Is there any evidence of a difference in temperment between the races

I am purposely leaving out intelligence from this discussion.

Race is to me a broad set of characteristics; skin colour is the most obvious trait, but if one Googles albino Africans, it can be seen that the differences are far more than that - eyes, hair, nose, limb length etc.

If one looks at breeds of dog (my understanding is that breeds of dog are more distinguished than races in humans due to purposeful selective breeding, but I think the analogy holds for a species with broad subsets with different characteristics), it can be seen that different breeds have very different temperments, which, while some individuals may stray from them, tend to hold true in the majority of cases.
Now if you study Africans in other countries, they tend to commit more violence and crime (suburbs of Paris, Swedish rape statistics etc) but tend to be immigrant groups from cultures where violence is more common (barring African Americans who have a history in the US for several centuries), meaning that it is very difficult to claim that the difference is innate and not cultural - in one area of South Africa, over a third of men had participated in a rape (there was a thread on this a while back) - it would be no surprise if a immigrants from this community were to be responsible for a disproportionate number of rapes - it would not show any racial predisposition.

So there are two questions I have:

  1. Is there any evidence that there are differences in temperment between the races? Is there any evidence that one race is more easy-going than another, another more grumpy? etc

  2. Is there any evidence of varying levels of aggression being innate in the races (keeping in mind that white Britain ravaged a good chunk of the world)

  1. No
  2. No

Next question?

Hey! Why’re you picking on us Brits? We are not the only white people to have ravaged a good chunk of the world! :mad:

Are you an expert on this topic? Do you perhaps have a preconceived agenda of how the world functions?

Neither :wink:

Skin color is a terrible way to divide up human sub-populations-- there is too much overlap.

This is incorrect. Selective breeding over many generations is not the same as variations seen in a species that occupies a wide geographic area (like us). Selective breed is purpose driven. Evolution by natural selection is not.

While this might be true today in some countries, I would be surprised if it was true in the not so recent past (consider mob violence in the US during the 30s).

No. There may be some evidence of differences between ethnic groups, but that is most likely cultural. It could be genetic, but that would be extremely difficult to prove.


Can you define “race” in any meaningful biological fashion?

You got about a third of it - as far as I am aware, no-one else got close.

Do you have any basis for those answers, or is that just the answer you wish to be true?

I can’t believe that no-one, anywhere has bothered to study this area.

Oh, I’m sure there have been lots of studies. But you have to understand that we don’t know anything* about how genes influence “temperament”, and so we wouldn’t be able to determine this even if it were so. There are too many other factors that influence behavior at the macro level you are asking about.

Also, as I already noted, you started your OP with a flawed premise about the comparison of dog breeds and human ethnic groups (or races).

*except in extreme cases of genetic disorders.

Laudenum, please define race in a way that isn’t just “to you”. What are the races of people in the world?

And no, I don’t think there is any connection to race and anything to do with personality types or temperment. I mean, every country in the world has all the same kinds of people. Some nice, some not so nice, some jerks, some really giving, etc.

First, you are going to explain what exactly you mean by “race.” Do you mean the traditional Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid, Capoid, and Australoid “races,” which mostly have little biological validity, or something else?

Assuming that you do mean the traditional “races,” I am confident that there have not been any peer-reviewed studies done with adequate controls and sample sizes that have demonstrated any such relationship. (And the degree to which “aggression” itself is related to genetics in humans is itself not well established.)

The traditional “races” each occupy huge amounts of territory and include widely varying cultures. Cultural values are going to have an enormous effect on any expression of emotions. Any studies seeking to link genetics and temperament across an entire racial group are going to have enormous methodological problems.

ok, so maybe OP can reformulate the question as “has there been studies comparing the average temperament of people from West Africa with people from SE China”. Or, if all else fails, he can go to SE China and ask what the locals think about the temperament of migrants from West Africa.

are you asking for temperament differences or for differences in revisionist historical publications bitching about the alleged past sins of existing nations?

It should be pretty self-evident that an ethnic group A with perpetually high violent crime rate and a political structure that looks surprisingly like a hierarchy of street gangs has a very different temperament from a nation B with low violent crime rate and the sort of predilection for marching in formation and killing rebellious Sepoys that has been observed in Victorian England.

You don’t have to like the A more or less than B. You don’t have to consider the “aggression” of B to be less reprehensible than of A. But you do have to realize that the temperaments involved in causing these behaviors are really different. Indeed, even calling both the random violent crime and the organized empire-building by the same word “aggression” is just plainly dumb. It would be much more intelligent to say that “A tend to have high crime rate while B tend to kill people left and right to build up empires”. And maybe “C traditionally take revolt against the government so seriously that in the past they used to execute rebels’ families down to n’th generation”. So yes, temperaments do differ.

Assuming your definition of ‘race’ has any meaning, I don’t think ‘temperment’ is clearly established as a trait substantially determined by genetics. It’s too hard to clearly seperate environmental factors, and categorizing ‘temperment’ is highly subjective. I’ve seen some reasonable looking studies that indicate some genetic component, but outside of the laboratory, environmental factors might be the greater factor. Consider a typical way people assert this concept: ‘Those <derogatory term for a group of people> are so sensitive to any perceived slight.’ Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You can probably go to a village in SE China and ask about the temperament of people one village over and get a list of how they’re supposedly different. I don’t think that really provides evidence for anything, other then that people the world over like to try and define themselves by supposed temperamental differences, even when the groups in question are ridiculously similar and live pretty much nextdoor.

Good luck convincing Shelbyville Milhouse and Springfield Milhouse of that though

right, it’s the turtles of sameness all the way down. Well, our fellow doper even_sven has experience teaching in both West Africa and either SE or SW China, not sure which. I wonder why is she not here in this thread telling us about how amazingly equivalent is the temperament and behavior of these two sets of inhabitants of the “global village”. Inter alia, she could also tell us about the many times she suffered from the Chinese violent crime rate that presumably is totally equivalent to the West African one, up to and including attempts of gang rape.

I’m wondering if there have been studies of the marginal effects of race on otherwise identical people, culturally. We have the science down enough where we can pinpoint how much a percentage of one’s genes come from Africa, Europe, and Asia/Native Americans. Enough that one can be several percent African without looking it in the slightest, so cultural effects due to racial identification would be minimal.

So, if it has been shown that just increasing the European or African or Asian percentage of one’s genes by 10% or so leads to measurably more serial killers or dancing ability or intelligence, to fire off some stereotypes, then there might be something to the hypothesis that differing races have differing inherent behavioral tendencies. It shouldn’t be that hard to do.


code_grey, let’s not go putting words in other posters mouths. If even sven has anything to say, let her do so herself. No warning issued.

General Questions

sorry. I did not mean to imply that she would say anything of that nature - quite the opposite. IMHO the differences in temperament in groups as different as West Africa and China should be just beyond self-evident and would be confessed by everybody with experience with the two groups, regardless of personal political opinions and biases.