culture and personality school

culture and personality school

an approach (especially within CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY in the US in the 1930s and 1940s) which involved the application of psychological and psychoanalytical theory within ethnographic accounts. See also BATESON, BENEDICT, Margaret MEAD. A central assumption of the school was that personality types, including differences in national character, were formed by SOCIALIZATION (e.g. distinctive patterns of feeding and toilet training). A classic account in this vein is Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946) which portrayed what were seen as the two sides of Japanese national character. Although controversial, the writings of the school reached a wide audience and influenced popular conceptions of socialization and cross-cultural differences, especially in the USA.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000