Personality Differences by Gender

Timpaus ethnopsychology provides an understanding that innate personality traits constitute a fundamental part of the character of all people. A knowledge of an individual's personality is regarded as important because personality and behavior are closely linked. Personality traits are linked to temperament, tastes for particular foods, kindness and willingness to share, body shape, and a division between sea- and land-oriented persons. According to the Timpaus Banggai such personality traits (or personal characteristics) are inborn, do not change in principle during the life-span, and cut across gender lines. Thus it becomes difficult to pinpoint fixed personality differences between men and women. Qualities like emotional control, not being aggressive in most contexts, being modest or showing others their due respect (malu behavior), and not being rude (kasar) are regarded as equally important for women and men. However, there are some general ideal behavior patterns for women and men. For instance, men are supposed to be braver, more courageous, oriented towards the sea, more heavily or muscularly built, quicker in body movements, supposedly better warriors (legitimate expression of aggression), etc. than women. Women should be more modest, shy, sedentary, loyal, and tidy than men. Because the Timpaus Banggai feel that it is important to uphold these ideals they try to teach their children these values. According to them, in order to succeed it may be useful to know the personality of the child. When adults break these norms it is usually explained with reference to the personality of that particular individual.

Some personality traits are value neutral and impossible to change or hide by village education. Orientation toward sea or land is one such trait. It is regarded as impossible to make a land-oriented person into a fisherman or sailor. Likewise, a few women are regarded as extremely courageous, unafraid of most dangers, and even oriented toward the sea. One Timpaus Banggai woman took on the task of transporting copra to distant ports because she preferred life at sea. Her husband, who did not like ships or the sea, stayed at home and worked at their swiddens.

According to the Timpaus Banggai, expression of moods, basic interests, what is regarded funny, style of caretaking, and egoism have gendered as well as individual expression. They believe that some negative traits, such as egoism, greed, and a will to dominate, are overrepre-sented in males in general. Similarly, calculating and manipulative qualities are supposedly overrepresented in women. However, as far as is possible, it is attempted to eliminate or suppress such traits in young boys and girls by socialization processes.

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