Why do people in different culture act different? 1) Genetics 2) early experiences or socialization shapes these
differences. This is what cultural psychologist believes.
Universal Brains Develop into Culturally Variable Minds-
• We learn and accumulate cultural information that is what differentiates us from chimps and has allowed us to
live anywhere in the world. The main point is that cultural knowledge is not in our head/hardwire (like salmon
they know how to swim back to their place that is instinctive or hardwired).
• Summary: “we all begin with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having
lived only one though our interaction and socialization with others in our environment”.
Sensitive Periods for Cultural Socialization-
• Sensitive period is a period of time in an organism’s development that allows for the relatively easy acquisition
of a set of skills. If an organism misses that chance to acquire those skills, it would have a difficult time doing
so later, after this period has expired.
Sensitive Periods for Language Acquisition-
• We are able to produce, recognize and use approximately 150 phonemes but most language only use 70.
• People aren’t able to discriminate easily between some phonemes that aren’t in their own language. For
example, Japanese cannot differentiate between “la”, and “ra” and between “va” and “ba” since it is not in their
language. Thus, Lover and Rubber sound the same.
• Research with infants suggests that young infants can discriminate among all the phonemes that humans are
able to produce. Thus we are biologically ready now to start picking up language and different sounds.
• But, as we are exposed to language, we begin to categorize sounds in ways that are used by the language-
within the first year of life, children begin to lose the ability to distinguish between closely related sounds that
aren’t in their own language
• Research suggest: 6-8 months year old English infants can distinguish between two sound from Hindi language
that is the same as 10-12 month old Hindi infant. But for the English infants, this decreases significantly at 10-
• Some research shows we are even able to discriminate at a 4 days old.
• Thus, we are better at learning language at early age since our brains are very flexible; that is at our sensitive
point. But then this flexibility decreases as we get older or move past our sensitive point.
• Studies of bilingual individuals’brains: 1) Those that learned second language late in life, one part of the brain
is active when they hear their second language, another when they hear their native language2) if the kids
learned second language early in life, showed activation in the same part of the brain. Thus early at life brain is
move flexible to attune itself to various kinds of inputs but later that particular part can’t so the brain has to
look for other places.
• The forbidden experiment: separate kids for year and then test if they can acquire language ( we can’t do this
experiment but stories of it exist)
• wild boy of Aveyron, 1800 France, lived in the wild for most of his life- was coached to speak for several years
but only learned to speak only two words • Genie, raised alone in silence until 13vocabulary at the time of discovery consisted of two words. Never
developed any mastery over grammar or syntax
Sensitive Periods forAcquiring Culture
• Language and culture greatly depend on each other thus we should expect similarity in the acquision of it.
Could we have a sensitive period of culture?
• But culture are far less tangible to study then language. No grammar, syntax to measure concretely. Can’t
differentiate btw Lover and Rubber can tell you a that you are NOT native English speaker but we can’t
measure their experience based on just this.
• Minoura (1992) targeted Hong Kong-born children who moved to Vancouver Canada at different ages.
• Hypothesis: if there was a sensitive period for learning cultures, then people who moved at different ages
would have different understanding of Canadian culture.
• Results 1: identification with Chinese culture was not predicted by any of the variable the study. Moved at
young or old age, did no influence their Chinese identification. Everyone could identify yes I belong to Chinese
• Result 2: identification with Chinese culture how ever yielded different results.
• Those who moved before 15 reported becoming largely “Canadianized”. Those who lived in Canada for 20
years said they identified with Canada more then those that had only live here for 5 years.
• 16-30: retained Chinese culture and did not come to identify with Canadian culture even if they spend more
years in Canada.
• Those who arrived after 31 year identified with Canada less the more time they spent in Canada.
• Summary: after age 15 it is difficult to acquire new culture. This is quit similar to the language acquisition.
Cultural Differences in Psychological Processes Emerge withAge.
• Research reveals that E. Asians and N. Americans differ in how they expect the future to unfold
• N.Americans are more likely to expect that trends will continue in the same direction, E.Asians are more
likely to expect that change will be nonlinear
• Ji (2005) children read a number of scenarios about a past state of affairs and asked to predict a future state of
• Chinese and Canadian 7-year-olds responded similarly, Chinese 9-year-olds were more likely to expect a
reversal of trends and this was more pronounced in 11-year-olds- these developmental patterns showing
cultural differences increasing with age have been identified in social loafing, tendencies to focus on positive
aspects of self etc..
What Kinds of Childhood Experiences DifferAcross Cultures:
Infant personal space: • Study Heidi Keller: Contrasted parenting interactions with 3monthold infants in five cultural contexts: urban
middleclass Germans, urban middleclass Greeks, urban lowerclass Costa Ricans, rural Indian Gujarati, and
rural Cameroonian Nso. (she assumed these culture are all different)
• Researchers made 20 unannounced visits with mothers and infants over a oneweek period and videotaped
them for 15minute intervals. Within these 15minute intervals, detailed behaviors were coded for interspersed
10second intervals. Body, facetoface contact, and response to both positive and negative signals from the
baby and mother reaction to it were recorded.
• Mother bodily contact with child: Urban European spends less contact with mom where the mother held
majority of the time the other culture the baby. NSO culture always had their baby with them. Thus Europeans
have their own personal spaces.
• Mother and child facetoface contact: urban European spends more time. Thus they are acting as separate
beings as in turn taking conversations.
• There are many other cultural experience that can enhance or limit the child’s physical development.
• European-descent N.American, provide child with their own private room to grow up in - in a study of 136
• 2/3 infants slept in the same bed as their mother, majority of other cases, infants slept in The same room as their
mothers but in a different bed-
• Practice of “co-sleeping” is common in many subcultures in the US
• - European-descent N.Americans are much more likely to view co-sleeping as a morally bad parenting
• Study: Chicago and Orissa, India, asked how they would arrange the sleeping arrangements for a family, father,
mother, sons aged 15, 11, 8, daughters aged 14, 3
• Given the same resources, Americans and Indians tended to come up with different solutions
• Indian principles ONLY: “incest avoidance” ( post puberty should not share bed btw S and D) , “protection of
the vulnerable”((young children are needy and vulnerable), “female chastity anxiety”(protect female from
having sexual behavior), “respect for hierarchy”( older boys can have separate room). Prefer these
arrangement: MF + 3D / 14D + 8S / 15S 11S OR F+8S / 15S + 11S/ m + 3D+14D
• American principles and SOME indians: “incest avoidance”, “sacred couple”(mom and dad live separately),
“autonomy ideal”( (young children should learn to deal with vulnerability and needs by themselves) and prefer
arrangement that include: MF / 3D +14D(girl)_ / 15s and 11s and 8s (boy)
• N.American children live in an environment where they are by themselves from an early age, must cry out to
their parents when they have needs to be taken care of
• Children in other cultures don’t need to call their mother as they are always present-Agiobu-Kemmer (1984)
• Chineseauthoritarian parenting▯ involves high demands, stick rules, and little open dialogue between parent
and the child. Low level of warmth by the parent for child issues.
• Americanauthoritative parentinginvolves child centered approach, high expectation of the maturity of
their child, try to understand their feeling and to teach them how to regulate these, encourage independence
and maintains limits and controls. • Permissive parentingexpressed parental warmth and responsiveness but place few limits and control on
• Some argue thatAmerican style is the best. But, this research does not captur