Culture (the beliefs, values, rules, and customs that exist within a group of
people who share a common language and environment and that are
transmitted through learning from one generation to the next) also provides
Although biological evolution took place over millions of years, cultural
evolution has only been over the past several thousand years.
- For example, researchers have found distinct differences between the
worldviews of typical Easterners and Westerners. Social psychologist Richard
Nisbett argued that these cultural differences date back to ancient Greek and
Chinese societies. Cultural psychologists still find that Westerners tend to be
independent and autonomous, stressing their individuality, while Easterners
are more interdependent, and see themselves more as part of a collective.
•Psychological science can be studied on many levels of analysis.
oPsychologists often collaborate with researchers from other sciences, including
biology, computer science, physics, anthropology and sociology
oPsychologists study three basic categories of behaviour and mental life: social,
individual, and biological.
Social analysis can be divided into cultural and interpersonal analysis
Individual analysis can be broken down into the analysis of individual
differences, perception and cognition, and behaviour
Biological analysis involves brain systems, neurochemical and genetic analysis
The intellectual origins of psychology
•Nature vs. nurture debate
oBasically, whether psychological characteristics are due to nature (biologically
innate) or nurture (acquired through education, experience, and culture
o It is now recognized that both are important, but recent advances in scientific
knowledge allow psychological scientists to specify when either nature or nurture is
important, and how they interact.
oFor example, until the 1950s, it was believed that schizophrenia (a disorder in which
people have unusual thoughts or experience unusual sensations) and bipolar
disorder (characterized by dramatic mood swings from depression to euphoria)
resulted from bad parenting and other environmental circumstances (nurture).
However, in the 50s and 60s, drugs were discovered that alleviated symptoms, and
more recent research shows that these conditions are heritable.
oPsychological scientists now believe that many mental disorders are equally a result
of nurture and nature. Another example is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a result of traumatic experiences, but research shows that some people are
genetically predisposed to PTSD, indicating that nurture can activate nurture.
oAlso, social environment plays an important role in whether treatment is successful
oConsiders whether the mind and body are separate and distinct, or whether the mind
is simply the subjective experience of the physical brain