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Psychological Science - Third Canadian Edition - Chapter Sixteen Notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George

INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY (CHAPTER 16) WHAT IS CULTURE?  CULTURE CONSISTS OF INFORMATION TRANSMITTED THROUGH LEARNING - Culture refers to the beliefs, values, rules, and customs of a group of people who share a language and environment which are transmitted through learning from one generation to another - Describes culture in uniquely human terms - Psychologists also define culture more broadly, and this chapter uses this more expansive definition - Culture is any kind of information acquired by individuals through imitative or social learning  CULTURE IS SHARED BY OTHER SPECIES AND SOME IS UNQIUE TO HUMANS - Research has found evidence for cultural learning in other species (ex: monkey washing potatoes and other monkeys imitated the action) - Nonprimate species like dolphins have demonstrated cultural learning when using distinctive sound for each other like humans use names - Humans do culture better than any other species - Pigeons and octopuses have shown limited evidence of learning from others within the species - In contrast, many aspects of human culture are learned by virtually every culture member, often after a single trial - Human cultural learning is to extensive that it pervades all aspects of our lives - The languages we speak, the ways we seek mates, the work we perform, the tools we use, the shelters we live in, the activities we pursue and the ways we relate to others are all cultural products  HUMANS HAVE EVOLVED TO ACCUMULATE CULTURAL INFORMATION - For our species to have evolved so that it depends this heavily on culture, culture must have been adaptive for our human ancestors - Humans’ social nature appears to be a key factor in the evolution of the human brain - There is a clear relation between the average group size in which various primate species, including humans, live and the proportion of cerebral cortex in their brains - The larger the average group size, the larger the cerebral cortex ratio which suggests that human brains evolved to be as big as they are because the cognitive capacities of a large brain were highly adaptive for social living - Groups protect against predators and create significant pools of shared resources - It provides greater opportunities for social learning - Human brain appears to have evolved to be adept at learning information from others - Social learning required evolution of two capacities that are largely unique to humans: sophisticated communication and theory of mind - Humans evolved sophisticated communication skills that allowed them to convey beliefs, intentions, and complex thoughts - The development of language was a key to adaptation for cultural learning - It allowed them to more accurately communicate needs, describe threats, understand complex social dynamics and more perpetuate cultural ideas - Theory of mind = when one is able to identify the intentions of fellow group members - Having a theory of mind allows humans to imagine the intentions of others, and this ability allows cultural learning to occur with a far higher degree of precision than simple observation - Enables humans to do something important that no other species can do = humans can accumulate cultural information - After watching a model perform a behaviour, humans can reproduce that behaviour accurately and then improvise and add to that behaviour CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY:  Field emerged because most researchers believe that culture plays a prominent role in our mental lives  Psychologists wanted to see if behaviours and mental processes are the same in all cultures  Is the study of how culture shapes psychological processes  Not popular until 1990s, when research was getting published in mainstream journals and attracted the attention of the field  Cultural environments are more sweeping and inclusive than social environments; you can leave one social situation and enter a new one, but most people rarely leave their cultural environments  Is guided by two themes: how each person is related to others AND that both universal and culturally specific psychologies exist HOW DOES CULTURE AFFECT THE MIND:  CULTURE AND MIND ARE INEXTRICABLY BOUND - The fact that many universal aspects of the mind are expressed differently across cultures demonstrates that culture and mind are not fully separable - Cultures in turn shape the kinds of things that those minds think about, and in so doing they influence ways that those minds process information - To have a rich understanding of the mind it is necessary to have a rich understanding of the culture in which a particular mind exists - The mind is influences by participating in certain cultural practices - The thesis of cultural psychology is that culture and mind make each other up and that we cannot properly study culture or mind without considering how each affects the other  THERE IS A SENSITIVE PERIOD FOR LEARNING CULTURE - Humans are pre-wired to acquire cultural information at a young age - Our ability to learn new languages diminishes with age - People who acquire a new language after puberty often speak it with an indelible accent of their native tongue - There appears to be a sensitive period for acquiring other kinds of cultural information - Becoming Canadian appears to be more a function of how young someone is when he or she arrives in Canada - People who acquire the ways of a culture later in life appear to preserve an echo of the emotional repertoire of the original culture  CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES BECOME MORE PRONOUNCED WITH AGE - Children are sensitive to cultural information from a very early age and as they grow up they acquire more and more cultural information - The universal mind that children are born with comes to be shaped in culturally particular ways  THE SELF-CONCEPT VARIES ACROSS CULTURES - Being socialized in a particular cultural context affects much of how people think - Shapes how people come to view themselves - In individualistic cultures, people’s senses of themselves are likely to be independent, grounded in internal aspects of themselves; people emphasize ways in which they are distinct from others and they value self-reliance - In collectivistic cultures, people’s senses of themselves are likely to be interdependent grounded in shared aspects of themselves; people in these cultures emphasize how they are connected with others, and they value group harmony - Research on the self-concept has shown that people in western cultures are powerfully motivated to view themselves as consistent - Making decisions based on rationalization is known as postdecisional dissonance - Westerners show clear evidence of postdecisional dissonance, but east Asians generally do not - East Asians do not show postdecisional dissonance when making choices for others - Finding suggests that east Asians are motivated to make their behaviours consistent with others’ expectations WHAT ARE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF MOVING TO A DIFFERENT CULTURE?  ACCULTURATION REQUIRES SIGNIFICANT AND OFTEN STRESSFUL ADJUSTMENT - Acculturation = the process of adaptation to a culture different from one’s own - Despite the tremendous variability in people’s acculturation experiences, all acculturation involves psychological adjustment - Adjustment associated with acculturation does not occur suddenly, but takes place over many years, sometimes over generations - A common pattern of adjustment forms a u-shaped curve - Not everyone has the same acculturating experiences - One important factor in predicting acculturative success is cultural distance, the difference between two cultures in their overall ways of life - The smaller the distance, the easier acculturation should be (ex: adjustment is easier from Quebec to France, than from Quebec to Zaire) - The greater the differences between an individual’s heritage and host cultures, the more significant the adjustment the person must make, and the more likely it is that the person will experience significant stress - Some individuals’ values and personalities allow them to fit in with their host cultures better than other people’s do - Cultural fit is the degree to which individual’s values and personality are similar to the dominant cultural values in the host culture  PEOPLE FROM DISTINCT, MINORITY CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS OFTEN FACE DISCRIMINATION - People from different cultures are not always difficulties of immigration is the fact that people from different cultures are not always treated with equal respect - Moving to a different cultural environment is fraught with active discrimination, systematic disenfranchisement, unjust treatment, mocking and humiliation, violence and even threats to their lives - One consequence of being discriminated against is stereotype threat - Stereotyped minorities are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to self- fulfilling prophecies - All cultures have negative stereotypes about certain groups but the groups that are stereotyped vary tremendously across cultures - Indigenous populations are targets of discrimination - Groups that were enslaved by others are often the victims of persistent discrimination - Every national culture includes groups that are actively discriminated against - Historical circumstances, economic competition, and cultural distinctiveness all play an important role in determining which groups become targets of discrimination - People with a distinctive cultural background are more likely to come to strongly identify with the
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