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Chapter 16

Chapter 16: Cultural Psychology

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

Chapter 16: Cultural Psychology Culture: any kind of information acquired by individuals through imitative or social learning - Humans are not unique in being able to learn cultural information, but we do it better than other species - Many aspects of human culture are learned by virtually every culture member, often after a single trial Humans have Evolved to Accumulate Cultural Information - Culture must have been adaptive for our human ancestors – survival and reproductive values - Direct relationship between size of average group size and proportion of cerebral cortex in brain: larger avg group size = larger cerebral cortex o suggests that human brains have evolved to be as big as they are b/c the cognitive capacities of a large brain were highly adaptive for social living - group living provides greater opportunities for social learning; ability to learn from others is far more developed in humans 1. humans evolved more sophisticated communication skills that allow them to convey beliefs, intentions and complex thoughts 2. to understand social dynamics, one must identify the intentions of fellow group members (theory of mind) – allows humans to imagine the intention of others and allows cultural learning to occur with a higher degree of precision than simple observation; humans can accumulate cultural information; after watching a model perform a behavior, humans can reproduce that behavior accurately and then add to it - because chimps lack theory of mind, they can only learn what the previous generation of animals was able to due Cultural Psychology Is the Study of How Culture Shapes Psychological Processes - Wundt argued that the higher-order psychological processes needed to be studied considering the enviro in which they occur - cultural enviro are social enviros thon a larger scale, with the norms and shared understanding that develop within them potentially extending to all aspects of an individual’s life; they are more sweeping and inclusive than social enviro - 2 key themes 1. Each person is related to others; every human is unique and socially connected to others; differences found in cultures in how we accomplish goals and seek belongingness with others 2. Both universal and cultural specific psych exist; everyone has the same biology but some of us can take spicier foods than others Humans in all cultures normally are born with the same basic potentials - Marriage is universal but martial practices differ greatly (monogamy, polyandry, polygamy, homosexual) Culture and Mind are Inextricably Bound - Cultures emerge from the interaction of the minds of people that live with them shape the kinds of things that those minds think about o Cultures influence the ways that minds process info o Ex. North American schools focus on student’s personal needs vs Japanese school that focus on “social promotion” - Interactions among individuals create cultural norms and those norms reflect the underlying values of those individuals There is a Sensitive Period for Learning Culture Humans are pre-wired to acquire cultural info at a young age; born with the capability of producing and recognizing approx. 150 phonemes but through socialization and being exposed to certain languages, we lose the ability to distinguish between phonemes not in their own languages - ability to learn new languages diminishes with age Hong Kong  Vancouver (after 15) did not identify themselves with Canadian ways more as their length of time in Canada increased (before 15) identified more with Canada with each additional year they spent there People who acquire the ways of culture later in life appear to preserve and echo of the emotional repertoire of their original culture Cultural Differences in Psychological Processes Become More Pronounced with Age Children acquire culture as they are socialized; cultural differences in psychological processes increase as people age and are socialized into their respective cultural worlds - Westerners tend to view the individual as a source of action and control (personal attribution); clear evidence of correspondence bias - South and East Asians tend to see behavior as arising from an individual’s interacting with others according to situational demands (situational attribution) The Self-Concept Varies across Cultures Western Cultures Eastern Cultures In individualistic cultures, ppl’s senses In collectivistic cultures, ppl’s senses of of themselves are likely to be themselves are interdependent, independent, grounded in internal grounded in shared aspects of aspects of themselves (personality traits, themselves (roles, relationships, group attitudes, etc) memberships) Post-decisional dissonance No post-decisional dissonance Act more consistently with the ways they Motivated to make their behaviours had in the past consistent with others’ expectations What are the Psychological Consequences of Moving to a Different Culture? Acculturation: the process of adaptation to a culture different from one’s own - Characterized by a U-shaped curve: honeymoon phase (+), crisis/culture shock (-), and adjustment (gradually +) Culture Shock: the feeling of anxiety, estrangement, helplessness and incongruousness with one’s surroundings that often follow emigration to a new cultural enviro. Cultural Distance: the difference between two cultures in their overall ways of life - Important factor in determining acculturation success Cultural Fit: the degree to which one’s values and behavioural norms align with those common to another culture - Ppl with values and personalities similar to those that are common within the host culture have easier time adjusting; personalities reflect the overall tendencies of their particular culture Stereotype Threat is a consequence of discrimination – stereotyped minorities are vulnerable to falling victim to self-fulfilling prophecies Frame-Switching: the shifting of thoughts and behaviours to those appropriate for a given cultural context Cultures Differ in Analytic and Holistic Thinking Dog, Rabbit, Carrot Taxonomic categorization: system of grouping stimuli based on perceived similarities of attributes - Westerners grouped dog and rabbit together on the basis that they are both mammals Thematic Categorization: system of grouping stimuli based on perceived relationships among them - Chinese grouped Rabbit and Dog together Two ways of thinking: 1. Analytic Thinking: system of evaluation in which a person views objects as independent from context and in terms of individual characteristics; person then uses the resulting assessments to form a set of abstract rulers meant to predict and explain the objects o More common in individualistic cultures 2. Holistic Thinking: system of evaluation in which a person views objects with regard to context and in terms of relationships between them; person then uses the resulting assessments to guide behavior o more common in collectivistic cultures Americans focus on foreground of pictures, Japanese focus on background - Figure Line Task (relative task vs. absolute task); pg750 Cultures Differ in Motivations for Control and Choice Primary Control: influencing one’s enviro to achieve one’s goals, desires, or wishes - More common with in
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