. He then made 

256 Social Theory and Personality 

a second elimination: the majority of "others" in one's existence may, 
for theoretical purposes, be neglected; what counts is who the signifi- 
cant others are. Here, "significant others" may be understood very 
crudely to mean those individuals who hold or seem to hold the keys 
to security in one's own personal situation, whatever its nature. As to the 
psychic processes whereby these "significant others" become an actual 
part of the personality, it may be said that the very sense of "self first 
emerges in connection with anxiety about the attitudes of the most im- 
portant persons in one's life (initially the mother, father, and their 
surrogates persons of more or less absolute authority), and automatic 
attempts are set in motion to adjust to these attitudes. In this way their 
approval, their disapproval, their estimates and appraisals, and indeed a 
whole range of their expectations become internalized, and are reflected 
in one's very character. Of course as one "grows up," one acquires more 
and more significant others whose attitudes are diffuse and may in- 
deed compete, and thus "significance," in Sullivan's sense, becomes 
subtler and less easy to define. The personality exfoliates; it takes on 
traits of distinction and as we say "individuality." The impact of 
particular significant others is less dramatic than in early life. But the 
pattern is a continuing one. New significant others do still appear, and 
theoretically it is conceivable that even in mature life the personality 
might be visibly affected by the arrival of such a one supposing that 
this new significant other were vested with sufficient authority. In any 
event, there are possibilities for fluidity and actual change inherent in 
this concept which earlier schemes have lacked. 

The purest form of the process is observed in the development of 
children. This is not so much due to their "immaturity" as such 
though their plasticity is great and the imprint of early experience goes 
deep but rather because for them there are fewer significant others. 
For this reason because the pattern is simpler and more easily con- 
trolled much of Sullivan's attention was devoted to what happens in 
childhood. Unlike the adult, the child, being drastically limited in the 
selection of significant others, must operate reverting to a previous 
terminology in a "closed system." 

Such are the elements which make for order and balance in the 
normal self: "significant others," plus "anxiety" in a special sense 
conceived with not simply disruptive but also guiding, warning functions. 
The structure of "interpersonal" theory thus has considerable room in it 
for conceptions of guided change change for either beneficent or 
malevolent ends. One technique for managing such change would of 
course be the orthodox one of psychoanalysis; another, the actual chang- 
ing of significant others. Patrick Mullahy, a leading exponent of Sulli- 
van, believes that in group therapy much is possible along the latter 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 257 

lines. A demonic test of the whole hypothesis is available in the con- 
centration camp. 

Consider the camp prisoner not the one who fell by the wayside but 
the one who survived. Consider the ways in which he was forced to 
adjust to the one significant other which he now had: the SS guard, who 
held absolute dominion over every aspect of his life. The very shock of 
his introduction was perfectly designed to dramatize this fact; he was 
brutally maltreated ("as by a cruel father"); the slightest resistance 
would bring instant death. Daily life in the camp, with its fear and ten- 
sions, taught over and over the lesson of absolute power. It prepared the 
personality for a drastic shift in standards. It crushed whatever anxieties 
might have been drawn from prior standards such standards had be- 
come meaningless. It focused the prisoner's attention constantly on the 
moods, attitudes, and standards of the only man who mattered. A truly 
childlike situation was thus created: utter and abject dependency on 
one, or on a rigidly limited few significant others. All the conditions 
which in normal life would give the individual leeway which allowed 
him to defend himself against a new and hostile significant other, no 
matter how powerful were absent in the camp. No competition of 
significant others was possible; the prisoner's comrades for practical pur- 
poses were helpless to assist him. He had no degree of independence, no 
lines to the outside, in any matter. Everything every vital concern 
focused on the SS: food, warmth, security, freedom from pain, all de- 
pended on the omnipotent significant other, all had to be worked out 
within the closed system. Nowhere was there a shred of privacy; every- 
thing one did was subject to SS supervision. The pressure was never 
absent. It is thus no wonder that the prisoners should become "as 
children." It is no wonder that their obedience became unquestioning, 
that they did not revolt, that they could not "hate" their masters. Their 
masters' attitudes had become internalized as a part of their very 
selves; those attitudes and standards now dominated all others. They 
had, indeed, been "changed." 

There still exists a third conceptual framework within which these 
phenomena may be considered the growing field of "role psychology." 
This psychology is not at all incompatible with interpersonal theory; the 
two might easily be fitted into the same system. But it might be strategi- 
cally desirable, for several reasons, to segregate them for purposes of 
discussion. One such reason is the extraordinary degree to which role 
psychology shifts the focus of attention upon the individual's cultural 
and institutional environment rather than upon his "self." At the same 
time it gives us a manageable concept that of "role" for mediating 
between the two. As a mechanism, the role enables us to isolate the 
unique contribution of culture and institutions toward maintaining the 

258 Social Theory and Personality 

psychic balance of the individual. In it, we see formalized for the indi- 
vidual a range of choices in models of behavior and expression, each 
with its particular style, quality, and attributes. The relationship 
between the "role" and the "self," though not yet clear, is intimate; it is 
possible at certain levels of inquiry to look upon the individual as the 
variable and upon the roles extended him as the stable factor. We 
thus have a potentially durable link between individual psychology and 
the study of culture. It might even be said, inasmuch as its key term is di- 
rectly borrowed from the theater, that role psychology offers in workable 
form the long-awaited connection apparently missed by Ernest Jones 
in his "Hamlet" study between the insights of the classical dramatists 
and those of the contemporary social theorist. But be that as it may, 
for the concentration camp situation it provides the most flexible ex- 
planation of how the ex-prisoners may have succeeded not only in 
adjusting to the camp but also in resuming their places in normal life. 

A "social role" is definable in its simplest sense as the behavior ex- 
pected of persons specifically located in specific social groups. Its tex- 
ture may be interwoven with many subtle qualities, which constitute its 
style. There is a distinction between "expectations" and "behavior"; 
the expectations of a role (embodied in the "script") theoretically exist 
in advance and are defined by the organization, the institution, or by 
society at large. Behavior the "performance" refers to the manner 
in which the role is played. Another distinction involves roles which are 
pervasive and those which are intermittent, transitory, and limited. A 
further concept is that of "role clarity." Some roles are more specifi- 
cally defined than others; their impact upon performance and indeed, 
upon the personality of the performer depends on the clarity of their 
definition. And finally, those roles which carry with them the clearest 
and most automatic rewards and punishments are those which will be, 
so* to speak, best played. 

What sorts of things might this explain? It might illuminate the 
process whereby the child develops his personality in terms not only of 
the roles which his parents offer him but of those which he "picks up" 
elsewhere and tries on. It could show how society, in its coercive 
character, lays down patterns of behavior with which it expects the in- 
dividual to comply. It suggests the way in which society, now turning its 
benevolent face to the individual, tenders him alternatives and defines 
for him the style appropriate to their fulfillment. It provides us with a 
further term for the definition of personality itself: to some extent we 
can say that personality is actually made up of the roles which the in- 
dividual plays. And here, once more assuming "change" to be possible, 
we have in certain ways the least cumbersome terms for plotting its 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 259 

The application of the model to the concentration camp is simple and 
obvious. What was expected of the man entering the role of camp pris- 
oner was laid down for him upon arrival: absolute obedience. Expec- 
tation and performance, in short, must coincide exactly; the lines were 
to be read literally; the missing of a single cue meant extinction. The 
role was pervasive; it vetoed any other role and smashed all prior 
ones. "Role clarity" was absolute; its definition was burned into the 
prisoner by every detail of his existence. The role was actually that of 
the child who had no measure of independence. Its impact upon both 
performance and personality have already been observed. Its rewards 
were brutally simple life rather than death; its punishments were 
automatic. By the survivors it was, it had to be, a role well-played. 

Nor was it simple, upon liberation, to shed the role. Many of the in- 
mates, to be sure, did have prior roles which they could resume, former 
significant others to whom they might reorient themselves, a repressed 
superego which might once more be resurrected. To this extent they were 
not "lost souls." But to the extent that their entire personalities, their 
total selves, had been involved in this experience, to the extent that old 
arrangements had been disrupted, that society itself had been over- 
turned while they had been away, a "return" was fraught with in- 
numerable obstacles. 

The foregoing analysis has shed some light upon the question with 
which this section began, though the very hideousness of the special 
kind of slavery may have partially disqualified it as a test for certain 
features of a far milder and more benevolent form of slavery. Still, one 
should be able to say, with regard to the individuals who lived as 
slaves within the respective systems, that just as on one level there is 
every difference between a wretched childhood and a carefree one, 
there are limited features which both types share. 

Both were closed systems from which all standards based on prior 
connections had been effectively detached. A working adjustment to 
either system required a childlike conformity, a limited choice of "sig- 
nificant others." Cruelty per se cannot be considered as the primary key 
to this; of far greater importance was the sheer "closedness" of the sys- 
tem, in which all lines of authority descended from the master, and in 
which alternative social bases that might have supported alternative 
standards were systematically suppressed. The individual, conse- 
quently, for his very psychic security, had to picture his master in some 
way as the "good father," even when, as in the concentration camp, it 
made no sense at all. But why should it not have made sense for many a 
simple plantation Negro whose master did exhibit, in all the ways that 
could be expected, the features of the good father who was really 
"good"? If the concentration camp could produce in two or three years 

260 Social Theory and Personality 

the results that it did, one wonders how much more pervasive must 
have been those attitudes, expectations, and values which had, cer- 
tainly, their benevolent side, and which were accepted and transmitted 
over generations? 

From the master's viewpoint, slaves had been defined in law as 
property, and the master's power over his property must be absolute. But 
then this property was still human property. These slaves might never 
be quite as human as he was, but still there were certain standards that 
could be laid down for their behavior: obedience, fidelity, humility, 
docility, cheerfulness, and so on. Industry and diligence would of course 
be demanded but a final element in the master's situation would un- 
doubtedly qualify that expectation. Absolute power for him meant 
absolute dependency for the slave the dependency not of the develop- 
ing child but of the perpetual child. For the master, the role most aptly 
fitting such a relationship would naturally be that of the father. As a 
father he could be either harsh or kind, as he chose, but as a wise 
father he would have, we may suspect, a sense of the limits of his situa- 
tion. He must be ready to cope with all the qualities of the child, exas- 
perating as well as ingratiating. He might conceivably have to expect in 
such a child besides his loyalty, docility, humility, cheerfulness, and, 
under supervision, his diligence such additional qualities as irre- 
sponsibility, playfulness, silliness, laziness, and, quite possibly, tenden- 
cies to lying and stealing. Should the entire prediction prove accurate, 
the result would be something resembling "Sambo." 

The social and psychological sanctions of role-playing may in the last 
analysis prove to be the most satisfactory of the several approaches to 
Sambo, for without doubt, of all the roles in American life that of 
Sambo was by far the most pervasive. The outlines of the role might be 
sketched in by crude necessity, but what of the finer shades? The sanc- 
tions against overstepping it were bleak enough, but the reward the 
sweet applause, as it were, for performing it with sincerity and feeling 
that was something to be appreciated on quite another level. The law, 
untuned to the deeper harmonies, could command the player to be pres- 
ent for the occasion, and the whip might even warn against his missing 
the grosser cues but could those things really insure the performance 
that melted all hearts? Yet there was many and many a performance, 
and the audiences, whose standards were high, appear to have 
been for the most part well pleased. They were actually viewing their 
own masterpiece. Much labor had been lavished upon this chef 
d'oeuvre; the most genial resources of Southern society had been availa- 
ble for the work. Touch after touch had been applied throughout the 
years, and the result embodied not in the unfeeling law but in the 
richest layers of Southern lore had been the product of an exquisitely 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 261 

rounded collective creativity. And it was indeed in a sense that some- 
how transcended the merely ironic a labor of love. "I love the simple 
and unadulterated slave, with his geniality, his mirth, his swagger, and 
his nonsense," wrote Edward Pollard, 

I love to look upon his countenance shining with content and grease; I love 
to study his affectionate heart; I love to mark that peculiarity in him, which 
beneath all his buffoonery exhibits him as a creature of the tenderest sensi- 
bilities, mingling his joys and his sorrows with those of his master's home. 
(1859, p. 58) 

Love, in short even on those terms was surely no inconsequential 
reward. But what were the terms? The Negro, though a happy child, 
was to be a child forever. Few Southern writers failed to describe with 
obvious fondness the bubbling gaiety of a plantation holiday or the per- 
petual good humor that seemed to mark the Negro character the good 
humor of an everlasting childhood. 

The role, of course, must have been rather harder for the earliest 
generations of slaves to learn. "Accommodation," according to John 

involves the renunciation of protest or aggression against undesirable condi- 
tions of life and the organization of the character so that protest does not 
appear, but acceptance does. It may come to pass in the end that the unwel- 
come force is idealized, that one identifies with it and takes it into the per- 
sonality; it sometimes even happens that what is at first resented and feared 
is finally loved. (1937, p. 255) 

Might the process, on the other hand, be reversed? It is hard to imag- 
ine it being reversed overnight. The same role might still be played in the 
years after slavery we are told that it was and yet it was played to 
more vulgar audiences with cruder standards, who paid infinitely less 
for what they saw. The lines might be repeated more and more me- 
chanically, with less and less conviction. The incentives to perfection 
could become hazy and blurred, and the excellent old piece could de- 
generate over time into low farce. There could come a point, conceiva- 
bly, with the old zest gone, that it was no longer worth the candle. The 
day might come at last when it dawned on a man's full waking conscious- 
ness that he had really grown up that he was, after all, only playing 
a part. 


One might say a great deal more than has been said here about 
mass behavior and mass manifestations of personality, and the picture 
would still amount to little more than a grotesque cartoon of humanity 
were not some recognition given to the ineffable difference made in any 

262 Social Theory and Personality 

social system by men and women possessing what is recognized, any- 
where and any time, simply as character. With that, one arrives at 
something too qualitatively fine to come very much within the crude 
categories of the present discussion. But although it is impossible to gen- 
eralize with any proper justice about the incidence of "character" in its 
moral, irreducible, individual sense, it may still be possible to conclude 
with a note or two on the social conditions, the breadth or narrowness of 
their compass, within which character can find expression. 

One is struck once more, turning to Latin America, by the fact that 
there one finds no Sambo: more specifically, one finds no social tradi- 
tion in which slaves were defined, by virtually complete consensus, as 
children incapable of being trusted with the full privileges of freedom 
and adulthood. There, the system surely had its brutalities. The slaves 
arriving from Africa had also undergone the capture, the sale, the Mid- 
dle Passage. They too had been uprooted from a prior culture, from a 
life very different from the one in which they now found themselves. 
There, however, the system was not closed. 

Once again the concentration camp, paradoxically enough, can be in- 
structive. A very small minority of the survivors of the camps had under- 
gone an experience in crucial ways different from that of the others, an 
experience which protected them from the full impact of the closed sys- 
tem. These people, mainly by virtue of wretched little jobs in the camp 
administration which offered them a minute measure of privilege, were 
able to carry on "underground" activities. In a practical sense the actual 
operations of such "undergrounds" as were possible may seem to us un- 
heroic and limited: stealing blankets; "organizing" a few bandages, a 
little medicine, from the camp hospital; black market arrangements with 
a guard for a bit of extra food and protection for oneself and one's com- 
rades; the circulation of news; and other such apparently trifling activi- 
ties. But for the psychological balance of those involved, such activities 
were vital; they made possible a fundamentally different adjustment to 
the camp. To a prisoner so engaged, there were others who mattered, 
who gave real point to his existence. The SS was no longer the only one. 
Conversely, the role of the child was not the only one he played. He 
could take initiative; he could give as well as receive protection; he did 
things which had meaning in adult terms* He had, in short, alternative 
roles. This fact made such a prisoner's transition from his old life to that 
of the camp less agonizing and destructive; those very prisoners, more- 
over, appear to have been the ones who could, upon liberation, resume 
normal lives most easily. 

It was just such a difference, indeed, a much greater one, that sep- 
arated the typical slave in Latin America from the typical slave in the 
United States. Though he too had experienced the Middle Passage, he 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 263 

was entering a society where alternatives were significantly more diverse 
than those awaiting his kinsman in North America. Distinct and, at cer- 
tain points, competing institutions were concerned in some sense with 
his status. Multiple and often competing "significant others" existed. 
His master was, of course, clearly the chief one but not the only one. 
There could, in fact, be a considerable number: the friar who boarded 
his ship to examine his conscience; the confessor; the priest who made 
the rounds and who might report irregularities in treatment to the 
procurator; the zealous Jesuit quick to resent a master's intrusion upon 
such sacred matters as marriage and worship a resentment of no small 
consequence to the master the local magistrate, with his eye on the 
king's official protector of slaves, who would find himself in trouble were 
the laws too widely evaded; the king's informer who received one-third 
of the fines. For the slave, the result was a certain latitude; the lines did 
not all converge on one man; the slave's personality, accordingly, did 
not have to focus on a single role. He was, true enough, primarily a 
slave. Yet he might in fact perform multiple roles. He could be a hus- 
band and father the American slave was legally denied such roles. 
Open to him also were such activities as artisan, peddler, petty mer- 
chant, truck gardener the law reserved to him the necessary time and 
a share of the proceeds; such arrangements were against the law for 
Sambo. He could be a communicant in the church, a member of a reli- 
gious fraternity roles guaranteed by the most powerful institution in 
Latin America. Comparable privileges in the American South depended 
on a master's pleasure. These roles were all legitimized and protected 
outside the plantation; they offered a diversity of channels for the de- 
velopment of personality. Not only did the individual have multiple 
roles open to Mm as a slave, but the very nature of these roles made 
possible a certain range of aspirations should he some day become 
free. He could have a fantasy-life not limited to catfish and watermelons; 
it was within his conception to become a priest, an independent farmer, 
a successful merchant, a military officer. The slave could actually 
to an extent quite unthinkable in the United States conceive of himself 
as a rebel. Bloody slave revolts actual wars took place in Latin 
America. Nothing on this order occurred in the United States. But even 
without a rebellion, society here had a network of customary arrange- 
ments, rooted in antiquity, which made possible at many points a smooth 
transition of status from slave to free, and which provided much social 
space for the exfoliation of individual character. 

To the typical slave on the ante-bellum plantation in the United 
States, society of course offered no such alternatives. But that is hardly 
to say that something of an "underground" something rather more, 
indeed, than an underground could not exist in Southern slave society. 

264 Social Theory and Personality 

And there were those in it who hardly fitted the picture of "Sambo." 

The American slave system, compared with that of Latin America, 
was closed and circumscribed. But like all social systems, its arrange- 
ments were less perfect in practice than they appeared to be in theory. 
It was possible for significant numbers of slaves to escape, in varying 
degrees, the full impact of the system and its coercions upon personal- 
ity. The house servant, the urban mechanic, the slave who arranged his 
own employment and paid his master a stipulated sum each week, were 
all figuratively members of the "underground." Even among those work- 
ing on large plantations, the skilled craftsman or the responsible slave 
foreman had a measure of independence not shared by his simpler 
brethren. Even the single slave family owned by a small farmer had a 
status much closer to that of house servants than that of a plantation 
labor gang. For all such people there was a margin of space denied to 
the majority: the system's authority-structure claimed their bodies but 
not quite their souls. 

It would be out of such groups that an individual as complex and as 
highly developed as William Johnson, the Natchez barber, might emerge. 
Johnson's diary reveals a personality that one recognizes instantly as a 
type but a type whose values came from a sector of society very dif- 
ferent from that which formed Sambo. Johnson is the young man on 
the make, the ambitious free-enterpriser of American legend. He be- 
gan life as a slave, was manumitted at the age of eleven, and rose 
from a poor apprentice barber to become one of the wealthiest and most 
influential Negroes in ante-bellum Mississippi. He was respected by 
white and black alike, and counted among his friends some of the lead- 
ing public men of the state. 

It is of great interest to note that the danger of slave revolts like 
Communist conspiracies in our own day was much overrated by 
touchy Southerners. The revolts that actually did occur were in no in- 
stance planned by plantation laborers but rather by Negroes whose 
qualities of leadership were developed well outside the full coercions of 
the plantation authority-system. Gabriel, who led the revolt of 1800, 
was a blacksmith who lived a few miles outside of Richmond; Denmark 
Vesey, leading spirit of the 1822 plot at Charleston, was a freed Negro 
artisan who had been born in Africa and served several years aboard a 
slave trading vessel; and Nat Turner, the Virginia slave who fomented 
the massacre of 1831, was a literate preacher of recognized intelligence. 
Of the plots that have been convincingly substantiated, moreover 
whether they came to anything or not the majority originated in urban 

For a time during Reconstruction, a Negro elite of sorts did emerge in 
the South. Many of its members were Northern Negroes; but the 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 265 

Southern ex-slaves who also comprised it seem in general to have 
emerged from the categories just indicated. Vernon Wharton, writ- 
ing of Mississippi, says: 

A large portion of the minor Negro leaders were preachers, lawyers, or 
teachers from the free states or from Canada. Their education and their in- 
dependent attitude gained for them immediate favor and leadership. Of the 
natives who became their rivals, the majority had been urban slaves, black- 
smiths, carpenters, clerks, or waiters in hotels and boarding houses; a few of 
them had been favored body-servants of affluent whites. (1942, p. 164) 

The William Johnsons and Denmark Veseys have been accorded, 
though belatedly, their due honor. They are, indeed, all too easily 
identified, thanks to the system that enabled them as individuals to be 
so conspicuous and so exceptional, and as members of a group, so few. 


1791. An Abstract of the Evidence delivered before a Select Committee of 
the House of Commons in the Years 1790, and 1791; on the Part of the 
Petitioners for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. London. 

Alexander, L. 1948. <4 War Crimes: Their Social-Psychological Aspects," 
A merican Journal of Psychiatry, 105:1 70-77. 

Aptheker, H. 1943. American Negro Slave Revolts. New York: Columbia 
University Press. 

Bettelheim, B. 1943. "Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations," 
Journal of A bnormal and Social Psychology, 38:41 7-52. 

Bluhm, H. 1948. "How Did They Survive?" American Journal of Psycho- 
therapy, 2:3-33. 

Bondy, C. 1943. "Problems of Internment Camps," Journal of Abnormal 
and Social Psychology, 38:453-75. 

Bosman, W. 1705. A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea 
.... London: J. Knapton. 

Cohen, E. 1953. Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp. New York: 
W. W. Norton. 

Degrandpre, L. 1801. Voyage a la Cote Occidentale d'Afrique, fait dans les 
annees 1786 et 1787 .... Paris: Dentu. 

Dollard, J. 1937. Caste and Class in a Southern Town. New Haven: Yale 
University Press. 

Donnan, E. (ed.). 1930 ff. Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave 
Trade to America (4 vols.) . Washington: Carnegie Institution. 

Edwards, B. 1806. The History . . . of the British Colonies in the West 
Indies .... Vol. 2. Philadelphia: J. Humphreys. 

Elkins, S. 1959. Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellec- 
tual Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

266 Social Theory and Personality 

Elkins, S., and McKitrick, E. 1957. "Institutions and the Law of Slavery," 
American Quarterly, 9:3-21, 159-79. 

Falconbridge, A. 1788. An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of 
Africa. London: J. Phillips. 

Freud, A. 1948. The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. London: Hogarth 

Freud, S. 1947. The Ego and the Id. London: Hogarth Press. 

Friedman, P. 1948. "The Road Back for the DP's," Commentary, 

Gaines, F. 1 924. The Southern Plantation: A Study in the Development and 
the Accuracy of a Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Gerth, H., and Mills, C. W. 1953. Character and Social Structure: The Psy- 
chology of Social Institutions. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 

Herskovits, M. 1941. The Myth of the Negro Past. New York: Harper & 

Hogan, W. and Davis, A. (eds.). 1951. William Johnson's Natchez: The 
Ante-Bellum Diary of a Free Negro. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Uni- 
versity Press. 

Hottinger, A., et al. 1948. Hungerkrankheit, Hungerodem, Hungertuberku- 
lose. Basel: B. Schwabe. 

Kautsky, B, 1946. Teufel und Verdammte. Zurich: Buchguilde Gutenberg. 
Kennedy, J. 1832. Swallow Barn. Philadelphia: Carey & Lea. 

Klineberg, O. (ed.). 1944. Characteristics of the American Negro. New 
York: Harper & Bros. 

Kogon, Eugen. 1946. The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Con- 
centration Camps and the System Behind Them. New York: Farrar, 

Lengyel, O. 1947. Five Chimneys: the Story of Auschwitz. Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press. 

Lingens-Reiner, E. 1948. Prisoners of Fear. London: Victor Gollancz. 

Matthews, J. 1788. A Voyage to the River Sierra-Leone . . . London: 
B, White, 

Mayer, B. 1854. Captain Canot; or, Twenty Years of an African Slaver . . . 
New York: D. Appleton. 

Mead, G. 1934. Mind, Self and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social 
Behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Moore, F. 1738. Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa . . , London: 

Mullahy, P. 1948. Oedipus Myth and Complex: A Review of Psychoanalytic 
Theory. New York: Hermitage Press. 

Murphy, G. 1947. Personality. New York: Harper Bros. 
Newcomb, T. 1950. Social Psychology. New York: Diyden Press. 
Ortiz, F. 1906. Los Negros Brujos. Madrid: Libreria de F. Fe. 

ELKINS: Slavery and Personality 267 

Park, M. 1801. Travels and Recent Discoveries, in the Interior Districts of 
Africa, in the Years 1796 and '97. New York: A. Brodle. 

Phillips, U. 1918. American Negro Slavery. New York: D. Appleton. 

Pierson, D. 1942. Negroes in Brazil: A Study of Race Contact at Bahia. 
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Pollard, E. 1859. Black Diamonds Gathered in the Darkey Homes of the 
South. New York: Pudney & Russell. 

Ramos, A. 1951. The Negro in Brazil. Washington: Associated Publishers. 

Rinchon, D. 1929. La Traite et I'Esclavage des Congolais par les Euro- 
peens: Histoire de la Deportation de 13 Millions 25,000 Noirs en 
Amerique. Wetteren, Belgium. 

Rousset, D. 1947. The Other Kingdom. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock. 

Smedes, S. 1888. Memorials of a Southern Planter. Baltimore: Cushings & 

Smith, W. 1745. A New Voyage to Guinea . . . London: J. Nourse. 

Snelgrave, W. 1734. A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea . . . London: 
J., J.,&P.Knapton. 

Stampp, K. 1956. The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum 
South. New York: A. A. Knopf. 

Sullivan, H. 1945. Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry. Washington: W. A. 
White Psychiatric Foundation. 

. 1952. The Contributions of Harry Stack Sullivan: A Symposium of 

Interpersonal Theory in Psychiatry and Social Science. New York: Her- 
mitage Press. 

Szalet, L. 1945. Experiment "E." New York: Didier. 

Tandy, J. 1922. "Pro-Slavery Propaganda in American Fiction of the Fifties," 
South Atlantic Quarterly, 21 : 41-59, 170-78. 

Tannenbaum, F. 1947. Slave and Citizen: The Negro in America. New 
York: A. A. Knopf, 

Wharton, V. 1942. The Negro in Mississippi, 1865-1890. Chapel Hill: Uni- 
versity of North Carolina Press. 



About the Chapter 

From the confusing variety of theoretical conceptualizations of person- 
ality processes. Dr. Miller tries to identify categories which are best suited 
for cross-cultural study. He believes that the interpersonal relationship is the 
minimal unit of psychological analysis and discusses in detail the problems 
of describing such relationships. The schema he develops is a skillful blending 
of sociological, Lewinian, and psychoanalytic concepts. 

About the Author 

DANIEL R. MILLER is Research Associate at the Institute for Social Re- 
search and Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. In 1955- 
56, he was at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. 
He is co-author with Guy E. Swanson of two books, The Changing American 
Parent and Inner Conflict and Defense. The first of these received the Burgess 
Award in 1960 for the best monograph on the family and socialization in the 
previous two years. 

Personality and Social Interaction 


University of Michigan 

lo study personality cross-culturally, one must first have a picture of 
personality. A specific set of categories is necessary to define testable 
questions and to classify the empirical data obtained from answering 
the questions. But which are the best categories for mapping the human 
personality? The social scientist is likely to feel bedeviled by the many 
systems described in a standard text on personality. There is no easy 
way to choose among them; each has its particular assets and liabilities. 
The selection of a system must be determined by the investigator's prob- 
lems and the kind of material he is studying. This chapter begins with a 
list of reasons why social scientists study personality in different socie- 
ties. There then follows a presentation of concepts that have been help- 
ful in my own empirical investigations of personality. The concepts rep- 
resent a recasting within an interpersonal context of intrapersonal 
concepts traditional in psychology. After the interpersonal approach 
has been outlined, it will be evaluated in the light of the purposes of 
cross-cultural research. 

Criteria for Selecting Concepts 

Psychological theories provide a wealth of seemingly fruitful terms. 
The literature on personality in different societies contains many refer- 


272 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

ences to motives, displacement, Oedipus complex, reinforcement, fixa- 
tion, self-esteem, internalization, anxiety, and many other concepts. 
But the very variety of concepts is confusing; the theoretical pie has 
been cut In too many different ways. Some writers take a physiological 
approach and some focus on personal experience; some devote their at- 
tention to perception, some stress learning, and some stress motivation. 
Some investigate the internal dynamics of an individual and some the 
behavior of people In groups. There are many other such differences in 
basic orientation. 

It Is not possible to integrate the best of the different orientations into 
one all-embracing system. Thus far, no approach seems inherently su- 
perior to the others. It Is usually very difficult to decide, therefore, on 
labels for behavior and on methods of comparing people in different so- 
cieties. Will an investigator learn more about anxiety if he collects 
dreams or if he measures psychogalvanic responses; if he administers the 
Rorschach Test or interviews mothers about weaning practices? 

There being no a priori basis for selecting concepts and methods, the 
most obvious basis Is an empirical one: consideration of the ends to 
which the concepts will be applied. If the investigator intends to com- 
pare the personalities of people In different societies, his concepts 
should satisfy at least three criteria. First, the terms must have com- 
parable meanings In the different societies. The satisfaction of this cri- 
terion Is no simple matter. While general enough to have cross-cultural 
meaning, the concepts must also be specific enough to describe concrete 
behavior In a particular society. 

A second criterion is suggested if we ask why one goes to the trouble 
of traveling to different societies in order to study personality. Why not 
stay at home? Usually, the investigator is interested in the connections 
between personality traits and different social structures. He may be 
asking how personality supports the social system or how certain forms 
of social organization affect personality. He cannot phrase hypotheses 
with psychological concepts that apply only to the internal distribution 
of energy and sociological concepts that are specific to the organiza- 
tion of social groups. To find answers, he needs concepts of personality 
that he can integrate with categories for describing social structure. 

A final criterion for the selection of concepts is suggested by the na- 
ture of personality. To be described in a meaningful way, it requires 
terms that permit the analysis of individual differences. 

These, then, are the three criteria for selecting concepts: they should 
have comparable meanings in different societies; they should permit the 
phrasing of associations between social structure and personality; they 
should lend themselves to the analysis of individual differences. 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 273 

The Interpersonal Relationship 

In the short space of one chapter it is not possible to outline a com- 
plete system of classification that satisfies the three criteria. It is possible 
only to indicate the nature of such a system by illustrating a few critical 
concepts. Underlying uhe orientation to the selection of concepts is one 
basic assumption: the minimal unit of psychological analysis is the in- 
terpersonal relationship. This relationship is viewed as a system, much 
as the individual person is viewed as a system in the realm of traditional 

To convey the nature of questions about interaction between two 
people, it is first necessary to list the primary factors in the system's 
dynamics. Most obvious are the dramatis personae, the two partici- 
pants. To explain their behavior, the investigator needs information 
about their dispositions, their values, their defense mechanisms, and the 
like. To picture their relationship he needs concepts that describe inci- 
dents from the point of view of each perceiver. The terms are self-iden- 
tity and object. Another integral part of the picture is the situation. Are 
the participants at a cocktail party or at a business meeting? Are they 
in a kitchen or in an office? The final major source of variance is the 
nature of the interaction between the two participants. Have they been 
planning a cooperative venture or have they been arguing? Is the rela- 
tionship an authoritative one or is it a relationship on the level of 

In terms of such categories of concepts, one can define not only many 
traditional problems but one that is basic to many cross-cultural studies. 
It involves the forces which contribute to the stability and rigidity of an 
interpersonal system. If the two people are man and wife, we can study 
the forces, both internal and external, that keep the marriage intact: 
the fit between the partners' personalities, the maturity of defense 
mechanisms, the number of mutual satisfactions, the social pressures 
to maintain the marriage. If the participants are friends, we can analyze 
the forces that affect the stability of the friendship: the common inter- 
ests, the extent to which the shared activities gratify reciprocal needs, the 
sources of friction. 

The primary purpose of the ensuing discussion, then, will be to pre- 
sent an interpersonal orientation to theory-building. As will become in- 
creasingly evident, this orientation has been influenced considerably by 
the writings of Cooley (1922) and M. Mead (1935) in sociology, and 
of Lewin (1939), Parsons, Shils and Murray (1951) hi psychology, 
and of Freud (1949), Klein (1948), Erikson (1954) and Sullivan 
(1947) in psychoanalysis. 

274 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Psychological Space 

The concepts to be discussed have been selected with a view to pic- 
turing an interpersonal event as it is perceived by the participants. 
Subjectively many aspects of a situation, and the people in it, are ex- 
perienced in spatial terms. One thinks in such terms as the distance be- 
tween people, directions of goals, and deterrance by barriers. It is help- 
ful, therefore, to analyze many aspects of an interpersonal event, by 
means of concepts developed by Lewin (1939) to describe psychologi- 
cal space. 

In spatial terms, an event is experienced as consisting of component 
regions. Regions may represent persons and parts of persons, and 
physical space between people. Each region has its special structure, de- 
fined by component sub-regions, and is delimited by boundaries. At such 
points its qualitative properties begin to change into those of another 
region. Boundaries may be sharp or vague enough to constitute zones, 
easily crossed or resistant to communication and movement. In the 
latter case, boundaries constitute barriers between regions. Changes 
are induced by forces, each of which has a point of application, strength, 
and direction. 

In some of the comments on the interpersonal relationship, it will be 
viewed structurally as consisting of component and interacting regions, 
and functionally as a system of forces in some sort of equilibrium. The 
specific regions on which we will concentrate are the situation, the ob- 
jects and the self-identity. The forces we will consider are the ones that 
underly reactions of people to each other. In describing dynamics of 
interpersonal reactions, we will focus on one factor, the defense mecha- 
nism, which is of considerable importance in many cross-cultural 
studies of personality. 


The interaction between two persons obviously varies with the situa- 
tion in which they find themselves. A fundamental aspect of the situation 
is its actual physical characteristics. A locked door can act as a physical 
barrier; the living room is designed for different functions than the 

kitchen. But regions need not be defined by physical characteristics and 
need not even refer to physical places. They may refer to areas in fan- 
tasy. Whether a region refers to a real space or a fantasied one, the in- 
vestigator is interested in its location relative to other regions, its con- 
nections with them, its attributes, its amenability to change, the 
clarify of its boundaries, and their resistance to perception and locomo- 

A situation can also be mapped in terms of the forces that prompt ob- 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 275 

jets to move in various directions, and the tensions, or force fields, 
i particular regions. Tensions tend to create changes, often by prompt- 
ig an object to move to goals or to other regions or to retreat from 
Durces of potential pain. 

To apply such general functional and struccural terms, one also needs 
iformation about content. Data are required about kinds of forces, 
oals, and barriers. Some of this information can be gained from a 
onsideration of social structure. To define a situation we begin with the 
3tal social system, which is the network of social relationships current in 

particular culture. Such a network can be conveniently divided ac- 
ording to at least three different principles, all of which can throw light 
n the regions in a situation. The most familiar method involves a divi- 
ion into various types of organized social units, like the family, the fac- 
Dry, the church, and the club; and unorganized, but recognized so- 
ial categories, like men and women, Negroes and whites, white collar 
Corkers and manual laborers. The second method classifies the net- 
work of relationships in terms of such salient characteristics as economic, 
olitical, religious, and educational features. Finally, an organized social 
nit can ultimately be viewed as a set of social positions. A family, 
:>r example, may be divided into the positions of father, mother, hus- 
and, wife, son, daughter, brother and sister. 

By analyzing a social situation in these three ways, we can usually get 

clear picture of the most prominent regions and forces. In an en- 
ounter between a saleslady (social position) and a female customer in 
department store (social unit), the physical structure of the store, the 
ature of the saleslady's job, the rules established by the organization, 
le age, sex, race, and social class of the customer all these factors may 
ffect the meaning of the situation, which is organized, in great part, to 
icilitate the distribution of goods and services. The selling situation 
lay be viewed in terms of two regions, the counter acting as a physical 
ad social barrier between them. During working hours the saleslady 
annot cross the barrier. She cannot leave her post without seeking a re- 
lacement. This rule is reinforced by the presence of superiors, the 
Darnings of peers, and the possible complaints of customers. The ten- 
ions in the two regions promote actions leading to the interchange of 
loney for goods and services. The goals of this action are partially in- 
jrpreted in terms of the meanings and values entailed in the company's 
tructuring of the situation, both physically and psychologically. For a 
iven person, these rudimentary details are rounded out by many others. 
E the saleslady is very anxious to keep her job, for example, or is very 
sspectful to authorities, she will seldom cross the barrier of the counter 
nd she will experience strong tensions to. promote the exchange of goods 
nd services. 

276 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 


Perceptually, the participants In a relationship are most aware of the 
regions we shall call objects. These can be inanimate, but the ones that 
are most Important in most people's lives are animate and human. 
"Significant others" parents, siblings, spouses, friends, gods, fellow- 
employees provide fulcra about which each person organizes his life. 
Objects provide the foci of one's deepest needs, one's primary values, 
and the fundamental goals of the larger community. 

Sub-Identities of Objects 

Each object can be differentiated Into sub-regions with discernible 
characteristics and Interrelationships. To analyze the structure of an 
object, one must identify Its sub-regions, their dimensions and attributes, 
and their centrality and fluidity. 

What are the regions by which a man is known to others? How is he 
Identified by his public? There are two different ways. One refers to his 
positions In various social units and his various social categories. People 
thiak of him In terms of the kind of father or lawyer or man or Catholic 
or citizen he is. Another basis for picturing him- is provided by the identi- 
ties he developed during earlier stages of his life. People may refer to 
the self-centered child in him or the infant in him. Some of these earlier 
identities seem to be organized in terms of people with whom he has 
identified most strongly. When he does something that reminds us of one 
of these internalized objects, his father, for instance, we say that his 
action reflects the father in him. 

Together, all the regions by which a man is known constitute his 
public identity. The specific regions into which the total identity is di- 
vided are sub-identities. Sub-identity is an organized set of attributes 
representing a particular person: the kind of lawyer he is, the kind of 
father he is when he manifests the attributes of his internalized father, 
the kind of child he becomes when he is very fatigued. Like a finger- 
print, each pattern of attributes is unique to a particular individual. 
The sub-Identity identifies him and him alone to others in a particular 
social group. It gives him a continuity of meaning for the others in the 

Analysis of Sub-Identities: Dimensions and Values 

Attributes are actually locations on particular dimensions. A di- 
mension is a set of alternative attributes which is conceived as a roughly 
linear scale. Dimensions are the basic categories for defining the mean- 
ings of objects. The particular dimensions and their definitions vary with 
the social group. In American society, for example, some dimensions of 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 277 

the masculine sub-identity are Initiative, physical strength, preference 
for certain types of dress. Such dimensions are not relevant to mascu- 
linity in all societies. 

A dimension can contain many attributes or only a few. Attributes on 
a dimension typically represent only a partially ordered set. They can- 
not be assigned precise numerical values, so that locations on different 
dimensions, like degree of maturity and relative status, are not always 

Social groups assign various values to different locations. The distri- 
bution of values for a dimension does not always constitute a linear 
scale. The values also define thresholds which may divide the dimension 
into forbidden, acceptable, desirable, and ideal segments. It is desirable 
for a man to show a lot of initiative and undesirable for him to be pas- 
sive. It is evil to steal and good to be honest. Sometimes the ideal and 
the undesirable segments are at opposite extremes of the distribution; 
sometimes the ideal is in the middle, like Aristotle's golden mean. Then 
the two extremes tend to include unacceptable attributes. 

Types of Sub-Identity 

A man can be known to others in terms of the kind of ditch-digger, 
American, Mason, brother, infantile person, lover, or even pipe smoker, 
he is. There are obviously many other possible labels. Again we face the 
issue of content. How does one select a delimited number of sub-identi- 
ties that is most crucial for explaining the interaction of two people? 

A consideration of the nature of attributes suggests one basis for 
selection. The fact that attributes are experienced as positions on dimen- 
sions permits members of a social group to evaluate the relative good- 
ness of two individuals or to compare a man's current attributes with the 
ones he had previously. This process of invidious comparison is one of 
the ways in which a social group imposes its will on its individual mem- 
bers. Attributes with considerable significance for the group elicit strong 
evaluations and often some kind of action. But attributes which do not 
have much significance for the group's welfare are not evaluated in 
particularly emotional terms. A banker's career is likely to depend on 
his business acumen and honesty, but not on his skill as a bridge player 
or his taste in music. As each member of a group participates in its ac- 
tivities, he learns the common definitions of dimensions, values, and 
social significance. He uses them to conceptualize the sub-identities of all 
the members including himself. 

Degree of social significance, then, is the primary criterion for de- 
ciding on the contents of sub-identities. If we use this criterion, we find 
that a person's sub-identities are organized primarily with respect to 
his positions in the social structure, his social categories, and his earlier 

278 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

sub-identities. These, in turn, reflect his former positions and social 

Social Positions, Social Categories, and Sub-Identities 

Social positions, the basic units of social structure, are defined inde- 
pendently of their occupants. In great part the definitions Implement 
the functions of particular organizations like families or businesses. 
By occupying positions like father or parishioner, a person becomes 
subject to the constraints created by the definitions of the positions. He 
has certain obligations as well as rights. Within particular groups, there 
are commonly shared standards about the fulfilment of these obligations. 
There are also standards about different social categories. Standards 
applicable to the more socially significant dimensions may be enforced 
by the law and by public pressure. In most cases norms are internal- 
ized, so that many define ideals or are enforced by the pressures of 

In relating to a particular member, others in the group perceive him 
primarily in terms of various social positions and categories. For that 
reason he becomes known as the person with particular attributes on 
the dimensions of those positions and categories. He has public sub- 
identities as a lawyer, a father, a southerner, a man, a Mason, and so 

It is important to stress, parenthetically, some similarities and a dif- 
ference between sub-identities and social positions and categories. At 
all stages of development, a person has to learn styles of behavior 
which satisfy his needs and also fulfill his obligations as an occupant of 
positions in the social structure. Such styles are evaluated as acceptable 
or ideal; styles which violate his obligations are evaluated as unac- 
ceptable or sinful. As a member of the family, the school, the club and 
other groups, he internalizes their meanings and values. And they define 
the ways he learns to behave. Hence there is a rough isomorphism be- 
tween positions and categories, on one hand, and sub-identities on the 

Another similarity between the social and psychological concepts is 
crucial for the understanding of human interactions. The concepts are 
either defined In reciprocal terms or connote reciprocity. Norms to which 
the occupant of a social position must conform are defined as rights and 
obligations. A person in a given position has a right to expect he will be 
treated In a particular way by a person In the reciprocal position. A per- 
son In a particular category expects certain kinds of treatment from 
people In other categories. Similarly, the attributes of a man with a 
particular sub-identity are established in his relationships with others. 
By virtue of those attributes he expects certain types of responses from 
others. All concepts are defined in terms of human interaction. 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 279 

Although isomorphic and interpersonal, the two types of concepts 
differ in a fundamental respect. Social positions exist whether or not 
they are occupied, and are independent of the attributes of particular 
people. All kinds of people can be fathers or accountants. A sub-identity 
describes the pattern of psychological characteristics of a particular per- 
son in a position or category. His sub-identity refers to the kind of father 
he is: whether he is supportive or conscientious or sadistic or consistent. 
Some other man occupying the same position might have a very dif- 
ferent sub-identity: a different set of attributes on the same dimensions, 
or even attributes on additional dimensions. 

Sub-Identity and Component Sub-Identities 

When viewed as a region, each sub-identity contains certain 
structured components, which are the sub-identities of earlier years. 
Within him, each man contains such earlier identities as an infant and a 
little boy and an adolescent. These represent the kind of infant and boy 
and adolescent he became as a result of the unique relationships he 
developed with his particular mother and father and brother and teacher 
and heroes. As an infant, for example, he learned to make passive re- 
quests in his relationship with a particular kind of mother a supportive 
or a cold or an inconsistent one so that he became the kind of baby he 
was. And he internalized his mother he developed an internal picture 
of her as the kind of person with whom one relates passively. As an 
adult, he is sometimes inclined to project this picture to Ms wife, par- 
ticularly when things go wrong and he falls back on his passive, infantile 
self. If he is mature, the earlier sub-identity is integrated with the total 
structure so that he is passive or demanding at appropriate times, and 
he rarely resorts to inappropriate infantile expressions. 

Spatial Properties of Sub-Identities 

In what structural sense can the different sub-identities of an object 
be considered as separate regions within the total public identity? First 
they differ in their dimensions and attributes. A man behaves dif- 
ferently when he is expressing the kind of father he is than when he is 
expressing the kind of husband he is. Some of the attributes of different 
sub-identities are incompatible. In expressing a childish part of himself, 
a man may be very greedy; in his more mature identity, he may be 

The boundaries of some sub-identities are defined by particular times 
and regions. A man is an employee at Ms plant on weekdays, a member 
of a golfing group on Saturday afternoons, and a teacher of religion in 
Sunday school. Because of the temporal and spatial separations, the 
kind of person he is in his golf group might surprise his fellow employees 
or the children in his Sunday school. Communications among the three 

280 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

sub-Identities and their interdependence are affected by their positions 
in time and space in addition to the differences in their attributes. 

Structurally, most objects are surprisingly fluid: their attributes are 
readily changed. Gods, for example, can take the forms of different 
animate and inanimate objects, can become infinitely small or can 
encompass everything, including the observer. Of course a man is 
usually experienced as being less amenable to change he is usually 
identified in terms of the confines of his skin, his actions, and, sometimes, 
his possessions and kin. Yet his attributes, particularly his psychological 
ones, can vary markedly in the minds of the observers. Even a man^s 
physical attributes can vary to a considerable extent. This variation is 
extreme when he appears in one of our night dreams or daydreams, or 
when we are drugged or very fatigued. Even during the waking ^state, 
however, our picture of a man can change markedly. After heroic ex- 
ploits his stature may assume heroic proportions to the onlookers. And 
he can look "small" if he engages in certain petty, underhanded ac- 


Origins of a Conception of Self 

Body Image 

Boas (191!) once observed that "the three personal pronouns I, 
thouu and he occur in all human languages," and that "the underlying 
idea of these pronouns is the clear distinction between the self as 
speaker, the person or object spoken to, and that spoken of." To be 
understood, the self, a special kind of object, must be traced back to a 
body image. Studies of infants during the first year reveal a continual 
growth of the capacity to discriminate between what is later labelled 
as self and non-self. The discrimination, which is initially made be- 
tween the boundaries of one's body and the rest of the world, is based 
on two kinds of experience. The child learns very early the difference 
between his sensations when he touches part of his body and when 
he touches other objects. He arrives at the same division of body and 
non-body when he compares the things he can and cannot control. He 
can. make his hand move if he wills it, but he cannot make a chair 
move by an act of will. 

Language and Meaning 

The concept of self cannot really be described outside the context of 
the society in which the self is developed. Language provides labels 
for positions in space and in time, thus enabling a person to think of 
objects as having an identity. In his social experiences a child learns the 
necessary labels, the personal and possessive pronouns. 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 28 1 

Most important for the present topic, interactions with other peo- 
ple orient a child to the meanings of various facets of self and to the 
standards for evaluating oneself. Once the standards are internalized 
they provide the limits for behavior and the incentives necessary for 
implementing the goals of various social groups. A young child cries 
for nourishment and soon realizes that his mother wants to provide it. 
He later learns to think he has a right and that she feels obligated to 
honor it. Such a definition presumes the interaction of people and the 
evaluation of the behavior of each. 

Social Interaction and the Development of Self-Identity 

To picture the conditions under which a self-identity develops, and is 
continually modified, one need only consider a meeting between two 
people. At a particular moment, each person reacts to the previous be- 
havior of the other and in anticipation of his next reaction. During the 
encounter, each person is aware of himself and of the other person. Each 
evaluates his own behavior and the other's reactions; each gets im- 
pressions of the judgments of his behavior by the other, and each reacts 
to these judgments (Cooley, 1922). 

An interaction depends on the participants being members of the 
same society and having a shared group of meanings and values. Only 
then can the two people communicate. Only then can either participant 
anticipate that the other will know the signs of the social positions 
held by both, and of their different sub-identities. Only then can either 
participant be confident of obtaining the appropriate behavior from the 
other; only then can the participants engage in complementary internal 
and external reactions. 

By working out possible responses in his own mind before he makes 
them, a participant can inhibit impulses that are not consistent with the 
values of his group and his internalized values, and can substitute more 
acceptable alternatives. The other person's reactions, both internal and 
external, prove a test of the adequacy of the- resultant action, and elicit 
new impulses in turn. And so the encounter continues until it termi- 

An individual learns about his identity, then, not only from observing 
what he is thinking, feeling, and doing, but also from reactions to him by 
important people in his social group. From the responses of others to 
his identity, he becomes increasingly aware of it as an object and of the 
necessity to behave and feel in such ways as to make his identity ac- 
ceptable to himself and to others. From variations in the responses of 
others to differences in his behavior, he develops a picture of an ideal 
self, an acceptable self, and an unacceptable one. 

Social interaction conveys to a man not only how people in the com- 
munity have come to view him, but also how they regard other mem- 

282 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

bers. The communication of such pictures among the members in the 
group contributes to a common frame of reference concerning the 
meanings, evaluations, and social consequences of actions or other 
attributes in terms of which identities are defined. The shared definitions 
of attributes must be learned before a person can evaluate the adequacy 
with which he fulfills the requirements of different positions. Partici- 
pation in a group's activities thus ultimately indoctrinates a man into 
its structure, functions, and rules. A man cannot be regarded as a true 
member of a group until he develops a public identity within the 
group, and he becomes concerned with maintaining a self-identity which 
is compatible with the group's primary goals. The self is then a primary 
object of value, an object with attributes that must be kept consistent 
with the requirements of social positions. As Mead (1935) has put it, 
"Until one can respond to himself as the community responds to him, 
he does not genuinely belong to the community." 

Sub-Identity and Centrality 

In much of the literature, the self is viewed as a totality. Such an 
approach cannot do justice to the complexity of an identity. Since one 
reacts to one's own identity as an object, one experiences it in the same 
terms as other objects. It may help the reader to review the terms here, 
since a considerable number have been presented in a short space. We 
have been concerned with the analysis of identity as an object of per- 
ception. One's public identity is what one stands for in the minds of 
others. An identity consists of many dimensions, the meanings of which 
are derived from social experiences. Most of the meanings are shared 
by members of particular social groups. On interacting with significant 
people, an individual identifies himself in terms of his social positions 
and categories. To people in a given social position or category, some 
subsets of the possible alternative attributes within a dimension are con- 
sidered undesirable, some are acceptable, and some attractive or even 


Self-identity is the picture of oneself built up from the reactions of 
others and from looking at oneself from others' points of view. A man's 
evaluation of an attribute and his feelings about the evaluation depend 
on tfie centrality of the dimension. The degree of centrality is a function 
of social consequences. The consequences of some attributes can be very 
great. Certain attributes of the masculine sub-identity provide vivid 
examples. Nonconsummation of a marriage is considered a justifiable 
reason for divorce. Attributes contributing to nonconsummation, like 
lack of sexual desire and impotence, are devalued as effeminate, and 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 283 

seriously lower a man's standing in the eyes of his peers. Similarly, in 
some societies, a man's skin color or his hereditary background have a 
considerable bearing on the status of people to whom he has access, the 
jobs he can hope to obtain, and his level of education. Being in the ac- 
ceptable or non-acceptable segments of such dimensions can seriously 
affect a man's public identity. It is not surprising, therefore, that they are 
among the more central dimensions of Ms self-identity. They are heavily 
loaded in his self-evaluation. 

Fluctuations of one's locations on central dimensions, like sexual 
potency or occupational skill, produce greater variations in self-esteem 
than do the same amounts of fluctuation of locations on less central 
dimension, like skill in bridge or baseball. Evaluations of attributes 
on central dimensions are likely to be applied to one's total self-identity. 
A man who fails in his occupation is likely to consider himself a failure; 
a man who consistently plays a poor game of bridge is more likely to be 
critical not of himself but of his skill providing he is not a profes- 
sional bridge player. 


The complex process involving the behavior of two people can be 
divided into units, which we shall call reactions. A reaction is any kind 
of response to another person. It can be a thought, a glance, a gesture, 
a statement. Thinking is an internal reaction; it is experienced by one- 
self but not necessarily communicated to the other person. Communi- 
cated reactions, those conveyed to the other person, are the primary 
vehicle for carrying on interpersonal behavior. 

Motives and Action 

A need or motivational state is a complicated system of reactions 
that has significance for interaction and for variations in self-esteem. 
One judges oneself in terms of the acceptability of one's needs. A need 
is defined here as a predisposition to engage in any of a group of ac- 
tions that implement a particular goal state. 

The impulse to action can be analyzed in terms of at least four di- 
mensions 1 : the intended act, the object, the affect, and the agent. Ele- 
ments within each of the dimensions can be ordered from most to least 
direct with respect to attainment of the goal state. If the goal state is the 
expression of aggression, physical attack may be the most direct act, an 
irritating person the most direct object, the self the most direct agent, 
and rage the most direct affect. But unless direct expression on such 
central dimensions is provoked, it is evaluated as undesirable in most 
social groups. To avoid a marked decline in self-esteem, the average 

284 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

person has a tendency to relinquish the most direct forms of expression 
In favor of other locations on the dimensions of motivational states. 

In what terms might the contents of dimensions such as action or 
objects be analyzed? For purposes of the cross-cultural study of per- 
sonality, a scheme is needed which is applicable in different societies. 
There Is, unfortunately, no consensus about any of the tentative methods 
which have been proposed for classifying types of action. Murray 
(in Parsons and Shils, 1951) has prepared a carefully considered, 
promising list of actions. Some examples are renunciation, rejection, 
acquisition, construction, and retention. 

Research into the learning process has thrown some light on the 
organization of dimensions of objects. Empirical work, both clinical and 
experimental, reveals various dimensions of people, of animals, and of 
inanimate objects. A person in conflict about an impulse to express a 
need directly can substitute a less direct dimension for an original one. 
When all human objects are proscribed, an inanimate one can be sub- 
stituted by even mature people. And when only some human objects 
are proscribed, they may be replaced by others that are more acceptable. 

Chains of Reactions 

A meeting between two people can be viewed as an episode. The 
events follow a meaningful sequence. There is a beginning and a middle 
and a termination. At the beginning, each person greets the other and 
anticipates a greeting in return. Social practice provides other forms of 
prescribed behavior for the subsequent parts of the episode. 

In addition to such socially determined aspects of the sequence, 
there are others which reflect the sub-identities of the two participants 
and the nature of the situation. If the relationship is an authoritative one, 
the episode may start with the dominant person making a demand. The 
person in the inferior position then engages in an act of compliance or 
deference, to which the authority responds by signifying his intention 
to provide a reward or forego a penalty. If one participant relates pas- 
sively to the other and is inclined to seek succorance, the two manifest 
another chain of reactions. The passive one first finds that he has a 
problem, but avoids any attempts to solve it. Instead he makes implicit 
or explicit requests of the other, who provides help. Having terminated 
the emergency, the supportive person obtains satisfaction from signs of 
adequacy or of gratification. 

There exist many other such chains of surprisingly predictable steps. 
Little information is available about such chains. It is not possible, 
therefore, to classify them at this time. Some of them are difficult to 
study because they contain unconscious links. Interactions are difficult 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 285 

to interpret because they usually contain a number of simultaneous or 
overlapping chains. During the same few minutes, a man and woman 
in an office may be working to finish a job, flirting with each other, and 
striving for dominance over each other. 

Although hard to analyze, chains of reactions demonstrate some 
consistent characteristics even on casual observation. Unconscious 
links, for example, involve repudiated wishes, which are too painful to 
acknowledge. Consequently, they are not amenable to conscious control. 
The more unconscious links in a chain, the more slavishly it tends to 
be followed. 

Interactions on the conscious and unconscious levels tend to be 
complementary. Two people who are consciously involved in a co- 
operative pursuit may be unconsciously trying to prevent its completion 
or to hurt each other. Or two people with conscious asexual reactions 
may have unconscious sexual ones. 

Cathexes and Bonds 

It is the intra-individual forces which probably contribute the most 
to the stability of relationships. Forces linking people to each other are 
not amenable to direct observation. They must be inferred. One such 
force is the cathexis of an object by a sub-identity of the self. A cathexis 
develops when a particular emotional state has been aroused by some 
fantasied or actual commerce with an object. One can infer the 
cathexis from the disposition to re-experience the affect. One is inclined 
to repeat appropriate acts with the object: to play chess with a friend, to 
argue with a relative. As forces, cathexes have a point of origin. It is in 
the sub-region of the self involved in the particular relationship. Ca- 
thexes also vary in force, and they have direction. They are aimed at a 
particular object or type of object. It may be a person, but it can just as 
easily be a goal, like a university degree. When the object is a person he 
does not have to be aware of the cathexis; he may even be a creation of 

Bonds are mutual cathexes. The emotional resultants of a chain of 
reactions create a bond between two people. As a result, they are in- 
clined to seek opportunities to repeat the shared activities. If they 
enjoy a trip to the seashore, they look forward to the next holiday 
when they can make such a trip. 

Bonds can entail gratification or pain or both. Examples of the grati- 
fying or positive types come to mind readily: two people love each 
other, or share a common interest. When pain is involved, it usually 
provides relief of a more unpleasant condition. A guilty child, for ex- 
ample, may confess a misdeed in order to be spanked. The confession 

286 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

represents an attempt at atonement or a wish to get rid of the fear of 

inevitable punishment. 

Coniici and Sub-Identity 

The explanation of the dynamics of interaction requires the con- 
sideration of one more concept, that of defense mechanisms. Defenses 
provide one means of resolving conflicts, particularly those between in- 
compatible sub-identities or aspects of a sub-identity. Such conflicts can 
be very painful if they involve central dimensions. 

Values pertaining to the more central dimensions are often difficult to 
satisfy. The high standards of achievement in certain groups of our 
society provide a good example, as do the standards for controlling 
aggression that are imposed on the young child in the middle class. It 
Is" often difficult for the child to establish a filial sub-identity which 
simultaneously satisfies such standards and permits him to gratify his 

Once an acceptable identity is established it tends to be maintained 
tenaciously. It becomes an object of gratification in its own right because 
it provides a means of relating to others in a socially acceptable manner, 
and simultaneously gratifying one's needs. But, as we have noted, a boy 
can persist in his picture of the kind of adequate son he is only as long 
as it is validated by the reactions of parents and other members of his 
family. He enters each social situation with certain set anticipations 
that people will respond in a manner that is appropriate, within limits, 
to his sub-identity. What if they act as though he is disobedient or dis- 
respectful or destructive attributes which violate his moral stand- 
ards? He must then face the contradiction between his self-identity and 
his public identity. 

Some conflicts often involve different sub-identities of the self. In 
responding to an aggressive action by a competitor, a businessman may 
be simultaneously prompted to display the initiative characteristic of his 
occupational identity and the sensitivity and passivity characteristic of 
his identity as a young child. Or In competing with a relative, the busi- 
nessman may be prompted to display the overt aggression characteristic 
of his particular occupational identity and the warmth and sacrifice 
characteristic of his particular sub-identity as a kinsman. 

Both kinds of conflict represent desires for incompatible locations on 
the same dimension. If a man takes initiative he cannot also make pas- 
sive appeals. If he makes sacrifices he cannot also regard himself as a 
tough competitor. Such discrepancies are basic to conflicts involving 
identity. The selection of either attribute violates the minimal standards 
for one of the sub-identities, and thus produces a serious lowering of 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 287 

Defense Mechanisms 

To resolve the problem, the man can try to be as realistic as possible 
about the facts and think about a possible solution. He can change his 
values for example, or discuss his problem with his relative. If there is 
no good solution, or if his anxiety becomes too intense, he may have to 
resort to another kind of problem-solving technique. He modifies his 
perception of the conflicting attributes. 

The concept of defense must be used with caution. Many psycho- 
analysts describe any kind of behavior that reduces anxiety or any 
kind of substitute or process of substitution or behavior that might be a 
substitute for a forbidden impulse as defense. Symptoms and myths 
and some customs have been described as defenses, which they are in 
this broad sense. 

When a term is applied to so many different kinds of phenomena Its 
meaning becomes imprecise. It seems preferable to use the original con- 
cept of defense, a concept that refers to internal processes and not ob- 
servable behavior (Freud, 1949). Criteria for identifying such proc- 
esses have been inferred by Miller and Swanson (1960) from clinical 
practices. One necessary condition for identifying a defense is the In- 
ability of a person to give an accurate report of certain anxiety-pro- 
ducing information. A second condition requires that he express the 
information indirectly in a language he does not understand. The in- 
direct expression may take such forms as slips of the tongue or dreams. 
A third condition Is the initiation of the processes by conflict or some 
other source of anxiety. 

According to this definition, a defense accounts for the mispercep- 
tion of facts. The present criteria reflect the traditional psychoanalytic 
orientation, one that may have to be broadened. As will be Indicated 
in the next section, some of the same perceptual mechanisms may 
be found both in defenses and in phenomena involved in accurate 
social perception. 

The nature of a specific defense is inferred from the kind of interpre- 
tation and behavior substituted for the original Information that Induced 
anxiety. Projection Is inferred If a boy gives Indirect evidence of a wish 
to hurt his father, is not conscious of the impulse, but attributes it to his 
father. If the boy substitutes a dog for his father, the defense is labelled 
as displacement of the object. If he Is inordinately helpful instead of 
aggressive the mechanism is reversal. If he has attacked his father and 
now believes that the act was a helpful or friendly one, then the defense 
is denial. 

Symptoms, myths, and customs are not defense mechanisms, but may 
or may not be the derivatives of blocked impulses. Such behaviors are 

288 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

derivatives if they have been substituted unconsciously for anxiety- 
provoking information that cannot be reported accurately. 

Projection and Introjection 

Of particular significance for social interaction are the mechanisms of 
projection and introjection. The psychological literature contains a num- 
ber of different conceptions of projection, so that it is necessary to define 
the one used here. According to the present definition, projection is a 
displacement of the perceived agent: a person sees an attribute of his 
own as applying to another person. Such displacement may be viewed 
as a style of perception, and not necessarily a defensive one. The attri- 
bute is not necessarily unacceptable, nor need its perception be dis- 
torted in oneself. The perceiver may feel happy and be inclined to 
exaggerate the happiness of friends. And he does not necessarily feel 
that he no longer has the attribute after he has used the defense. 

As defined here, projective perception is probably a component of 
the defense mechanism of projection described in the clinical literature. 
According to that description, an undesirable attribute is disowned and 
seen or exaggerated in somebody else. A man who is tempted to steal 
feels he is scrupulously honest, but erroneously suspects others of trying 
to cheat him. This process seems to involve more than the non-defense 
version of projection described here. There is also a disowning of the 
impulse, which is probably accomplished by the mechanism of denial. 

Introjection, too, requires clarification, since it need not be a defense, 
and it is often used interchangeably with identification. We shall view 
introjection as a perceptual process resulting in the taking to oneself 
of the attributes of others. Again, such attributes can be either highly 
valued or devalued. Projection and introjection seem to differ pri- 
marily with respect to the direction in which the borrowed attributes are 
transferred. In the former mechanism, they are shifted from oneself to 
an object; the process is experienced as putting part of one's sub-identity 
into the object. In the latter mechanism, the attributes are shifted from 
the object to oneself. The process is experienced as an internalization of 
a sub-identity or part of one. 

Social Communication and the Splitting of Sub-Identities 

A combination of projective and introjective perceptions seems to be 
a minimal requisite for all interpersonal communication. Klein (1948) 
has labelled the simultaneous use of the two types of perception as pro- 
jective identification. Her description of this combination is very similar 
to Cooley's description of interpersonal behavior. To communicate with 
someone, we have to know what he is thinking and feeling. First we get 
information from his statements and his gestures. From this information, 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 289 

we get an impression which we then project to him. Next we put our- 
selves in his place by means of introjection. We can then visualize what 
he is thinking and how he is feeling. Then we check the accuracy of this 
impression in terms of his next comments and acts and our subsequent 
projections and introjections. 

The checking of another's probable reactions is an extremely com- 
plex process. It is very easy to err when we judge how he feels in terms 
of what we would feel if we were in his place when he reacts to us. 
Temporary confusion about the attributes of self-identity and object are 
very common. Most normal people use subsequent information to cor- 
rect their errors. Some neurotic people perpetuate certain kinds of mis- 
interpretations as a means of allaying anxiety. Their perceptions may 
be interpreted in the light of defensive distortions. 

The ways in which a person uses the projective and introjective types 
of perception also affect the integrity of his sub-identities. Of course, 
some splitting of the total identity into sub-identities is normal and 
necessary. The formal, competitive businessman at the office becomes 
the warm, supportive father at home. He would be in difficulty with his 
colleagues and with his wife and children if he did not maintain a barrier 
between the two sub-identities: if he expressed his occupational sub- 
identity at home and his sub-identity as a father at the office. 

Conflict between the ideal and forbidden aspects of a sub-identity, 
or between incompatible, simultaneous sub-identities sometimes split a 
sub-identity into the parts that Sullivan has called the "good me" and the 
"bad me." The splitting is accomplished by projecting the unacceptable 
part of the sub-identity or the bad introjected object to some real person, 
who is then perceived as a persecutor. In that event the perception be- 
comes defensive. The bad attributes in one's sub-identity may then be 
denied and the remainder idealized (Klein, 1948). 

Another kind of splitting is accomplished by denying the bad attri- 
butes in oneself and explaining them as properties of introjected bad 
objects. In our society, a man may explain his unwelcome aggression by 
reporting that he was mistreated in childhood by a cruel parent. Hence 
the man feels that it is not he but the cruel father in him who is re- 
sponsible for the aggression. His introjected bad object has been split 
from the rest of the self. This kind of split is common in Thailand where 
people assume that they can be inhabited by the spirit of a person who 
has recently died. A woman who was bathing in a river was possessed 
by the spirit of a man who had drowned not long before. She spoke in 
his voice, and talked of past experiences in his life as though she were 
he. After she was beaten vigorously her body rejected the spirit. 2 One 
is tempted to guess that this woman was split between her feminine, or 
good, self and her masculine, or bad, one, that she introjected the man 

290 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

whose death was known to her, and that she denied and projected her 
feminine self. Hence she was "possessed" by hh spirit. Similar proc- 
esses may be involved in the performances of some religious mediums. 
Splitting of sob-Identities need not be the result of defensive mis- 
perceptions, but can reflect extreme incompatibility in the identities, an 
incompatibility caused by discontinuities in socialization. Normally a 
sub-identity of an adult represents an organization of earlier sub-identi- 
ties. It may not be possible to integrate them if earlier stages of develop- 
ment have been very discontinuous. According to Erikson (1954) 
sudden changes in the rearing of the Southern Negro make it virtually 
impossible for him to integrate his sub-identities. In an initial stage, he 
learns to be a tender, rhythmic, mammy's honey child. Next he becomes 
the anal compulsive, clean, friendly Uncle Tom. Still later, he develops 
an identity as a dirty, anal-sadistic, phallic, rapist. Such incompatible 
early sub-identities cannot be organized as part of the masculine sub- 
identity of adulthood. By rather primitive defenses the Negro maintains 
impenetrable boundaries between the different sub-identities, and usu- 
ally obliterates awareness of all but one of them at any particular time. 

Perception of Interrelationships 3 

Events in an interpersonal relationship vary constantly with the per- 
ceptions, both conscious and unconscious, of self and other on the part 
of each participant. The actual sources of information are many, as is 

indicated in the following diagram. 

The two semicircles on the left represent one person. The top half is his 
conscious sub-identity, and the bottom half is his unconscious sub- 
identity* On the right are two semicircles representing another, inter- 
acting person. The arrows represent directions of perception. The two 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 29 1 

conscious identities have access to each other, as do the two un- 
conscious ones. The conscious part of neither person is aware of his 
unconscious part, but the obverse is not necessarily true. The conscious 
part of each participant can also perceive attributes in the other par- 
ticipant of which he is unconscious. And each can respond uncon- 
sciously to attributes of which he is conscious in the other participant. 
The diagram can be illustrated by some details from a marital re- 
lationship. The conscious part of the man is his masculine sex- 
identity, and the conscious part of the woman is her feminine sex- 
identity. Unconsciously the man is feminine and the woman masculine. 
Consciously, the woman can perceive some of her husband's uncon- 
scious feminine attributes, just as he can perceive some of her masculine 
ones. Such perceptions may or may not provide the bases for cathexes or 
avoidances. The unconscious feminine attributes of the man may 
enable him to establish a bond with the conscious identity of the 
woman on the basis of a common interest in cooking. If the man is too 
feminine, the woman may be repelled. 

Bonds and Defense Mechanisms 

The presence and absence of bonds is affected in great part by the 
nature of the mutual defense mechanisms. A man and wife who have 
become very angry at each other can maintain the relationship if they 
deny their feelings. But the peace is an uneasy one. It is subject to 
constant strain by events that contradict the false beliefs of the par- 

A relationship with many more frictions develops if each participant 
is inclined to project the unconscious, aggressive part of his sub- 
identity to the other person. While neither individual has to suffer the 
pangs of guilt, both feel attacked and must defend themselves. Such 
mutual projection is apparently common among the Dobuans (Fortune, 
1932). Yet by itself, projection does not have to cause a weakening of 
bonds. The stability of a relationship is increased when the aggressive 
parts of the self are projected to external objects. The Arapesh (Mead, 
1935) learn that all friends are good and that most other people are bad. 
Projections of evil selves to outsiders therefore help to stabilize friend- 
ships and to unify the in-group. 

The Fit Between Sub-Identities 

Almost all the sub-identities of each person in the family tend to be- 
come involved in bonds with parallel or complementary sub-identities 
of the other members. The relationships involve sub-Identities developed 
in earlier years and current ones. Adding to the complexity of bonds be- 
tween people are split sub-identities and contradictor^ reactions to ob- 

292 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

jects that have also been split. During his childhood, for example, a 
man might have developed a good self which co-operated well with a 
supportive segment of his mother's identity and an evil self which en- 
gaged In mutual attack with a non-maternal aspect of her identity. 
Both of these selves may enter into his current bonds with his wife. 

In stable families, many of the bonds between husband and wife are 
present from the beginning of marriage. The couple also develop 
other bonds in the course of trying out their relationships with each 
other, of reliving old bad relationships and finding them improved, and 
of reorganizing their marriage because* of events like the birth of a child. 

Even very disturbed people with poorly formed sub-identities and 
primitive defenses often fit each other astonishingly well. One ex- 
ample Is provided by the marriage of a very dominant woman and a 
man obsessed with Ms aggression. The woman had been deprived of 
recognition and love throughout her first twenty years of life by parents 
who rejected her in favor of her brother. Her husband's sadistic father 
had been brutal both psychologically and physically and had provoked 
his son to constant rebellion. In later years, the husband continued 
the old battle with other men. He was easily overwhelmed by rage, and 
he sometimes had thoughts, and even committed acts, which caused 
Mm considerable guilt. One very strong bond in the marriage was 
forged by the continuous criticism of the husband by his wife, an act that 
produced lengthy arguments. Although they were painful, the argu- 
ments enabled the woman to reassure herself of her power over a man, 
and they gave her husband relief of his constant guilt about his homi- 
cidal wishes. So strong was the mutual relief provided by the constant 
conflict between the boyish, aggressive sub-identity of the wife and the 
raging, guilty, filial sub-identity of the husband that the marriage lasted 
for many years despite an almost complete lack of common conscious 
interests, friends, or activities. The couple finally sought professional 
help because their ten year old son was failing in school and was having 
accidents in which he hurt himself badly. Both parents had identified 
with neglectful, cruel fathers and had been taking turns in beating the 
son. The son got some gratification from these attacks because they re- 
lieved his guilt. But they were very painful, and he found he could stop 
them by hurting himself academically and physically. His resultant in- 
adequacy reassured the mother of her power and reassured the father 
that the son was not a serious competitor for his wife's love. Tempo- 
rarily the parents gave the son a respite from attack and granted him 
some of the attention he craved. Were it not for some of the son's socially 
handicapping problems., the marriage would probably have continued 
without professional assistance. Of theoretical interest is the family's 
stability, a characteristic that would have been difficult to predict from 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 293 

psychological tests of either or even both parents. The stability de- 
pended less on the parents' intrapersonal attributes than on an attribute 
of their interaction: the good fit between unconscious components of the 
parents' sub-identities. 

Stability and Flexibility of Relationships 

The issues that have been discussed thus far point to a primary dif- 
ference between questions raised about intrapersonal and interpersonal 
events. Interpersonal questions employ the information about indi- 
viduals, but place it in a special context. Each attribute or defense 
mechanism or moral standard is interpreted in terms of its contri- 
bution to the stability and flexibility of a relationship. If we study 
honesty, we do not restrict our inquiry to a person's moral standards 
and his honesty under various circumstances. We also ask how his 
attributes affect his ability to make bonds with a particular individual in 
a specific situation. 

The possible benefits of viewing attributes in an interpersonal context 
can be illustrated further by the case of a thirteen-year-old boy who 
could not read. Tests revealed that his intelligence was at least average. 
Some light was thrown on his problem by such attributes as his 
high anxiety with adults, and his inclination to retreat into a world of 
daydreams when others were talking with him. But the organization of 
his attributes into a meaningful pattern required further information 
about his relationships with other members of his family. Some years 
earlier the boy's parents had become separated, a fact that disturbed 
him very much. He had made some progress in learning to read, but 
he lost his skill because he became very anxious and neglected his work. 
Then his parents patched up their differences. At the time they ex- 
pressed guilt about having caused the son's symptoms, which they at- 
tributed to the broken home. One of their primary reasons for living to- 
gether again, therefore, was to give him enough security to overcome 
his problems. From then on, he neglected reading because of the im- 
pression that his lack of ability was the one thing that kept his parents 
together. From his point of view, his symptom maintained the stability 
of the family. 

Factors Promoting Stability and Instability 

Some social scientists are inclined to use intrapersonal labels of pa- 
thology in describing certain attributes of people in different societies. 
It is tempting, for example, to describe the Dobuans (Fortune, 1932) 
and Kwakiutls (Benedict, 1934) as paranoid, the Arapesh (Mead, 
1935) and Alorese (DuBois, 1944) as having poor ego structures, and 
the Balinese (Bateson and Mead, 1942) as schizoid. Such descriptions 

294 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

may be accurate, but in some cases they would be clarified further by 
information about their positive contributions to interpersonal re- 
lationships. It is assumed here that even when "symptoms" are socially 
handicapping, they are contributing to the stability of some relation- 
ships at least in the eyes of the participants. 

Which factors affect the stability relationships between people? 
Empirical evidence is lacking, but it is possible to speculate with confi- 
dence about answers that seem applicable to behavior in different 
societies. In what follows, the points are phrases in the psychological 
language of this chapter, and the examples illustrate sources of in- 
stability in the marital relationship. 

A frequent cause of instability is a poor fit between the sub-identities 
of participants. The sub-identities may lack congruence because the 
husband and wife come from different societies or social classes. The 
resultant differences in the meanings of attributes and values about them 
interfere with the communication necessary for making bonds. Some- 
times a it is not possible because one of the spouses never developed a 
particular identity, possibly because of a difficult past, and cannot re- 
spond to the complementary identity in the other person. 

External factors can also make relationships unstable. A provocative 
mother-in-law can elicit expressions of early sub-identities and con- 
siderable friction between the spouses. Membership in social groups 
who reject traditional morality weakens the boundaries of the marriage 
and provides temptations to violate the marital vows thus weakening 
the marital relationship. A system can be stabilized by some external 
forces. Examples are rigid external boundaries of the marriage, like the 
prohibition of divorce among Catholics, and coercive social forces, like 
the shared belief in some groups that a woman should always obey her 

Defense mechanisms provide a third source of fluctuation in stability. 
A marriage is likely to be stormy if the two people project their hostile, 
unconscious sub-identities to each other, so that they come to regard 
each other as attackers; or if either partner acts aggressively and denies 
the meaning of his act. Frictions can be avoided if the same defenses 
are applied to other objects or facts: if the husband and wife project 
their hostilities to an outsider or deny each other's inadequacies. Still 
more conducive to stability are realistic methods of solving problems 
or relatively mature defenses like rationalizing one's difficulties. 

Poorly formed or immature sub-identities in one or both marital part- 
ners can create a further reason for instability. Even if there is a good 
fit between different sub-identities, the predominant reliance on methods 
of relating which were serviceable in earlier years produces ambivalent 
reactions, sudden alternations between different parts of the sub- 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 295 

identity, and splitting of objects, which are seen as either very good or 
very bad. The more mature the participants, the less they manifest such 
handicapping reactions, and the more possible it is for them to behave 
toward each other in a predictable manner. 

Ultimately the stability of relationships will probably be viewed in 
quantitative terms. The positive components will probably include the 
number and strength of bonds, the number of cathexes, the number 
and strength of internal and external forces prompting the couple to 
work together, and the impermeability of the external boundary. The 
contributors to instability will probably include avoidances caused by 
various kinds of incompatibilities, splits in the perceptions of sub- 
identities and objects, the numbers and strengths of internal and ex- 
ternal forces prompting the couple to separate, the relative permeability 
of the boundary, and the presence of attractions beyond the boundary 
that are greater than the attractions within it. 

Factors Affecting the Flexibility of Relationships 

Relationships vary not only in stability, but also in degree of flexi- 
bility. The more rigid the relationship, the less it can withstand changes 
in the situation or in the internal forces of either individual. 

A common cause of rigid relationships is provided by values which 
proscribe many forms of behavior. Some couples have such strict moral 
standards, for example, that they react with guilt to certain impulses 
which other couples express without qualms. Outlets can also be de- 
limited by the standards of other people. A man thinks twice, for 
instance, before he acts in ways that friends regard as manifesting ac- 
tions of questionable taste. 

A relationship becomes rigid if a couple maintain considerable psy- 
chological distance to overcome the difficulties caused by such prob- 
lems as poorly fitting sub-identities and incompatible values. The 
anxiety is allayed by the avoidance of intimacy. On occasions when 
the marital partners fail to maintain the customary distance, both 
become anxious. 

Rigid measures are also required to stabilize a marriage when there 
are weak bonds between husband and wife and strong bonds between 
each spouse and other objects. Such a situation is illustrated by a 
family in which the father and mother had little in common with each 
other. The little time they spent together seemed pleasant enough to 
them, but not particularly absorbing. At home the father had his ac- 
tivities, and the mother hers. The father conducted his activities with his 
son; the mother conducted hers with her daughter. The bonds between 
father and son were very strong as were the bonds between mother and 
daughter. Hence the marriage continued placidly until the children 

296 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

entered adolescence, spent most of their time with their many friends, 
and virtually abandoned the parents to their own devices. 

Stable and rigid marriages can be maintained by means of a number 
of defense mechanisms. Most conducive to rigidity are denial and dis- 
placement of hostility to external scapegoats. Such defenses are not very 
efficient because the resulting perceptions are often obviously inac- 
curate. To corroborate them the couple may solicit impression^ from 
people outside the family. A rigid stability may give way to instability if 
the corroboration is not forthcoming. Isolation and self-attack are 
more effective in promoting stability, but are also costly. Isolation 
creates psychological distance. Turning one's aggression inward results 
in depression, a reaction that can create considerable difficulties in the 
relationship. Only more mature techniques, like rationalization and ra- 
tional problem solving, seem to facilitate a fairly flexible relationship. 

In general the stronger the unconscious bonds and the weaker the 
conscious ones, the more rigid the relationship has to be. The uncon- 
scious bonds are the ones that cannot be faced. They may be bonds be- 
tween sadistic and masochistic components of sub-identity, between the 
perverted components, or between immature components. If such bonds 
are stronger than the conscious ones, the couple has to restrict their be- 
havior so as to maintain the unconscious bonds and to avoid becoming 
aware of their significance. Situations and activities which may expose 
the meanings of the bonds or weaken them have to be avoided. 


This chapter has been devoted to selection of personality concepts 
useful in cross-cultural research. At the outset, it was assumed that this 
could be accomplished most effectively by treating the relationship be- 
tween two people as the .unit for describing personality. The interper- 
sonal situation was divided into four categories: the situation, the ob- 
ject, the self-identity, the interaction. 

Functionally, concepts were viewed in perceptual terms. They were 
analyzed as part of the lifespace, and interpreted in such terms as 
regions, boundaries, and forces. Objects and self-identity, for example, 
were regarded as psychological regions which could be divided into sub- 
regions, and which could be analyzed in terms of dimensions and at- 
tributes. Contents for the concepts were derived from conceptions 
of social structure and from some of the current conceptions of personal- 
ity. In the concluding section interaction was described in terms of 
cathexes, bonds, defense mechanisms, and compatibility between sub- 
identities. Factors affecting the relative stability and flexibility of inter- 
personal systems were enumerated. A number of examples were given 

MILLER: Personality and Social Interaction 297 

of insights to be gained from viewing some problems in an interpersonal 

The interpersonal orientation seems to satisfy the criteria for selecting 
concepts listed at the start of this chapter. The proposed concepts lend 
themselves to analyses of associations between social structure and per- 
sonality. The concepts are also general enough to be meaningful in dif- 
ferent societies, and are sufficiently linked to common sociological and 
psychological problems to permit the phrasing of testable problems in 
a specific society. Finally, the concepts lend themselves to the analysis 
of individual differences. People can be compared with respect to such 
characteristics as locations on dimensions, relative strengths of bonds, 
and predilections for certain defense mechanisms. 


1. The reasoning behind the selection of these dimensions is discussed by 
Miller and Swanson ( 1 960) . 

2. Reported in a personal communication from Eric Miller. 

3. The remainder of the chapter was rewritten after I participated with 
Peter Hildebrand, Herbert Phillipson, and John Sutherland in the planning 
of a research on marriage. I am grateful to them for their help in clarifying 
some of the concepts. 


Bateson G. and Mead, Margaret. 1942. Balinese Character. New York: 
Academy of Sciences. 

Benedict, Ruth. 1934. Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 
Boas, F. 1911. The Mind of Primitive Man. New York: The Macmillan Co. 

Cooley, C. H. 1922. Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: 
Charles Scribner and Sons. 

Du Bois, Cora. 1944. The People of Alor. Minneapolis: University of 
Minnesota Press. 

Erikson, E. H. 1954. "On the Sense of Inner Identity." In Knight, R. P. and 
Friedman, C. R. (eds.), Psychoanalytic Psychiatry and Psychology. New 
York: International Universities Press. 

Fortune, R. 1932. Sorcerers of Dobu. London: G. Routledge and Sons. 
Freud, S. 1949. Collected Papers. London: Hogarth Press. 

Klein, Melassie. 1948. Contributions to Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth 

Lewin, K. 1939. The Conceptual Representation and the Measurement of 
Psychological Forces. Durham, N. C. : Duke University Press. 

Mead, G. H. 1939. Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago 

298 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Mead, Margaret. 1935, Sex and Temperament In Three Primitive Societies. 

London: G. Routledge and Sons. 
Miller, D. R. and Swanson, G. E. 1960. Inner Conflict and Defense. New 

York: Henry Holt. 

Parsons, Talcott and Shifs, E. A., et al 1951. Toward a General Theory of 

Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Sullivan, H. S. 1947. Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry. Washington: Wil- 
liam Alanson White Foundation. 

About the Chapter 

A theory of action is an essential frame of reference for understanding 
\vhat the subject expresses in the personality study situation. This frame of 
reference requires specification of the motivational component supporting the 
action as well as the normative component of the situation to which the ac- 
tion is oriented. It is held in this chapter that completion of these two kinds 
of analyses will reveal the subject's accessibility to study and will make his 
communications understandable. 

About the Author 

BERT KAPLAN, the editor of this volume, is Associate Professor of Psy- 
chology at the University of Kansas. He received his graduate training in 
clinical psychology at Harvard and has taught there in the Department of 
Social Relations and the School of Public Health. He has done field work with 
the Navaho and Zuni Indians in the Southwest. Together with T.F.A. Plaut 
he is the author of Personality in a Communal Society; An Analysis of the 
Mental Health of the H utter ties. He is editor of Primary Records in Culture 
and Personality and is presently engaged in research on Navaho psycho- 


Personality Study and Culture 


University of Kansas 

1 his chapter is based on the premise that the optimal approach to per- 
sonality study varies considerably from one culture to another and that 
both culture and the modal personality characteristics influence the per- 
sonality study process. Clinical psychologists have long observed that 
their techniques work differently with different persons. One subject 
taking the Rorschach test, for example, may give a full, rich expressive 
protocol which gives insight into his deepest and most central personality 
processes while another gives a brief, sparse, stereotyped record which 
hardly yields any information at all. One of the major problems of the 
clinical psychologist is the failure of his techniques to yield the hoped- 
for information in a very substantial number of individual cases. He 
remedies this principally by varying his tools since experience has shown 
that very often rich expressive material will be elicited by one method 
but not by another. (Unfortunately there is a substantial group for 
whom nothing seems to work very well.) In general one can say that 
there is undoubtedly a very interesting and important interaction be- 
tween the personality characteristics of subjects and the methods that 
should be used to study them. This interaction, about which all too little 
is known, has an important influence on the success of the study. 


302 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

During the past four years as editor of the Microcard publication, 
Primary Records in Culture and Personality (1956, 1957), I have ex- 
amined closely the raw materials of almost seventy-five culture and per- 
sonality studies. Looking at Rorschachs from thirty societies, for exam- 
ple, or TATs from fifteen societies, the main impression is that the tests 
work differently in different cultures. While many of the sets of data ap- 
pear to seem so similar to each other that it is difficult to distinguish 
them as coming from different groups (see Kaplan, Rickers-Ovsiankina 
and Joseph 1956) protocols from other cultures are so unique and dis- 
similar that they can be distinguished at a glance. The Rorschachs may 
be rich and expressive like those collected from the Hindu groups by 
G. M. Carstairs (1956), or sparse, stereotyped and defensive like the 
numerous ones collected from the Ojibwa. They can involve the 
Pilaga children's responses to details so tiny that we have difficulty in 
seeing them at all (Henry, 1956) or the vagueness and diffuseness of 
many of the Melanesian records. The TATs range from the long sev- 
enty-five typewritten page records collected from Javanese men by 
Hildred Geertz (1957) to the two and three sentence stories collected 
by William Henry from Navaho and Hopi children (1947). The tests 
obviously are working differently from one culture to another, and in 
some groups the general result is sparse unexpressive data that is of 
little use to anyone. I do not believe that this variability necessarily 
reflects directly any corresponding personality differences or that the 
reason Hindu Rorschachs are more differentiated than Navaho records 
is that the former are highly differentiated people and the latter are 
undifferentiated. Instead the difference appears to be a matter of the 
approach of the subjects to the test. 

Lucien Hanks, Jr.'s TAT study (1957) of Thai agricultural workers 
from Bang Chan is relevant here. Hanks' subjects almost all told ex- 
tremely brief stories to a set of specially drawn TAT pictures, with 
hardly any element of fantasy. Hanks, in speculating on the briefness of 
the stories, wondered whether the test created anxiety which led to 
defensive inhibition, or whether the ability to fantasy was undeveloped 
in his subjects. An examination of the records themselves suggests that 
the subjects without exception were not telling stories but describing 
the pictures and saying what seemed to be happening in them. The sim- 
plest explanation of their behavior is that they were not trying to pro- 
duce fantasy. This motivational factor was the crucial one. It seems very 
possible that the Thais have the capacity for rich imaginative fantasy. 
The problem is to discover the conditions under which it will be ex- 

One prevalent attitude in work with projective techniques tends to dis- 
courage the flexibility and tentativeness necessary in personality study, 

KAPLAN: P'ersonality Study and Culture 303 

both in our own society and cross-culturally. This is the view that if re- 
sults are to be comparable, procedures must be standardized. Standard- 
ization, in effect, requires that the same procedures be followed in the 
same way regardless of what the results are. This is directly counter to 
my belief that good results in the sense that they reflect personality 
adequately depend upon tailoring the procedures to the characteris- 
tics of the subject and his culture. 

This chapter seeks to analyze the cultural factors relevant to the per- 
sonality study situation and attempts to provide the rudiments of a gen- 
eral theory dealing with the individual's accessibility to such study. 
It is hoped that this theoretical orientation will permit some under- 
standing and prediction of the nature of the subject's expression and 
communication about himself, and the relevance of culture to such ex- 
pression and communication, 

Robert White (1944) has divided personality processes into three 
categories: those that the subject is aware of and will tell, those that 
he is aware of and will not tell and those that he is not aware of and 
thus cannot tell. This division may be modified by adding a fourth cate- 
gory; those the subject is not aware of but will tell anyway. The addi- 
tion recognizes that expression and communication do not depend on 
the subject's explicit awareness of what he is doing. The fourfold scheme 
suggests that the two main variables in personality study are the sub- 
ject's awareness of what is going on and, what is perhaps more impor- 
tant, the subject's motivation with respect to communications about 

In general, clinical psychologists have been most interested in the 
category of expressive behavior in which the subject reveals himself 
without intending to or knowing that he is doing so. The projective tests 
have been developed to facilitate this kind of expression which has been 
regarded as depending upon the subject's lack of attention to the mean- 
ing of his behavior. Such expressions have most usually been under- 
stood as deriving from the pressure of what the psychoanalyst has called 
the repetition compulsion and the working through of unconscious per- 
sonality processes. 

In order to understand the social contexts of such expressions of per- 
sonality processes, we shall make the assumption which some might 
hold to be debatable that they are not a separate category of be- 
havior but that they can be understood in the same terms as other action 
can. This assumption is fraught with serious consequences since it im- 
plies that these expressions are: a) motivated and b) that they are 
oriented to the subject's understanding of the situation. This means 
that what the subject expresses can be viewed as being exactly what he 
wanted to express. Otherwise, he would not lend the support of his 

304 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

motivational energies to the action and without this support no action 
would be possible. This expression takes place in relation to a social 
situation. One of the main elements of the social situation is a normative 
expectation defining what alternatives for action are available and 
specifying the legitimacy, morality and appropriateness of each alterna- 
tive. This is a highly simplified version of the sociologist's view of action 
(see Parsons, 1951). 

Action in the personality study situation is almost always action that 
is taken in relationship to the expectations of another person. For this 
reason it seems correct to speak of the communicative element in social 
action. In addition, the self provides an always present observer an 
observer who judges action by more rigorous standards than other per- 
sons do. 

When, therefore, the subject gives a particular response on the 
Rorschach test we can view this response not simply as something that 
he sees, a perception for which he has no responsibility, but as a means 
of saying something to the examiner about himself and at the same 
time as saying something to the self about himself. In the first context 
the subject is constituting himself, for the benefit of the other, as a par- 
ticular kind of person, and in the second context he is constituting him- 
self as a particular kind of person, for his own benefit. 1 In both cases in 
order to understand the action it is necessary to understand the situa- 
tion the attitudes, values, and expectations to which the action is 
oriented and the motivations (what the person wants to do) relevant 
to the situation. 

In analyzing personality study in these terms, one should be able to 
specify the social and cultural elements defining the behavioral alterna- 
tives, and the personal or motivational elements supporting particular 
choices of action. Within this framework it should be possible to under- 
stand the action of the subject of a personality study in the same way 
that all other social action can be understood. 

The discussion which follows attempts to spell out some of the socio- 
cultural components of the system of action in the personality study 
situation. We shall divide our discussion in terms of the two main con- 
texts of such action, the self and the examiner. 


Being the subject of a personality study creates the problem neces- 
sarily of what one is to tell the examiner. Perhaps equally important, it 
involves the problem of what one is to tell oneself. Selves do not simply 
grow or develop; they are made or constructed by the individual. This 
process of self-building goes on all the time bnt the personality study is 

KAPLAN: Personality Study and Culture 305 

a specially good time for it to happen. The building of the self concep- 
tion thus is one of the factors which dominate communication. This 
construction undoubtedly occurs in relationship to normative patterns. 
It is clear enough that such patterning governs social or interpersonal 
behavior; it is perhaps less obvious that it orients intrapsychic func- 
tioning as well. There is reason to believe, however, that even in ac- 
tions involving purely personal problems, persons are oriented un- 
consciously to both latent and explicit definitions of correct and incorrect 
action. In our society, for example, there is a strong expectation that the 
person will manage his impulse life in a way that will allow mastery and 
control but still permit adequate satisfaction. This expectation is re- 
flected in the Freudian conception of a strong ego as being the equiva- 
lent of maturity and good health. While this kind of solution may be 
universally advocated, and is perhaps a condition for existence in a cul- 
ture, it is none the less a cultural prescription. Ego strength, from this 
point of view, may be regarded not simply as a characteristic of the 
person that has developed as a result of particular past experiences, but 
as a way of experiencing and acting that is consciously or unconsciously 
selected from a variety of alternatives and can be mainly understood as 
a consequence of motivational dispositions toward conformity. 

A. I. Hallowell (1954) has made a very penetrating analysis of the 
cultural shaping of conceptions of self. He states: 

Just as different peoples entertain various beliefs about the nature of the 
universe, they likewise differ in their ideas about the nature of the self. And, 
just as we have discovered that notions about the nature of the beings and 
powers existent in the universe involve assumptions that are directly relevant 
to an understanding of the behavior of the individual in a given society, we 
must likewise assume that the individual's self-image and his interpretation 
of his own experience cannot be divorced from the concept of the self that 
is characteristic of his society. For such concepts are the major means by 
which different cultures promote self-orientation in the kind of meaningful 
terms that make self-awareness of functional importance in the maintenance 
of a human social order. In so far as the needs and goals of the individual 
are at the level of self-awareness, they are structured with reference to the 
kind of self-image that is consonant with other basic orientations that pre- 
pare the self for action in a culturally constituted world. (1955. Culture and 
Experience, p. 76) 

One of the most important aspects of the constitution of the self con- 
ception is its place as a primary object of value among other objects. 
Hallowell regards the needs of the person for self enhancement, 
preservation, defense, and the like as the "keystone of the characteris- 
tic motivational structures that we find in man." He suggests that these 
needs occur in relationship to belief systems and other aspects of culture. 
One gets the impression that such ego needs vary in their strength from 

306 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

culture to culture although they appear to be universal Vanity espe- 
cially is particularly stfong in some groups where it is almost the main 
theme around which the personality is constructed. In the personality 
study situation the material communicated by the subject is almost 
certainly governed by the strength and form of these needs. 

Hallowell makes the additional point that normative orientations 
have an important part in the constitution of the self image. He reasons 
that self awareness is shaped and organized around the dimension of 
appraisal and that the self therefore is known and experienced in rela- 
tionship to normative propositions which are frequently phrased in 
moral imperatives. The outcomes of these self appraisals are the main 
basis for feelings of self respect and self esteem. The apprehension lest 
some transgressions of standards be either committed or brought to 
light is experienced as guilt and anxiety. The particular content of what 
the self feels guilty or anxious about is a direct consequence of the con- 
tent of normative orientations. 

Since we have held that the building and maintenance of the self 
conception occurs directly in the personality study situation, it follows 
that the action of the subject should be seen in relation to the belief 
systems and values to which the subject is oriented. The subject's rela- 
tionship to these belief systems or normative propositions however is 
often complicated. Where it is positive, we can speak of conformative 
tendencies and see the subject's actions as governed by the norms. How- 
ever, the relationship to the norms is sometimes negative or ambivalent. 
In this case, the action or the self conception may be either directly op- 
posite to what is expected or adhere to one of the culturally patterned 
alternatives for deviance. 

The point to be emphasized, however, is that the personality or moti- 
vational component of the action, either in constituting the self or in 
presenting a particular picture to the examiner, generally has to do 
with the subject's relationship to what is expected, rather than directly 
to the action itself. Thus if the subject indicates either directly or indi- 
rectly that he is lazy, the motivation supporting this action does not have 
to do only, or even principally, with his passivity and dependence, but 
with his rejection of the value which holds that he should be energetic 
and hard working. 

What the subject does, according to this view, either in or out of the 
personality study situation, is not to be explained by motivational 
processes which lead the subject to seek particular ends or prefer this 
or that action. Rather it is explained by motivations which have only an 
indirect relationship to the actions, their direct significance having to do 
with the subject's relationship to the situation. 

This view has certain implications for the understanding of social 

KAPLAN: Personality Study and Culture 307 

behavior and for the empirical task of the culture and personality 
worker. It suggests that socially appropriate behavior is not necessarily 
a result of motivational processes that are isomorphic to the normative 
pattern (see the Spiro, Wallace and Devereux chapters in this volume) 
and which lead the person "to want to do as he has to do" to use Erich 
Fromm's classic phrase (1941). Instead, such behavior depends on a 
generalized conformative orientation (see Kaplan, 1957), The moti- 
vational or personality support for this orientation involves not the to- 
tal of the personality processes of the individual but a very specific set 
of processes. Description of these specific processes may be regarded 
as the main task of the culture and personality worker. General de- 
scriptive studies of the personality characteristics of a particular people 
must be replaced by selective discovery and analysis of the particular 
processes that are relevant to the conformity-deviance orientation. 
David Riesman's, The Lonely Crowd (1950) suggests that these bases 
of conformity are themselves socially shared; they constitute "social 

Applied to the social action which we have called "the constitution of 
the self," these considerations provide a formula for dealing with the 
social influences on the formation of self conceptions themselves and 
with the social influences on communication about the self to others. 
They suggest that in the analysis of the normative definition of the so- 
cial situation of the personality study, and of the subject's orientation to 
the normative structure and the motivations relevant to this orientation, 
there lies the key to both the interpretation of the data of the personality 
study and the understanding of the success or failure of the study. This 
is, of course, a key which does not short cut by very much the need 
for detailed individual and cultural analysis. But it should be clear by 
now that no easy solution to the problem of cross-cultural personality 
study will be forthcoming. 

Before closing our discussion of the "self and personality study, a 
variety of other issues may be mentioned briefly. Communication about 
the self can be seen in the subject's attempt to cope with and solve the 
variety of problems confronting him and communication will depend 
upon the nature of the solutions that are attempted. Such solutions or 
coping measures include the defenses, a category of action that has the 
greatest consequences for the success or failure of personality studies. 
The defenses are generally regarded as functioning to inhibit or repress 
communication about processes that disrupt the orderly construction of 
the self conception. If, however, they are viewed more positively and 
more broadly as belonging in that category of action which involves 
coping with the problem of living, it is apparent that not all defenses are 
inhibiting in nature and that some are primarily expressive or commu- 

308 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

nicative in nature. Projection, for example, serves the purpose of denial 
of undesirable impulses. But it is also a solution which involves a con- 
siderable degree of expression and communication about the impulse 
even if this expression is disguised. Other defenses such as intellectual- 
ization, displacement and rationalization have similar qualities. On the 
other hand denial and repression, when successful, prevent impulse 
expression and inhibit communication. There is much to suggest that 
choice of defenses is oriented to implicit cultural patterning. Thus mid- 
dle class values in our society encourage attempts at mastery of prob- 
lems that are based on active confrontation and working through, rather 
than withdrawal and inhibition. In cultures where this is so we can 
expect better results with our personality study procedures than in cul- 
tures where it is not. 


Although communicating to someone else about the self is considera- 
bly different than making statements about the self when the self is 
the only observer, the two situations have much in common. Whereas 
the latter involves the construction of a self conception, the former in- 
volves the construction of a social conception in others. Both require 
purposefulness and planning that do not seem congruent with the ap- 
parently spontaneous and often casual interplay that goes on in the per- 
sonality study. In the projective tests especially, the appearance is main- 
tained that the subject's responses do not have any great significance. 
He is just saying what he sees, or whatever happens to come into his 
mind, or telling a made-up story. The subject is encouraged not to 
think too much about what he is doing, and the examiner generally 
maintains the fiction that the subject really is not aware of what is going 
on and is, instead of acting responsibly, relinquishing his capacity to 
make decisions and placing himself passively in the examiner's hands. 
It is to be doubted, however, that this is an accurate picture. There is 
much evidence that the subject exercises considerable selectivity in his 
communications, even when he is naive and unsophisticated about per- 
sonality tests. If nothing else, he exercises the ability not to say any- 
thing when what he has to say is dangerous or disturbing. 

If the subject is really acting responsibly and purposefully in what he 
communicates, he must be doing so in relation to the same kinds of 
standards and expectations we have discussed earlier in this chapter. The 
appearance he presents to others is related to his conception of how he 
should appear, although there may be a deviant relationship as well as a 
conformative one. The important point to be emphasized is that the per- 
sonality study situation is dominated by the prevalent social concep- 

KAPLAN: Personality Study and Culture 309 

tions of what people are supposed to be like. The subject's productions 
must be understood in relationship to them. The description and analysis 
of these social conceptions is perhaps the first step to be undertaken in 
the interpretation of personality materials in all personality study, cross- 
cultural or otherwise. In our own society this method is not followed ex- 
plicitly, in part because psychologists and psychiatrists have not paid 
enough attention to cultural variables, but also because the relevant be- 
lief systems are implicitly recognized and understood and are taken into 
account unconsciously. In cross-cultural studies these implicit or covert 
understandings are potential sources of error since they are not easily 
corrected. There is the danger that they will be carried over to situations 
where the cultural definitions are quite different. 

The actions that psychologists and psychiatrists call defenses are as 
frequently taken in relationship to the interpersonal situation as they are 
to the intrapsychic one. Such defenses are generally understood to in- 
volve the subject's deceiving himself into believing that he does not have 
some impulse that he in fact really does have. However, since it is he 
who is doing the deceiving, it would seem that there must be some sense 
in which the disguise is not "really deceptive and in which the person is 
allowing himself to express indirectly what he would prefer not to 
acknowledge openly. The defense is really, I believe, not against the 
impulse or repressed process but against its open and explicit acknowl- 
edgment which would have serious consequences for the person's re- 
lationships and for the conception of himself that he is trying to present. 
Thus defensive behavior can be understood as an attempt to maintain 
a conformative relationship to normative prescriptions both in the intra- 
psychic and interpersonal spheres. 

Our discussion thus far has emphasized the normative factors that 
govern what a person says about himself. The social patterning of in- 
terpersonal relationships also is important, however. Personality study 
usually occurs in the context of a relationship between two people. 
Leaving aside the influence of the structuring of the roles of examiner 
and subject, which in our own society define with great clarity the ex- 
pectations for nurturance and responsibility from the former and respect 
and compliance from the latter, it seems probable that the much-needed 
openness of the subject can only occur when the subject feels trust and 
dependence on the examiner. The subject must want to communicate, 
and his desire must be based on his conception of the nature of the rela- 
tionship. In our own society the "Wise Elder" theme is so universally 
understood that subjects in general easily accept and respond to the 
examiner in these terms. However, we recognize that this supporting re- 
lationship can easily be disrupted with a consequent failure of the per- 
sonality study. In other societies the typical patterns of interpersonal 

3 1 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

relationships may not encourage openness and free communication. 
Although very little has been written about variations in the kinds of 
relatedness that exists in different cultural groups, such differences may 
be very wide. 

Cross-cultural personality study is difficult and complicated and 
should not be undertaken lightly with inadequate time and resources. 
Ideally, it should proceed only after some knowledge of typical patterns 
of relationship has been accumulated so that the investigator can modify 
his behavior to conform to the subject's conception of an appropriate 
setting. Practically this is often impossible since the knowledge of such 
conceptions is one of the aims of the study itself and is not available be- 
fore it begins. An intensive exploratory study may be necessary to dis- 
cover what settings and techniques work best. This seems preferable to 
the usual practice of going ahead with a particular method in a par- 
ticular way whether or not useful information is being obtained. The 
idea that the personality characteristics of a people can be studied sim- 
ply by the administration of a single test like the Rorschach seems to 
me to be a complete illusion. Such a procedure may yield interesting 
information; but the information will inevitably be fragmentary and 
not susceptible to integration into a serious culture and personality 
study. Also, if these fragments are treated as though they constituted the 
whole picture, the worker may be led into serious errors. 

The present analysis unfortunately has not dealt adequately with the 
problem of how to discover the best approach to personality study in a 
particular society, I have merely attempted to provide a theoretical per- 
spective that will point the way to a method of taking cultural factors 
into account both at the time of data collection and data interpreta- 


1. This argument owes a good deal to the Existentialist position that ac- 
tion is not to be understood as some by-product of the real characteristics of 
the person but as being the only means of constituting reality itself. The 

person, in effect, creates himself by what he does. 


Carstalrs, G, M. 1956. "Rorschachs of 40 High Caste Hindus and 10 Moslem 

Men from Delware, Udaipur, India." In Kaplan, B. (ed.), Primary Rec- 
ords In Culture and Personality. Vol. I. Madison, Wisconsin: The Micro- 
card Foundation. 

Fromm, E. 1941. Escape from Freedom. New York: Farrar, Strauss and 


Geertz, H, 1957. "Modified TATs of 33 Javanese Men and Women." In 
Kaplan, B. (ed.), Primary Records in Culture and Personality. Vol. II. 

Madlson 9 Wisconsin: Hie Microcard Foundation. 

KAPLAN: Personality Study and Culture 3 1 1 

Hallowell, A. I. 1954. u The Self and Its Behavioral Environment." Explora- 
tions. Vol. II. Reprinted in Hallowell, A. I. 1955, Culture and Experience. 
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 

Hanks, L. 1956. "Modified TATs of 47 Thai Men and Women." In Kaplan, B. 
(ed.), Primary Records in Culture and Personality. Vol. I. Madison, Wis- 
consin: The Jvficrocard Foundation. 

Henry, J. 1956. "Rorschachs of 16 Pilaga Children and Adults." In Kaplan, B. 

(ed.). Primary Records In Culture and Personality. Vol. I. Madison, Wis- 
consin: The Microcard Foundation. 

Henry, W. 1947. "The Thematic Apperception Technique in the Study of 
Culture-Personality Relations," Genetic Psychology Monographs. P. 35. 

Kaplan, B. (ed.) 1956. Primary Records in Culture and Personality. Vol. I. 
Madison, Wisconsin: The Microcard Foundation. 

Kaplan, B. (ed.) 1957. Primary Records in Culture and Personality. Vol. II. 
Madison, Wisconsin: The Microcard Foundation. 

Kaplan, B. 1957. "Personality and Social Structure." In Gittler, J. B. (ed.), 
Review of Sociology, Analysis of a Decade. New York: Wiley and Co. 

Kaplan, B., Rickers-Ovsiankina, M. and Joseph, A. 1956. "An Attempt to 

Sort Rorschach Records from Four Cultures," Journal of Protective Tech- 
niques, 20:2. 

Parsons, T. 1951. The Social System. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 
Riesrnan, D. 1950. The Lonely Crowd. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

White, R. W. 1944. "The Interpretation of Imaginative Productions." In 
Hunt, J. McV. (ed.), Personality and Behavior Disorders. New York: 
Ronald Press. Pp. 233-39. 

About the Chapter 

The relationship of linguistics to culture and personality study is both close 
and incompletely understood. Dr. Hymes surveys the variety of linguistic 
studies and theories that bear on the field and especially on the problem of 
cross-cultural personality study. He considers the ways in which personality 
is expressed and perceived in acts of speech and what the content of language 
reveals about the personality patterns of those who speak it. The important 
field of paralinguistics with its focus on the nature of the carriers of meaning 
and emotion in expression is discussed. This new development is producing a 
number of insights that are basic to an understanding of the kind of com- 
munication that goes on in the personality study situation and especially to 
an appreciation of the role of cultural factors. 

About the Author 

DELL H. HYMES is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics 
at the University of California, Berkeley. Within the fields of anthropology, 
linguistics, and folklore, he has contributed articles and reviews to a variety 
of journals, especially in connection with the description and classification of 
American Indian languages, problems of method in historical linguistics and 
anthropology, and the analysis of verbal art. His interest in the role of 
linguistics in the study of personality developed while he was a Fellow at the 
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1957-8. 

A cknowledgments 

The author is indebted to the Center for Advanced Study in the Be- 
havioral Sciences, where this chapter was begun, and to the Laboratory of 
Social Relations of Harvard University for aid in its completion. For helpful 
references, comments, and stimulation in many ways, thanks go to several 
Fellows and Associates of the Center in 1957-8: Ethel Albeit, Roger G. 
Barker, Sol Becker, Ward Goodenough, Neal Gross, David Landes, Sidney 
Siegel, Milton Singer, Fritz Stern, and John Tukey; to Gordon Allport and 
Talcott Parsons; and, especially regarding the experimental literature in psy- 
chology, to Volney Stefflre. 


Linguistic Aspects of Cross-Cultural 
Personality Study 

University of California 


In the literature of culture and personality, language is somewhat kin 
to Mark Twain's weather: many praise It, but few do much about it. 
Sometimes language does not figure at all in a general treatment of cul- 
ture and personality. When it does, the discussion usually amounts to 
two propositions: (a) language is important; (b) linguistic differences 
are important differences. It may be pointed out how important lan- 
guage is to the socialization of the child, the perception and cognition of 
adults, the functioning of human society; that linguistic differences may 
be evidence of differences in personality, among individuals or between 
cultures; and, sometimes, that linguistic differences may be responsible 
for differences in personality. 

These ideas have long been familiar. George Herbert Mead, for one, 
stressed the importance of language as the medium through which an in- 
dividual acquires his personality. Probably intelligent observers have 
been making such propositions since shortly after the dawn of human so- 


3 1 4 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

What such general propositions need is substantive flesh and analytic 
bones, but little research has been devoted to this. In this chapter I shall 
try to highlight problems and developments which promise to be of most 
help for studying personality cross-culturally. I shall begin with the his- 
tory of interest in personality shown by contemporary linguists, and 
then discuss the use of linguistic methods by the fieldworker, since this 
underlies any contribution which linguistic evidence can make. Next I 
shall take up two broad questions: (1) the signals by which personal- 
ity is expressed and perceived in acts of speech, and (2) the information 
which the content of a language may provide about the personality of 
those who use it. Finally, I shall raise a series of questions about the 
functions of speech in a society in relation to cultural personality and 


Given that language is important to personality, one might expect 
linguistics, the science of language, to make a considerable contribu- 
tion to personality study. Yet, there is little in the work of American lin- 
guists which bears on personality, and most of this is very recent. 

Some thirty years ago the linguistic aspects of personality were posed 
as a problem by Edward Sapir. In one paper he presented a framework 
for analyzing speech as a personality trait (1927). In another he stated 
that "We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do 
because the language habits of our community predispose certain 
choices of interpretation" (1929, p. 162). Thus, these papers broached 
the two broad questions stated in the Introduction: the relation be- 
tween personality and ( 1 ) acts of speech, (2) the content of a language. 

Some of Sapir's students investigated these questions. Stanley New- 
man published several papers on the linguistic aspect of individual per- 
sonalities (1938, 1939, 1941, 1944), and argued vigorously for the 
study of individual patterns of verbal expression as part of linguistics 
(1941, pp. 96, 106). Benjamin Lee Whorf explored the relation of 
habitual thought and behavior to language (1936, 1941). But other- 
wise, Sapir's interest was not reflected in the development of linguistics 
during the ensuing decade or two. When a psychologist, Sanford, re- 
viewed the literature on speech and personality, he had to conclude that 
"The problems are still more numerous than the facts" (1942, p. 840). 
There have been two more recent discussions by linguists, one which 
illustrates pertinent speech phenomena (Herzog, 1949), and one which 
is broadly discursive (Firth, 1950), but these amount to little substan- 
tive advance. Whorf s analyses of semantic patterns were exceptional 
at the time, and only after his death did Ms writings become a focus of 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 315 

American concern with the place of language in culture (Hoijer, 1953; 

Instead, the theoretical interest of American linguists centered during 
most of the last thirty years on the development of descriptive concepts 
and methods. Here, as in European centers such as Prague and Copen- 
hagen, a revolution took place in standards for the description of lan- 
guages. While there are differing schools of descriptive methodology, all 
share allegiance to some conception of a language as a system, and 
thus to a fundamental distinction between language and speech. Typi- 
cally, one refers to the act or process or continuum of speech, but to the 
structure, pattern, or system of language. Speech is message, language 
is code. Speech is observable behavior, language a set of habits. In 
recent years, American linguists have been preoccupied with inferring 
the constants of the linguistic code from the behavioral variation of 


Thus, the major advances were in methodological problems internal 
to linguistics, and the period was characterized by very narrow defini- 
tions of the proper scope of linguistics. Semantics especially tended to be 
defined as someone else's responsibly. Focus was on the qualitatively 
different, socially shared basic units of the linguistic code, phonemes 
and morphemes, and their patterns of occurrence relative to each other. 
Much of psychological importance in speech and language was neg- 
lected. The quantitatively varying attributes of the voice are im- 
portant in expressing personality, and insofar as the content of lan- 
guage reveals cultural personality, semantics is central. But the former 
is not part of the linguistic code, and the latter was neglected as not 
necessary to its formal description. Perhaps the main current of 
American linguistics in the period need not have been so swept by back- 
washes of behaviorism and positivism- Still, not only linguistics neg- 
lected these broader problems of language. A few years ago Osgood 
wrote: "In terms of its central relevance to general psychological theory 
and its potential applicability to complex social problems, no other 
area of experimental psychology so greatly 'demands attention as 
language behavior and in the past has received so little" (1953, p. 727; 
note also the statement by Spence, in 1957, on the importance of lan- 
guage to the psychology of behavior). 

Moreover, the advances in descriptive methods were essential to 
progress in the study of other aspects of language and of the relation of 
language to other things. No use of linguistic evidence can be better than 
the methods by which the evidence is obtained and analyzed. The 
greater the precision with which the formal units and patterns of a lan- 
guage can be established, the greater the precision with which such 
things as the linguistic aspects of personality can be investigated. 

316 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Sometimes the intensive development of method has been accom- 
panied by a hierophantic air, but this is lessening, and fetishistic concern 
for methodological purity is giving way to an attitude which has been 
dabbed "rough justice" (Householder, 1957a), a change which is fortu- 
nate for the cooperation of linguists with other scholars. 

While descriptive methods continue to be improved, they are ade- 
quate, and a growing number of scholars trained in these methods 
are investigating psychological problems. 1 In general, the interest of 
linguists has turned more and more to the external relations of their 
work to other fields, an interest reflected in such terms as "ethno-lin- 
guistics" and u psycho-linguistics." While surveys of the linguistic aspects 
of personality still must draw upon hopes and suggestions more than 
upon tested conclusions, this situation is changing for the better. 


There are four ways in which the student of personality in another cul- 
ture may utilize the descriptive methods which modern linguistics has 
developed. These methods will facilitate his practical use of a language 
in field work. If he has to obtain and analyze linguistic data himself, 
he will need them. If he draws upon the linguistic work of others, he 
still should have some control of linguistic methods in order to evaluate 
the work, if it is already done, or to guide it in relevant directions, if it 
is undertaken as part of his research project. Finally, there is the possibil- 
ity that linguistic methods may have an application outside language. 

Serious students of other ways of life long have realized that no real 
penetration of a people's psychological makeup is possible without 
knowledge of their language. Among anthropologists, Franz Boas (who 
defined ethnology as the study of mental phenomena) wrote that the 
deeper problems of ethnology could not be approached except through 
language. Sapir, Lowie, Radin, Kluckhohn, and others have reiterated 
the point. Kluckfaohn's account of the role of language in obtaining auto- 
biographical material is pertinent to all culture and personality research. 
Stressing linguistic insight as requisite for insight into covert culture, he 

I suspect that the meanings which the happenings of his life have for the 
subject will remain forever opaque to the investigator unless he has ob- 
tained entrance to this foreign world of values and significances which are 
pointed to by the emphases of the native vocabulary, crystallized in its 
morphological categories, Implicit in its semantic differentiations. (1945, p. 

Anastasi and Foley (1949, p. 717) make a point about intelligence 

tests that applies to tests generally: instruments of research that do 

HYMES: Linguistic A spects 317 

not Involve language are not equivalent to instruments that do, and can- 
not be substituted for them. They state: 4fc When unfarailiarity with the 
language makes the application of verbal tests impossible in a given 
group, the range of processes which can be measured in that group is 
thereby narrowed." 
Kluckhohn points out: 

Learning a language, then, is not the only alternative to complete neglect of 
the language. The direct advantages of using a language are to record, to ask 
set questions, to give stereotyped instructions. No language is easy, but sub- 
stantial progress in the use of any language can be made by the field worker 
who is patient and willing and who has certain minimum skills for going about 
the task. (1945, p. 113) 

For the practical use of another language, descriptive methods are of 
great value. Every learner must make some analysis, conscious or not, 
of the other language; linguistic methods make the analysis explicit and 
precise. For both analyst and user, the goal is a model of the lan- 
guage habits of a group. For the analyst, it is true, it is enough to have 
the model in his head and notebooks. The user, in addition, must intro- 
duce the model into his habits of articulation. The analyst must be 
able to recognize and accurately record the native speaker's repetitions 
of utterances; the user must also be able to make the repetitions himself. 
But for both, the test of success is ability to produce novel utterances 
which native speakers will accept. 

Descriptive analysis is especially helpful in coping with Interference 
between the learner's own system of language habits and that of the 
language to be learned. If the field worker has a descriptive analysis of 
the units and patterns in Ms own language and in the one to be used, he 
can compare the two to make conscious the points where Ms own lan- 
guage habits are most likely to impede his perception and control of the 
other set of habits. Interference is clearly critical for the fieldworker 
sorting out clues to personality in acts of speech. English-speaking field- 
workers are especially likely to be unaware of their complex patterns 
of stress, pitch, and juncture, and so to misinterpret the emotional im- 
port of the use of stress, pitch, and juncture In another language. 

For English linguistic habits, Hockett (1958) is the best single guide. 
The fact that interference in learning can be described precisely and 
predicted is perhaps the best proof of the vital role that linguistic analy- 
sis plays in the practical use of another language. Weinreich (1953, 
1957) has made a theoretical analysis of linguistic interference. There 
is a useful discussion in Gleason (1955, Cfa. 18) and a brilliant illustra- 
tion of phonemic interference in Wolff (1952). Lado (1957) devotes 
a book to the problems of comparing linguistic systems, and extends the 
approach to the comparison of cultures. Perhaps the theoretical frame- 

3 1 8 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

works of Weinreich and Lado may shed light also on problems of inter- 
ference in judging other manifestations of personality. 

If the fieldworker goes to a group whose language has been more or 
less adequately described, his task is relatively easy, whether he obtains 
formal instruction, or is self-taught with the aid of generalized expert 
advice. Bloomfield (1942) is an outstanding guide, together with Fries 
(1945); there is valuable advice in Nida (1947, 1950, 1956), Pike 
(1947), Reyburn (1958) and Swadesh (1937). If the fieldworker has 
to undertake his own descriptive analysis, he will need some formal in- 
struction. Roger Brown (1957, 1959) has written lucid introductions to 
linguistic concepts, oriented to psychologists. Good, brief, introductions 
oriented toward psychologists and anthropologists, respectively, are 
those of Miller (1954) and Lounsbury (1953). Introductory texts for 
students of linguistics give a more detailed understanding of its opera- 
tions (Hockett, 1958; Gleason, 1955; Nida, 1949; Pike, 1947); on a 
more advanced level, Harris (1951) is a storehouse of analytic proce- 

Whether the fieldworker makes his own analysis, or uses the analyses 
of others, it is essential to realize that there are two broad stages to 
linguistic description. 2 The first may be loosely called that of the "facts." 
In this stage one determines all the phonological and grammatical fea- 
tures that are relevant in each particular linguistic context. In the second 
stage, one infers general phonological and grammatical patterns for 
the language as a whole. This requires relating the relevant features of 
particular contexts to each other, so as to obtain a description that com- 
prises them all in a simple and consistent way. Linguists who agree on 
the facts of specific contexts may disagree on the pattern to be inferred. 
The disagreement will be due to differences in the criteria of inference 
which are given priority, or to different conceptions of the ideal model 
for linguistic description. 3 

The non-linguist should know that if a language is described and 
handled accurately in the first stage, this will suffice for field research. 
Some inference must be made, but it need not be theoretically elegant. 
As long as the first stage is clear, others can make other inferences 
later, and, moreover, adequate handling of the first stage itself con- 
tributes to the science of language, if the data are not otherwise known. 
The consumer of linguistic research should know that errors or inade- 
quacies in the first stage will vitiate the results. Disagreements as to the 
second stage may spring more from theoretical assumptions than from 
the data. For his purposes it may make no difference which of two con- 
flicting interpretations is chosen. 

The advances in descriptive analysis have encouraged some lin- 
guists to suggest that their methods could be used by others. This hope 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 319 

has been shared by anthropologists such as Kluckhofan and Levi-Strauss. 
The nature of the hope has been that linguistic methods might help 
establish units and patterns in learned behavior outside language. 

It is worth noting that language and linguistics figure prominently in 
discussions of methods for national character study In The Study of Cul- 
ture at a Distance (Mead and Metraux, 1953). Mead and Gorer use 
them both by way of analogy and as example (pp. 10-11, 13-14, 16, 
59, 80-81). This is so much the case, that it is remarkable that neither 
Mead nor Gorer explicitly suggests the direct transfer of linguistic 
method to the study of national character. 

As Hockett has observed, the difficulty is that we do not know how 
much the success of linguistic methods depends on what is peculiar to 
language and how much on what language shares with the rest of cul- 
ture. All culturally patterned behavior may be as systematic as speech, 
as Mead asserts (1953, pp. 16-17), but we do not yet know for sure. 
Probably there is a gradient from the least to the most systematized 
aspects. It is worth mentioning the principal work along these lines be- 
cause of its promise. This work is of two sorts, extensions of linguistic 
method and generalizations of it. 

For personality study, a particularly promising extension concerns 
gesture, or "body-language." The communicative importance of gesture 
has long been recognized, together with its cultural basis (LaBarre, 
1947). Working with several linguists, Birdwhistell (1952) has 
sketched an analytic framework for gesture, including a system of nota- 
tion. If this culminates in the successful descriptive analysis of gesture- 
systems cross-culturally, it will be a significant contribution to the study 
of how personality is expressed and perceived. 

There are two major examples of the generalization of linguistic 
methods. Kenneth Pike (1954, 1955, 1956, 1959) seeks to comprehend 
linguistic and non-linguistic behavior within a single descriptive frame- 
work. (The 1956 essay is the best concise exposition of Pike's ap- 
proach.) Hans Uldall (1957) has published the first part of work done 
in collaboration with the Danish linguist, Louis Hjelmslev, with whom 
he developed the school of linguistic thought known as glossematics. 
Uldall's monograph generalizes a glossematic algebra for all the non- 
natural sciences, so that its application to language is a special case. It is 
interesting that a psychologist, Floyd AUport (1955), has developed a 
concept of structure within which Pike's linguistics-based theory might 
find a natural place, and that Barker and Wright (1954) discuss their 
basic concepts and problems, such as "dividing the behaviour stream," 
in terms remarkably suggestive of linguistic principles. Still, the direct 
transfer of linguistic ways of handling units and patterns to such areas as 
culture and personality remains an undemonstrated possibility. It will 

320 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

be some while before we know how much of the attempt to take linguis- 
tic methodology beyond language is a "breakthrough," and how much it 
is the artifact "of a climate of opinion. General advocacy of this attempt 
is found in the writings of Claude Levi-Strauss (see several of the essays 
in his Anthropologie structural , 1957), Ward Goodenough (1957), 
George L. Trager (1959), Edward T. Hall (1959), and some other an- 
thropologists. Positive results for problems in social structure have been 
reported by Goodenough (1951, p. 64) and Levi-Strauss (1957, pp. 
37-62, fct L/ Analyse structurale en linguistique et en anthropologie"). 
Katherine French (1955) has used linguistic principles like those of 
Pike to analyze ceremonial patterns on an American Indian reserva- 
tion, and Marvin Mayers (1959) has applied Pike's approach cogently 
to the Pocomchi of "Mexico. The growing field of ethnoscience has 
used linguistics-inspired methodology to get at cognitive organization in 
the areas of kinship, botany, and disease. This could be extended to 
conceptions of personality and to personal differences in cognitive or- 
ganization. Applications such as these by people rooted in substan- 
tive fields outside linguistics are the crucial test for the broader utility of 
linguistic methods. 

To sum up the central point of this section: linguistic methods are es- 
sential for the cross-cultural study of personality. They aid the field- 
worker in using the native language; if he is a talented polyglot, they 
expedite his mastery. Even if the investigator does not use the native 
language, even if he does not care what the language itself may reveal, 
it mus^be controlled so that speech behavior may be observed and re- 
corded. People talk; their talk involves their personalities. Linguistic 
methods are simply the way an adequate account of what goes on in 
talking can be rendered. 


What are the signals by which personality is expressed and perceived 
in speech? To judge from a review of literature (Bruner and Tagiuri, 
1954) and a recent conference (Tagiuri and Petmllo, 1958), the grow- 
ing interest in person perception neglects speech. The importance of 
speech (especially to a theory of personality such as that of Kelly, 
1956) is obvious nevertheless. 

Sapir (1927) provides a general formulation of the problem, one 
which is followed by Chao (1953). He proposed two approaches. The 
first would concern the difference and relation between the individual 
and social components of speech. This is stressed by Newman (1941) 
and by Krech and Crutchfield (1948). Sapir observed that speakers are 
alert for individual speech variations and subtle cues, but are relatively 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 32 1 

naive about the specific signals to which they respond. They also often 
forget that there is a socially-shared pattern in relation to which the in- 
dividual variations are perceived. Individual expressions of personality 
in speech can be understood only after the specific signals and the 
shared patterns have been analyzed. 

The second approach would concern different levels of speech. Sapir 
distinguished five: voice, the most fundamental and a form of gesture; 
voice dynamics, including intonation, rhythm, relative continuity, speed, 
and the musical handling of the voice generally; pronunciation, includ- 
ing individual differences in pronunciation, and symbolic associations of 
sounds; vocabulary, that is, individual differences in choice and fre- 
quency of morphemes; style. Sapir stressed that each level has both a 
cultural and individual aspect. One level may be used in conflict with 
another in a given message, so that there could be "a conflict between 
explicit and implicit communications in the growth of the individual 1 s 
social experience" (1931, p. 79) a point Gregory Bateson has re- 
cently developed, and that de Groot (1949) has formulated as the 
"law of the two strata," by which the message of the intonation always 
takes precedence over that of the words. 

The phenomena which Sapir classed under voice and voice dynamics 
have been very little understood until recently. Studies had shown that 
people do judge personality from speech (Pear, 1931; Taylor, 1934; 
Allport and Cantril, 1934; Wolff, W., 1943; McGehee, 1944; Zucker, 
1946). But these studies were more in terms of general impression than 
in terms of the signals which conveyed the impression. Partly this could 
not be avoided. Our traditional orthography almost wholly ignores an 
important group of such signals, so that they are lost when acts of speech 
are transcribed in ordinary writing. Though part of this group, the 
complex English systems of pitch, stress, juncture and intonation, form 
an essential part of the English linguistic code, only recently has lin- 
guistics provided an adequate analysis. 4 Very recently, some linguists 
have begun to analyze what Sapir termed "the linguistically irrelevant 
habits of speech manipulation which are characteristic of a par- 
ticular group" (1927, p. 540), that is, ways of using speech which are 
conventionalized, even though not part of the linguistic code proper, 
Pittenger and Smith (1957) have addressed an introduction to this 
pioneering work to psychiatrists, and McQuown (1957) has presented 
an example of its application to interview material. An extensive publica- 
tion is to come from one group (Bateson, et a/.). Meanwhile Trager 
has published a framework for analyzing the entire group of non-lin- 
guistic signals in acts of speech. 

Trager distinguishes voice set as a background against which are 
measured voice qualities and vocalizations. These latter two together 

322 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

are termed paralanguage found in systematic association with lan- 
guage though distinct from it. Voice set involves the physiological and 
physical peculiarities which identify individuals as members of a popula- 
tion and as persons of a certain sex, age, state of health, and so on. 
Voice qualities are actual speech events. They are modifications both 
of language and of vocalizations. The categories of voice quality noted 
so far are: pitch range, vocal lip control, glottis control, pitch control, 
articulation control, rhythm control, resonance, tempo. For each of 
these there are intermittent degrees on a continuum between polar 
extremes, for instance, for vocal lip control, from heavy rasp or hoarse- 
ness to various degrees of openness. Vocalizations are specifiable noises 
or aspects of noises. There are three kinds: vocal characterize, vocal 
qualifiers, and vocal segregates. The vocal characterizers include laugh- 
ing and crying, between which giggling, snickering, whimpering and 
sobbing are considered intermediate; yelling and whispering; moaning 
and groaning; whining and breaking; belching and yawning; and prob- 
ably other groups. One "talks through" all these. Vocal qualifiers are 
three: intensity, pitch height, and extent (which ranges between drawl 
and clipping) . Vocal segregates comprise such items as English "uh-uh" 
for negation, a uh-huh" for affirmation, the Japanese hiss, and other 
actual sounds that do not fit into the ordinary phonological patterns of a 
language. It is important to note that this classification is based on de- 
tailed study of actual speech. Trager suggests a repertoire of symbols 
for transcribing these paralinguistic phenomena. 

The work which Trager synthesizes is still very much in progress. It 
needs extension to other speech communities outside the English sphere 
as a check on its adequacy as a transcriptional arsenal. 5 Such exten- 
sion has already been begun by Trager at Taos Pueblo 4 in New Mexico 
(Trager, I960), and the only addition found necessary is one category 
of voice quality retracted vs. projected articulation. At present the 
focus of this work is chiefly on identifying and describing the relevant 
features. How these features occur relative to each other, how their 
distribution of occurrences interrelates with such things as situation, role, 
personality most of this is yet to be determined. A noteworthy be- 
ginning has been made by Danchy, Hockett, and Pittenger, whose 
fine-grained analysis of the communication system constituted between 
a patient and a psychiatrist and their interaction during the beginning 
of their first interview is rich with examples and leads. Besides the 
Danchy, Hockett, and Pittenger manuscript, recent papers by Bateson 
(1958), Pittenger (1958), and a manuscript by Hockett are valuable. 

At present this work must at the very least alert the student of per- 
sonality to the significance of paralinguistic phenomena. Much of what 
would be coded as aggression, nurturance, succorance and the like may 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 323 

be communicated paralinguistically, by what we would conventionally 
call tone of voice, inflection, innuendo. It should be no surprise if the 
child's learning of and response to paralinguistic cues is found to play an 
important part in the process of identification. 

The concept of expressive devices should be singled out here. As de- 
fined by linguists of the Prague School, these may be equivalent to the 
vocal segregates of the Trager scheme. In a given language, expressive 
devices are precisely ordinary speech elements which are not part of its 
code, that is, which do not make a difference to the referential 
meaning of messages. Their expressive function is made possible by 
this very fact. Thus, there is a phoneme /h/ in the code of some lan- 
guages, such as English, where Eat It is cognitively different from 
Heat it. French has no /h/ phoneme, hence the sound h can be used ex- 
pressively; Gauthier remarks that love is well expressed by "Je 
t'h'aime," and Flaubert writes "h'enorme" for "enoraie" to render 

Expressive devices are important in the speech development of the 
child, but little is known aboutthem cross-culturally. Intonation seems to 
appear very early; it is reported to be the first speech element which 
Czech children acquire to express emotion. Other expressive devices 
also seem to appear very early: palatalization of consonants is used as a 
purely expressive device in the first words of Czech children. Though 
we can single out certain features as expressive per $e, we must re- 
member that it is also possible to view all the features of a speech event 
as in varying degree expressive of their source. Each feature is selected 
from among a set of features. Since another feature might have oc- 
curred in its place, the selection reflects the sender of the message. Of 
course, this statement is never literally true, due to the dependence 
of some features on others. But it serves to single out the importance of 
not forgetting that in the functioning of speech, as elsewhere, what on 
one level seems an inherent property is on another level dependent on 
the point from which we are viewing. An expletive may be colorless 
through over use, and an intrinsically colorless "no" may be explosive if 
the preceding utterance has been "Do you take this woman to be your 
lawful wedded wife?" 

New analytic frameworks may prove to be needed for the phenomena 
which Sapir treated under pronunciation, vocabulary, and style, but 
well known methods can be used. It is generally a question of describing 
the units and patterns of a language and of then studying the relative 
frequency and contexts of their occurrence. Some linguistic traits, in- 
cluding particular pronunciations and words, may be diagnostic of 
individuals, of roles, of groups, of situations. This includes the char- 
acters in myths, whose personalities and roles are built up wholly by the 

324 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

use of language. 7 Some linguistic traits may differ in the relative fre- 
quency of their use by certain people or in certain situations; this is per- 
haps what Sapir had in mind when he mentioned style, though he may 
also have intended to indicate some controlling pattern of selection. 

All this, then, is a matter of knowing the code and content of a lan- 
guage. One can then tell, for example, whether the use of an /z-sound is 
normal functioning of the language, or expresses emotion. Knowing the 
norms of a speech community, one can tell whether an emotional utter- 
ance has a conventional acceptation or reveals a deviant personality. 
One can know when stereotyped perception of personality is likely to 
be aroused by the use of particular pronunciations, vocabulary, or 
styles, which may signal a class, local area, or conventionally recognized 
type of individual. One can note and follow up regression to an earlier 
dialect usage or pronunciation under stress, if such occurs. One may be 
able to detect the subtle interpersonal manipulation of status-controlled 
levels of vocabulary in languages such as Japanese, Javanese and 
Ponapean, or the shift between formal and informal styles which oc- 
curs in any language. All this entails a control of a language which 
comes only together with control of the culture as well, but it is essential 
to any systematic phenomenological approach to personality. 

Ideally, linguistics should provide the investigator with complete 
description of the linguistic and paralinguistic codes in the speech of the 
people studied and in his own speech. The investigator, or an ac- 
companying linguist, would then be able to specify without interference 
all those cues which express personality and by which personality is per- 
ceived in oral communication. If linguistic research has already ade- 
quately studied a language, the fieldworker is enviably prepared. In 
much of the world this is not the case, but, armed with linguistic meth- 
ods, or a linguist, the student of personality in another culture may still 
penetrate the world of meanings borne by the small disturbances of air 
which are acts of speech. 


What does the content of language reveal about personality? The 
psychological import of differences in language has a recurrent fasci- 
nation, and an honorable tradition in anthropological linguistics from 
Wilhelm von Humboldt through Brinton, Boas and Sapir to the present 
day. Most recently, Whorf s gifts for exposition and semantic insight 
have made Ms views a reference point. There has been a flurry of stud- 
ies, ranging from perception of vowel length to conceptual logic and 
metaphysical presuppositions. 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 325 

Carroll and Casagrande (1958, p. 20) have put the basic question In 
these terms: 

The linguistic relativity hypothesis is a special case of the culture-personal- 
ity theory. Substituting terms in Smith, Braner, and White's precis of culture- 
personality theory, we may express it this way: Each language creates a spe- 
cial plight to which the individual must adjust. The human plight is in no 
sense universal save in this fact: that however different the language may be, 
it has certain common problems with which to deal time, space, quantity, 
action, state, etc. But each language handles these problems differently and 
develops special ways of communicating. These ways of communi- 
cating create special needs, special responses, and lead to the development of 
special modes of thinking. 

The alternative to the linguistic relativity hypothesis would be a statement 
that the behavior of a person is not a function of the language he happens to 
speak or be speaking, that his modes of categorizing experience and dealing 
with his world operate independently of language, that language is simply a 
way of communicating something which is in every way prior to its codifica- 
tion in language. 

One will find other statements of this view, ranging from the sweepingly 
provocative to the gently urbane, in writings of Sapir (1929, 193 lb), 
Whorf (1940a, 1940b, 1941a, 1941b, 1941c), Lee (1938, 1940, 
1944, 1949^ 1950), Hoijer (1951, 1953, 1954), Brown (1956), and 
Brown and Lenneberg ( 1954, 1958) . 

That language should make a difference follows from many con- 
siderations in psychology itself. Carroll terms the hypothesis "essentially 
a restatement or application of a well-known finding in discrimination 
learning that we learn those discriminations which are reinforced; in 
the present case, linguistic symbols are themselves the cues for the dis- 
criminatory responses" (Carroll, 1958, p. 34). Moreover, "the vast 
majority of signs used in ordinary communication are what we may 
term assigns their meanings are literally "assigned 9 to them via asso- 
ciation with other signs rather than via direct association with the objects 
signified" (Osgood, Suci, Tannenbaum, 1957, p. 8). This view heightens 
the importance of the patterning of linguistic symbols in a language, as 
an influence on psychological processes affecting personality, and so 
does Miller's view of the role of linguistic patterns in the retaining of 
complex information. Discussing the great disparity between man's lim- 
ited ability to discriminate sensory stimuli and his great capacity to store 
information, Miller (1956a, p. 95) suggests that the gap is bridged by 
successive recodings, "an extremely powerful weapon for increasing the 
amount of information that we can deal with. In one form or another 
we use receding constantly in our daily behavior. In my opinion the 
most customary kind of recoding that we do all the time is to translate 
into a verbal code." 8 

326 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

We have only the beginnings of research, cross-cultural and other- 
wise, devoted to demonstrating the nature and extent of the difference 
that language makes. While many have testified from personal ex- 
perience, or by selected examples, relatively few have conducted ex- 
periments. I shall try to consider this experimental work to show its 

Concerning lexical categories of English speakers, Cannichael, Hogan 
and Walter (1932) showed a generation ago that recall and repro- 
duction of visual shapes depended upon linguistic labels given them by 
the experimenter. Subsequent work has refined and overwhelmingly 
supported this proof of the influence of linguistic habit. Hanawalt and 
Demarest (1939) showed not only the influence in reproduction of 
visual shapes of labels given by the experimenter, but also brought out 
the significance of labels the subjects themselves employ. The best 
demonstration of this latter point is in Herman, Lawless, and Marshall 
(1957). The results of Prentice (1954) on the relation between lan- 
guage and recognition error were negative, but these must be inter- 
preted in the light of the often overlooked positive results of Tresselet 
(1948). Bniner, Busiek, and Minturn (1952) obtained positive results 
with immediate reproduction. Here also should be mentioned the work 
of Belbin (1950) and J. Brown (1956), and the interesting findings of 
Norcross (1958). 

Recent work by R. W. Brown and Lenneberg (1954) and by Lenne- 
berg and Roberts (1956) found, under certain conditions, that recog- 
nition memory for colors depends upon codability, that is, the ease with 
which a sensory experience or concept can be transmitted in the code of 
a particular language. Under these conditions, the greater the coda- 
bility, the more speakers of the language agree on the name, and, prob- 
ably, the shorter the name and the more frequent its use. That experi- 
mentally given verbal labels improve recognition memory has been 
shown by Pyles (1932), Spiker (1956) who summarizes work in this 
area, and Weir and Stevenson (1959). 

Cross-culturally, Lenneberg and Roberts indicate that speakers of 
English and Zuni differ in their recognition and remembering of colors 
ia ways that are predictable from the codability of the colors in the two 
languages. Carroll (Carroll and Casagrande, 1958) reports suggestive 
results using Hopi lexical categories to predict the sorting behavior of 
Hopi speakers (although the illustrations unfortunately are incorrectly 
keyed to the text in the published paper). The central importance of 
lexical categories is considered demonstrated by Soviet psychology 
(Tikhomirov, 1959, pp. 365-6, citing Pavlov). 

Concerning grammatical categories, Brown (1957) found in research 
of basic importance that English-speaking children take part-of-speech 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 327 

membership of a novel word as a clue to its meaning. Large grammati- 
cal classes, such as parts of speech, of course never correlate perfectly 
with semantic attributes; the class of English nouns cannot be ade- 
quately defined as names of persons, places, or things, but only by for- 
mal features such as inflection and syntactic position. Still, parts of 
speech do correlate sufficiently with certain semantic attributes for the 
relationship to be detected and generalized by speakers of the language 
(see FlaveU, 1958). If languages differ in their major parts-of-speech, 
then, this may be diagnostic of differences in the cognitive psychologies 
of those who use them. 

Cross-culturally, ethnographic incidents that point to the influence of 
grammatical categories, especially in Algonquian languages, have been 
cited by Hallowell (1951, 1958). Casagrande (Carroll and Casagrande, 
1958) obtained initially encouraging results using a specific Navaho 
grammatical category to predict Navaho sorting behavior. This category 
concerns the classification of objects into several classes according to 
their shape or form. MacClay (1958) investigated it also, and since his 
study brings out the problems of such research very well, I shall discuss 
it in some detail. 

MacClay tested sorting behavior of groups speaking Navaho, Eng- 
lish, and Pueblo Indian languages, predicting differences in sorting and 
latency, with what at first seem very discouraging results. He found 
that subjects indeed sorted in terms of the kinds of classification built 
into the experiment (by color, form, function or material), but neither 
of the latency hypotheses was confirmed, and but one of the two sorting 
hypotheses. Now in every case the latencies for the Navaho and 
Pueblo groups were much closer to each other than either was to the 
latency for the English group, which always was notably lower. It is 
likely that some factor such as previous experience with test situations 
was at work, and that latency is not a valid measure for the influence of 
different language habits. Turning to the sorting hypotheses, the more 
experience a Navaho had had with his language, the more likely he was 
to sort in terms of its form categories, while the Pueblo group, whose 
languages lack such categories, showed no such correlation with lan- 
guage experience. The second sorting hypothesis produced surprise. 
Navahos made more sorts on the basis of form than the Pueblo group, 
as expected, but English speakers made as many or more such sorts 
compared to Navaho. 

Carroll and Casagrande offer an explanation of such a result. They 
compared two groups of Navaho children, for one of whom the Navaho 
language was dominant, for one English, and found a correlation be- 
tween dominance of Navaho and tendency to match objects by form 
rather than color or size. But when they compared this to data from 

328 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

white American children, and considered age trends, they came to the 
view that either of two kinds of experience could increase a child's 
tendency to match objects on the basis of form: (a) learning a lan- 
guage, like Navaho, which requires him to make certain discriminations 
of form and material in order to be understood, or (b) practice with 
toys and other objects which involves the fitting of forms and shapes. 

Another problem emerged from MacClay's study. He found from post- 
experimental interviews that sometimes two of the four objects in a test 
had the same lexical category in Navaho. The list of objects used 
suggests other influences may have been operative as well. English 
speakers might have been classifying by function instead of form at 
some points," and some of the sets of objects to be sorted contain items 
that may be lexically linked for English speakers (as "metal," "paper," 
"cloth;' "rubber"). On the other side, it is not reported whether 
Navaho speakers do indeed use the expected grammatical form of the 
verb with each pair of test objects whose being sorted together was to 
reveal the verb form's influence. Like English and other languages, 
Navaho has no perfect fit between formal classes and semantic patterns; 
its round-object class of verb stems is notorious for assimilating accul- 
turational items, and most of the test materials were objects common to 
American culture. 

MacQay's study, then, brings out the great complexity of testing the 
linguistic relativity hypothesis by predicting specific behavioral re- 
sponses. His results go together with the general trend of others to indi- 
cate that language has some influence for example, the difference be- 
tween Navaho and Pueblo groups is always in the expected direction 
but show how difficult this influence is to measure and specify. Lin- 
guistic and non-linguistic experience both may converge on the same be- 
havioral result, and experience with a language may be consistent 
with alternative responses, since the language may have alternative ways 
of categorizing a stimulus. Moreover, as Stanley Newman has stressed, 
predictions from the presence of a feature ignore its frequency of oc- 
currence; MacClay suggests that relative frequency may be the single 
most significant factor for future experiments. 9 The English statistician 
Herdan has proposed that la langue be conceived as having not only 
a qualitatively defined structure, but also a set of quantitatively de- 
fined probabilities of occurrence. But contemporary structural descrip- 
tions of languages do not deal with frequency, and we have no informa- 
tion about It for most languages of the world. 

In short, the content of a language may predict non-linguistic be- 
havior, but the relation is not one-to-one; rather, it is many-one and one- 
many. Simply the known facts of semantic change in languages make 
clear the interaction between a linguistic code and the other habits of 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 329 

those who use it. Each Influences the other, for language is not a closed, 
but an open system. 

Here must be mentioned the Southwest Project in Comparative Psy- 
chollnguistics, of which MacClay's work was a part. The field studies 
were made in the summers of 1955 and 1956 by teams of psycholo- 
gists and linguists, working with speakers of English, Spanish, Navaho, 
Zuni, and Hopi. While the bulk of the results have not been published, 
MacClay's work apparently is representative in that it does not make 
the clear showing for the great importance of linguistic relativity that 
some investigators had hoped for. From this failure to find strong posi- 
tive effects, some students have drawn the negative conclusion that such 
do not exist (Greenberg, 1959). Such an Inference may be plausible, 
but it has no logical validity. In my opinion, the conclusion to be drawn 
is the one already indicated: that the meticulous study of the question is 
complex and difficult. Two summers is not a long time for the testing 
and developing of instruments in the first experimentally designed field 
research on the subject. Further research can profit from and build on 
this pilot venture. 

To support my conclusion, let us recapitulate with regard to the con- 
tent of language as a factor In behavior, and hence personality. That 
language as such makes no difference would scarcely be seriously argued 
now, although the view has been stated and is sometimes Implied by 
omissions in research and writing. 10 Against such a view is the massive 
import of experimental work. To the studies cited, we should add that of 
Stefflre (1958), which strongly showed the Importance of language 
as a variable in experiments on concept formation, and the studies of 
Shepard (1956), of Jeffrey (1953), and of Luria and his associates 
(Luria, 1959a, 1959b; Luria and Yuovlch, 1959). u 

That language Is vital in the child's Interaction with his world is shown 
in the field as well as in the laboratory. As part of a cross-cultural study 
of socialization, two similarly trained men observed the same Okina- 
wan children according to the same procedures. One of the two could 
understand much of what was said by virtue of his command of Jap- 
anese, while the other began without knowledge of the language. When 
the protocols from the first few months, during which this difference 
obtained, were scored, one might not have guessed from the results that 
the two men had been observing children of the same culture. 

It might not follow from the generic importance of language that the 
nature of the particular language makes a difference. Yet the student of 
linguistic change finds in the results of contact of languages myriad 
instances of selection and reshaping of perceived phenomena ac- 
cording to a particular language's patterns. The difference that the par- 
ticular language makes is quite evident to the field worker (see Phillips, 

330 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

1959-60, and Nadel, 1951, pp. 39-48). And it is on this more obvious 
or phenomenological level that the student of personality encounters 
language. Undoubtedly the differences among languages are underlain 
by universals, by a grounding which in fact makes it possible for the 
field worker to understand and use a linguistic system other than his 
own. Undoubtedly also the apparent surface differences may conceal 
more linguistic universals than we now see; some investigators have 
gone to extremes in stressing the differences as against the similarities. 
If work such as that of the Southwest Project quiets those who see 
little but relativity, well and good. Yet it would be mistaken to see little 
but similarities instead. The determination of similarities or universals, 
i.e., the calibration of differences in linguistic background of which 
Whorf spoke, is something to be achieved rather than assumed. We must 
recal that Whorf stressed linguistic relativity partly so that it could 
be transcended. He dramatized the facts of difference among languages, 
not only for their interest, but also because to be ignorant of them was to 
be their captive. In my opinion, differences in fact loom larger than uni- 
formities on the level of description and analysis with which the student 
of another culture must begin. The only sound heuristic advice is to as- 
sume differences until proven otherwise, 

A final point in this connection is that the sort of linguistic differences 
which Whorf stressed and which are most important to the study of per- 
sonality cross-culturally are habitual differences (see Whorf, 1941c). It 
is irrelevant to point out, as some students have done, that human 
beings probably differ little in what they can potentially perceive and 
think and do. And it may be misleading to look for differences only in ex- 
perimental situations which focus on unfamiliar tasks. Each of us might 
discriminate, for example, many hues and tones and intensities of 
color, had we the time and interest; but in naming as we run, and in 
remembering, we fall back on the few conventional labels of ordinary 
language. That is what the conventions of language are there for, in part. 
It is in ordinary behavior in its natural habitat that the greatest influence 
of linguistic habit is to be expected. One can find even better instances 
than those with which Whorf began his most noted paper on the sub- 
ject (1941c). Recently a student reported that her roommate had said, 
"Let's put the radio by the radiator so it will warm up faster." 

To sum up, there does not exist an experimentally precise and com- 
plete demonstration that differences of language are a major factor 
in differences in behavior and personality. However, theoretical con- 
siderations and a variety of experiences indicate that they are. Such dif- 
ferences do not override the similarities among men due to their com- 
mon human nature and common natural world, but for the student of 
personality in another culture, they loom large. 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 331 

What of the use of language content as evidence for national charac- 
ter, for particular cultural values, world views, or predominant cultural 
themes, such as motion (Navaho) or preparation (Hop!)? Lenneberg 
has harshly attacked such interpretations, and they have been cautiously 
or coolly regarded in some recent conferences (Lenneberg, 1953; 
Levi-Strauss, et al, 1953; Osgood, 1954; Hoijer, 1954). Two major 
criticisms are circularity and anachronism. It is charged that the only 
evidence is language itself, which is used both to suggest and to prove 
the presence of values or outlooks. The linguist's analysis of a word, say, 
in Apache, may break it down into units which have no separate psy- 
chological reality for contemporary speakers of Apache; the analysis 
may be descriptive etymology. 12 Also, the grammatical labels used in 
the analysis may be artifacts of our linguistic tradition rather than psy- 
chological facts for the Apache. 

These points are valid criticisms of any attempt to predict non-lin- 
guistic behavior or infer psychological reality from language content. To 
so predict, we go and look, that is, experiment, if we wish to be sure. 
Instead of regarding language content as a cause, however, we may re- 
gard it as the result of past behavior. Though an idiom may have no 
vitality for speakers now, it must have had when coined. For Apache 
speakers today, a dripping spring may or may not seem "as water, 
whiteness moves downward"; for them, the visual metaphor may be 
dead. For some Apache speaker it was once live, and his coinage was 
collectively approved. Different semantic patterns must result from 
cumulative differences in the selective perceptions and cognitions of 
speech communities over time. As historical products, semantic patterns 
can be appropriately compared with other historically derived cultural 
patterns, including those of personality. 

Here recent changes in the language are especially important, since 
they certify the relevance of a semantic trend. In one recent study, 
Casagrande (1955, p. 24) observes: 

The Comanche characteristically describe many new traits, particularly 
implements and machines, in dynamic, functional terms rather than static 
ones of color, size and shape. One is tempted to speculate whether this may 
be correlated with Comanche personality as described by Kardiner who com- 
ments upon, "the emphasis on activity itself," and notes their capacity to deal 
skillfully, assertively and selfconfidently with the world. 

The best fit between language and non-linguistic patterns is to be ex- 
pected for those areas of learned behavior which are themselves 
highly structured (see Emeneau, 1941, 1950). There is no question but 
that particular words and sets of words are often suggestive or illuminat- 
ing (see Stone, 1954). Hanks (1954) investigates a Blackfoot term for 
"disregard where respect is normally valued"; "crazy," which has many 

332 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

North American Indian parallels, has been studied (Casagrande, 
1955, p. 24; Olson, 1956, n. 5; Hymes, field notes, for Chinookan). 
Hallowell (1951, 1958) has good discussions of various Ojibwa words 
and categories. Detailed investigation of a key term (Oliver, 1949, is a 
fine example) or of an area of vocabulary which shows special elabora- 
tion (Evans-Pritchard, 1940, pp. 41-48; Marsh and Laughlin, 1956; 
Nida, 1949, 1958) these should be standard and rewarding fieldwork 
practices. Casagrande (1948, p. 14) points out: "From the vocabulary 
(of baby words) itself, one can form some idea of the child's world in a 
given culture; what objects and affects impinge upon it." For an area 
of key interest, such as personality, an understanding of the categories 
held by the people studied is essential; analysis of the terms they use is 
part of such understanding. Recent discussions of person perception, 
while calling attention to the importance of people's own categories, 
also rely very much on English terms for describing emotions and per- 
sons (Bruner and Tagiuri, 1954; Tagiuri and Petrullo, 1958, p. x; 
Hastorf, Richardson, and Dombusch, 1958; Bruner, Shapiro, and 
Tagiuri, 1958), Full analysis of these terms is essential, both for the un- 
derstanding of personality among groups of English speakers, and to 
avoid semantic interference through the use of the terms as translations 
and tags in the study of personality in other cultures. Allport and Odbert 
(1936) pioneered in the descriptive study of English names for per- 
sonality traits. In a notable study, Asch (1946) showed the importance 
of particular terms such as "hot" and "cold" in people's judgment of per- 
sonality. 13 Wishner (1960) has explored Asch's distinction between 
"central" and "peripheral" traits, showing that this distinction depends 
upon the correlations within particular clusters of traits. His remarks on 
context, a structural point of view, and the use of antonyms point toward 
some kinds of problems and methods now being dealt with in anthro- 
pology and linguistics. In anthropology there is a renewal of interest in 
fields of folk-science such as ethnobotany and folk-medicine, using a 
linguistic approach to the study of native categories (see Conklin, 1955, 
and Frake, 1961). There also is a renewed attention to semantic de- 
scription on the part of linguists (see especially Haugen, 1957, and 
Joes, 1958), This work is especially concerned with the qualitative and 
hierarchical relations among categories, and the methods devised can 
be applied to the vocabulary, such as trait-names, which is of importance 
in personality study. (See also the mention of componential analysis 
and the semantic differential later in this section.) 

The absence of terms is often suggestive. For instance, there is a psy- 
choanalytic interpretation of the absence of an English slang term for the 
clitoris. Absence of a term for "square" in Zulu helps substantiate 
findings based on other evidence (Allport and Pettigrew, 1957). 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 333 

Three points about language categories should be kept particularly in 
mind. First, an important categorization may be unexpressed linguisti- 
cally. This is what Goodenough (1951, pp. 61-64) found for some 
basic Trukese property relationships. Second, the linguistic categoriza- 
tions studied may be but one way the society has of classifying certain 
phenomena. If the Trukese grammatical category of possession is taken 
as a way of expressing property relationships, then Truk is an example. 
Lounsbury (1956) has shown that a full semantic analysis of Iroquois 
kinship terminology reveals a simple, coherent system for keeping track 
of relatives, but one that does not at all match the way relatives are 
classified for purposes of clan membership. Third, there may be more 
than one level of linguistic categorization. Conklin (1955) reports four 
broad color categories in Hanunoo, and Leach (1958) mentions four 
broad clan categories among the Trobrianders. In each case these are 
found to be conventional classifications, and a different, much more 
detailed categorization of colors and sub-clans, respectively is also 

The student of personality in another culture must conclude that non- 
linguistic differences will partly depend upon or correlate with differ- 
ences in language, but there is no simple way of telling how or in what 
degree from a description of the language by itself. Lexical and 
grammatical categories can be taken as important guides, especially so 
the more frequently they are used, but the field worker is likely to have 
to estimate frequency himself. 

As McClelland (1951, p. 152) observes, regarding individual per- 
sonality, psychologists usually want to use speech or language as evi- 
dence of something else. Yet acts of speech and languages embody 
expressions of personality in their own right. As I shall stress in the final 
section of this chapter, speech and language are independent and varia- 
ble in their relation to personality in different cultures. They may or may 
not fit neatly with other evidence of personality, but it remains true that 
an account of personality cannot be complete if it omits speech and lan- 

One important caution is that cultural personality and language may 
sort differently. The general question to what kind of cultural unit are 
personality data to be related is discussed by Hallowell (1953, pp. 
606607) in relation to languages. 

It is a far cry from Whorf s broad and subtle fashions of speaking, 
which coordinate linguistic data of all sorts, or from a pervasive semantic 
trend, to the experimental testing of behavioral response to a specific 
item of lexicon or grammar. What about the specific chunks of language 
in between? Can linguistics say anything about the implications of these 
for personality? This is a question of the implications of language typol- 

334 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

ogy for cultural personality. The interest might be put this way: Studies 
with English-speaking subjects have found correlation between various 
linguistic traits and personality traits, the most cited being between 
adjective-verb ratio and such traits as anxiety (Balken and Masserman, 
1940; Boder, 1940; Sanford, 1942b). Can languages be taken as indi- 
viduals writ large? If a difference in relative frequency of adjectives and 
verbs can be significant for an individual personality within a speech- 
community, could such a difference between speech-communities as 
wholes be significant? What does it signify if in one language adjectives 
are a subclass of nouns, but in another a subclass of verbs? I know no 
reliable investigation of such questions. A great many factors might 
work to preclude any personality significance for such differences, and 
the danger of ethnocentric judgment is great. Still, it cannot be assumed 
that languages differ from each other in these dimensions to no purpose. 
Some factors of selection and shaping by generations of speakers have 
been at work. One cannot rule out the possibility that factors which 
underly the selection and shaping of individual speech patterns may 
have been collectively pervasive in shaping the patterns of a lan- 
guage. 14 

There is one forthright declaration of a principle running through 
individual speech, speech disorders, and linguistic codes, which it 
would be revealing to attempt to measure: Jakobson's definition of the 
metaphoric and metonymic poles (see Jakobson, 1957, or Jakobson 
and Halle, 1957). In general, we know very little about language typol- 
ogy. We are far from having adequate frameworks for analyzing lan- 
guage types in purely linguistic terms, let alone for correlating them 
with culture and personality. A little should be said about phonological, 
grammatical and lexical type in order to indicate the present situation. 

Jespersen once said the phonological pattern of a language reflected 
psychological characteristics. English is "masculine," contrasting with 
soft, musical "feminine" languages of Spain, Italy and Hawaii: "You do 
not expect much vigor or energy in a people speaking such a language." 
But one might equally well expect speakers of a "masculine" language to 
be exhausted from the effort of articulating it, and the speakers of soft, 
musical languages to have energy left for other things. Such specula- 
tions have cast a shadow over any attempt to associate personality type 
with phonological type. Other aspects of the use of sound may still have 
significance. Martin (1958), exploring Japanese and Korean for keys to 
national character, notes that 

Korean has perhaps the richest and most extensive sound symbolism in the 
world; each of over a thousand lexemes occurs not as an isolated item, but as 
a set of words with systematic variations in shape that correspond to subtle 
but structured differences In connotation. The Japanese system is feeble by 


HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 335 

Perhaps such a difference in oral behavior (and gratification) is corre- 
lated with other differences. 

In the nineteenth century there were many classifications of languages 
into a limited number of grammatical types, using terms such as isolating, 
agglutinating, inflecting, analytic, synthetic, polysynthetic. The classifi- 
cations were often not logically consistent, often carried untenable evo- 
lutionary implications, and did not correlate with anything else. In 1921 
Sapir presented a subtle classification of languages into basic conceptual 
types, but this approach has not been developed by others. Recently in- 
terest in typology has revived among linguists, and broad surveys of 
phonological systems have been made, but much is yet to be done for 
the grammatical and lexical aspects of language, which are of most in- 
terest to personality study. 

One thing of obvious interest is how languages handle the category of 
person itself. Hallowell (1958, p. 83) has said that "the concept of per- 
son, like the concept of self, may be expected to appear as a cultural 
universal"; it would seem to be a linguistic universal. Unfortunately, 
there has been much speculative writing, but no adequate empirical 
study. The one attempt by Forchheimer in 1953 does provide data 
for some hypotheses. All natural languages seem to distinguish three per- 
sons in the singular, and between singular and plural in the first person. 
These four ("I," "thou," "it," "we") seem to be the universal, minimal 
set (Hymes, 1955, p. 298). Brown and Oilman (1959) have made an 
extensive study of the intimate second person pronoun in five Indo- 
European languages, isolating two dimensions of power and solidarity to 
explain usage and change of usage. These dimensions underly other 
types of pronominal usage, as the two third persons of Navaho, or the 
inclusive-exclusive distinction in the pronouns of many languages, and 
enter into the speech levels of Korean as analyzed by Martin. Sapir 
(1915) provides a wealth of examples of "person-implication* 5 in vari- 
ous parts of language, and Haas (1944) formulates the dimensions in 
terms of which male and female differences in several languages are 
organized. The literature abounds with interesting reports of linguistic 
phenomena relevant to the perception, categorization and evaluation 
of persons; but such reports are typically not related to a theoretical 
perspective. Recently Jakobson has definitively clarified the semantic 
nature of the personal pronoun itself, ending a confusion that has pro- 
liferated through the literature of linguistics and psychology (1957). 
In the same paper he explicates the traditional grammatical categories 
of the verb in a way that relates these categories to the concept of per- 
son. The inclusion of verbal categories in any study of how languages 
differ in their treatment of person is thus made possible. This work, and 
that by Haas, Martin, Brown and Oilman, seeking to determine under- 
lying dimensions, is an important step forward. 

336 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Here two methodological tools should be mentioned. One is com- 
ponential analysis, which has been applied to kinship terms by Louns- 
bury (1956) and Goodenough (1951, 1956), and to personal pronouns 
by Wonderly (1952). It is a precise way of revealing semantic dimen- 
sions not marked by words themselves. As a trivial example, the English 
kin terms "father, mother; uncle, aunt; son, daughter; grandfather, grand- 
daughter; brother, sister" 1 are differentiated by a semantic component of 
sex, although gender is not overtly marked in any of them. Many seman- 
tic components are not obvious at all, and a careful analysis produces 
new knowledge. 15 A basic assumption is that the words can be treated as 
members of a set, or "semantic field." Another tool is the semantic dif- 
ferential, developed by Osgood and others ( 1957) , who devote a chapter 
in their book to "Semantic Measurement in Personality and Psycho- 
therapy Research." Most results are tentative but very promising. A 
striking result is the success of the semantic differential with a case of 
triple personality ("Eve White; 5 "Eve-Black," and "Jane"). Insofar as 
the differential could reveal the conceptual structure of the three per- 
sonalities, each was found to be differently organized in its responses to 
it (Osgood et al, pp. 258-271). The instrument has been tested with 
Japanese, Koreans, and some American Indian groups. The differential 
is based on factor analysis of seven-interval scales, whose poles are op- 
posed adjectives such as "fair": "unfair," "strong": "weak," "clean": 
"dirty." Subjects score concepts such as "myself," "God," "baby," 
"mother," "Adlai Stevenson," by checking one of the intervals between 
each adjectival pair. Osgood is especially interested in the potential 
universality of the main factors that the differential reveals, but the cross- 
cultural differences are likely to be of even greater interest. 16 

Asch (1958) has called attention to the terms used to describe per- 
sons and psychological qualities. He seeks general principles governing 
the metaphorical extension of physical terms to attributes of personality, 
but cultural differences in metaphorical pattern are equally striking. 
Thus, English speakers commonly use animal terms to describe persons 
("bearish," "mulish," "pigheaded"), but speakers of Zuni (Newman, 
1954) and Wishram Chinook (Hymes, field notes) do not. Such differ- 
ences in metaphorical pattern are a rich source of insight, especially when 
one recalls the points made by Kenneth Burke, that every perspective re- 
quires a metaphor, implicit or explicit, for its organizational base, and 
that there is a vast area of reference, such as the supernatural, where 
metaphor must be used. 

Ullmann (1952, 1954) has done the most recent work to describe 
whole languages in semantic terms that would have import for personal- 
ity. His efforts have the value that they state explicit dimensions on 
which to contrast languages semantically, but they, like efforts to treat 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 337 

language differences developmentally (Werner and Kaplan, 1956; 

Kaplan, 1957), suffer from the methodological defect that is shared by 
most work which relates languages to culture and personality. An In- 
triguing or plausible hypothesis is supported by examples, but the 
whole of the relevant data is not systematically analyzed. As Weinreich 
(1955) emphasizes, illustrations are not evidence. Ullman contrasts 
French and German, a favorite pair for those seeking linguistic evidence 
of national character differences (e.g., Thorner, 1945), but does not cite 
negative instances or statistically evaluate them. 

In sum, there is no doubt that differences in culture and personality 
are related to differences in language. There is also little or no satisfactory 
knowledge of the nature of the relationship. Before such knowledge can 
be obtained, linguistics must tackle the problems of semantics much 
more vigorously. It has adequate methods for penetrating the formal 
structure of a language, but little has been done to develop methods for 
semantic description. 17 Nor have the concepts required by semantic de- 
scription received anything like the intensive analysis that has been 
lavished on the phoneme and morpheme. A number of recent studies 
have shown requlckening interest in such problems, so that there is prom- 
ise that linguistics will be able to make more of a contribution to that 
aspect of language most bound up with personality meaning. In the 
meantime, students of personality In other cultures, if they believe in the 
relevance of linguistic evidence, and make It part of their research, con- 
tribute to linguistics as well as to their own field. 


Under this rubric, I want to raise questions about the functions of 
speech In a society, after a few words about the functions of speech 
in general. Whereas In the preceding section we considered language 
more as a "countersign of thought," here we will consider it more as a 
"mode of action" (see Malinowski, 1923, p. 326). 

Many have classified language and speech into various aspects, one of 
the most popular classifications in American behavioral science being 
that of Morris (1939) into syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics. For 
relating the act of speech to personality and culture, Jakobson's classifi- 
cation is much more adequate. He has summarized It In remarks at con- 
ferences (1953, 1959). I can only adumbrate it here. As factors in the 
speech situation, Jakobson recognizes the sender, the receiver, the topic 
of reference, the code, and the message. All are involved in every com- 
munication, but focus on one or another may dominate. As tags for the 
associated functions, we may use the adjectives "expressive," "persua- 
sive" or "rhetorical" (after Burke, 1951), "referential," "metalinguis- 

338 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

tic," and "poetic." According to Jakobson, one such function is dominant 
in each communication; the others are hierarchically arranged below it. 
In other words, focus on the several factors is hierarchically arranged, 
either from the viewpoint of the participants or of the analyst. To this 
classification, I believe that at least the factor of context or scene should 
be added (see Burke, 1945). There remain problems of interpretation 
and application which cannot be analyzed here, except to mention the 
point made earlier regarding the expressive function. One may either 
identify certain features as manifestations of a particular function or 
look at the whole message from the point of view of each function in 
turn." We may simply note, then, that Jakobson's classification of speech 
functions keeps a full set of relevant dimensions in mind, and can 
probably subsume many familiar but more limited concepts, such as 
Malinowski's "pfaatic communion" and Piaget's distinction between 
"egocentric" and "socialized" speech. It is worth pointing out that a 
sensitive analysis by Burke (1958) largely agrees with the Jakobson 

In what follows, my general conception of the relevant dimensions of 
speech as a mode of social action is an application of recent theoretical 
work by Talcott Parsons. I would distinguish four broad aspects of 
speech activity: the cultural values and evaluations associated with 
speech activity; the social structure of the contexts of speech activity; the 
personalities who participate in speech activity (this and the preceding 
being connected by the speech aspects of roles); and the array of lin- 
guistic repertoires and routines available in the society for use in ap- 
propriate roles and situations. In Parsonian notation, these four 
aspects would be dubbed in order L I G A. Since I have but recently 
developed this conceptual scheme, what follows is not an analytic ap- 
plication of it, but a discursive essay on some of the questions which led 
to its formulation. I want to call attention to some of the neglected ques- 
tions about the specific functions of speech. My premise is that speech 
is vital to personality, and that it varies significantly from society to so- 
ciety in its role as an oral activity and acquired skill. Differences in this 
regard seem as important as differences in the use of any other learned 
mode of behavior or of any other sensory modality. Because of space 
limitations, I shall be skimpy with illustrations, but there are many in the 
ethnographic literature. 

First, cultural differences in the importance and evaluation of speech 
and language can be taken as something which reflects cultural per- 
sonality and shapes the personality development of individuals. Speech 
communities differ in their insistence on skill and precision in speech, 
certainly as regards the use of their language by outsiders, probably as 
regards Its use among themselves. People differ in their attitude towards 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 339 

speech material of foreign origin. Some refuse to borrow from other 
languages, some are extremely hospitable to foreign words. In multi- 
lingual situations there are differences in identification with the different 
languages, especially when one language is being replaced or threatened. 
Swadesh comments: "Obviously we have here a rich area in which to ob- 
serve the interplay of culture and personality" (Swadesh, 1948, p. 234). 
Bniner (1956, pp. 617-619) shows the crucial importance of this for 
the relation between primary group experience and acculturation. Peo- 
ples also differ in their conscious interest in the resources of their 
language and in their exploitation of them. I have mentioned sound 
symbolism in Korean. The coinage of words by sound symbolism has be- 
come a convention in American popular culture, especially in that part, 
such as comic books, directed ostensibly toward children. (For Russian 
attitudes see Mead and Metraux, 1953, pp. 166 ff.) Newman has bril- 
liantly contrasted the style of Yokuts, an Indian language of California, 
to that of English, as austere restraint vs. wild proliferation (Newman, 

Peoples differ in their evaluation of talking, in the kinds of talk and 
talkers that are conventionally recognized, and in the way talking enters 
into the definition of statuses and roles. Differences in rewards and 
expectations will have a selective effect on the development of personali- 
ties. Peoples also differ in their criteria for verbal ability. 

Second, personality is shaped and reflected by differences in the han- 
dling of speech situations. Barker and Wright (1954) have used the 
methods of psychological ecology to discover what they term the behav- 
ior settings of a community. By speech situations I mean the distribution 
of acts of speech in relation to behavior settings. Every society defines 
this relationship in a characteristic way. Most generally, there are some 
behavior settings in which speech is proscribed, some in which it is pre- 
scribed, and some in which it is optional. 18 One must take into account a 
society's own theory as to who has the power of speech. Supernatural 
beings, animals, objects may variously be attributed this power. Wher- 
ever a society attributes speech, or the power of comprehension, it cre,- 
ates behavior settings in which speech can occur. 

The first step in analyzing speech situations would be to discover 
which behavior settings fall into which general class. The second would 
be to analyze the contents of the classes. One major factor would be 
the relative number of settings in each class: societies differ markedly in 
their toleration of silence (or of talk, depending on the point of view) . In 
what sort of settings is speech proscribed or prescribed? In relation to 
what persons and roles? Are there settings specifically defined as occa- 
sions for speech, such as confession, prayer, praise, oath-taking, therapy, 
verbal training of children? In our society family table-talk has been 

340 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

studied by Bossard (1948, Ch. VIII, IX). He finds it "a form of family 
interaction, important in the identification of personality roles and the 
development of personality traits" (p. 175). In some societies the family 
is not together at meals; other behavior settings and different persons 
would be more important for the kind of subtle, indirect verbal condi- 
tioning of the child which Bossard describes. 

In any society there is a congruence between speech and its setting, 
whether the setting be defined in terms of time, place, or personnel 
(e.g., Smith, 1958; Evans-Pritchard, 1948). Some settings not only re- 
quire speech, but speech about certain topics or the use of certain expres- 
sions. From a psychoanalytic viewpoint, Devereux has highlighted cul- 
tural differences in the settings in which profanity can occur, the objects 
toward which it can be addressed, and what its use reveals about charac- 
ter structure (Devereux, 1951). What one cannot talk about, what one 
must talk about, when, where, and to whom these differ in ways that 
involve differences in personality. 

The content of speech plays a dual role regarding behavior settings. A 
situation may define what kind of speech is appropriate. Speech itself 
may serve to define a situation, and speech manipulation to define am- 
biguous situations may be an important skill. This dual role of speech in- 
volves usages shared by classes, regions, local communities, families, 
occupants of certain statuses and roles, and even pairs of individuals. On 
the broadest scale, levels of speech recognized throughout a society are 
involved (see Bloomfield, 1927). The way these differ from one society 
to another is itself significant. Thus, "the lack of congruence even be- 
tween the conventional usage scales for English and French (slang- 
colloquial-standard vs. vulgaire-populaire-jamilier, etc.) reflects an im- 
portant difference in the linguistic sociology of the two communities" 
(Weinreich, 1955fa, p. 538 ). 20 

Some differences in speech behavior seem constant across behavior 
settings, depending on the persons communicating. An Ainu husband 
uses his wife's personal name to her, but she may never address him by 
his. Sapir (1915) and Haas (1944) discuss phenomena of this sort, 
such as differences in the speech of men and women. Still, the persons 
involved communicate in certain behavior settings rather than others, so 
that particular usages become linked to particular situations. Occurrence 
of these usages elsewhere may refer to such situations, perhaps as a com- 
ment on personality, for instance, use of baby-talk to insult an adult. 

An important point Is made by Sapir: 

Generally speaking, the smaller the circle, and the more complex the 
understanding already arrived at within it, the more economical can the act 
of communication afford to become. A single word passed between members 
of an intimate group, in spite of its apparent vagueness, and ambiguity, may 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 341 

constitute a far more precise communication than volumes of carefully pre- 
pared correspondence interchanged between two governments. (1931, p. 79) 

This seems to be the principle underlying effective use of speech sur- 
rogates, such as the Mazateco whistle speech or West African dram 
signals. 21 It also underlies functionally specialized idioms, such as the 
argot of Ethiopian merchants, or the speech disguise of Tagalog young 
people (Conklin, 1956, 1959). Friedson (1956) suggests use of the 
principle as a measure of a speaker's perception of his intimacy with his 
audience. In general, one would want to know what settings permit 
conventional or individual economizing in communication. 

Behavior settings may differ in the very language or code used. The 
choice may be for concealment, prestige, or effective communication, 
and differences will reveal and shape personality. Weinreich (1953) 
analyzes many of the factors Involved. 

To function successfully as an adult personality, the child growing into 
a speech community must acquire a mastery of several sets of rules. He 
must of course learn the phonological rales, the grammatical rules, the 
semantic rales, which make an utterance a proper part of the language, 
and which make possible the vital cultural property of language, the 
production and understanding of novel utterances. There are the rales of 
the parallnguistic system, of speech as expressive and persuasive behav- 
ior. As Luria (1959a, 1959b) has shown, the child must also learn or 
grow to associate utterances with actions. Linked perhaps with this kind 
of "directive" or "adaptive" function of speech is another aspect of 
speech activity which is also separate from knowing the rales of the lin- 
guistic code proper. The successful adult must have mastered some part 
of the available linguistic routines and repertoires; he must judge not 
only of possible utterances, but also of their appropriate distribution 
among roles and behavior settings. He must learn not only how to say, 
but what to say. With all of this must go the internalization of certain at- 
titudes toward speech activity and his language or languages. 

Let us consider now the differences in the role that speech may play 
in the actual process of socialization, first regarding the onset and rate of 
language development, then regarding the context of development. 

It is clear that children differ in the age at which speaking begins, and 
in the rate at which they master language. To some extent this is innate, 
but much depends upon cultural expectation and family situation. Num- 
ber and relative age of siblings is one factor; only children have been 
found superior to children-with-siblings, and twins often develop spe- 
cial systems of communication, reducing the need for acquiring the lan- 
guage of adults, while slngletons-with-siblings resemble twins more than 
only-children (Anastasi and Foley, 1949, pp. 337 ff. summarize a num- 
ber of studies). These results are from studies of North American chil- 

342 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

dren, but the cross-cultural implication is clear. Language develop- 
ment in children can be expected to vary with any social, cultural or 
ecological conditions affecting the makeup of the household. 

Most studies of language development are linguistically inadequate, 
seizing upon external criteria such as number of words and length of ut- 
terances, whereas the essential thing is mastery of patterns, which must 
be studied in terms of a structural analysis of the language (Leopold, 
1953-54) . Only bare beginnings of such study have been made (Jakob- 
son, 1942; Velten, 1943; Leopold, 1939-1948; Kahane, Kahane, and 
Saporta, 1958). Still the results discussed by Anastasi and Foley are 
significant. The importance of the age and rate at which language is 
achieved is succinctly stated by Bossard: "the acquisition of language is 
necessary to set into motion the two conditioning factors of social inter- 
action and cultural background which mold the personality of the child" 
(1948, pp. 177-178). Thus children who differ in the age at which 
language is acquired must differ in the age at which much of culture is 
acquired, particularly that whole range of culturally-defined reality 
which depends on language, such as the supernatural. They will also 
differ in the part of their first years that is accessible in later life (see 
Schachtel, 1947). A child who has successfully interacted with its en- 
vironment without speech for a longer time may be more independent of 
language's shaping effect in later life. 

Societies may differ not only in the age at which children typically 
acquire speech, but also in the context of its acquisition. For any so- 
ciety, one would want answers to such questions as: When is the child 
considered capable of understanding speech? Among the Tlingit, for in- 
stance, "when the infant is but a few months old the mother talks to 
him, tells him his moral tales, 'trains' Mm" (Olson, 1956, p. 681). Is 
acquisition of speech accompanied by pressure, or treated as something 
that comes in due course? Are there special word games or speech 
patterns for teaching children? If there is pressure, at what stage of 
psychosexual development is the pressure applied? When are other so- 
cialization pressures applied, before or after the acquisition of speech? 
Various writings make clear that pressure, deprivation, and overprotec- 
tion may variously induce speech defects or the preservation of infantile 
speech habits (Kluckhohn, 1954, p. 944; Lemert, 1952; Henry and 
Henry, 1940; Klausner, 1955). 

To what extent is a child rewarded by verbal praise, in contrast to ma- 
terial rewards such as candy, or physical affection? To what extent is 
the child punished by verbal reprimand, as opposed to deprivation, or 
physical pain? What is the conception of proper speech behavior on the 
part of the child, relative to particular persons and behavior settings? 
Are a child's questions about words and meanings welcomed or rebuffed? 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 343 

Overall, is a child allowed much or little oral gratification through 
speech? Is a child encouraged, discouraged, or ignored in efforts to find 
satisfaction in speech play? What is the proportion of speech activity to 
communication by other means, such as gestures, on the part of the 

Are there special settings for verbal instruction of children? If there 
are, how frequent and with what personnel, and about what topics? Is 
the instruction conventionalized in content, as are proverbs and myths, 
or only in theme? Is the tone of instruction categorical, as among many 
American Indian groups, or not, as in West Africa? Is sex involved? 
There is no sex instruction of the young among the Nupe (Nadel, 1954), 
but many American Indian children were forced to listen to a mythology 
rife with sexual incidents. 

Does speech enter into the continuities and discontinuities in cultural 
conditioning (Benedict, 1938)? Every child learns a special version of 
its language first, usually its family's but that is a minor discontinuity; 
more significant may be "baby-talk." Is there a specialized "baby-talk"? 
How elaborated? What is its cultural content? Among American Indians, 
a Hidatsa mother stated: "We don't like baby talk . . . when they talk, 
we want them to talk just like us, right from the start" (Voegelin and 
Robinett, 1954, p. 69, n. 6), whereas the Comanche had an unusually 
rich, formalized vocabulary of special words used to teach the child to 
speak between one year and three or four (Casagrande, 1948). Though 
thought of as simple, baby-talk may be as difficult as the adult language. 
Herzog (1949, p. 97) says some features of Comanche baby-talk are 
as difficult to pronounce as corresponding features of the adult vocabu- 
lary, and Ferguson (1957) finds some of the most difficult sounds in the 
language to be among the most frequent in Arabic baby talk. The great- 
est discontinuity may come in the multilingual situation. Perhaps the 
most striking case is the Chontal of Zapotec, Mexico, where children 
are taught Spanish first, learning Chontal when as adolescents they enter 
the cultural life of the adult community (Waterhouse, 1949). Here an 
important factor seems parents' desire for children's success in the Span- 
ish-using school. The children actually are forbidden the use of Chontal 
by their parents, for fear it will impede school progress. 

One would expect differences in all these regards to correlate with dif- 
ferences in the functions of speech in the adult society and with the 
evaluation of speech activity in the adult culture. One could use the 
methods developed by Whiting and Ford to test hypotheses such as 
this: does the importance of verbal reward and punishment in socializa- 
tion correlate with the importance of verbal interaction with the super- 
natural in adult life? Does late acquisition of speech correlate with an im- 
portance of glossolalia ("speaking in tongues") in adult religious life? 22 

344 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

To conclude: language is a prerequisite of human society, but beyond 
this universal function, its significance varies from group to group. 
Speech is but one mode of communication, and its use involves the choice 
of one sensory modality as opposed to others. Societies and persons differ 
In the extent to which they choose this modality, the situations in which 
they choose it, and their evaluation of it. They differ in the ways speech 
enters into the definition of situations, conceptions of personality types, 
the socialization of the child. Its universality should not make us forget 
that speech activity, like sex and weaning, is a variable for the study of 
personality cross-culturally. 


1. Much of the stimulus for this work has come from the Committee on 
Psychology and Language of the Social Science Research Council. 

2. See the discussion of gathering and collation in Hockett, 1958, Ch. 12. 

3. Space does not permit a detailed example, but see Twaddell (1935) 
and Hockett (1955, section 3232) for discussion of a favorite crux in Amer- 
ican descriptive linguistics: the relation of the second consonant in spill to 
the first consonants of pill and bill. 

4. Trager and Smith (1951) is a milestone in this regard; again, Hockett 
(1958) Is the best introduction. Householder (1957b) and Bollinger (1958), 
and the references they cite, show that a definitive analysis is yet to be 
stated, but the Trager-Smith system provides an adequate working model. 

5. Devereux (1949) has remained one of the very few reports of such 

phenomena in a non-Western society. 

6. Stankiewicz has an excellent manuscript on expressive language, on 

which I have drawn. 

7. See Sapir (1915) and Herzog (1949) for a variety of American In- 
dian examples; see McDavid (1952-53) for social differences in American 


8. See also, with regard to the role of language, Miller, 1956b, 1956c; 
Miller, Galanter and Pribram, I960; and Pavlov, 1957, p. 537. 

9. See the review of perceptual studies dealing with word recognition in 
Allport, 1955. 

10. Thus the chapter on "Socialization" in the Handbook of Social Psy- 
chology (LIndzey, 1954) has a section on "oral behavior" but does not men- 
tion speech. 

11. Luria and Yuovich, 1959, pp. 11-12 declare: "The study of the 
child's mental processes as the product of intercommunication with the en- 
vironment, and the acquisition of common experiences transmitted by 
speech, has, therefore, become the most important principle of Soviet psy- 
chology which Informs all research." This follows the statement (p. 11) : 
"By naming objects, and so defining their connections and relations, the 
adult creates new forms of reflection of reality in the child, incomparably 
deeper and more complex than those which he would have formed through 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 345 

individual experience. This whole process of the transmission of knowledge 
and the formation of concepts, which is the basic way the adult influences 
the child, constitutes the central process of the child's intellectual develop- 
ment. If this formation of the child's mental activity in the process of edu- 
cation is left out of consideration, it is impossible either to understand or to 
explain causally any of the facts of child psychology." 

12. Pulgram (1954) makes a vigorous attack on the use, without histori- 
cal perspective, of linguistic evidence for national character. 

13. Wishner (1960, p. 96) states that Asch reduced part of the problem 

of how we know others to manageable proportions, and that "one of Asch's 
more important contributions was to devise an experimental procedure 
whereby the general problem is formulated in linguistic terms." 

14. Doob (1958, p. 401) finds that from a practical point of view the 
study of the personality correlates of grammatical style "is by itself not a 
useful or feasible clinical instrument." One team of investigators (Benton, 
Hartman, and Sarason, 1955) later found no correlation between the often- 
cited adjective-verb quotient and manifest anxiety. Yet, as we have indi- 
cated, to be important within the total picture of a personality, it is not nec- 
essary for a linguistic trait to be highly diagnostic in isolation. Moreover, 
the right grammatical traits may not have been found. Perhaps a folk-science 
type of exploratory work is needed to discover if the users of the language 
themselves notice, distinguish or respond to grammatical aspects of person- 
ality expression. These might exist and yet not be the conventional classes 
that loom large in memories of the schoolroom and in ordinary grammars. 
Such traits may be more fine-grained. Teachers of composition, despite their 
frequent misplaced pedantry, work closer to the uses of grammar that may 
convey personality than do many grammarians. In any event, Doob's judg- 
ment is with regard to individual differences. In my view, personality, like 
style, is a term that can be applied at successive levels of generality. Es- 
sentially it indicates differences among the members of a set. Often the set 
we have in mind is a society or culture and it is individuals who differ. But 
we can equally well have in mind a set of societies or cultures, and consider 
the differences in style or personality not within but between them. This is 
of course the perspective which underlies the relevance for personality of 
most of the discussion of the content of language in this chapter, and it ap- 
plies to other sectors of language and speech as well as to grammar. 

15. See Wallace and Atkins (1960), on the psychological reality of the 

16. See reviews by Carroll (1959) and Weinreich (1958) and the ex- 
change between Osgood (1959) and Weinreich (1959). 

17. See Hoijer (1954, pp. 98-99), Newman (1954), Garvin (1958), be- 
sides those cited already for contributions to this development. 

18. On such recurrent problems of "selecting and grouping in attention," 
see Sinclair (1951). 

19. See Woods (1956, pp. 26-29) for examples of culturally prescribed 

20. On levels in non-European communities, see Newman (1955), Mar- 
tin (1958). 

346 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

21. See Stern (1957) for a conceptualization aod survey of speech sur- 

22. See May (1956), for a survey of such phenomena as glossolalia. 


Allport, Floyd. 1955. Theories of Perception and the Concept of Structure. 

New York: John Wiley and Sons. 
Allport, G. W. and Cantril, H. 1934. "Judging Personality From Voice," 

Journal of Social Psychology 5 : 37-55. 
Allport, G. W. and Odbert, H. E. 1936. "Trait names: A Psycholexical Study," 

Psychological Monographs, 47 : 1 (whole no. 21 1 ) . 
Allport, G. W. and Pettigrew, Thomas F. 1957. "Cultural Influence on the 

Perception of Movement: The Trapezoidal Illusion Among Zulu," Journal 

of A b normal and Social Psychology, 55 : 1 04-1 3 . 
Anastasi, Anne and Foley, John P., Jr. 1949. Differential Psychology. New 

York: Macmillan. 

Asch, Solomon E. 1946. "Forming Impressions of Personality," Journal of 
A bnormal and Social Psychology, 4 1 : 285-290. 

. 1958. "The Metaphpr: A Psychological Inquiry." In Tagiuri, R. and 

Petrullo, L. (eds.), Person Perception and Interpersonal Behavior. Stan- 
ford: Stanford University Press. 

Balken, E. R. and Masserman, J. H. 1940. "The Language of Phantasy: III. 
The Language of the Phantasies of Patients with Conversion Hysteria, 
Anxiety State, and Obsessive-Compulsive Neuroses," Journal of Psychol- 
ogy, 10:75-86. 

Barker, Roger G. and Wright, Herbert F. 1954. Midwest and Its Children. 

Evanston: Row, Peterson & Co. 

Bateson, Gregory. 1958. "Language and Psycho-Therapy: Frieda Fromm- 

Reichmann's Last Project," Psychiatry, 21:96-100. 

Bateson, Gregory; Birdwhistell, Ray L.; Brosin, Henry W.; Hockett, 

Charles F.; and McQuown, Norman A. "The Natural History of an Inter- 
view." Unpublished. 

Belbin, E. 1950. The Influence of Interpolated Recall Upon Recognition," 
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2 : 1 63-69. 

Benedict, Ruth. 1938. "Continuities and Discontinuities in Cultural Condi- 

tioning," Psychiatry, 1:161-67. 

Benton, A. L.; Hartman, C. H.; and Sarason, L. E. 1955. "Some Correlations 
Between Speech Behavior and Anxiety Level," Journal of Abnormal and 

Social Psychology, 51 : 295-97. 

Birdwhistell, Ray L. 1952. Introduction to Kinesics. Washington, D. C.: 

U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Service Institute. 

Bloomfield, Leonard. 1927. "Literate and Illiterate Speech," American 


. 1942. Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Languages, 

Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America, 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 347 

Boder, David P. 1940. "The Adjective-Verb Quotient: A Contribution to the 
Psychology of Language," Psychological Record, 3 : 3 10-43. 

Bellinger, D. L. 1958. "A Theory of Pitch Accent in English," Word, 

Bossard, James H. S. 1948. The Sociology of Child Development. New York: 
Harper and Brothers. 

Bossard, James H. S.; Boll, E. S.; and Sangor, W. P. 1950. "Some Neglected 
Areas in Family-Life Study," Annals of the American Academy of Politi- 
cal and Social Sciences, 272 : 68-76. 

Brown, J. 1956. "Distortions in Immediate Memory," Quarterly Journal of 
Experimental Psychology, S : 1 34-39. 

Brown, Roger W. 1956. "Language and Categories." Appendix to Braner, 
Jerome S.; Goodnow, Jacqueline; Austin, George A. A Study of Thinking, 

-. 1957. "Linguistic Determinism and the Parts of Speech," Journal 

of A bnormal and Social Psychology, 55:1-5. 
. 1959. Words and Things. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. 

Brown, Roger W. and Lenneberg, Eric H. 1 954. "A Study in Language and 
Cognition," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 49:454-62. 

. 1958. "Studies in Linguistic Relativity." in Maccoby, Eleanor; 

Newcornb, Theodore M.; Hartley, Eugene L. (eds.), Readings in Social 
Psychology, 3rd ed., pp. 9-18. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 

Brown, Roger W. and Gilman, A. 1960. "The Pronouns of Power and 
Solidarity." In Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Aspects of Style in Language. 
New York: John Wiley. 

Bruner, Edward M. 1956. "Primary Group Experience and the Processes of 
Acculturation," American Anthropologist, 58:605-23. 

Bruner, J.; Busiek, R. D.; and Minturn, A. L. 1952. "Assimilation in the 
Immediate Reproduction of Visually Perceived Figures," Journal of Ex- 
perimental Psychology, 44: 151-55. 

Braner, Jerome; Shapiro, D.; and Tagiuri, Renato. 1958. "The Meaning of 
Traits in Isolation and in Combination." In Tagiuri, R. and Petrullo, L. 
(eds.), Person Perception and Interpersonal Behavior, Ch. 18. Stanford: 
Stanford University Press. 

Bruner, Jerome and Tagiuri, Renato. 1954. "The Perception of People." In 
Lindzey, Gardner (ed.), Handbook of Social Psychology, Vol. II, Ch. 17, 
634-54. Cambridge: Addison- Wesley Publishing Company, Inc. 

Burke, Kenneth. 1945. A Grammar of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall. 

. 1951.^4 Rhetoric of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall. 

. 1957. "The Poetic Motive," The Hudson Review, 1 1 : 54-63. 

Carmichael, L.; Hogan, P.; and Walter, A. A. 1932. "An Experimental 
Study of the Effect of Language on the Reproduction of Visually 
Perceived Form," Journal of Experimental Psychology , 1 5 : 73-86. 

348 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Carroll, John B. (ed.). 1956. Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected 
Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. New York: John Wiley & The Tech- 
nology Press. 

. 1958. "Some Psychological Effects of Language Structure." In 

Hocfa, P. and Zubin, J. (eds.), Psychopathology of Communication. New 

York: Grune and Stratton. Pp. 28-36. 

1959. "Review of Osgood, Suci, and Tannenbaum, The Measure- 

ment of Meaning"' Language 35:58-77. 

Carroll, John B. and Casagrande, Joseph B. 1958. "The Function of Lan- 
guage Classifications in Behavior." In Maccoby, Eleanor; Newcomb, 
Theodore H.; and Hartley, Eugene L. (eds.), Readings in Social Psychology, 
3rd ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Pp. 18-31. 

Casagrande, Joseph B. 1948. "Comanche Baby Language," International 

Journal of American Linguistics, 14:1 1-14. 

. 1955. u Comanche Linguistic Acculturation HI," International 

Journal of American Linguistics, 21 : 8-25. 

Chao, Yuan Ren. 1953. "Introduction to Discussion of Speech and Per- 
sonality." Summarized in Levi-Strauss, C, et al. (eds.), Results of the 
Conference of Anthropologists and Linguists, Baltimore: Waverly Press, 

Inc. P. 33. 

Conklin, Harold C. 1955. "Hanunoo Color Categories," Southwestern 

Journal of Anthropology, 1 1 : 339-44. 

. 1956. 'Tagalog Speech Disguise," Language, 32, 136-39. 

. 1959. "Linguistic Play in Its Cultural Setting," Language, 35: 


Cooley, C. 1908. "A Study of the Early Use of Self-Words by a Child," 

Psychological Review, 15:339-57. 

Danchy, J. S.; Hockett, C. F.; and Pittenger, R. The First Five Minutes. 


De Groot, A. 1949. "Structural Linguistics and Syntactic Laws," Word, 5: 


Deutsch, F. 1959. "Correlations of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication 
in Interviews Elicited by Associative Anamnesis," Psychosomatic Medi- 
cine, 21:123-30. 

Devereux, George. 1949. "Mohave Voice and Speech Mannerisms," Word. 

5: 268-72. 

. 1951. "Mohave Indian Verbal and Motor Profanity." In Roheim, 

Geza (ed.), Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences. New York: Interna- 
tional Universities Press. Vol. 3, pp. 99-127. 

Doob, L. 1958. "Behavior and Grammatical Style," Journal of Abnormal 

and Social Psychology, 56: 398-400. 

Eldred, S. H. and Price, D. P. 1958. "A Linguistic Evaluation of Feeling 

States in Psychotherapy," Psychiatry, 21:1 15-22. 

Eoieneau, Murray B. 1941. "Language and Social Forms: A Study of Toda 
Kinship Terms and Dual Descent." In Spier, Leslie; Hallowell, A. Irving; 

HYMES: Linguistic A spects 349 

and Newman, Stanley S. (eds.)> Language, Culture, and Personality: 
Essays in Memory of Edward Sapir. Menasha. Pp. 158-79. 

. 1950. "Language and Non-Linguistic Patterns," Language, 26: 


Evans-Pritcfaard, E. E. 1940. The Nuer. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
. 1948. u Nuer Modes of Address," The Uganda Journal 12:166-171. 

Ferguson, Charles A. 1956. "Arabic Baby Talk." In For Roman Jakobson. 
s'Gravenhague: Mouton & Co. Pp. 121-28. 

Firth, J. R. 1950. "Personality and Language in Society," Sociological Re- 
view. Ledbury. Vol. 42, sect. II, pp. 8-14. 

Flavell, John. 1958. "A Test of the Whorfian Hypothesis," Psychological 
Reports, 4:455-62. 

Forchheimer, Paul. 1953. The Category of Person In Language. Berlin: de 
Gruyter and Company. 

Frake, Charles O. 1961. "Sickness in Subanun Society," American Anthro- 
pologists. (In press). 

French, Katherine Story. 1955. Culture Segments and Variation in Con- 
temporary Social Ceremonialism on the Warm Springs Reservation, 
Oregon. Columbia University dissertation. 

Friedson, Eliot. 1956. "The Varieties of Individual Speech," Quarterly 
Journal of Speech, 42:355-62. 

Fries, Charles C. 1945. "On Learning a Foreign Language as an Adult." 
In Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language. Ch. I. ("Uni- 
versity of Michigan Publications, English Language Institute," No. 1.) 
Ann Arbor. 

Garvin, Paul L. 1949. "Standard Average European and Czech." Studia 
Linguistica. Lund and Copenhagen. Vol. 3, No. II, pp. 65-85. 

Gleason, Henry A., Jr. 1955. An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics. 
New York: Henry Holt & Co. 

Goldman-Eisler, F. 1958. "Speech Analysis and Mental Processes," Language 
and Speech, 1:59-75. 

Goodenough, Ward H. 1951. Property, Kin, and Community on Truk. 
("Yale University Publications in Anthropology," No. 46.) New Haven. 

. 1956. "Componential Analysis and the Study of Meaning," Lan- 
guage ,32:195-21 6. 

-. 1957. "Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics." In Garvin, Paul L. 

(ed.), Report of the Seventh Annual Round Table Meeting on Linguistics 
and Language Study. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, Mono- 
graph Series on Languages and Linguistics, No. 9. Pp. 167-73. 

Gottschalk, Louis; Kluckhohn, Clyde; and Angell, Robert. 1945. The Use of 
Personal Documents in History, Anthropology, and Sociology. ("Social 
Science Research Council Bulletin," 53.) New York. 

Greenberg, J. 1959. "Current Trends in Linguistics," Science, October 30; 
130: 11 15 Iff. 

350 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Haas, Maty H. 1944. "Men's and Women's Speech in Koasati," Language, 


Hall, Edward T. 1959. The Silent Language. New York: Doubleday. 

Hallowell, A. Irving. 1937, "Introduction: Handbook of Psychological Leads 

for Ethnological Field Workers." Washington, B.C.: National Research 
Council, Division of Anthropology and Psychology, Committee on Per- 
sonality in Relation to Culture. 

. 1951. "Cultural Factors in the Structuralization of Perception." In 

Rohrer, J. H., and Sherif, M. (eds.), Social Psychology at the Crossroads, 

New York: Harper & Bros. Pp. 164-95. 

. 1953. "Culture, Personality, and Society." In Kroeber, A. L. (ed.), 

Anthropology Today, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 597-620. 

. 1958. "Ojibwa Metaphysics of Being and the Perception of Per- 
sons." In Tagiuri, R. and Petrullo, L. (eds.), Person Perception and Inter- 
personal Behavior. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pp. 63-85. 

Hanawelt, N. G. and Demarest, I. H. 1939. 'The Effect of Verbal Sugges- 
tion in the Recall Period Upon the Reproduction of Visually Perceived 
Forms," Journal of Experimental Psychology, 25 : 1 59-74. 

Hanks, L. M., Jr. 1954. "A Psychological Exploration in the Blackfoot Lan- 
guage," International Journal of American Linguistics, 20:195-205. 

Harris, Zellig S. 1951. Methods in Structural Linguistics. Chicago: Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press. 

Hastorf, Albert H.; Richardson, Stephen A.; and Dornbusch, Sanford M. 
1958. "The Problem of Relevance in the Study of Person Perception." 
In Tagiuri, R. and Petrullo, L. (eds.), Person Perception and Interper- 
sonal Behavior. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pp. 54-62. 

Haugen, Einar. 1957. "The Semantics of Icelandic Orientation," Word 


Henry, Jules. 1936. "The Linguistic Expression of Emotion," American 

A nthropologist, 3 8 : 250-56. 

Henry, Jules and Zenia. 1950. "Speech Disturbances in Pilaga Children," 
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 10:362-9. 

Hermann, D. T.; Lawless, R. H.; and Marshall, R. W. 1957. "Variables in 
the Effect of Language on the Reproduction of Visually Perceived 

Forms," Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1 : 171-286. 

Hertzler, J. O. 1953. "Toward a Sociology of Language," Social Forces, 

Herzog, George. 1949. "Linguistic Approaches to Personality." In Sargent, S. 
Stansfeld and Smith, Marian W. (eds.), Culture and Personality. New 
York: Weener-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Pp. 93- 

Hocti, P. and Zubln, J. (eds.). 1958. Psychopathology of Communication 

New York: Grune and Stratton. 

Hockett, Charles F. 1955. A Manual of Phonology. ("Indiana University 
Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics;' Memoir 1 1 of the Inter- 
national Journal of American Linguistics) . 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 35 1 

. 1958. A Course in Modern Linguistics. New York: Macmillan. 

. "Ethnoltnguistic Implications of Recent Studies in Linguistics and 

Psychiatry." To appear in the Georgetown University Monograph Series 
on Languages and Linguistics. 

Hoijer, Harry. 1951. "Cultural Implications of Some Navaho Linguistic 
Categories," Language, 27:11 1-20. 

. 1953. "The Relation of Language to Culture." In Kroeber, A. L. 

(ed.), Anthropology Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Pp. 

, (ed.). 1954. Language in Culture. (Redfield, Robert and Singer, 

Milton, (eds.), "Comparative Studies of Cultures and Civilizations," 
No. 3; "Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association/ 1 No. 79.) 

Householder, Fred W,, Jr. 1957a. "Rough Justice in Linguistics." In Garvin, 
Paul L. (ed.), Report on the Seventh Annual Round Table Meeting on 
Linguistics and Language Study. Washington: Georgetown University 
Press. Pp. 153-60. 

. 1957b. "Accent, Juncture, Intonation and My Grandfather's 

Reader," Word, 13:234-45. 

Hymes, D. H. 1955. "Review of Forchheimer, Paul, The Category of Per- 
son in Language," International Journal of American Linguistics, 21 :294- 

. 1960. "Discussion of the Symposium on Translation Between Lan- 
guage and Culture," Anthropological Linguistics, 2: 81-85. 

Jakobson, Roman. 1941. Kindersprache, Aphasie und Allgemeine Lautge- 
setze. ("Sprakvetenskaplija Sallskapets I Uppsala Forhandllnger," 1940 
1942). Uppsala. 

. 1953. "Chapter Two." In Levi-Strauss, Claude, et at (eds,), Results 

of the Conference of Anthropologists and Linguists. Baltimore: Waverly 
Press, Inc. Pp. 11-21. 

-. 1957. Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb. Harvard 

University: Russian Language Project 

-. 1960. "Results of the Conference from the Viewpoint of Lin- 

guistics." In Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Aspects of Style in Language. New 
York: John Wiley. 

Jakobson, Roman and Halle, Morris. 1957. Fundamentals of Language. 
s'Gravenhague: Mouton & Co. 

Jeffrey, W. E. 1953. "The Effects of Verbal and Non-Verbal Responses in 
Mediating an Instrumental Act," Journal of Experimental Psychology, 

Joos, Martin. 1958. "Semology: A Linguistic Theory of Meaning,** Studies 
in Linguistics, 13:53-70. 

Kahane, Henry; Kahane, Rene; and Saporta, Sol. 1958. Development of 
Verbal Categories in Child Language. ("Publication Nine of the Indiana 
University Research Center In Anthropology, Folklore, and Linguistics," 
International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 24, No. 4, Part II.) 

352 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Kaplan, Bernard. 1957. "On the Phenomena of 'Opposite Speech,' " Journal 

of A bnormal and Social Psychology, 55 : 3 89-93 . 
Kelly, George. 1956. The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York: 

W, W. Norton. 
Klausner, Samuel Z. 1955. "Phonetics, Personality, and Status in Israel," 

Word, 11:209-15. 
Kluckhohn, Clyde. 1945. "The Personal Document in Anthropological 

Science." In Gottschalk, L.; Kluckhohn, C; and Angell, R., The Use of 

Personal Documents in History, Anthropology and Sociology. New York: 

Social Science Research Council Bull. 53. Pp. 79-173. 

. 1954. "Culture and Behavior." In Lindzey, Gardner (ed.), Hand- 
book of Social Psychology, Vol. II. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley Pub- 
lishing Company, Inc. Pp. 921-76. 

Krech, David and Cnitchfield, Richard S. 1948. Theory and Problems of 

Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill. 

La Barre, Weston. 1947. "The Cultural Basis of Emotions and Gestures," 

Journal of Personality, 1 6 : 49-68. 

Lado, Robert. 1957. Linguistics Across Cultures. Ann Arbor: University 

of Michigan Press. 

Leach, E. M. 1958. "Concerning Trobriand Clans and the Kinship Cate- 
gory Tabu.*" In Goody, Jack (ed.), The Developmental Cycle in Do- 
mestic Groups ("Cambridge Papers in Social Anthropology," No. 1). 

Pp. 120-45. 

Lee, Dorothy D. 1938. "Conceptual Implications of an Indian Language," 

Philosophy of Science, 5:89-102. 

1940. "A Primitive System of Values," Philosophy of Science, 7: 


. 1944. "Linguistic Reflection of Wintu Thought," International 

Journal of A merlcan Linguistics, 10:18 1-87. 

1949. "Being and Value in a Primitive Culture," The Journal of 

Philosophy, 46:401-15. 

1950a. "Notes on the Conception of the Self Among the Wintu 

Indians," Journal of A bnormal and Social Psychology, 45 : 53 8-43 . 

, 1950b. "Lineal and Non-Lineal Codifications of Reality," Psycho- 
somatic Medicine, 1 2 : 89-97. 

Lenneberg, Eric H. 1953. "Cognition and Ethnolinguistics," Language, 29: 


Lenneberg, Eric H. and Roberts, John M. 1956. The Language of Experi- 
ence: A Study in Methodology. ("Indiana University Publications in 
Anthropology and Linguistics," Memoir 13 of the International Journal 

of American Linguistics.) 

Leopold, Werner. 1939-1949. Speech Development of a Bilingual Child. 

- 4 vols. Evanston: Northwestern University Studies. 

. 1953-54. "Patterning in Children's Language Learning," Language 

Learning, 5:1-14. 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 353 

Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1957. Anthropologiestructurale. Paris: Plon. 

Levi-Strauss, Claude; Jakobson, Roman; Voegelin, C. F.; and Sebeok, 
Thomas A. 1953. Results of the Conference of Anthropologists and Lin- 
guists. ("Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics," 
Memoir 8 of the International Journal of American Linguistics.) Balti- 
more: Waverly Press, Inc. 

Lounsbury, Floyd. 1953. "Field Methods and Techniques in Linguistics." 
In Kroeber, A. L, (ed.), Anthropology Today. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press. Pp. 401-16. 

. 1956. "Semantic Analysis of the Pawnee Kinship Usage," Lan- 
guage, 32:158-94. 

Luria, A. R. 1959a. "The Directive Function of Speech, I," Word, 15:341- 

. 1959b. "The Directive Function of Speech, II," Word, 15:453-64. 

Luria, A. R. and Yuovich, F. la. 1959. Speech and the Development of 
Mental Processes in the Child. Translated by J. Simon. London: Staples 

Maccoby, Eleanor; Newcomb, Theodore M.; and Hartley, Eugene L. 1958. 
Readings in Social Psychology, 3rd ed. New York: Henry Holt. 

MacClay, Howard, 1958. "An Experimental Study of Language and Non- 
Linguistic Behavior," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 14:220-29. 

MacClay, H. and Osgood, C. E. 1959. "Hesitation Phenomena in Spon- 
taneous English Speech," Word, 15: 19-44. 

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1923. "Meaning in Primitive Languages." Appendix 
A in Ogden, C. K. and Richards, I. A., The Meaning of Meaning. London: 
Kegan Paul. 

Mandelbaum, David (ed.). 1949. Selected Writings of Edward Sapir. Berke- 
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

Marsh, Gordon H. and Laughlin, William S. 1956. "Human Anatomical 
Knowledge Among the Aleutian Islanders," Southwestern Journal of 
Anthropology, 12:38-78. 

Martin, Samuel E. 1958. "Speech Levels and Social Structure in Japan and 
Korea." Paper given at Association for Asian Studies Meeting, New York. 

May, L. Carlyle. 1956. "A Survey of Glossolalia and Related Phenomena 
in Non-Christian Religions," American Anthropologist, 58:75-96. 

Mayers, Marvin. 1959. "Religious Activity Among the Pocomchi of Guate- 
mala." Paper read at the annual meeting, American Anthropological 
Association, Mexico City. 

McCarthy, Dorothea. 1943. 'language Development in the Preschool 
Child." In Barker, Roger G.; Kounin, Jacob S.; and Wright, Herbert F. 
(eds.). Child Behavior and Development. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pp. 

McClelland, David C. 1951. Personality. New York: The Dryden Press. 

McDavid, Raven I. Jr. 1952-53. "Some Social Differences in Pronuncia- 
tion/' Language Learning, 4: 102-16. 

354 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

McGehee, F. ! 944. "An Experimental Study of Voice Recognition," Journal 

of General Psychology, 31 : 53-65. 

McQuown, Norman A. 1957. "Linguistic Transcription and Specification 

of Psychiatric Interview Material," Psychiatry, 20:79-86. 

Mead, Margaret and Metraux, Rhoda (eds.). 1953. The Study of Culture at 

a Distance. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 

Miller, George A. 1951. Language and Communication. New York: Mc- 

. 1954. "Psycholinguistics." In Lindzey, Gardner (ed), Handbook of 

Social Psychology, Vol. II, Cambridge: Addison-Wesley Publishing Com- 
pany, Inc. Ch. 19, pp. 693-708. 

. 1956. "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some 

Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information," The Psychological 

Review, 63:$l-97. 

Miller, G. A.; Galanter, E.; and Pribram, K. 1960. Plans and the Structure 

of Behavior. New York: Henry Holt. 

Morris, Charles W. 1939, Foundations of the Theory of Signs, ("Interna- 
tional Encyclopedia of Unified Science," Vol. 1, No. 2,) Chicago. 

Nadel, S. F. 1951. The Foundations of Social Anthropology. Glencoe, 

Illinois: The Free Press. 

. 1954. "Morality and Language Among the Nupe," Man, 54:55-57. 

Newman, Stanley S. 1939. "Personal Symbolism in Language Patterns," 
Psychiatry, 2:177-82. 

. 1940. "Linguistic Aspects of Yokuts Style." In Gayton, Ann and 

Newman, Stanley S., Yokuts and Western Mono Myths. ("University of 
California Publications, Anthropological Records." 5,) Berkeley. Pp. 4-8. 
-. 1941. "Behavior Patterns in Linguistic Structure: A Case Study." 

In Spier, Leslie; Hallowell, A. Irving; and Newman, Stanley S. (eds.), 
Language, Culture, and Personality: Essays in Memory of Edward Sapir 
Menasha. Pp. 94-106. 

. 1944. "Cultural and Psychological Features in English Intonation," 

Transactions of the New York Academy of Science, 7:45-54. 

-. 1954. "Semantic Problems in Grammatical Systems and Lexemes: 

A Search for Method." In Hoijer, Harry (ed.), Language in Culture. 

Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 82-91. 

. 1955. ''Vocabulary Levels: Zuni Sacred and Slang Usage," South- 
western Journal of A nthropology, 1 1 : 345-54. 

Newman, Stanley S. and Mather, Vera G. 1938. "Analysis of Spoken Lan- 
guage of Patients with Affective Disorders," American Journal of Psy- 
chiatry, 94:913-42. y 

Nida, Eugene A. 1947. "Field Methods in Descriptive Linguistics," Interna- 
tional Journal of American Linguistics, 13:138-46. 

. 1949. Morphology: The Descriptive Analysis of Words, 2nd ed. 

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Publications in Linguistics II. 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 355 

. 1950. Learning a Foreign Language: A Handbook for Mission- 
aries. New York: Committee on Missionary Personnel of the Foreign Mis- 
sions Conference of North America, 

. 1956. "Selective Listening," Language Learning, 6:17-23. 

. 1958. "Analysis of Meaning and Dictionary Making/ 9 International 

Journal of American Linguistics, 24 : 269-72. 

Norbeck, Edward and Norbeck, Margaret. 1956. "Child Training in a Japa- 
nese Fishing Community." In Haring, Douglas G. (ed.), Personal Char- 
acter and Cultural Milieu, 3rd ed. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. 
Pp. 65 1-73. 

Norcross, K. I. 1958. "Effects on Discrimination Performance of Similarity 
of Previously Acquired Stimulus Names," Journal of Experimental Psy- 
chology, 56:305-09. 

Oliver, D. L. 1949. Human Relations and Language in a Papuan-Speaking 
Tribe of Southern Bougainville, Solomon Islands. ("Peabody Museum 
Papers," vol. 29.) Cambridge. 

Olson, Ronald L. 1956. "Channeling of Character in Tlingit Society." In 
Haring, Douglas G. (ed.), Personal Character and Cultural Milieu, 3rd 
ed. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Pp. 675-87. 

Osgood, Charles E. 1953. Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology. 
New York: Oxford University Press. 

. (ed.). 1954. Psycholinguistlcs, A Survey of Theory and Research 

Problems. ("Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Lin- 
guistics," Memoir 10 of the International Journal of American Linguis- 
tics.) Baltimore: Waverly Press. 

. 1959. "Semantic Space Revisited," Word, 15:192-99. 

Osgood, Charles E.; Suci, George J.; and Tannenbaum, Percy H. 1957. The 
Measurement of Meaning. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 

Pavlov, I. 1957. Experimental Psychology and Other Essays. New York: 
Philosophical Library. (Same as Selected Works. Moscow: Foreign Lan- 
guages Publishing House, 1955). 

Pear, T. H. 1931. Voice and Personality. London: Chapman and Hall. 

Phillips, Herbert B. 1959-1960. "Problems of Translation and Meaning in 
Fieldwork," Human Organization, 18:1 84-92. 

Pike, Kenneth L. 1947. Phonemics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 
Publications in Linguistics, III. 

. 1954, 1955, 1959. Language in Relation to a Unified Theory^ of 

the Structure of Human Behavior. Parts I, II, III, preliminary edition. 
Glendale: Summer Institute of Linguistics. 

-, 1956. 'Towards a Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior." 

In Estudios Antropologicos publicados en homenaje al doctor Manuel 
Gamio> Mexico, D. F. Pp. 659-71. 

Pittenger, R. E. 1958. "Linguistic Analysis of Tone of Voice in Communica- 
tion of Affect," Psychiatric Research Reports, 8:41-54. 

356 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Pittenger, R. E. and Smith, Henry Lee, Jr. 1957. "A Basis for Some Con- 
tributions of Linguistics to Psychiatry," Psychiatry, 20:61-78. 

Prentice, W. C. H. 1954. "Visual Recognition of Verbally Labeled Figures," 

A merlcan Journal of Psychology, 67:31 5-20. 

Pulgram, Ernst. 1954. "Language and National Character," Quarterly 

Journal of Speech, 40: 393-400. 

Pyles, M. E. 1932. "Verbalization as a Factor in Learning," Child Develop- 
ment,^. 108-13. 

Reichard, Gladys. 1949. "The Character of the Navaho Verb Stem," Word, 


Reyburn, William O. 1958. "Don't Learn That Language," Practical An- 
thropology, 5:151-78. 

Riess, Bernard F. 1946. "Genetic Changes in Semantic Conditioning," 

Journal of Experimental Psychology, 36: 143-52. 

Sanford, Fillmore H. 1942a. "Speech and Personality," Psychological Bul- 
letin, 39 ':811-45. 

. 1942b. "Speech and Personality: a Comparative Case Study," 

Character and Personality, 10:1 69-98. 

Sapir, Edward. 1915. Abnormal Types of Speech in Nootka. (Canada, Geo- 
logical Survey, Memoir 62, Anthropological Series No. 5.) Ottawa: Gov- 
ernment Printing Bureau. 

. 1927. "Speech as a Personality Trait," American Journal of Soci- 
ology, 32:892-905. 

. 1929. "The Status of Linguistics as a Science," Language, 5:207-14. 

-. 193 la. "Communication," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 

4: 78-81. New York: Macmillan. 

. 1931b. "Conceptual Categories in Primitive Languages," Science, 


Scbachtel, E. G. 1947. "On Memory and Childhood Amnesia," Psychiatry, 


Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.). 1960. Aspects of Style in Language. New York: 

John Wiley. 

Shepard, W. O. 1956. "The Effect of Verbal Training on Initial Generaliza- 
tion Tendencies," Child Development, 25 : 3 1 1-1 6. 

Sinclair, Angus. 1951. The Conditions of Knowing. London: Kegan, Rout- 
ledge, Paul. 

Smith, M. G. 1957. "The Social Functions and Meaning of Hausa Praise- 
Singing," Africa, 27:26-44. 

Spence, K. W. 1957. "The Empirical Basis and Theoretic Structure of Psy- 
chology," Philosophy of Science, 24:97-108. 

Spiier, C. C. 1956. "Experiments with Children on the Hypotheses of Ac- 
quired Distinctiveness and Equivalence of Cues," Child Development 


HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 357 

Stankiewicz, Edward. "Expressive Language." Unpublished. 

Stefflre, Volney. 1958. An Investigation of the Role of Language in E. 
Heidbredefs Experiments on Concept-Formation. Reed College disserta- 

Stem, Theodore. 1957. "Drum and Whistle 'Languages': An Analysis of 

Speech Surrogates," American Anthropologist, 59:487-506. 

Stone, Leo. 1954. "On the Principal Obscene Word of the English Lan- 
guage," International Journal of Psycho- Analysis, 35:30-56. 

Swadesh, Morris. 1937. "A Method for Phonetic Accuracy and Speed," 
American Anthropologist, 39:728-32. 

. 1948. "Sociologic Notes on Obsolescent Languages," International 

Journal of American Linguistics, 14:22635. 

Tagiuri, Renato and Petrullo, Luigi (eds.). 1958. Person Perception and 
Interpersonal Behavior. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 

Taylor, H. C. 1934. "Social Agreement in Personality Traits as Judged from 
Speech," Journal of Social Psychology, 5 : 244-48. 

Thorner, I. 1945. "German Words, German Personality, and Protestantism," 
Psychiatry, 8:403-17. 

Tikhomivov, O. K, 1959. "Review of B. F. Skinner, Verbal Behavior," Word, 

Trager, G. L. 1958. "Paralinguistics: A First Approximation," Studies in 
Linguistics, 1 3 : 1-12. 

. 1959. "The Systematization of the Whorf Hypothesis," Anthropo- 
logical Linguistics, 1:3135. 

-. 1960. "Taos III: Paralanguage," Anthropological Linguistics, 2:24- 


Trager, G. L. and Smith, Henry Lee, Jr. 1951. An Outline of English Struc- 
ture. (Studies in Linguistics, Occasional Papers 3.) Norman, Oklahoma: 
Battenburg Press. 

Tresselet, N. E. 1948. "The Influence of Suggestion on the Recognition of 
Visually Perceived Forms," Journal of General Psychology, 39:259-71. 

Twaddell, W. Freeman. 1935. On Defining the Phoneme. (Language Mono- 
graphs, No. 16) . Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America. 

Uldall, Hans. 1957. Outline of Glossematics, Part I. (Travaux du Cercle 
Linguistique de Copenhague, Vol. Xj). Copenhagen: Nordisk Sprogog 

Ullmann, Stephen. 1952. Precis de semantique frangalse. (Bibliotheca 
romanica, Series prima: Manualia et commentationes, No. 9.) Berne: 
Editions A. Francke S. A. 

-. 1953. "Descriptive Semantics and Linguistic Typology," Word, 9: 


Velten, H. V. 1943. "The Growth of Phonemic and Lexical Patterns in 
Infant Language," Language, 19:28 1-92. 

358 Methodology in Crass-Cultural Personality Study 

Voegelin, C. F. and Robinett, Florence M. 1954. "'Mother Language 1 in 
Hidatsa," International Journal of American Linguistics, 20:65-70. 

Wallace, Anthony F. C. and Atkins, John. i960. "The Meaning of Kinship 
Terms," American Anthropologist, 62:58-80. 

Waterhouse, Viola. 1949. "Learning a Second Language First," Interna- 
tional Journal of A merican Linguistics \ 15:1 0609. 

Weinreich, Uriel 1953* Languages in Contact. (Publications of the Lin- 
guistic Circle of New York, 2.) New York. 

. 1955. "Review of Ullmann, Precis de semantique francaise," Lan- 
guage, 31: 537 '-43. 

. 1957. "On the Description of Phonic Interference," Word, 13:1-11. 

. 1958. "Travels Through Semantic Space," Word, 14:346-66. 

. 1959. "A Rejoinder;' Word, 15:200-01. 

Weir, M. W. and Stevenson, H. W. 1959. "The Effect of Verbalization in 

Children's Learning As a Function of Chronological Age," Child De- 
velopment, 30:143-49. 

Wells, Rulon. 1957. "A Mathematical Approach to Meaning," Cahiers 

Ferdinand de Saussure, 15:117-37. 

Werner, Heinz and Kaplan, Bernard. 1956. "The Developmental Approach 

to Cognition," American Anthropologist, 58:866-80. 

Whorf, Benjamin Lee. 1936. "A Linguistic Consideration of Thinking in 
Primitive Communities." In Carroll, John B. (ed.), Language, Thought, 
and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. New York: John 
Wiley & Sons, Inc. and the Technology Press, 1956. Pp. 65-86. 

. 1940a. "Gestalt Techniques of Stem Composition in Shawnee." 

Prehistory Research Series, I, No. 9. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical 

Society. Pp. 393-406. 

. 194Gb. "Science and Linguistics," Technology Review (M. I. T.) 


'. 194 la. 'linguistics as an Exact Science," Technology Review 

(M. I. T.), 43:61-63, 80-83. 

. 1941b. 'Languages and Logic," Technology Review (M, I. T.), 

43 : 250-252, 266-268 9 272. 

. 1941c. 'The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Lan- 
guage." In Spier, Leslie; Hallowell, A. Irving; and Newman, S. (eds.), 
Language, Culture, and Personality: Essays in Memory of Edward Sapir. 

Menasha. Pp. 75-93. 

Wlsfaaer, Julian. 1960. "Reanalysls of 'Impressions of Personality,' " Psy- 
chological Review, 67:96-112. 

Wolff, Haas. 1952. "Phonemic Structure and the Teaching of Pronuncia- 
tion," Language Learning, 4:92-101. 

Wolff, W. 1943. The Expression of Personality. New York: Harper & Broth- 

HYMES: Linguistic Aspects 359 

Wonderiy, William L. 1952. "Semantic Components in Kecfaua Person 
Morphemes," Language, 28:366-76, 

Woods, Sister Frances Jerome. 1956. Cultural Values of American Ethnic 
Groups. New York: Harper & Brothers. 

Zucker, L. 1946. "Psychological Aspects of Speech Melody," Journal of 

Social Psychology, 5 : 37-55" 

About the Chapter 

Art, folklore and literature are aspects of culture that tell us much about 
modal personality processes. On the one hand, they are institutions of so- 
cialization, having the function of communicating key values and attitudes, 
and on the other, they reflect key personality processes in a kind of cul- 
turally sanctioned fantasy. In addition, they often seem interpretable in the 
same terms that projecfive techniques are, although one must decide to 
what or to whom the interpretations refer. 

The present chapter is divided into two parts. The first part presents an 
interpretation of the social and personal significance of artistic productions 
and suggests how the analysis of art can contribute to an understanding of 
personality processes. The second part is an account of the literature of psy- 
chological interpretation of art and folklore. In this literature, which is one 
of the most fascinating parts of the culture and personality field, we find a 
meeting place in which anthropology, psychology, psychoanalysis, art and 
literary criticism are all concerned with the same phenomena. 

About the Authors 

GEORGE DEVEREUX'S bibliographical note appears at the beginning of 
Chapter 6. 

WESTON LA BARRE, educated at Princeton and Yale, is Professor of An- 
thropology at Duke University, and has also taught at Rutgers, New York 
University, Wisconsin, Northwestern, North Carolina, and Minnesota. He 
has been Sterling Fellow of Yale, an SSRC post-doctoral fellow, and Gug- 
genheim Fellow; in 1958 he received the Roheim Award. In area an Ameri- 
canist, in interests he is a student of culture-and-personality, psychoanalyti- 
cally-oriented anthropology, native narcotics, and primitive religion and art. 
He is the author of books on Peyote, the Aymara, and The Human Animal. 


Art and Mythology 


GEORGE DEVEREUX, Temple University School of Medicine 


WESTON LA BARRE, Duke University 


I he study of the relevance of art for the investigation of problems of cul- 
ture and personality is severely handicapped by the inadequacy of basic 
studies which seek to clarify: 

(1) The nature of art, 

(2) The socio-cultural function of art, 

(3) The psychological function of art. 

The entire field is so poorly understood that Freud himself "threw in 
the towel" in a study devoted to Leonardo da Vinci, and declared that 
the explanation of the nature of genius is, for the time being, beyond the 
powers of psychoanalysis (Freud 1910, 1930). With a few exceptions, 
the relevant studies on art compare unfavorably with the conceptual 
tautness and methodological rigorousness of psychoanalytic and/or cul- 
ture and personality investigations of science, such as Sachs' (1942) 
essay on the delay of the machine age. Last but not least, both cultural 
and psychological studies of the most essential of all arts music are, 
on the whole, more disappointing and also much less numerous than are 
similar studies devoted to the other arts. 

* This portion of the chapter by George Devereux is the second (1959) 
Geza R6heim Memorial Award Lecture. 


362 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Art versus Expressive Behavior 

The first distinction to be made In clarifying the nature of art pertains 
to the difference between art and expressive behavior, including quasi- 
artistic projective tests. If mere "expressiveness" and/or "projecting" 
were the criteria whereby one determines whether a given product is art 
or something else, then the bellowing of an agitated catatonic the al- 
most uninhibited expression of a hypothalamic storm would be the 
most genuine of all arts. Conversely, were style and other conventions 
the true criteria of art, then classroom exercises in strict counterpoint 
would represent the summit of artistic behavior. 

Definition of Art 

Ideally, the dynamic criterion of art is the straining of pure affect 
against pure (culturally structured) discipline, and the incidental evolv- 
ing of new roles which permit the less and less roundabout manifesta- 
tion of more and more affect and also of hitherto artistically unusable 
affect segments within an expanded, but internally even more coherent, 
discipline. The discipline itself the rules of the game is the means 
whereby society determines whether a given expressive act represents 
art or something else, and also whether the product in question is good, 
mediocre or bad art. The relevance of the first of these functions of the 
"discipline" is best highlighted by the fact that folk and primitive arts 
have only recently been recognized as genuine art, though artistic objects 
of that type have existed long before they were recognized as art. 

The arbitrariness of the rules whereby an item is adjudged to be good 
art is revealed by the fact that Beethoven's Violin Concerto was 
derisively called a "concerto for tympani" because most "improperly" 
the first solo instrument heard is the tympanum. Hanslick ironically 
called Liszt's First Piano Concerto a "Triangle Concerto," because 
Liszt conspicuously used that instrument as part of the percussion sec- 
tion. Even the kind and the amount of affect demanded or allowable is 
culturally regulated. An early critic called Beethoven's Violin Concerto 
"vulgar." The intellectually brilliant and musically impeccable "roman- 
tic" music criticism of Schumann and of Berlioz used, side by side with 
purely musical considerations, also the quality and intensity of affect as a 
yardstick of musical excellence. Today's music criticism is as conscious 
of affect as Schumann's was, but appraises affect negatively. It considers 
an emotional deep freeze and a "well aereted" score the acme of 
excellence, and demands a spuriously baroque music for spuriously 
baroque organization men. This, by the way, may explain why those 
who also seek affect in music sometimes take refuge in the hypothalamie 
orgies of modern jazz, so as to sate the affect hunger left unstilled by 

DEVEREUX: Art and Mythology 363 

listening to tinny filaments of sound emitted by poorly balanced chamber 

It is implicit in the preceding considerations that art is basically a 
medium of communication, and conforms to certain rules which repre- 
sent the grammar and syntax of a kind of meta-language. This finding 
raises further questions as to the legitimacy of treating "Draw a man" or 
"TAT" tests as art forms. It is my view that, insofar as such tests rep- 
resent art, they are communications directed at an audience of one 
the tester. Moreover, the testee's communication is couched in a 'lan- 
guage" whose grammar and vocabulary the tester must decipher, the 
way Champollion deciphered the Rosetta stone. Indeed, in test produc- 
tions a kind of Alice in Wonderland system holds sway: Things mean 
only what the test subject unconsciously intends them to mean. This 
point is important enough to warrant a brief discussion of "tests and art." 

A number of tests exist in which the subject is called upon to create 
"art" or else to respond to "art"; the first type being represented by 
Draw-a-Man and related tests, the second by the TAT and perhaps also 
the Rorschach tests. It is my thesis that these tests do not really meet the 
basic criteria which differentiate art from other activities. 

( 1 ) The subject's behavior is primarily expressive rather than an act 
of communication. Insofar as he communicates at all, he has an audience 
of one: the tester. Moreover, the validity qua test of the subject's 
productions decreases as his orientation to the tester increases and as his 
productions become communication rather than expression. 

(2) In optimum cases in the testing sense the production is pure 
expressive behavior, which is then transformed by the tester into a 
communication or, more specifically, into information. The tester is, 
thus, not functioning like a person addressed in normal communication. 
In the case of the latter, the communicator makes an effort to couch Ms 
communication in terms understandable to his interlocutor. He uses a 
language known to the latter, an audible intensity of voice production, 
etc. What "noise" there is, is largely filtered out and is meant to be 
filtered out. Moreover, both the speaker and the listener usually agree 
on what is information and what is noise. The opposite is true in testing: 
What, to the subject, is information which he communicates, may be 
largely "noise" to the tester, and what may seem "noise" to the testee may 
represent information for the tester. Moreover, the "grammar" of that 
portion of the testee's communication which is of interest to the tester 
must be reconstructed by the tester himself. It Is not a "given," except 
empirically, in the sense in which certain Rorschach responses have been 
empirically found to "mean" the presence of a certain trait. 

Practically none of the considerations discussed in this section are ap- 
plicable to genuine art, whose language is, by definition conventional. 

364 Methodology in Cross-Cultural Personality Study 

Whether this convention demands that the human figure remain more or 
less undistorted, or that it be distorted according to certain rules; 
whether it demands as early non-unison music theory did nothing 
but parallel fifths, or whether it taboos parallel fifths all this is irrele- 
vant. What is relevant, is that there is a kind of convention, and that 
this convention must be viewed in a historical perspective, as an elabora- 
tion of, or as a reaction against, the rules of an earlier period. The taboo 
on parallel fifths outlaws the basic rules of an earlier practice and at 
least some of the objectives of modern "neo-classical" music are those 
of the romantics turned upside down (Barzun 1950). 

The culturally standardized "discipline" of art is therefore of prime 
concern to the student of culture and personality. The rules of artistic 
communication, of which this discipline is made up, must be understood 
as cultural conventions. The anthropologist must study the grammar, the 
syntax and even the chosen vocabulary of art. He must trace changes in 
the ratio between consonances and dissonances, between "noble" and 
"four letter" words, etc. Moreover, he must realize that the intrusion of 
four letter words into the artist's vocabulary did not expand the verbal 
palette of literature. The genuine expressive gain represented by these 
crude terms was balanced by an impoverishment of the palette in such 
words as "noble," "elevated," "sublime," and the like, dear to romantics. 
The student of culture may neither approve nor lament this change. 
Rather must he stress that the evolution of every style represents a pat- 
terned enrichment in one direction and impoverishment in another 
direction, both as regards the building blocks at the artist's disposal, and 
the range of affects deemed artistically acceptable by society. This im- 
poverishment, balanced by enrichment, is never random and is as 
Kroeber (1957) apparently did not fully realize the very essence of 
style. Indeed, "let us have a roll in the hay" and "we shall walk hand in 
hand under the starry sky" mean the same thing behavioristically . . . 
and, now and then, even emotionally, alas. What concerns the student 
of culture is simply this: Which of these two utterances is accepted as 
artistic (and authentic) by a given society, at a given point in history? 

At this juncture we must realize that, insofar as a style represents both 
an enrichment and an impoverishment, insofar as style is a method of 
selection, it inevitably implies a distortion. In relatively unsophisticated 
art, the distortion affects primarily the substantive content of the state- 
ment or utterance: the sculptor may shorten the legs of the human 
figure; the novelist may populate his human scene with ideally pure 
women and double dyed villains; the composer of a canon may discard 
an inspired passage which comes to his mind, because it would disrupt 
the orderly development of a strict canon; the writer of a sonnet may re- 
mold an image in order to submit to the rhyme pattern and may short 

DEVEREUX: A rt and Mythology 365 

circuit his chain of thought in order not to exceed 14 lines. In some cases 
the artist's physical material (medium) itself imposes distortions upon 
the utterance: the fragility of marble and its inability to stand much 
stress calls for a far more compact structure than does bronze. Hence, in 
some marble statuary certain elements are included solely in order to sup- 
port the weight of a jutting body or limb. A truly great artist like the 
sculptor of Laocoon makes these structural additions seem indispensa- 
ble and integral parts of his utterance, so that it is felt to be "communica- 
tion" rather than "noise." The lesser artist asks us to Ignore the presence 
of an inexplicable truncated pillar under the belly of a rearing horse, 

In a Beethoven piano sonata the high treble imitation of a motif, 
first played at a middle level, is changed because, in Beethoven's times, 
the piano keyboard did not extend as far up as it does at present. Hence, 
many modern pianists play that passage not the way Beethoven actually 
wrote it, but the way he would have written it, had he had a modern, 
extended keyboard piano at his disposal. In some instances certain 
earlier material or performer limitations of the artistic utterance are 
consciously exploited by the modern artist to produce striking effects. 
The Hungarian peasant singer, whose untrained voice has a smaller 
range than has that of a concert singer and who, moreover, does not 
know enough about music to transpose a song so that its range will 
not exceed the range of his voice, sometimes replaces a step of a 
second downward, which is too low for him, with a leap of a seventh 
upward. This "clumsiness 13 of peasant singers was transmuted into an 
artistic device by Bartok. Examples of such octave displacements in 
Bartok's violin sonatas are given by Stevens (1953), who cogently re- 
marks: "This device is not resorted to indiscriminately; in the First 
Sonata it gives the distinctive shape to the waltz-like second member of 
the principal thematic complex, and is thereafter used, with very few 
exceptions, only for reference to that member." An image inspired 
by the rhyme pattern is a comparable phenomenon, revealing the cre- 
ative side of technique. 

In over-sophisticated art the medium itself is subjected to distortion. 
Such manipulations range from maximal but spurious nondistortion, as 
in "trompe 1'oeiT paintings, to Liszt's passion for experimenting with 
out-of-tune pianos, 1 to Joyce's schizophrenoid experiments with lan- 
guage and to those of some modem poets with punctuation. The latter 
maneuver reaches a pathetic climax of absurdity in a semi-pornographic 
French novel, in which a sexual act between a woman and an ape is 
"described" for nearly a whole page exclusiv