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Chapter 1

ch.1 for PSYC14

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

Chapter 1: Intro to Culture and Psychology Psychology is the science specifically concerned with mental processes and behavioral characteristics of people The study of culture in psychology: The goals of psychology Psych has 2 goals: o (1) Build a body of knowledge about people: they seek to understand behavior when it happens, explain why it happens and even predict it before it happens; they do this by conducting research and creating theories of behavior o (2) Taking that body of knowledge and applying it to intervene in peoples lives, to make those lives better; deal directly with people to affect their lives in a positive fashion Cross-Cultural Research and Psychology Cross-cultural psych (CCP) asks questions by testing them in people of differing cultural backgrounds o It is a research method that tests the cultural parameters of psychological knowledge o It does research by including participants of more than one cultural background and then comparing data obtained across those culturesthis allows psychologists to examine how knowledge about people and their behaviors from one culture may or may not hold for people from other cultures CCP is a matter of scientific philosophythe logic underlying the methods used to conduct research and generate knowledge in psych Results of psychological research are bound by our methods, and the very standards of care we use when we evaluate the scientific rigor and quality of research are also bound by cultural frameworks within which our science occurs Theories depend on research to confirm or disconfirm them; research involves methods designed to collect data to test hypotheses based on theories Methods involve many parameters, one of which includes decisions about the nature of the participants in the study CCP not only tests whether people of different cultures are similar or different; it also tests possible limitations in our knowledge, by examining whether psychological theories and principles are universal (true for all cultures) or culture specific (true for some people of some cultures) Because CCP is a method, it is not topic-specific What distinguishes CCP is the testing of limitations to knowledge by examining whether that knowledge is applicable to people of different cultural backgrounds Growth of Cross-cultural psych Popularity is due to the increased awareness of the importance of culture as an influencing factor on behavior in research, and unfortunately, to increased awareness of the frequency of intercultural conflicts within and between countries Defining Culture Descriptive uses highlight the different types of activities or behaviors associated with a culture Historical definitions refer to the heritage and tradition associated with group of people Normative uses describe the rules and norms that are associated with a culture Psychological descriptions emphasize learning, problem solving and other behavioral approaches associated with culture Structural definitions emphasize societal or organizational elements of culture Genetic descriptions refer to the origins of a culture Barrys 8 broad categories in which culture has something to do: o General characteristics, food & clothing, housing/technology, economy/transportation, individual/family activities, community/government, welfare/religion/science and sex/life cycle Where does culture come from? Evolutionary psych: people have evolved a set of motives and strivings that are ultimately related to reproductive success www.notesolution.como Survival is related to the degree to which people can adapt to their environments and to the contexts in which they live o Biological imperatives are associated with social motives All individuals and groups have a universal problem of how to adapt to their environment in order to address needs and motives, and must create solutions to these universal problems; these solutions can be very specific to each group because the context in which each group livesThese solutions are culture Culture is the product of interaction between universal biological needs and functions, universal social problems created to address those needs, and the context in which people live Culture is the solution to the problem of individuals adaptations to their contexts to address their social motives and biological needs What needs produce cultural responses? Malinowski suggested that all individuals have universal needs related to metabolism, reproduction, bodily comforts, safety, movement, growth and health o All cultures must create ways to deal with each of these social motives, producing a cultural response that corresponds ultimately to the universal biological functions Is culture a uniquely human product? --> No! Culture is a response or solution to problem of adapting to our contexts in order to meet basic biological and social needs Many animals are social; there are social networks and hierarchies; animals invent and use tools; many animals communicate Animals have culture, or at least, a rudimentary form of culture consisting of social customs What is Unique about human culture? Language and complex social cognition Language: humans have a unique ability to symbolize their physical and metaphysical world, to create sounds representing those symbols (morphemes), to create rules connecting those symbols to meaning (syntax and grammar) and to put all this together in sentences; humans also developed writing systems so we can reduce oral expressions to words on paper Complex social cognition: ability to believe th
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