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Week 1 - Introduction.docx

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University of Waterloo
Igor Grossmann

Week 1 IntroductionThe Sambia TribeTribe in New GuineaCulturally ingrained initiation for boys to transform into menBelieve that femaleness is innate natural essence and that maleness must be cultivatedBoys are seen as existing in a female world and are contaminated by mothers wombsInitiation practices are used to transform boys into men o Piercing septum of nose o Thrashing boys with sticksInitiation also includes older men giving jerungdu to boys o Achieved through boys performing oral sex o Semen seen as physical basis of jerungduThroughout ones life a male engages in o Ingestion of semen from around ages 7 to 15 o Receiving fellatio to impart semen at age 15 o Heterosexual contact with wife after age 17 and some homosexual contact stillFemales expected to be heterosexual throughout lifespanSambian males thus go through homosexual bisexual and heterosexual phases throughout their livesSexuality is dynamic in Sambian society whereas it is seen as a core identity in Western culturesOverriding Themes in Cultural PsychologyPsychological processes are shaped by experiences o Culture and mind make each other upUniversal brains vs Cultural experiences o How are humans similar and how are they differentCulturally Universal vs Culturally VariableMathematical reasoning o Universal2 o Variablenumbers beyond 3Colour words o Universalblack o Variablegreen Norms o Universalsmiling when happy o Variablebiting tongue when embarrassed Defining CultureInformation acquired from other members of a speciesA group of people who have a shared context geographical historical linguistic etc Challenges to Defining CultureCultural boundaries are not distinct and are often unclearCultures are dynamic and change over timeMuch withinculture variation exits just as much betweenculture variation exists1 General Psychology vs Cultural Psychology General PsychologyFocus on universalsHuman brainCPUThe goal of psychology is to understand how the CPU works and how the natural laws govern human thoughtContext and content of thought is largely just noise o Obscures our ability to understand CPUCultural PsychologyFocus on cultural variationThoughts are shaped by contexts contexts inform the content of our thoughtsMinds and culture are entangled with each otherThe Cultural BrainEven activation of brain structures can be subject to cultural influencesThese processes show that the mind is enmeshed with culture2
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