The establishment of implicit perspectives of personality among Zulu-speaking people in South Africa
Van Rensburg, Janhendrik
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The application of personality assessment for clinical and personnel decisions has long been an activity of interest to psychologists all over the world. In South Africa, personality assessment tools are used for the purpose of hiring, for placement decisions, to guide and assess training and development, and to evaluate the performance of workers. Psychological testing in South Africa was formerly initiated with white test takers in mind. It has been found that, currently, none of the available personality questionnaires provide a reliable and valid picture of personality for all cultural (language) groups living in South Africa. With South Africa's new Constitution in 1994 came stronger demands for the cultural appropriateness of psychological tests. The implicit perspectives of personality of Zulu-speaking South Africans were determined in this study. These will enable psychologists to work towards developing a personality assessment tool that is fair to all South African cultural (language) groupings. A qualitative research design was used with an interview as data-gathering instrument. A Zulu-speaking fieldworker was recruited to interview 141 Zulu-speaking South Africans, mainly from KwaZulu-Natal. The study population was purposely drawn from different sections of the Zulu-speaking population. A total of 6 465 Zulu-speaker personality descriptors was obtained from the respondents and then translated into English. Content analysis was used to analyse, interpret, and reduce these descriptors to a total of 179 (reduced to 128 personality characteristics), which highlight the most important perspectives of personality for Zulu-speaking individuals. The personality characteristics were divided into six categories, namely, drive, emotions, interpersonal factor, meanness, sociability, and other. The majority of the characteristics are representative of the socialistic nature of the Zulu people. Zulu-speaking persons are caring, loving, religious, helping, talkative, in touch with their sexuality, and extroverted. The findings of this study were compared to the Five Factor Model (FFM), and evidence was found for the extroversion factors, but no support or evidence was found for the openness to experience factor, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness. In comparison with the Chinese Personality Assessment Inventory (CPAI), support was found for 13 of the 22 personality scales. Characteristics such as emotionality, responsibility, inferiority versus self-acceptance, meanness, slickness, family orientation, relationship orientation, harmony, flexibility, modernisation, introversion versus extroversion, leadership, and social orientation can be seen as characteristics indigenous to the Zulu culture. Recommendations were made for future research.