Even though human lack the adaptation ability to different environment, but we still thrive in many
because we humans have culture.
Apsychology for a cultural species:
The main thesis of this book is that people from different cultures also differ in their psychology (that
is the way they think). Psychological process is shaped by experiences and different people from
different cultures have different experiences, thus, they differ in the way they think. Note that
experience shape them but DO NOT determine them as psychological process are constrained and
afforded by the neurological structure the underlie them.
What is culture?
No single consensual answer. Some focus on symbolic aspects, some physical artifacts of cultures,
other emphasizes the habits that are contained in the culture. In this book, culture refers to two
different things. First, refers to particular kind of information. This information is the one that is
acquired (religion, ideas, beliefs, technology, habits, and practices) from others members of one’s
species through social and learning that is capable of affecting individual behaviors. Second, is used
to describe a particular group of individual who exist within some kid of particular shared context
and are exposed to many of the same cultural ideas.
Problems with this: first is that there are no clear-cut boundaries (we could be exposed to cultural
values from distant locations). Often we assign nationality as a very rough indicator of culture
(Italian vs. German as different culture but still within each people are exposed to different
information). Second problem is that culture changes over time and never remains static. The most
important challenge is that Much variability among individuals who belong to the same cultures.
They are exposed to different experiences that shape their views. Thus results in this book do not
apply to all but be average tendencies within a culture.
Thus, “culture” refers to dynamic groups of individual that share a similar context, exposed to similar
cultural messages, and contact broad range of different individuals who are affected by cultural
messages in divergent ways.
Psychological process can vary across cultures:
One example is the sense of humor. What is funny in one culture might not be considered funny in
other culture. These can extent to our food, how we think about particular issues, our motivations and
Is the mind independent or intertwined with culture?
Richard Shweder the father of modern incarnation of the cultural psychology, thought that people is
general psychology assume that mind operates under set of natural and universal laws that are
independent form the content or context under which it operates in.Although this is true in that
people smile, we have word for black, etc. but we also have many important differences and people
are NOT the same everywhere. Human brain is thought of as a computer (metaphor) and thus
because the culture is outside of the general operation of the mind/brain/ CPU.
In contrast, cultural psychologist argues that mind does not operate independently of what is it
thinking about. Thinking involves interaction with the content that one of thinking about and
participating in the context within which one is doing the thinking. Further more, because humans are
cultural being, our actions, feeling, thoughts are immured in cultural information that this information Introduction:
renders these action, thought, and feeling to meaningful. For example, looking for romantic relation
in one culture is considered ok but in others it is very bad. The meaning of an experience is different
and this meaning is provided by culture.
There is empirical evidence that mind influence by one’s culture. Participants were given figure line
task and asked to find the relative length and the absolute line task. In relative length task
Europeanincrease activation of ferior parietal lobe and right precentrl gyrus. These regions are
involved in attention control mean relative length task was tough for them required a lot of attention.
East attentionattention control when completing absolute task. Results: cultural difference in
analytic versus holistic reasoning and is primarily because of the experience they had that determines
how their brain response to a simple task involving estimating the length of lines. Thus mind is
shaped by experience and the culture differs in the kind of experience that they provide.
Thus, unlike CPU, brain changes as we experience new things and grow.As we regularly experience
same things, it can ultimately change the structure of our brain. Example is London taxi drivers
change in hippocampus for spatial memory. Many believe that as we experience the same thing, it
create a network in our brain. The more we experience this thing, the more readily available this
network of thought and feeling are available to us. Thus different cultures will have different
networks activated. It is because of this that many believe that culture and mind cannot be separated
from one another, as one needs the other.
Case study: The sambia. Boy needs power and they get it through semen to take them form female
world to the manhood.At 7 years, they perform oral sex to get sex and ingest it to get power
(homosexual), and then stop at 15 (and start giving it). Then they get married and then only
heterosexual relationship. He now gets children, and to replenish his power/semen he eats white tree
sap. On the other hand, females are only hetro. Overall, this shows that human lives in cultural world.
Our actions have meaning and this meaning is derived from particular cultural experiences. We as
westerners cannot understand the psychological experiences of Sambians with out considering the
cultural context in which there actions occurs. This actions also tells us that biological grounded as
our sexual motives are (sexual orientation), they become shaped by the specific cultural beliefs and
Psychological universal and level of analysis:
Great deal of controversy continues over whether given psychological process are universals to all
culture or are specific certain cultures. These evidence are controversial because, first, the evidence
for the universality of a process depends upon the level of abstraction (i.e. what do you mean by
marriage determine what kid of relationship is determined to be marriage in different culture). The
level of abstraction that one entertains influence the success that one has in identifying evidence for
universality.At more abstract levels there is often more evidence for universals; however, at more
abstract levels, the phenomena under questions are often too abstract to be of much utility. Second: it
is not straightforw