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PSY100- Nov 15, 2011.docx

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Dan Dolderman

PSY100 CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY Cultures Provide Frameworks for Meaning  e.g., a college student goes out for a cappuccino. What does this mean?  does it matter if the student is male or female?  a chance to quench her thirst,  a demonstration she’s quitting her diet,  an effort to wake herself up to study,  an opportunity to pursue a romantic interest  BUT in another culture it may not be appropriate for women to go to coffee shops on their own....  it may not be desirable to pursue a body weight less than what one currently has  it may be sinful to use artificial stimulants to wake yourself up  romantic relationships may be arranged, and so, women shouldn’t be out there pursuing them on their own....  Therefore, cultures provide general frameworks of meaning, shared understandings, myths, stories, etc., all of which guide our thinking and provide an interpretive frame to help us ‘make sense’ of our experience.  It is not that different from a collective mind. And just like “mind” is an adaptive organism, seeking to “fit” the organism to its circumstances, cultural trends arise for good reason, and much can be learned by taking a functionalist approach to the study of culture. Cultures as Adaptation  Dov Cohen “Different economies and ecologies lead to different cultural adaptations. Important work has been done to show this, and any consideration of cultural differences must take this as a starting point. Just as different ecological niches have led to different adaptations in animal species, so have different environmental niches led to differences in cultural adaptations.” The Culture of Honour  Archival data:  more argument-related murders in South (esp. in hills & dry plains, compared to moist plains)  “hawkish” international policy, right to bear arms, capital punishment  Survey data:  e.g., killing in defense of your home, or to avenge an attacked family member (23% vs. 47%); hiring a murderer if related to honour The Culture of Honour  Experiments:  “asshole study”: %change in testosterone: control vs. exp.  North: 4% --> 5%  South: 4% --> 12%  Chicken study: control vs. exp.  North: 6.5 --> 5  South: 9.5 --> 3!!!  why would this culture of honour have evolved? The not-so-terrible Twos  But in the Pygmy tribes of Africa, in Mexico, Japan, etc., this stage is remarkably less pronounced and in some cases, virtually non-existent  The same struggle for individuation doesn’t occur to the same degree, so culture is being transmitted even as early as 2, and reflected through parenting practices, and children’s development A Dominant Theme (so far)  the individualist – collectivistic distinction: some cultures (e.g., US, Australia, Canada) emphasize personal distinctiveness, pride, self- reliance, freedom, competitiveness other cultures (e.g., China, Japan, S. American cultures, SE Asian cultures, African cultures, indigenous people everywhere, etc.) emphasize personal effacement, humility, social roles, group harmony, cooperation Note: Indiv’s only account for about 20% of the world, but the VAST majority of psychology studies have been done on the most extreme Indiv’s (young, urban, educated, North Americans) The Twenty Statements Test  this broad difference in cultures can be found at the individual level, in terms of the self- concept (i.e., how people tend to think about themselves)  I am ... Individualists vs. Collectivists The relative proportion of personal vs. interpersonal descriptors is a window into the degree to which people think of themselves as individualists and as collectivists. And as it turns out, I & C people differ on many important psychological processes. Individualists vs. Collectivists For example, in I cultures, people tend to take credit for their successes, and externalize their failures. Indeed, this is seen as healthy! (remember CBT?) - Misty Hyman & Naoko Takahashi We’re blends of individualism & collectivism Even hard-core Individualists have Collectivist components to their self-concepts. And in fact, these are extremely important! E.g., social inclusion & depression, suicide, schizophrenia etc.... Our identities depend, to a large degree, on our associations with others. We “identify” with our friends, family, school, home team, clubs, religious groups, and yes, our nation (even Canadians!) The Power of One  When you are in a situation where you are being pressured to do something ‘wrong’, remember, you are not powerless.  By speaking up, you can destroy destructive social influences, you can liberate the voices of all those other people who also think “this is wrong”.  The power of the situation tends to overwhelm most people. But we can fight back. So have courage, speak your mind. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. -- Viktor Frankl Hidden in this moment of free choice is the secret to living a meaningful life. As moral beings, we have
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