The Utility of the PAS Cross Culturally - by Paul Sletten Ph.D.
Historically the PAS "grep up" being used in CIA operational applications. Our (CIA operational applications) validity is based upon empirical findings.
The PAS model hypothesizes a Primitive level which is genetically predisposed.
With this predisposed starting point the individual lives in a culture, e.g., family, school, peers, and the culture at large.
From birth to roughly adolescence (birth to age 12-13), the individual operates under his "cultural press" to conform to behavioral, emotional, intellectual, social standards of his/her milieu.
In order to accomplish this, the starting point genetics, Primitive characteristics, in the Intellectual, Procedural, and Social dimensions
of the model are either reinforced, i.e., there is no compensation of them during this phase or he is "punished" by the "cultural press" to
compensate for characteristics, he/she did not posses at birth. This means essentially that in compensation the individual moves from his/her genetic starting point to be or function in directions opposite of his Primitive predisposition. This is largely an unconscious experience, but in order to maintain the acquired characteristics, biological energy is required to sustain the acquired compensations.
In PAS terms, the combination of Primitive plus compensations or not, result in the BASIC level of functioning and it is the result of Nature and Nurture in the formation of the individual's core personality.
Development does not stop here. Once a teenager breaks out of his childhood "cultural press" to develop the "public persona" he/ she desires to project, there is another important stage of development in the three main PAS dimensions, which results in the Surface or Contact personality.
This phase runs roughly from age 13-14 into the 20's and even beyond, particularly in slow developers. Again biological energy is required to maintain additional adjustments which we call "modifications".
Under sufficient stress these modifications or "surface" adjustments temporarily collapse or break down and the individual, even briefly reverts to his core or Basic personality. (Remember the combination of Nature and Nurture.) The Surface personality is subject to new adjustments, depending upon education, travel experiences, health issues, family trauma, stress issues, life-style, running all way to aging in seniors.
Seniors tend to revert back to their Basic personality as they have less pressure to be or function in ways that are not inherent or fundamental to their make-up.
Now to the Cultural implications. In OUR, CIA experience, we find that there are "cultural pools" of characteristics to be found in many nationalities. For example, Many Asians tend to be IRU's which is especially true of Chinese. They tend to be independent but oriented towards social protocols, focused, literal, non-empathic, or socially adept. Variations of the IR personality are found in the Japanese which tend to compensate on the social dimension which makes them more socially attentive and pleasant but none the less, they are called" inscrutable." Also found in this IRU cluster are the British and the Scandinavians which are prone to hold in and not express emotions, but are committed to focused productivity, with the British given to social protocols associated with class and Scandinavians more oriented toward individualism/egalitarianism, a la. Martin Luther roots.
Remaining in the Asian cluster we have Indians which tend to be IFU's, internalized, less focused organizationally, mystical and socially, self-absorbed. Yet, again the society is governed by the cast system which largely dictates much of social behavior and operational style.
Other Asian cultures Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Filipinos are more IFU/A. The point being that these folks by large are more laid back, less competitive, more given to a pleasant face and yet still very self-absorbed. Of note, over the years, which individuals in these cultures became the economic drivers of these societies? Yes, the overseas Chinese which over the years migrated and integrated into them. The distinction is the R qualities, the" focused" and single-mindedness of the IRU Chinese. For their part, Vietnamese are more like the IRU Chinese than their IFU/A East Asian neighbors.
Arabs generally are IFU in orientation as are many African cultures. For the Arabs, it is the highly legalistic and structures nature of Islam, with its "R" demands that give Arabs more form and focus than what they are predisposed to be. Of note, in African cultures, the "F" qualities, namely the limited focus and organizational tendencies suggest reasons why they have not developed over the centuries like the Chinese. In African tribal history, It's more like each generation had to rediscover the same things previous generations discovered.
Then there is the Mediterranean personality, EFA, which is largely externally oriented, expressive, generally loosely organized, socially adept!
A variation of this theme is the Russian/Slavic personality which is ERU (also characteristic of Germans) They are externally oriented, focused, task oriented, and generally socially limited and because of the Soviet (or Nazi) culture, paranoid.
What about American culture-historically we were an ERA society. Externally oriented, focused, governed by religious values and recognition of the common good, competitive, productive and socially adept or accommodating. Although this is a generalization and as a society we are now a mosaic of the world's cultures, as a nation we have become increasingly EFU with decreased "compensations" of this pattern. Consequently, we are emotionally sensitive, even explosive because of the emphasis on individualism, "rights", etc, feelings and "human issues"have been idealized as opposed to discipline, productivity, accountability, and being able to handle details, boredom, deferred gratification. Socially we try to be adept, but we are so driven by feelings and emotions that civility is negated by demands for personal recognition and self-expression. Most forms of moral imperatives have been tossed overboard, consequently the model personality now is being a free-spirit, individualistic, and self-promoting. What we have become will only be exaggerated as personal standards of right and wrong become the norm.
The PAS model accounts for Cultural nuances, even shifts which are taken place all over the world today.