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Chapter 1

Chapter One cross cult

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PSYC 3350
Saba Safdar

Chapter One: An Introduction to Culture and Psychology The goals of psychology - Psychology essentially has two main goals o To build a body of knowledge about ppl, seek to understand behavior when it happens, explain why it happens, and even predict it before it happens o Taking that body of knowledge and applying it to intervene in ppls lives Cultural psychology and cross-cultural research - In the past, most research on human behavior invoved American university students as study participants. Thus, most theories in psychology are based on studies with American students - Psychologists have argued that findings from such research have a drawback - Psychology should question the characteristics of ppl in any study, not just WEIRDOS (western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) - Cross-cultural research tests the cultural parameters of psychological knowledge o Allows psychologists to examine how knowledge about people and their behaviours from one culture may or may not hold for people from other cultures o Not only tests whether people of different cultures are similar or different; it also tests possible limitations in our knowledge, by examining whether psycholgists theories and principles are universal or cultural specific The contribution of the study of culture on psychological truths - The knowledge that is created in psychology should be accurate and descriptive of all people, not only of people of certain culture The growth of cultural psychology and cross-cultural research - Cultural psychology has truly made a substantial impact in psychology not only in the united states but also worldwide in the past decade or two - Due to the increased awareness of the important of culture as an influencing factor on behavior - Many scientists have come to recognize that much, but not all, of the research and theories once thought to be universal for all people is indeed cultural-bound What is culture - Culture can be used to describe activities or behaviours, refer to the heritage or tradition of a group, describe rules and norms, describe learning or problem solving, define the organization of a group, or refer to the origins of a group - Can refer to general characteristics ; food and clothing; housing and technology; individual and family activities; and sex and the life cycle - We use the concept of culture to describe and explain a broad range of activities, behaviours, events and structures in our lives Where does culture come from? - There are three important sources of the origins of cultre: ecology, resources, and people - Ecology: o Places in which groups of people live has a major impact on how they live  Eg. Climate- these ecological differences are likely to produce different ways of living, which in turn produce different cultures o Deviation from temperate climate appears to influence cultures o Much cooler or hotter climate make life much more difficult and demanding o Harsher climates also create greater risks of food shortage and food spoilage, stricter diets, more health problems o Population density: this is the ratio of the number of people that live in a specific area to the size of the area that can grow food and sustain the population o Arable land: is the amount of land on which food can grow to sustain the ppl in that area - Resources: o The presence or absence of water or land to farm to grow vegetables or raise animals o May encourage teamwork and community spitirit among its members and interrelationships with toher groups that have abundant resources in order to survive o In a land with abundant reseouces, however, a society would have less need for such values and attitudes o Affluence, which refers to the amount of money available to a person or group, can have a major impact on culture o Thus the combination of climate, population density and resources are likely some of the most important factors that contribute to a culture - People o group living  the first characteristic of ppl that contributes to the creation of culture is the fact that humans are social animals, and have always lived in groups  groups are also more efficient because they allow us to divide labor o needs and motives  humans have basic needs that are ultimately related to reproductive success • physical needs- the need to eat, drink and sleep, deal with waste and reproduce, safety and security needs and the need for hygiene and shelter  our basic needs are associated with social motives which include the motive to achieve and the motive to affiliate with others  these social problems include negotiating complex status hierarchies, forming successful work and social groups, attracting mates, fighting off potential rivals for food and sexual partners. o Universal psychological toolkits  Evolution endowed humans with a universal psychological toolkit  People adapt to their environments to address their basic needs and social motives eg. Language  Cognitive abilities that allow for complex social cognition, memory, and hypothetical reasoning • Wishes, desires, and intentions to act and behave  Morality, a human product, is probably rooted in this unique human cognitive ability  We have the cognitive ability to share our intentions with others, functions of language is to allow for us to communicate a shared intentionality  We have the ability to continually build upon imporvements • Computers, cars, audio, weapons • This is called the ratchet effect o An improvement never goes backwards; it only goes forward and continues to improve on itself  Because we have memory, we can create histories, and because we can create histories, we have traditions, customs and heritage  It is possible that cultures shaped the average personalities of its members, it is also possible that groups of individuals with certain kinds of personalities and temperaments banded together in certain geographic regions and thus influences culture.  Anyone born anywhere in the world could be taken at birth and raised in a different culture, and they would have the basic toolkit to get along with that new culture, and the new culture would seem normal to them  We come pre-equipped with an evolved set of abilitries that allows us to adapt, survive and create cultures A definition of culture - Groups of people need to adapt their behaviors to their ecologies in order to maximize the use of their available resources in order to meet their needs; the abilities and aptitudes in their psychological toolkits give them the tools to adapt. These adaptions produce behaviors, ways of living, ways of thinking, and ways of being. These ways become the contents of a group’s culture. - To achieve social order and coordination, and avoid chaos, we crate rules of life, or systems of living, or ways of being. This is culture - There is no one accepted definition of culture in either psychology or anthro. What is important however, is that we have a working definition of culture for our own use. o We define human culture as a unique meaning and information system, shared by a group and transmitted across generations , that allow the group to meet basic needs of survival, pursue happiness and well-being, and derive meaning from life - It is the productof the evolution of the human mind, increased brain size, and complex cognitive abilities, in response to the specific ecologies in which groups live and the resources available to them to live Is culture a uniquely human product - There are many characteristics of human cultural life that are shared with other animals - Many animals are social; that is, they work and live in groups - There are clear social networks and hierarchies - Many animals invent and use tools - There are three characteristics of human social and cultural life that differentiates it from those of animals: complexity, differentiation, and institutionalization o Because humans have complex social cognition, language, shared intentionality and ratcheting and cultural life is much more complex than that of other animals The difference between “society” and “culture” - Society is “a system of interrelationships among people” - Culture refers to the meanings and information that are associated wuth social networks, “family” for example, is a social group. Human cultures give the concept of family its own unique meaning Groups that have cultures - Culture and nationality o Nationality refers to a persons country of origins and countires have their won cultures o Although countries can certainly have a dominant culture, they can also have mnay subcultures. Eg, even within countries like france or japan, subcultures differ depending on region - Culture and language o A cultural group defines meaningful things in its world by encoding its worlds in words, and by incorporating unique aspects of language o Different dialects of a language often denote different cultures - Culture and ethnicity o Ethnicity, used to denote one’s racial, national, or cultural origins. In the United st
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