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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 - PSY100.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

Chapter 16 Cultural Psychology Cartoons depicted Muslim prophet Muhammad in deliberately offensive ways (bomb in his turban) that lead to huge outrage across the world and even lead to deaths.  Western commentators argued that freedom of expression must be treasured and exercised even if doing so means sometimes offending people What is Culture? Culture Consists of Information Transmitted through Learning  Culture refers to the beliefs, values, custom of a group of people who share a language and an environment and are transmitted through learning from one generation to another (no other species has this) o Psychologists define it in the broadest sense; culture is any kind of information acquired by individuals through imitative or social learning Some Aspects of Culture are Shared by Other Species and Some are Unique to Humans  Research has found evidence for cultural learning in other species (monkeys learned to wash potatoes through imitative learning) o Dolphins use distinctive sound for each other, like humans use names o Less intelligent species as well; guppies learn routes from other guppies  Humans stand out in how much cultural learning they do and doing it better than any other species (in monkey example it took time for it to spread through group and some monkeys never figured it out), in humans they are passed on to almost all members and usually in one trial (dialect, tools, words) o Human cultural learning is so extensive that it pervades all aspects of our lives (activities we purse, our mates, shelters we live in) we are only true cultural species, can be said that all human behaviour/thought has been influenced by cultural learning Humans Have Evolved to Accumulate Cultural Information  For it to become so central it must have had reproductive and survival value  Humans social nature appears to have been a key factor in the evolution of the human brain o Clear relation between the average group size in which various primate species including humans, live and the proportion of cerebral cortex in the brain; the larger the average group size the larger the cerebral cortex ratio o The cognitive capacities of a large brain were highly adaptive for social living (why they evolved to be as big as they are today)  Groups protect against predators and create pools of shared resources, provides greater opportunity for social learning  Ability to learn socially is far more developed in humans then in other primates o Compared two year old human with orangutans, when asked to get a an object that was out of reach they performed the same but when they had to learn by watching someone else (social learning), the baby outperformed them by a lot  This skill at social learning required evolution of 2 skills that are unique to humans o Sophisticated communication skills: allowed to convey beliefs and complex thoughts which in turn allowed for individuals to coordinate behaviour within a group, development of language has huge benefits (exp. communicate needs) o Theory of mind: to understand social dynamics one must be able to identify the intentions of fellow group members, humans in all cultures develop it at an early age, allows humans to imagine the intentions of others, allows cultural learning to be much more efficient then just simple observation  The ability to accumulate cultural info and to create sophisticated tools has been and remains highly adaptive for humans (tools got more complex as they were passed on) o Not seen in non-human species, they have not developed more sophisticated tools over time, each generation starts at “square one” since they lack a theory of mind What is Cultural Psychology? Cultural Psychology is the study of how Culture Shapes Psychological Processes  Emerged because most researchers believe that culture plays a prominent role in our mental lives, wanted to see if mental processes were the same in all cultures o Not until 1990’s that cultural psychology research started getting published in mainstream journals even though it was brought up by Wilhelm Wundt before  Like social environments , cultural environments arise from the info that people share but on a larger scale, are more sweeping and inclusive, you can easily leave social situation to a new one—however people rarely leave their own cultural environments  Our own culture often remains invisible to us  Cultural Psychology is guided by two themes: o How each person is related to others o Both universal and culturally specific psychologies exist (chilli peppers taste spicy to people in Canada and Thailand however there may be cultural differences in the preference for spicy tastes)  Uncertainty that psychologists of some of their research finding is due to the fact that most psychological phenomena have been studied primarily with university students n North America and Europe, also most findings don’t generalize well across cultures (susceptibility to optical illusions, numerical reasoning) How Does Culture Affect the Mind  Humans in all cultures are born with the same basic potentials, we could learn any language and adopt any cultural worldview , you’d be very different if you raised in Amazon however many psychological experiences in humans are alike around the world  A common foundation underlies the psychological experiences of all people, but we also know that because people participate in specific cultures those universal psychological characteristics are shaped and expressed differently across cultures Table 16.1 o Marriage is seen across cultures but is practiced in many different ways (monogamy: one husband one wife, polyandry: one wife multiple husbands, polygyny: one husband multiple wives, or homosexual marriages)  Universal tendencies can be explained in culturally specific ways Culture and Mind are Inextricably Bound  Fact that man universal aspects of the mind are expressed differently across cultures demonstrates that culture and mind are not fully separable o Cultures shape the kinds of things minds think about and in so doing they influence the ways that those minds process info o To have a rich understanding of the mind you need to have a rich understanding of the culture  North American education system highlights the individuality of each student (tailors to their need and holds them back if they are not performing well) while Japanese system emphasizes the importance of student’s belonging with their peers (doesn’t hold them back no matter how they perform) this can be seen to shape mind o Culture develops out of the participation of like-minded individuals—create social norms which reflect the underlying values of the individuals, so in States the system was based around belied of individuality while in Japan the school system was from the peoples feeling s that is important to develop a strong sense of belonging with one’s peers o Culturally shaped ways of thinking influence the education models that countries adopt (culture and mind are bound together)  The mind is influenced by participating in certain cultural practices and cultural practices are shaped by the minds of the people who live within them o Culture and mind make each other up, and cant study one without the other There is Sensitive Period For Learning Culture  Humans are pre-wired to acquire cultural information at a young age (language) o Humans are born able to recognize all 150 phonemes even though no language uses more than 70 but through socialization they lose ability to distinguish between phonemes not in their own language o Being exposed to a language shapes the ways that we perceive phonemes and it does so early in life  Our ability to learn new languages diminishes with age, if learn a new language after puberty usually speak it with an indelible accent of their native tongue o Children who went to states after 15 years of age from Japan reported difficulty fitting in and preferred Japanese ways of doing things o Study of teenagers to Vancouver from Hong Kong before the age of 15 identified more with Canada with each additional year  Those who acquire a ways of a culture later in life have an echo of old one (their original heritage or culture) kind of like an accent when speaking a foreign language Cultural Differences In Psychological Processes Become More Pronounced with Age  Humans acquire culture as they are socialized (not born with it), children are most sensitive to it at an early age (not born with culture)  Cultural difference In psychological processes tend to increase as people age and are socialized into their respective cultural worlds  Westerners fall under the correspondence bias more than people from other cultures because tend to see the individual as the source of action and control whereas people from South and East Asia tend to see the behaviour as arising from an individual’s interacting with others according to situational demands o Cultural difference in attribution for peoples behaviours increases with age  John Miller asked 8, 11, 15 and 19 year old Americans and Indians to describe a situation in which someone had behaved in prosocial or deviant manner o Participants explanations were categorized in two way: either they indicated that something about the person caused (irresponsibility) the action or they indicated that something about the situation (had important work) caused the action (lawyer did just left passenger at hospital after he fell off his motorcycle) o American adults showed clear evidence of the correspondence bias, but none of the other American age groups or the Indians showed much evidence of it. Indians showed a reverse correspondence bias (emphasized situational factors more than personal ones) FIG 16.8 The Self-Concept Varies Across Cultures  Shapes how people view themselves, varies across cultures  In individualistic cultures peoples senses of themselves are likely to be independent, grounded in internal aspects of themselves (personality, attitudes), emphasize how they are different from others and value self-reliance  In collectivist cultures people senses of themselves are likely to be interdependent, grounded in shared aspects of themselves (roles, relationships) emphasize how they are connected to others and they value group harmony  Neural imagining can present evidence of these cultural differences o Westerners had different brain activity when evaluated their mothers compared to when they evaluated themselves; while Chinese had same brain activity for both  People in Western cultures are motivated to view themselves as consistent across a diverse range of situations  Because dissonance arises when behaviours and attitudes clash, people are motivated to change their attitudes to justify their actions  If your sense of self is primarily connected with characteristics within you then your self- concept should be consistent across situations, but if it is primarily connected with roles and relationships you have with others then your self-concept should vary depending on what roles and relationships are important in a given situation (how you behave with friends vs. how you behave with strangers)  American and Japanese participants were given questionnaire in different situations (alone, in group etc.), Americans gave same similar answers throughout, the Japanese gave different ones depending on the situation o Interdependent self-construal appears to vary more in different contexts much more than the independent self-construal does  In West people believe their beliefs determine their behaviours, when this is inconsistent they get feelings of anxiety and try to resolve the inconsistency  In North America and Europe people tend to follow difficult decisions with rationalization; focus only on the positive aspects of that choice and the negative aspects of the other choices (post decisional dissonance) but is not seen in Asians; but East Asians do show it when making choices for others (are motivated to make their behaviours consistent with others’ expectations whereas Americans are more likely to act consistent with the ways they have in the past  Depending on their self-construal’s, people strive to be consistent in different ways What are the Psychological Consequences of Moving to A Different Culture  Extent to which people are migrating to different countries is higher than ever before  It is projected that by 2012 the visible minority of Toronto will become the majority Acculturation Requires Significant and Often Successful Adjustment  Acculturation: the process of adaptation to a culture different from one’s own o There is huge variability depending on factors such as where the person is from, age, gender, sexuality etc. but it all acculturation involves psychological adjustment and is often extremely stressful  One way to look at adjustment is to consider people’s attitudes to their new culture (mainstream culture)  U-shaped Curve: a pattern of acculturation characterized by three phase: “honeymoon phase”, “crisis”/”culture shock” and adjustment FIG 16.12 o first few months is exciting (6-8 months) but then develop negative views of the new culture as the novelty wears off (culture shock) following this period of unhappiness people typically learn how to exist in their new cultures, make friends and get positive views of their new culture (takes several years)  Culture Shock: the feelings of anxiety, estrangement, helplessness and incongruousness with ones surroundings that often follow emigration to a new cultural environment  Cultural Distance: the disparity in customs, traditions, beliefs and general heritage between the two cultures, the smaller the distance the easier the acculturation should be  Cultural fit: the degree to which one’s values and behavioural normal align with those common to another culture, those that align better with the host culture have an easier time adjusting  The better the fit between an individual’s personality and values and the host culture. The easier will be the adjustment process People from Distinct, Minority Cultural Backgrounds Often Face Discrimination  People from different cultures are often not treated with respect o Mocking, unjust treatment, violence, humiliation and threat their lives, prejudice, also extends to those whose ancestral backgrounds are different  Stereotyped minorities are vulnerable to falling victim to self-fulfilling prophecies and acting in ways consistent with negative beliefs that others have about their groups (stereotype threat)  Indigenous populations are most discriminated against across cultures (First Nations people in Canada), also groups that were enslaved by others (African Americans in the States)  Historical circumstances, economic competition and cultural distinctiveness all play a role in determining which groups become targets of discrimination  Having distinct cultural background also has psychological benefits, strongly identify with their groups and increase their loyalty towards it, important source of meaning and self-esteem in their lives  stronger sense of identification brings many positive feelings among minority members towards themselves and their groups and is important to cope with discrimination that they sometimes experience Multicultural People Can Switch between Different Selves  People who learn two languages, don’t speak a mix of the two languages, they go back and forth between speaking the two languages  Frame-Switching: the shifting of thoughts and behaviours to those appropriate from a given cultural context; does not occur just for consciously accessible behaviours (how one talks) but also for thoughts that lie beyond people’s awareness, such as how they make attributions  Hong Kong Chinese participants could switch between Chinese and Western ways of explaining the fish’s behaviour o Those primed to think Chinese thoughts were especially likely to explain the target fish’s behaviour in terms of situational (external) attributions whereas those primed to think American thoughts were especially unlikely to use situational attributions to explain the fish’s behaviour even though they were unaware that Chinese and Westerners tend to make different kinds of explanations for others’ behaviours TABLE 16.14  Tendency to frame-switch is also seen in other psychological measures (self-enhancement and co-operation) Multicultural People May Be More Creative  Canadian author wrote Life of Pi after growing up in Costa Rica, France, Mexico and Canada, Ang Lee directed movies like Brokeback Mountain while living in the States o Possible explanation for this pattern is that people with creative personalities are more likely to desire multicultural experiences OR o That there is something about adjustment to like in another culture that makes people more creative  Come to see something in new/different perspective  Research shows that those who have lived in different cultures perform better on creativity tests; merely visiting countries as tourists does not enhance creativity  Having multiple perspectives such as those gained by adapting to life in a new culture, appears to enhance creative thought How does culture affect how we think and behave?  People in individualistic cultures tend to have different views of themselves than people in collectivistic cultures have o These influence the many ways in which we think (how we understand ourselves influences how we understand others; we use our theories)  How we understand other people appears to influence how we understand other, non-social aspects of our world as well Cultures differ in analytic and holistic thinking  Taxonomic categorization: a system of grouping stimuli based on perceived similarities of attributes o Eg. the americans grouped a dog and rabbit in same category because they are both mammals (and ignoring the carrot in the list)  Thematic categorization: a system of grouping stimuli based on perceived relationships among them o Eg. the Chinese grouped rabbit and carrot together because rabbits eat carrots (while dogs eat both)  These two categorization strategies reflect an underlying difference in the ways that people with independent and interdependent views of self think about their worlds  Analytic thinking: a system of evaluation in which a person views objects as independent from
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