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Personality Research articles on personality

12Aug/150

Understanding Nationalism/Xenophobia and Globalism/Cosmopolitanism

In the past I've found that political orientation items were little explained by the current MOTIV personality traits when I added them as experimental items. I unfortunately didn't pursue that research, writing off political orientation as maybe more like IQ and not being reflected well in personality dimensions. However, I recently reexamined the topic after being puzzled by people with nationalist/xenophobic orientations and reading more of the research on ethnocentrism which is the academic term for nationalist/xenophobic personality tendencies.

What has emerged in my research is a clear independent personality trait that explains the political orientation items I had previously been unable to chart well on MOTIV. More accessibly put, the political spectrum most understand as conservative vs liberal is mostly explained by in group vs the whole group orientation. Conservatives prioritize the in group, their tribe/country/nation/culture and liberals prioritize the whole group, the international, the world/globe. While conservatism is not perfectly analogous to racism, those that self report as conservative are far more likely to endorse racist personality items (such as enjoying racist jokes, preferring segregation to integration, endorsing a belief their race is superior). Sentiments on immigration/immigrants seems to be a central topic to the conservative vs liberal divide with self reported conservatives being far more likely to be distrustful/fearful/disdainful of immigrants/immigration and self reported liberals being more open and accepting of them.

So, I will eventually be adding a new trait to MOTIV labeled Ethnocentrism. I will refer to the low scoring end of this spectrum as Globalism. It is my speculation that Ethnocentrism evolved when humans lived in tribes more independent and cut off from other groups/tribes of humans. This caused more differences between different groups of humans and thus more difficulty getting along, cooperating, and likely more conflict (appropriately, those that score high on Ethnocentrism are more likely to endorse positive views on war and aggression). Globalism has evolved more recently as the human environment has become more connected, interdependent.

While Ethnocentrism is orthogonal to Vitality on an individual level, when I separated a sample of 8352 users into three equally sized groups (high Ethnocentric score, medium Ethnocentric score, low Ethnocentric score), I found that the medium Ethnocentric scoring group had the highest Vitality score (9.39), followed by low Ethnocentric scorers (8.95), with the high Ethnocentric scoring group having the lowest Vitality score (8.73). So this appears to be a trait where a middle preference may be healthiest (at least within the current population sample). Thus, this trait seems to mirror the Interpersonal trait, where the medium scoring group showed a higher Vitality score than the high (overly selfless) or lower (overly selfish) scoring group. If a balance of nationalism/globalism is ideal it might explain the intention-ed design of the American federal/state system, where the founding fathers understood that there needed to be a balance between more micro, local interests and more macro, national interests. Likewise, sometimes local interests need more consideration, and sometimes global interests need more consideration. Alternatively, we may simply be in a transitional mid point evolutionarily and as we continue to progress global interests/power will justifiably begin to take more importance than local interests/power.

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