What is Culture
1. Kind of information. Information acquired by other members.
2. Groups of individuals.
Challenges with defining culture
Variances within culture.
Psychological Processes that can vary across cultures.
Think of a sense of humor. Different psychologically across cultures. But culture extends much
deeper than just preferences…
Is the mind Independent from, or intertwined with Culture?
We tend to assume that the mind operates under a natural set of Universal laws. It’s a computer,
and culture is the software.
Cultural Psychologists to not embrace this view
Brains continue to grow and rewrite themselves with experience
STUDY: Relativity boxes P 910
STUDY: Taxi driver brains. Posterior Hippocampus
Cultural Psychologists will tend to explain cultural differences in Psychological processes as
To the extent that people in one culture are often faced with a particular cultural idea, they will think
a great deal about that idea, creating a rich framework of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that
surround it. These networks of information will be activated whenever people encounter something
that reminds them of this idea, be it a conversation they hear etc. If people consider these networks
often enough, they should become chronically activated, so that it’s prioritized above other
networks. Cultures, therefore, will all have different networks that are accessible and prioritized.
“The weed needs someone to call it a weed”
Case Study: The Sambia Initiation practices. Boys get semen. Homosexual, Heterosexual, and Bisexual stages.
HUGE contrast to western Culture because we are one of three sexualities. We don’t pass through
these natural stages.
We cannot understand Psychological processes (Desiring your son to felate an old man) without
understanding the context.
“What aspects of human sexuality are human universals?
Biologically grounded as our sexual motives are, they can nonetheless be shaped by culture.
Psychological Universals and Levels of Analysis
Why is it hard to come up with Universalities?
Do we analyze on the concrete or abstract? Think of marriage
Concrete: Not universal
Abstract: Basically universal.
Different levels of Universality (See notes and p17 Diagram)
Exists in all cultures,
is used to solve the same problem in all cultures,
is accessible to the same degree across cultures.
EG: Social Facilitation (Remember PSYCO 241?)
This tendency does not vary across cultures.
EG: Folk understanding of Universal laws (Knowledge that what goes up comes down)
Exists in multiple cultures, Solves the same problems in multiple cultures
More accessible to people from some cultures than others.
EG: “Costly” punishments.
Almost every culture does it, but some cultures are more reluctant to.
Exists in multiple cultures
Does not solve the same problems
Not equally accessible.
Westerners find success motivating, and failure to be demotivating. Opposite