Can Personality Be Determined by Blood Type?

February 3, 2009

In Japan, Your Blood Type Says It All


An article by Mari Yamaguchi discusses how Japanese believe blood type determines personality. “As defined by the books, type As are sensitive perfectionists but overanxious; Type Bs are cheerful but eccentric and selfish; Os are curious, generous but stubborn; and ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable.”


Many Japanese believe so strongly about the relationship between blood type and personality there are cases where blood type has lead to discrimination and to a type of harassment referred to as “Bura-hara.”


While these claims are without scientific foundation and are what we refer to as pseudoscience, they are accepted by people who believe that certain facts, traits, or previous events basically determine who they are and define who they can be. This can be traced back to the “Nature-Nurture” debates in behavioral science. Are we born to be? Or de we learn to be? Watson and early behaviorist believed that we are shaped by our environment and that we can learn to be anything we want basically.


Behaviorists believe that under the proper conditions (contingencies) we can learn new behaviors and essentially be better at what we do and thus who we are. I have had students in my class with life long problem behaviors such as extreme nail biting. They felt since they have been that way all of their lives, that is how they will spend the remainder of their lives. In class after being taught the ABCs of behavior, they were able to quit the habit within the 4 month semester.


It is problematic when people buy into the misconception that we cannot change. This is probably why people cannot accept the fact that they too can reinvent themselves to be with in reason what they want to be. While I can’t change my blood type (O = generous but stubborn) I refuse to believe I can’t change : -)

2 Responses to Can Personality Be Determined by Blood Type?

  1. Rachel Dengler on February 4, 2009 at 10:04 am

    This article was also quite fascinating to me. I had never heard of anyone determining personality types from your blood type. There are quite a few things that I can pull from this article to address the topic of culture.
    First of all, my experience with Japanese individuals has led me to believe they are a hard-working and materialistic society. Obviously, that is a bit of a generalization, but I do have several Japanese individuals who I am friends with. Because they strive to be the best of the best, it would make complete sense to me that they would believe that something such as blood type could determine personality characteristics. It could just be one more way that could get you a step higher on the employability scale. It sounds to me like there is intense job competition in all areas of society in Japan. I think there are lots of tests to get into school, to get out of school, and then getting a job is also very difficult. Japan as a whole is striving to be a society that produces and achieves, and thus they do this by hiring only the best of the best. I would contend that these books convince employers which blood type they should be looking for when hiring. If even their prime minister is displaying his blood type, individuals of less authority may do the same.
    Secondly, I want to address the discrimination that has now started as a result of this blood type craze. In the textbook that I have read about stereotypes and prejudice, the authors made comments about why discrimination gets started in the first place. They believe that banding together with other people who were similar to you is a very natural process. It starts in the family, as you share traditions such as eating, behaviors, etc. Then, as families get larger, you group by sets of families that eat the same things, do similar things, and so on. You get the picture, this is how cultures come to be. These groups serve as a safe place, a place of belonging. But they also help us to make sense of the world, to categorize individuals and groups of individuals.
    But then, you move on into the world of today, into the job market, and again the necessity of forming groups of commonalities exists. Employers must have a way of distinguishing one potential candidate from another. When I go to interview for jobs next year, I would be rather perturbed if a school district chose someone from any other field besides education to teach. Not too many employers do that, but in the world of 2009, when jobs are really hard to come by, and there are many applicants for each, how does one choose the best person for the job? Some Japanese believe that blood type matters. When, however, there is no scientific evidence to prove that blood type has anything to do with personality, it is not fair to rate one person higher than another just for this reason. Employers must treat their potential employees fairly.
    Finally, I must say that I really do wonder how this ever became SO popular in Japan, that even the Olympic athletes are being chosen based on their type of blood. I just finished reading the chapter on behaviorism and learning. What would have been the reinforcement for the people to continue buying into this theory? The reinforcement for the book authors and publishers to continue selling them would be the enormous amount of revenue they are receiving the general public. Maybe the absence of a reinforcement suggests there is a positive punishment- that Japanese individuals want to avoid missing out on a job or having their child lose out on an education, because of their blood type.

  2. Ash on February 4, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    This is something I’ve never heard of before. The blood type system that is popular in Japan seems like an easy way out of achieving Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy of needs goes in the order of physiological needs of hunger and thirst, safety needs, needs of love and belonging, self-esteem, and the self-actualiztion, which is living to your fullest potential. By using just one thing (blood type), the Japanese seem like they are trying to satisfy these needs as quickly and easily as possible. The article states they use blood type to determine possible matches of mates which satisfy the need for love, and that by using blood type you will be placed in a job you’re supposedly the best for, satisfying self-esteem. As for self-actualization, the Japanese culture, work ethic, and reward system is a culture much different than ours, so maybe some are extremely happy where they’re at, others may not be, like the people that are being discriminated against. The discrimination based on blood type leads these people to be dissatisfied because their needs of self worth are not being met.

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