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Chapter 1

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University of Toronto St. George
Simone Walker

PSY321 Chapter 1 Cultural Psychology – Psychology with a Cultural Perspective The Goals of Psychology  Psychology has two main goals 1. To build a body of knowledge about people  Psychologists seek to understand behaviour when it happens, explain why it happens, and even predict it before it happens. They achieve this by conducting research and creating theories of behaviour 2. Taking that body of knowledge and applying it to intervene in people’s lives, to make those lives better.  Psychologists achieve this in many ways: as therapists, counsellors, trainers, and consultants Cultural Psychology and Cross-Cultural Research  WEIRDOS (American students only rep 5% of world) o Western o Educated o Industrialized o Rich o Democratic cultures  Cross-cultural research involves participants of more than one cultural background o Tests possible limitations in our knowledge, by examining whether psychological theories and principles are universal (true for all people of all cultures), or culture-specific (true for only some cultures) What is Culture?  Culture can be used to describe activities or behaviours, refer to the heritage or tradition of a group, describe rules and norms, describe learning or problem solving, define the organization of a group, or refer to the origins of a group  It can also refer to general characteristics; food and clothing; housing and technology; economy and transportation; individual and family activities; community and government; welfare, religion, and science; and sex and the life cycle Where Does Culture Come From?  3 different origins of culture: ecology, resources, and people  Ecology o Climate PSY321  Its not just absolute temperature that affects culture ways of living; more specifically, it’s the deviation from temperate climate  Humans need to regulate their body temp, (22)  Much colder/hotter makes life much more difficult and demanding  Greater risks of food shortage and food spoilage, stricter diets, more health problems  People in hotter climates tend to organize their daily activities more around shelter, shade, and temp changes that occur during that day  More demanding cold or hot climates arouse a chain of needs shared by all inhabitants of a residential area o Population density  The ratio of the # of people that live in a specific area to the size of the area that can grow food and sustain the population  It is the # of people in relation to the amount of o Arable land in that area—that is the amount of land on which food can grow to sustain the people in that area  Resources o Food o Water o Money  People o Group living  More efficient b/c they allow us to divide labour  Potential for social conflict and chaos o Basic human needs and motives  Physical needs - Eat, drink, sleep, deal w/ waste, reproduce  Safety and security needs Universal - Hygiene, shelter, warmth o Universal psychology toolkit  Aptitudes and cognitive abilities that help people adapt to their environments to address their basic needs and social motives  Tomasallo, Kruger, and Ratner (1993) ratchet effect – moving forward Cognitive Abilities Emotions Personality Traits  Language  Basic emotions  Extraversion  Complex social  Self-conscious  Neuroticism cognition emotions  Openness  Memory  Agreeableness  Hypothetical  Conscientiousness reasoning  Problem solving  Planning Emotions  Basic emotions PSY321 A Definition of Culture  The Function of Culture Group Life Behaviours that Increase Social Complexity Social Coordination and Reduce Social Chaos Culture Need for Social Coordination  A Definition o Tylor (1865)  All capabilties and habits learned as members of a society o Linton (1936)  Social heredity o Kroeber and Kluckholn (1952/1963)  Patterns of and behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting and distinct achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts o Rohner (1984)  The totality of equivalent and complentary learned population, and transmitted from one generation to the next o Jahoda (1984)  Not only rules and meanings but also behaviours. o Pelto and Pelto (1975)  Defined culture in terms of personality o Geertz (1975)  Shared symbol systems transcending individuals o Berry et al. (1992)  Shared way of life of a group of people o Baumeister (2005)  Info-based system that allows people to live together and satisfy needs PSY321 o A unique meaning and info system, shared by a group and transmitted across generations, that allows the group to meet basic needs of survival, pursuer happiness and well-being, and derive meaning from life Is Culture a Uniquely Human Product?  No: animals have culture or at least a rudimentary form of culture consisting of social customs  3 characteristics of human social and cultural life that differentiates it from those of animals: complexity, differentiation, and institutionalization o E.g. humans don’t only make tools; we make tools to make tools The Difference Between “Society” and “Culture”  Society is a system of interrelationships among people o Refers to the fact that relationships among individuals exist, and in human societies, individuals have multiple relationships w/ multiple groups, and the groups themselves have interrelationships w/ other groups o Human societies are complex o Nonhuman animals are also social and have societies  Culture refers to the meanings and info that are associated w/ social networks o “Family” for example is a social group that exists in both the human and nonhuman animal world but human cultures give the concept of family its own unique meaning, and individuals draw specific info from these meanings o Human cultures assign different meanings to this social group  Although nonhuman animals have social groups like humans, they don’t have human cultures associated w/ those social groups Groups that Have Cultures Culture and Nationality  Nationality refers to a person’s country of origin  Countries have their own cultures o Countries are defined by specific boundaries that describe their ecology—geography, climate, and natural resources o Have many subcultures Culture and Language  Different language groups have different cultures o Different dialects of a language often denote different cultures Culture and Ethnicity  Ethnicity is usually used to denote one’s racial, national, or cultural origins PSY321  Phinney (1996): 3 key aspects of ethnicity o Cultural norms and values o The strength, salience, and meaning of ethnic identity o Attitudes associated w/ minority status Culture and Gender  Gender refers to the behaviours or patterns of activities that a society or culture deems appropriate for men and women o May or may not be related to sex and sex roles, although they oftentimes are  Gender role refers to the degree to which a person adopts the gender-specific and appropriate behaviours ascribed by his or her culture  Gender differences are cultural differences o Men and woman can be said to belong to different cultures Culture and Disability  Share a unique culture Culture and Sexual Orientation  One of the most important aspects of any sexual orientation—whether straight or gay, mono or bi—is the particular psychological outlook and characteristics that are shard by and unique to each orientation Contraction Culture, Race, Personality, and Popular Culture Culture and Race  Race isn’t culture  Race is more of a social construction than a biological essential  Hirschfield (1996): suggest that people have a natural tendency to create categories, especially those dealing w/ human characteristics Culture and Personality  Culture is a macro, social, group-level construct  Personality refers to the individual differences that exist among individuals w/in groups  Culture is the social psychological frame w/in which individuals reside much like the structure of our houses and homes  Personality refers to the unique constellation of traits, attributes, qualities, and characteristics of individuals w/in those frames  Individual-level mental representations of culture on the macro-social level isn’t culture on the macro-social level  Culture is relatively stable across individuals, whereas personality is vastly different PSY321 Culture vs. Popular Culture  Popular culture generally refers to trends in music, art, and other expressions that become popular among a group of people  Pop culture doesn’t necessarily involve sharing a wide range of psychological attributes across various psychological domains  Pop culture may involve sharing in the value of a certain type of expression, but does not necessarily involve a way of life  Pop culture refers to values or expressions that come and go as fads or trends w/in a few years o Culture is relatively stable over time and even across generations (despite its dynamic quality and potential for change) The Contents of Culture Objective Elements  Explicit elements that are physical o Architecture, clothes, foods, art, eating utensils  Advertising, texts, architecture, art, mass media, tv, music, the internet, facebook, twitter (all physical, tangible, and important artifacts of culture) Subjective Elements  All those parts that don’t survive people as physical artifacts  Attitudes, values, and beliefs, as well as behaviours  Values o Guiding principles that refer to desirable goals that motivate behaviour o Define the moral, political, social, economic, esthetic, or spiritual ethics of a person or a group of people o Can exist on 2 levels  Personal values: represent transitional desirable goals that serve as guiding principles in people’s lives  Cultural values: shared, abstract ideas about what a social collectivity views as good, right, and desirable o Hofstede suggests that there are 5 value dimensions that differentiate
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