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The Psychology of Culture
On the evolutionary, modern, and universal dimensions of culture and on identifying key areas of research in cultural psychology
The term culture means all the activities, beliefs, lifestyles, habits, rituals, arts, ethics and behavior patterns of a society. Despite the broad definition of culture and the fact that the elements of culture are very diverse and different, it is not easy to ensure the connection between culture and psychology. There are two general ways in which the relationship between psychology and culture can be studied, through intracultural psychology, or patterns of behavior within a given society, and cross-cultural psychology, or through behavioral and psychological characteristics between societies.
Intracultural psychology seeks to understand the cultural basis of behavior by studying the characteristics of a society, its rules and norms, and shows how traditions shape or influence the collective psyche of people within a society. But in psychology, it is simply considered “cultural psychology” as a simple term that refers to the study of cultural traditions and their effects on the psychology of people. Such categorization can be confusing because it tends to see cultures as fundamentally distinct entities and emphasizes differences rather than similarities. Cross-cultural psychology focuses on finding universal patterns of behavior or beliefs that are common among people of all cultures, and this is what is described here as “cross-cultural” psychology. The terms “intracultural” and “intercultural” psychology would be more convenient to find a psychology that shows convergent patterns of cultural behavior among people across societies.
The psychology of culture requires further development in the areas of defining culture and finding cultural roots that emphasize collective psyche or universal patterns of behavior. Humans are ultimately united by a common emotion and psyche, and this broader cultural psychology was promoted by Carl Gustav Jung. He focused his research on the importance of accessing or understanding the collective unconscious with elements or archetypes passed down from one generation to the next.
Culture is defined as the socially transmitted accumulated experiences of society as a whole, so from a Jungian perspective, the collective unconscious will serve as a repository of cultural imprints that shape human behavior from childhood. The three dominant schools of cultural psychology have been identified as having an active, symbolic, or individualistic approach (Karl Ratner explains this well). The action approach emphasizes the social activities of the group, while the symbolic approach defines culture as shared meanings and concepts or symbols. The individualistic approach emphasizes the interaction of the individual with society, through which individuals construct their personal culture. But I would downplay the personal aspect of culture and propose culture mainly as a group of phenomena close to individual conformity in society, so that apart from action and symbolism, culture should be defined by its beliefs, values and ethics. Culture is ultimately about shared activities, shared symbolisms, and shared belief systems.
The story of the birth of human culture would be closely related to the story of human evolution, because with the formation of tribes, humans learned and adapted group behavior. Man was born alone, but became a social animal primarily because of his survival needs, and the development of culture thus stems from man’s needs for safety, security, and survival. People follow society’s rules, norms, and customs just to “survive,” and culture is about conformity. Thus, the psychology of culture is also the psychology of conformity, and even a non-conformist conforms to certain basic social and cultural rules and traditions.
Because “culture” represents a wide range of human activities, cultural psychology must include the study of:
- Evolutionary and historical patterns of human behavior closely related to anthropology
- Contemporary social trends (eg: celebrity culture, workplace culture, globalization) are closely related to sociology and
- Patterns of intracultural and intercultural behavior to recognize universal elements in human cognition, emotion, and perception
Thus, the study of culture in psychology has three dimensions – evolutionary, modern and universal. The evolutionary and historical dimension of cultural psychology must be explained mainly in terms of Jungian psychology, while social psychology becomes an integral part of the contemporary dimension. A universal measure for the study of cultural psychology uses behavioral patterns or cognitive psychology to measure how people are programmed to behave in certain situations and whether these patterns of behavior are common across cultures and, if not, are only culture-specific behaviors.
Psychologists argue that there are certain culture-specific behaviors and certain universal patterns of behavior among people, and it is important to understand whether it is possible to distinguish between behaviors that are culture-specific or intracultural and universal or cross-cultural. If such an attempt is made, it can be said that ethics and values, legal structures, lifestyles, activities, rituals, and beliefs can vary greatly between cultures, and these elements represent intracultural similarities and intercultural differences. However, basic human characteristics such as certain attitudes and worldviews or ideas, emotions and perceptions, as well as intelligence or imagination, are not culture-specific and may have intra-cultural differences and cross-cultural similarities. For example, emotions and emotional expressions are common in all cultures, so we all cry when we are sad and laugh when we are happy. We have common attitudes and opinions, such as those in favor of honesty, and we all abhor crime. However, this is a universal behavior found across cultures, although there may still be variations. Strong intracultural beliefs and attitudes that are not universal are usually related to customs rather than emotions, for example, attitudes toward marriage and courtship vary widely between cultures, or even dining table manners differ between cultures.
Thus, human emotions and expressions and behaviors motivated by such emotions are universal or cross-cultural and human behavior motivated by customs/traditions and customs are intra-cultural or culture-specific. Cultures in the modern world are largely shaped by religious belief systems, political and social or economic systems, and therefore seem almost inflexible in their cultural roots, as seen in the rigid religious structures of society, although changing cultural patterns manifest themselves in political and political systems. economic systems. If we are to provide an agenda for cultural psychology, it must include the future research areas of cultural psychology
- Definition of culture – describe and define the concepts and structures of culture and answer what exactly culture is.
- Relating the various dimensions of culture to cultural psychology and studying the evolutionary, contemporary and universal aspects of culture
- Expanding research on action, symbolism, and belief systems within existing schools of cultural psychology, as well as considering individual or personal approaches in cultural psychology
- Making connections between culture and anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, and human cognition and emotion.
- Recognize similarities in human emotions and expressions that underlie elements of universal culture and identify differences in customs and practices
The psychology of culture is still a developing field and must attempt to answer fundamental questions about how patterns of behavior develop within cultures and why behaviors are similar or different across cultures. The five research areas listed above suggest major challenges and future directions in the study of psychology within culture and culture within psychology.
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