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Midterm Study Notes

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Gabriela Ilie

Lecture 1 Notes: Egocentrism it is an idea that we as humans thinking that we have fundamentally figuerd out what everything is and what everything is for. People do three things describe, evaluate and interpret. When we do this we engage in egocentrism as we are assuming a position we do not have. Goals of Psychology: Create body of knowledge about people, Applying knowledge to improve peoples lives. Bronstein and Quina (1988), Lonner (1979, 1980), Price-Williams (1979), and Segall et al. (1990) are cross cultural psychologys main researchers. The field emerged in the 1960s and it had problems in the beginning such as expensive costs for travelling, many got killed, many didnt want to come back, most were discriminated when they came back, lack of funding on such research as it was found to be invaluable, issues related to methodology (such as change of scales). Lonner (1980) established that psychological universals are very important as researchers have to be careful with their own bias and be careful with their own mindset. Most of the information that was provided on their return were inaccurate due to the cultural bias involved. Bronstein and Quina suggested factors that resulted in issues within this field such as focusing on individual rather than groups, methodological issues (concepts are not interpreted in the same way), high costs. Most theories in psychology are based on studies with American university students. Are these theories true for all people, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, class or lifestyle? Cross-cultural psychology answers this question by testing people of differing cultural backgrounds. Triandis (1980) said that the only way to make our studies reliable is to generalize our studies on a global scale rather than focusing specifically in the western culture. What is usually referred to as cross-cultural, he called it etic and something that is cultural specific was referred to as emic. Smile, frown, happiness are universal but other behaviours are not universal as they may be derived from a culture specific environment. Cross cultural Psychology - Research method testing the cultural parameters of psychological knowledge by comparing data from participants of more than one cultural background. It is a scientific philosophy. It is a science on a broader scale as it encompasses all aspects. It is a philosophy since there will be a lot of discussion about reality i.e. whether it is real or not. Cross cultural psychology is not topic specific means that it looks at all aspects of human behaviour cognitive, emotional, memory and so on. Enculturation is the place where you were born and Acculturation is the place where you lived. Contributions of cross cultural psychology: methodological change in psychology studies by varying cultural background of the samples being studied tests limitations of our knowledge in psychology by examining whether theories are universal or culture-specific. The term culture is used to describe and explain a broad range of activities, behaviours, events and structures such as descriptive, historical, normative, psychological, structural, genetic, general characteristics, food & clothing, housing & technology, economy & transportation, individual & family activities, community & government, welfare, religion & science, sex & life cycle. In order to survive, people had to meet biological needs (e.g. reproduction, eating, safety) AND social motives (e.g. negotiating complex hierarchies). Universally need to come up with solutions on how to adapt to environment to address needs and motives. These solutions dependent on context (e.g. physical environment, social factors, types & sizes of families and Product of interaction between universal biological needs, social motives and context Solution to the problem of individuals adaptation to their contexts to address their social motives and biological needs. This triad is what creates culture (a concept), which has no meaning until we assign meaning to it. It is a mind process as we create meaning for things. Culture is not a uniquely human product as many aspects of human culture are shared with other animals. The unique things about human culture are: Language Humans have the ability to symbolize their physical and metaphysical world, create sounds representing those symbols (morphemes), to create rules connecting those symbols to meaning (syntax and grammar) and put all this together to form sentences. Language is questionable as we dont have evidence to prove that animals dont have a language to communicate with each other. Complex social cognition Humans have the ability to believe that other people are intentional agents i.e. they have wishes, desires and intentions to act and behave. We have causal beliefs and morality (turns on in humans after 9 months). Ratchet effect Important ability where humans continually build upon improvements. Examples are cars, computers, music players and so on. As a result, human culture have 3 characteristics: complexity, differentiation, institutionalization. Because humans have complex social cognition, language and ratcheting, human culture is more complex than animals as we are members of multiple groups, each having its own purpose, hierarchy and networking system. Humans evolved to have human culture. Society is a system of interrelationships among people. In fact, both humans and non-human animals have society. In comparison, culture is meanings and information associated with social networks as humans give social groups unique meaning whereas non-humans do not have human culture associated with social groups. For example, family is a social group that exists in both the human and nonhuman world. But, human cultures give the concept of family its own unique meaning and individuals draw specific information from these meanings. In fact, different human cultures assign different meanings to this social group. Factors that influence culture: Ecological Factors such as geography, climate, natural resources Social Factors such as population density, affluence, technology, government, media, religion Biological Factors such as temperament, personality Groups that have culture: Nationality - Country of origin and each country has own culture (as well as subcultures). Ethnicity - Racial, national or cultural origins. Gender - Behaviors society/culture deems appropriate for men and women Disability - Some type of physical impairment in senses, limb, or other parts of bodies Sexual Orientation - Person with whom one forms sexual relationships Culture vs. Race: Race is a social construction and thus boundaries & definition of race is different for different cultures. Need clear understanding of underlying causes of similarities and differences observed between races Culture vs. Personality: Culture meaning in the world, Personality traits of being in the world. Culture Personality Macro, social, group-level construct Individual differences that exist among individuals within groups
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