Study title
The Structure of Character Description in Khoekhoegowab
Ref study 13355
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Cross cultural analysis
  • Africa
  • Cross-cultural psychology
  • Mixed method design
  • Personality
  • Mental health
  • Psycholexical studies
  • emic-etic approach
April 2018 through October 2021
Geographical space
  • Switzerland
  • Namibia
Personality psychology relies heavily on evidence from North America and Europe. Lexical studies, based on the rationale that the most important psychological distinctions between people will be encoded in the natural languages, can provide input from underrepresented contexts by defining locally-relevant personality concepts and their structure. We report the results of a psycholexical study in Khoekhoegowab, the most widely spoken of southern Africa’s (non-Bantu) click languages. It includes the largest sample of any lexical study conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the first anywhere to include qualitative interviews to systematically assess the interpretability of terms, and is one of few to rely on a more representative community sample of adults rather than students. Refinement of the survey included frequency-of-use ratings by native speakers from throughout Namibia and input on relevance to personality by those with a psychology degree. The survey was administered by interview to 622 participants by a team of 15 schoolteachers of Khoekhoegowab. The 11 dimensions of the optimal local model were labelled: Intemperance, Prosocial Diligence, Intrusive Gossip, Good Nature, Bad Temper, Predatory Aggression, Haughty Self-Respect, Vanity/Egotism, and Fear versus Courage. A Big One model of evaluation was strongly replicated. Moderate replication was found for the Big Two, Pan-Cultural Three, and a hypothesized pan-African model based on prior lexical results in two languages. Replication criteria were not achieved for the Big Five, Big Six, or South African Personality Inventory models. What results suggest about the local cultural context and about culturally specific aspects of the imported models are discussed.
Methods (description)
A preregistered analysis plan (for most steps) was uploaded to the Open Science Framework February 16, 2019
There are three parts to this study:
1. The creation of the lexical survey
2. The main quantitative data collection using the lexical survey
3. Follow up qualitative interviews
Methods (instruments)
  • Standardised interviews - face-to-face
Replicated study No
Financed by
Ethical approval Yes
Study type
Data availability
Available by request here and at the Open Science Framework
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 17.02.2021
Date modified 17.02.2021
Start - End date 01.05.2018 - 01.10.2021