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PSYCH 3BA3 (49)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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McMaster University
Richard B Day

Chapter 4 – Developing Strengths and Living Well in a Cultural Context Culture and Psychology - Culture: a common heritage or set of beliefs, norms, and values o The shared attributes of one group o Culture and its response to mental health  Whether a person will seek help, what kind of help they will receive, whether some disorders will even come to the surface due to proper coping mechanisms being put in place, etc.  Possible biases present in clinicians treatment plans for individuals based on their culture - David Satcher’s message o Culture-Bound Syndromes: sets of symptoms much more common in some societies compared to others. o Western medicine focuses on seeing the human body in disease and gaining knowledge on these pathologies through strictly scientific and empirical methods  Use objective methods o Main message: culture counts  Need to work to ensure that the mental health care and needs of each culture is recognized and practiced - Focus on human strengths and the good life in terms of culture for the future - Debate amongst positive psychologists whether “universal” human traits and behaviours should be looked at from an objective perspective or if culture should be embedded in its examination Understanding Culture:A Matter of Perspective - Over the last 100 years, psychology has moved from differentiating individuals through culture to seeing the individuals in their own unique identity th th - Late 18 and 19 century, race and culture were used as positive and negative determinants for individuals’traits and behaviours o Eg. sociopolitical forces at the time resulted in research being centered around the idea that European ancestry was the dominant race o Used to highlight the inferiority of certain other races  Genetically deficient o Pseudoscience: used to demonstrate the relative superiority of one group over another  eg. filling a skull with pepper seeds and measuring the amount (craniometry) - 20 century view shifted from race to culture o Attempted to explain the struggles and problems of people by examining the culture and lifestyle in which they lived o Culturally Deficient: people who were lacking in certain psychological resources because they were lacking in the prevailing customs and values of the day of European Americans  Focused on the effects of external variables  Still biased, negative, and oversimplified view of those of racial and ethnic minority groups - Decades later, Culturally different perspective: the uniqueness and strength of all cultures was recognized - Recently, o Culturally pluralistic: recognizing distinct cultural entities and adopting some values of the majority group o Culturally Relativistic: interpreting behaviours within the context of the culture Positive Psychology: Culture Free or Culturally Embedded? - Goal: promote optimal functioning o Goal approached from various angles - Recurring issues appear within the debate: 1. Effect of professionals’cultural values on their research and practices 2. Universality of human strengths 3. Universality of the pursuit of happiness  Culture-Free Positive Psychology Research and Practice o Positive psychology is descriptive and objective o Results are above particular cultures and politics o Move towards universality o Believe cultural values do not influence research or practice o Look for virtues and strengths common valued by all people across cultures  24 personal characteristics (Peterson and Seligman, 2004) o Happiness is a defining feature in the emotional experiences of the people in most nations (Kahnema, 1999)  Culturally Embedded Positive Psychology Research and Practice o Develop research and practice around cultural influences o Most positive traits and processes manifest themselves in very different ways for different purposes in different cultures  Eg. forgiveness • In HmongAmericans, restoration of respect and seeks to repair the relati
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