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Lecture #5- Cultural Influences.docx

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

Lecture #5: Cultural Influences Culture is broadly defined as any kind of information acquired by individuals through imitative or social learning. The information is passed along from generation to generation. Culture both is and isn’t unique to humans. Animals learn from other animals, but they do not build upon this information like humans do. Animals have been using the same techniques since the beginning of time, whereas humans accumulate the information and add to it. “Theory of the Mind” is the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, intentions and desires different than one’s own. Cultural psychology is the study of how culture shapes psychological processes. There is a difference between culture and social environment. A social environment is an individual’s surroundings, such as school, work or the subway. Culture is hard to go outside of, as it is what the individual is used (a fish doesn’t recognize it is in water). All research in cultural psychology takes place in the culture. There are similarities and differences across cultures. Universalities are said to be true for everyone, these can include: group living, males being more aggressive, preference for own kin, children’s fear of strangers, facial expressions, language (and their use of narratives) and marriage. The idea of marriage is universal for all cultures, but the marriage ceremony and the customs that surround it can vary. Culture and the mind are very influential on one another; they cannot exist without one another. They represent a symbiotic relationship, not a causal one. The biggest divide in culture exists between:  Individualism o Western o Focuses on personal autonomy and achievement o Uniqueness o The individual comes first  Collectivism o Eastern o Focuses on group goals and relationships o The group comes first There is overlap between these two cultures, i.e. individualists care about relationships. Impression Formation: Behaviour is dependent on two factors: situation and disposition. The situation is any external factors acting on the individual and the disposition is the internal state of the individual. For example, if someone falls, it can be blamed on either the floor being slippery (situational), or the person being clums
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