Much of this chapter has been dedicated to the etic approach for understanding personality which posits that personality is innate, biological and universal but still acknowledges that culture plays an important in shaping personality by way of geography (environment), resources, and social supports.
Indigenous Personality is a perspective that suggests personality can only be understood and interpreted within the context of the culture. In this way personality is considered emic, meaning that it is culturally specific and can only understood within the culture from which it originates. This means that personality is not something that can be measured by a universal test.
The indigenous approach came about in reaction to the dominance of Western approaches to the study of personality in non-Western settings (Cheung et al., 2011). Because Western-based personality assessments cannot fully capture the personality constructs of other cultures, the indigenous model has led to the development of personality assessment instruments that are based on constructs relevant to the culture being studied (Cheung et al., 2011). Although there is debate within the indigenous psychology movement about whether indigenous psychology represents a more universalistic or a more relativistic approach (Chakkarath, 2012), most of these 10 characteristics are advocated by the majority of those in the indigenous psychology movement.