Blood types in Japanese culture

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Japanese blood type personality chart
Type A
Best traits Earnest, creative, sensible, reserved, patient, responsible
Worst traits Fastidious, overearnest, stubborn, tense
Type B
Best traits Passionate, active, doer, creative, wild, strong
Worst traits Selfish, irresponsible, unforgiving, erratic
Type AB
Best traits Cool, controlled, rational, sociable, adaptable
Worst traits Critical, indecisive, forgetful, irresponsible, "split personality"
Type O
Best traits Confident, self-determined, optimistic, strong-willed, intuitive
Worst traits Self-centered, cold, doubtful, unpredictable, "workaholic"

There is a common, popular belief in Japan and other East Asian countries that a person's ABO blood type or ketsueki-gata (血液型?) is predictive of his or her personality, temperament, and compatibility with others.[1] This is similar to how astrological signs are perceived as influencing factors in a person's life within other countries throughout the world. However, blood type plays a much more prominent role in Japanese and other East Asian countries than astrology does in other countries.

Ultimately deriving from ideas of historical scientific racism, the popular belief originates with publications by Masahiko Nomi in the 1970s. The scientific and academic community dismisses such beliefs as superstition or pseudoscience due to their lack of basis on demonstrable evidence or reference to testable criteria.[1][2][3] Although research into the causational link between blood type and personality is limited, research conclusively demonstrates no statistically significant association.[4][5][6][7] On the contrary, some studies suggest statistically significant relationships as self-fulfilling phenomenon.[8][9] Even somewhat paradoxical results are announced from the same data - statistically significant[10] and not significant.[11] Recently, some medical hypotheses are proposed.[12]

History[edit]

The ABO blood group system is widely credited to have been founded by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner, who discovered three blood types in 1900.[13]

In 1926, Rin Hirano and Tomita Yashima published the article "Blood Type Biological Related" in the Army Medical Journal. It was seen to be a non-statistical and unscientific report, motivated by racism.[citation needed]

Takeji Furukawa[edit]

In 1927, Takeji Furukawa, a professor at Tokyo Women's Teacher's School, published his paper "The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type" in the scholarly journal Psychological Research. The idea quickly took off with the Japanese public despite Furukawa's lack of credentials, and the militarist government of the time commissioned a study aimed at breeding ideal soldiers.[1] The study used ten to twenty people for the investigation, therefore failing to meet the statistical assumptions required to demonstrate that the tests were either reliable or generalisable to the wider population.

In another study, Furukawa compared the distribution of blood types among two ethnic groups: the Formosans in Taiwan and the Ainu of Hokkaidō. His motivation for the study appears to have come from a political incident:[14] After the Japanese occupation of Taiwan following Japan's invasion of China in 1895, the inhabitants tenaciously resisted their occupiers. Insurgencies in 1930 and in 1931 resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Japanese settlers.[14]

The purpose of Furukawa's studies was to "penetrate the essence of the racial traits of the Taiwanese, who recently revolted and behaved so cruelly". Based on a finding that 41.2% of a Taiwanese sample had type O blood, Furukawa assumed that the Taiwanese rebelliousness was genetically determined. The reasoning was supported by the fact that among the Ainu, whose temperament was characterized as submissive, only 23.8% had type O. In conclusion, Furukawa suggested that the Japanese should increase intermarriage with the Taiwanese to reduce the number of Taiwanese with type O blood.[14]

Masahiko Nomi[edit]

Main article: Masahiko_Nomi

Interest in the theory faded in the 1930s. It was revived in the 1970s with a book by Masahiko Nomi, a journalist, with no medical background (he graduated from the engineering faculty of University of Tokyo) as well as most Japanese psychologists. Few Japanese psychologists criticized him at that time,[15] so he continued to demonstrate statistically significant data in various fields and published several books with these results.[16] Quite a little after his death in 1981, Masahiko Nomi's work was said to be largely uncontrolled and anecdotal, and the methodology of his conclusions was unclear.[17] Because of this, he was heavily criticized by the Japanese psychological community, although his books remain popular.[17] His son Toshitaka Nomi continued to promote the theory with a series of books and by running the Institute of Blood Type Humanics.[18] He later established the Human Science ABO Center for further research and publication in 2004.

Background and Criticism[edit]

Criticism[edit]

Some researchers believe blood types are associated with personality traits. A lot of medical surveys were conducted, such as hormone secretion traits (DBH, COMT, MAO etc.),[19] or the blood-type antigens in neurons, or the antigens expressed on surfaces of brain cells. But these studies are not yet fully confirmed, except that the ABO antigens are expressed in early embryos.[20]

There are also many psychological or statistical approaches, but not yet completely confirmed, neither. Quite a few academic researchers consider Furukawa and Nomi's studies as not testified nor correct, because they didn't use statistically appropriate measures nor methods so that they hadn't shown enough evidences, ie. random sampling, right usage of statistical tests.

For example, Kengo Nawata, a Japanese social psychologist, statistically analyzed three datasets of over 10,000 Japanese and American people in total.[7] However, 65 of all 68 items yielded non-significant differences between blood types and the rest three items showed relatively small relationships. Therefore the blood type explains only 0.3% of the whole differences of these datasets. This result suggests that blood type explained very little part of people's personalities. He came to a conclusion that there is actually no relevance of blood type for personality.

Statistically Significant Data[edit]

However, some academic researchers has shown several statistically significant data in Japan and Korea. Akira Sakamoto and Kenji Yamazaki, Japanese social psychologists, analyzed 32,347 samples of annual opinion polls from 1978 through 1988.[8][10] These results indicated that Japanese blood-typical stereotypes actually influenced their self-reported personalities—as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Another Japanese social psychologist, Shigeyuki Yamaoka (Shotoku University), announced results of his questionnaires which were conducted in 1999 (1,300 subjects)[21] and 2006 (1,362 subjects),[22] both subjects were university students. Only subjects (of the two questionnaires) with enough knowledge and beliefs of the "blood-type diagnosis" showed meaningful differences. He concluded that these differences must be the influence of mass media, especially TV programs.

On the other hand, there are opinions that the statistically meaningful differences according to the blood types are not explained only by beliefs nor self-fulfilling prophecy. In Japan, penetration rate of blood-typical personality traits were investigated. Yoriko Watanabe, a Japanese psychologist (then Hokkaido University), chose "well-known" traits and found most traits were known to no more than half of Japanese (subjects were university students).[23] A Japanese writer, Masayuki Kanazawa, analyzed these blood-typical traits in combination with data of Yamaoka (1999)[21] that used the same items of Watanabe's penetration survey.[23] If blood-typical differences are caused by penetration (or his/her self-recognition), the rate of difference (of a trait) is proportional to the rate of its penetration. However, Kanazawa was not able to discover any association with blood-type differences and penetration rates.[24] This result arises a doubt about beliefs and self-fulfilling prophecy.

Most of reports that demonstrated statistical correlation attribute differences to self-fulfilling prophecy. However, there is no study that directly proved the existence of "self fulfillment". Therefore, opinions of researchers are varied at present: 1. whether there is statistical correlation or not, 2. these statistical correlation is superficial, caused by subjects' self-fulfilling prophecy or it is truly caused by the blood type.

In addition, very strange phenomenon is observed. A certain personality test will not detect the difference of the blood type. The famous "big five" personality test were carried out in several countries, including Japan, Korea and Taiwan, after the year 2000. Although no researchers found meaningful statistical difference.[4][5][6][25][26] The big five personality test is to digitizes traits of the self-rating or self-recognition. Therefore it was expected that differences by self-reported personalities (as self-prophecy) were detected over the subject who believed blood-typical stereotypes. The result is, as mentioned above, no meaningful statistical difference was found until now. So Ho Cho, a Korean psychologist (Yonsei University), and the others carried out a questionnaire about blood-typical items to subjects (they were university students) and discovered statistical differences as expected.[25] However, the difference was not found with the big five personality test to the same subjects. Another Korean researcher Sohn (Yonsei University) wondered and re-analyzed Cho's data.[9] He found that several independent items of the big five personality test detected differences according to each blood-typical stereotypes. However, these differences became extinct in the process of plural items being gathered to five factors (big five).

If these memoirs are correct, the big five personality test cannot detect differences of the blood types, which is very weird. Blood-typical stereotypes penetrate in Japan as well as Korea. Therefore "self-prophecy" phenomenon is observed in Japan, as well.[8][10][21][22] The phenomenon may suggest the big five personality test cannot detect differences of blood-typical differences. Interestingly, the phenomenon is not reported such as MBTI, except the big five test.

Brain Waves and Light Topography[edit]

Kim and Yi (Seoul University of Venture & Information) measured brain waves of 4,636 adults. They reported that type O people were most stress-resistant.[27] In addition, an experiment using light topography instruments by Munetaka Haida (Tokai University School of Medicine) suggests the possibility that activated parts of human brain are different according to blood types. ie. type A's left brain is superior to the right, while type B's right brain is superior.[28]

In this way, it is the fact that any agreeable conclusion is not seen up to the present, although statistical surveys, reexaminations, supplementary investigations are carried out by many researchers and many times.

Current popularity[edit]

Discussion of blood types is widely popular in women's magazines as a way of gauging relationship compatibility with a potential or current partner. Morning television shows feature blood type horoscopes, and similar horoscopes are published daily in newspapers. The blood types of celebrities are listed in their infoboxes on Japanese Wikipedia.[29] A series of four books that describe people's character by blood type ranked third, fourth, fifth and ninth on a list of best selling books in Japan in 2008 compiled by Tohan Corporation.[30]

Although there is no proven correlation between blood type and personality, it remains popular with the many matchmaking services that cater to blood type. In this way, it is similar to the use of astrological signs, which is also popular in Japan. Asking one's blood type is common in Japan, and people are often surprised when a non-Japanese does not know his or her own blood type.[31]

It is common among anime and manga authors to mention their character's blood types and to give their characters blood types to match their personalities.[32] Some video game characters have known blood types. In addition, it is common for video game series to allow for blood type as an option in their creation modes.[32]

Blood type harassment, called "bura-hara" (wasei-eigo-a portmanteau of "blood" and "harassment"), has been blamed for bullying of children in playgrounds, loss of job opportunities, and ending of happy relationships.[33]

Many people have been discriminated against because of their blood type. Employers have been asking blood types during interviews despite the warnings they have been given. Children at schools have been split up according to their blood type. The national softball team has customized training to fit each player's blood type. Companies have given work assignments according to their employee's blood type.[34]

Facebook in many Asian countries allows users to include their blood type in their profile.[35]

After then-Reconstruction Minister Ryu Matsumoto's abrasive comments towards the governors of Iwate and Miyagi[36] forced him to step down from his post, he partially blamed his behavior on his blood type, saying "My blood is type B, which means I can be irritable and impetuous, and my intentions don't always come across."[37]

Blood types are treated as important in South Korea as well. An example can be seen in the film My Boyfriend Is Type B where a girl is advised not to date a man because of his blood type.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Yamaguchi, Mari (6 May 2005). "Myth about Japan blood types under attack". MediResource Inc. Archived from the original on 28 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2007. 
  2. ^ Dating by blood type in Japan
  3. ^ Nuwer, Rachel. "You are what you bleed: In Japan and other east Asian countries some believe blood type dictates personality". Scientific American. Retrieved 16 Feb 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Cramer, K. M., & Imaike, E. (2002). Personality, blood type, and the five-factor model. Personality and individual differences, 32(4), 621-626.
  5. ^ a b Rogers, M., & Glendon, A. I. (2003). Blood type and personality. Personality and individual differences, 34(7), 1099-1112.
  6. ^ a b Wu, K., Lindsted, K. D., & Lee, J. W. (2005). Blood type and the five factors of personality in Asia. Personality and individual differences, 38(4), 797-808.
  7. ^ a b Kengo Nawata (2014), No relationship between blood type and personality: Evidence from large-scale surveys in Japan and the US, The Japanese Journal of Psychology, 85(2), 148-156.
  8. ^ a b c Sakamoto, A., & Yamazaki, K. (2004), Blood-typical personality stereotypes and self-fulfilling prophecy: A natural experiment with time-series data of 1978–1988., Progress in Asian Social Psychology, Vol. 4, 239–262.
  9. ^ a b Sung Il Ryu , Young Woo Sohn (2007), A Review of Sociocultural, Behavioral, Biochemical Analyses on ABO Blood-Groups Typology, The Korean Journal of Social and Personality Psychology
  10. ^ a b c Yamazaki, K., & Sakamoto, A. (1992), 血液型ステレオタイプによる自己成就現象II-全国調査の時系列分析- The self-fulfillment phenomenon generated by blood-typical personality stereotypes: time-series analysis of nation-wide survey II, Paper presented at the 33rd annual convention of the Japanese society of social psychology. Tokyo (pp. 342-345).
  11. ^ Matsui, Y. (1991), 血液型による性格の違いに関する統計的検討 Statistical consideration on personality difference of blood types, Bulltine of Tokyo metropolitan Tachikawa junior college, 124, 51-54.
  12. ^ Donna K. Hobgood (2011), Personality traits of aggression-submissiveness and perfectionism associate with ABO blood groups through catecholamine activities, Medical Hypotheses, 77(2):294-300.
  13. ^ Landsteiner, K. (1900). "Zur Kenntnis der antifermentativen, lytischen und agglutinierenden Wirkungen des Blutserums und der Lymphe". Zentralblatt Bakteriologie 27: 357–62. 
  14. ^ a b c Becker, Peter (Ed.); Yoji Nakatani (2006). "The Birth of Criminology in Modern Japan". Criminals and their Scientists: The History of Criminology in International Perspective (Publications of the German Historical Institute). Cambridge University Press. p. 294. ISBN 0-521-81012-4. 
  15. ^ Toshinori Shirasa & Takuji Iguchi (1993), 血液型性格研究入門 血液型と性格は関係ないと言えるのか An introduction to Blood Type Personality Research - Can we say there is no relationship with blood type and personality?, pp.209-212 & 242-243. -- virtually no papers nor books about blood type and personality was published from the Japanese psychological community before Masahiko Nomi's death in 1981.
  16. ^ Masahiko Nomi analyzed various data by using statistical methods and found meaningful traits; the following is some of his works.
    • Blood Type Affinity Study 5/1974 - 20,000 samples analyzed in total
    • Blood Type Sports Study 10/1976 - 1,000 track-and-field athletes analyzed
    • Blood Type Essence 6/1977 - list over 1,000 people (politicians, CEOs, artists etc.)
    • Blood Type Politics Study 6/1978 - 2,000 politicians analyzed (all representatives of the national Diet, all governors and all mayors)
  17. ^ a b D'Adamo, Dr. Peter J. (2002). The Eat Right for Your Type: Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia. Riverhead Trade. p. 28. ISBN 1-57322-920-2. 
  18. ^ Evans, Ruth (4 November 2012). "Japan and blood types: Does it determine personality?". BBC News. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  19. ^ Donna K. Hobgood (2011) Personality traits of aggression-submissiveness and perfectionism associate with ABO blood groups through catecholamine activities. Medical Hypotheses, 77(2), 294-300.
  20. ^ Szulman, A. E. (1980). The ABH Blood Groups and development. Current Topics in Developmental Biology, 14, 127-145.
  21. ^ a b c Shigeyuki Yamaoka (1999), 血液型ステレオタイプが生み出す血液型差別の研究 A Study on Blood Harassment Caused by Blood-typical Stereotypes, Paper presented at the 40th annual convention of the Japanese society of social psychology. Tokyo. - for further information of this paper, confer to Shigeyuki Yamaoka (2001), ダメな大人にならないための心理学 A Psychology Book for not to Become a Useless Adult, pp.35-73 ISBN 4892426652
  22. ^ a b Shigeyuki Yamaoka (2006), 血液型性格項目の自己認知に及ぼすTV番組視聴の影響 Influence of Watching TV programs to One's Self-recognition of the Blood-type personality Items Paper presented at the 47th annual convention of the Japanese society of social psychology. Tokyo.
  23. ^ a b Watanabe, Y. (1994). 血液型ステレオタイプ形成におけるプロトタイプとイグゼンブラの役割 The roles of prototype and exemplar in the formation of the "blood type stereotype". Japanese Journal of Social Psychology, 10-2, 77-86. - She extracted 7 traits for each 4 blood types, 28 in total, which were common to three or more "blood type diagnosis" books. 20 items of all 28 showed less than 50% penetration (the average is 46.1%).
  24. ^ Masayuki Kanazawa (2014), 統計でわかる血液型人間学入門 An Introduction to Blood Type Humanics - Understanding by Statistics, Gentosha Runaissance ISBN 4779011094/9784779011092 pp.16-36
  25. ^ a b So Hyun Cho, Eun Kook M. Suh, Yoen Jung Ro (2005), Beliefs about Blood Types and Traits and Their Reflections in Self-reported Personality, Korean Journal of Social and Personality Psychology, 19(4), 37-47.
  26. ^ Yoshio Kubo, Yukiko Miyake (2011), 血液型と性格の関連についての調査的研究 Correlation between blood types and personalities Bulletin of Kibi International University (Department of Social Welfare), 21, 93-100.
  27. ^ Choong-Shik Kim, Seon-Gyu Yi (2011), A Study on the effects of one's blood type on emotional character and antistress of adults, Journal of the Korea Academia-Industrial cooperation Society, 12(6), 2554-2560. - According to this article "meaningful difference had been revealed between the blood type and stress resistancy; type O rated higher scores in awarness and stress resistancy then other types..."
  28. ^ Human Science ABO Center held the symposium "Think about Blood Type -- Toward Understanding Human ABO Genes 血液型を考える~ヒトABO式血液型遺伝子を理解する為に~" in February, 2010 (Tokyo). -- the report (Japanese) including Haida's presentation is here.
  29. ^ "Type Cast: The Japanese Fascination with Blood Types". Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  30. ^ Blood Types -- Do They Shape a Personality or Mere Stereotypes, Natsuko Fukue, The Japan Times, December 31, 2008
  31. ^ In Japan, you are what your blood type is, Japan Today
  32. ^ a b Brenner, Robin E. (2007). Understanding manga and anime. Libraries Unlimited. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5. 
  33. ^ McCurry, Justin (4 December 2008). "Typecast - Japan's obsession with blood groups". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  34. ^ Yamaguchi, Mari (2009-02-01). "In Japan, Your Blood Type Says It All". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  35. ^ Blood Type Personality , Psychologia, Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  36. ^ Fukue, Natsuko (2011-07-05). "Matsumoto rips Tohoku governors". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  37. ^ Lies, Elaine (2011-07-06). "Blame it on my blood, disgraced Japan politician says". Reuters. 

Dr LAURENT: "4groupes sanguins, 4 personnalités" Marco Pietteur ed. 2007/2014. Belgium. (In french)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]