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How knowledge about different cultures is shaking the foundations of psychology

Different Ways Of Being

People across the world have different ways of describing themselves, different mental associations and thinking styles, possessing radically diverse motivations, upbringing, and social relationships.

What may be categorized as a mental illness in a certain part of the world may be normal behavior in another. Cultural differences pervade in a wider array of human behavior and there is a need to increase the circumference and scope of these studies.

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How knowledge about different cultures is shaking the foundations of psychology

How knowledge about different cultures is shaking the foundations of psychology

http://theconversation.com/how-knowledge-about-different-cultures-is-shaking-the-foundations-of-psychology-92696

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Different Psychologies

Psychology, which was largely developed in North American and Europe, has largely been able to understand human behavior and mental processes.

As our knowledge of different cultures and thought patterns opens up, we find that this understanding isn't as universal as previously thought.

The Right Representation

Normally, studies conducted to understand human behavior have participants representing the wider human population, which may be true in a certain geography but isn't accurate when we take into account other cultures and demographics.

More than 90% of the participants in psychological studies originate from countries that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (W.E.I.R.D) which is neither a random sample nor a real representation of the human population.

Different Ways Of Being

People across the world have different ways of describing themselves, different mental associations and thinking styles, possessing radically diverse motivations, upbringing, and social relationships.

What may be categorized as a mental illness in a certain part of the world may be normal behavior in another. Cultural differences pervade in a wider array of human behavior and there is a need to increase the circumference and scope of these studies.

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Cross-cultural psychology
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Cross-cultural psychology is defined as a branch of psychology that analyses the effects of cultural factors on human behavior.

For instance, while some cultures play ...

The importance of cross-cultural psychology

The first important role cross-cultural psychology has is to rectify most of the biases that people have in the field.

Furthermore, this branch of the psychology is used to understand the influence that cultural differences have on people's perception of each other.

The culture

The term 'culture' can be defined as the characteristics of a group of people, from attitudes to values, transmitted from generation to generation.

The cross-cultural psychology studies, by means of etic or emic approach, the way culture influences our life as a whole or the idea of ethnocentrism, which so often leads to biases.

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"Being spiritual" nowadays signals:
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Spirituality is a framework for understanding the world. It enables people to make sense of that which, for them, science and religion fail to address: religion because it's outdated and out of touch with scientific progress, science because it's incapable to answer some of life's most crucial questions (of purpose, meaning and value).

Outer Space vs. Inner Space

The Dalai Lama once joked: "While the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space". 

Regardless of the veracity of this, it does seem that for contemporary western societies, silence and stillness are an exception, not the rule.

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Anthropology

It is the study of humans and the ways they live. The goal is to understand human diversity and cultural differences. The four primary sub-fields:

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Sociology

It studies the ways groups of people interact with each other and how their behavior is influenced by social structures, categories, and institutions. It has many tenets:

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Anthropology and sociology careers 

Anthropology and sociology degrees can lead to a career as a teacher, public sector employee, or academic. The degree can be a stepping stone to a career in politics, public administration, or law.

Non-academic careers for anthropologists include public sector research at organizations like the World Bank or UNESCO, or working as freelance research consultants.

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There is no major conclusion in positive psychology that has not been challenged, modified or even rejected.

Yet the fact that positive psychology is becoming more popular means that it gives hope, optimism and perhaps happiness to millions of its consumers.

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The story of positive psychology started just 20 years ago with Martin Seligman, head of the American Psychological Association. The idea he considered was: What if every person was encouraged to nurture his or her character strengths, rather than being scolded into fixing their shortcomings?

He reorientated the entire discipline of psychology away from mostly treating mental illness and toward human flourishing, then used his authority to promote it.

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Future-mindedness

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It usually is a 2-steps process: first, we dream big and imagine fantasy outcomes; then, we “get real” and come up with pragmatic plans.

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Recent research suggests that across all cultures, the concept of time depends on metaphor, known as a conceptual metaphor. We build our understanding of duration and sequences of events out of familiar spatial ideas such as size, movement, and location.

But the "time is like space" metaphor takes on very different forms from one culture to the next.

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The Shifting Work Market

Becoming a skilled professional used to be a matter of learning what the professionals did, how and why they did it, and some general facts that somewhat described our societies and ourselves.

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The art of eating
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Food preferences are learned

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0.3% of young women are anorexic

... and another 1% are bulimic, with rising numbers of men joining them.

What statistics are not particularly effective at telling us is how many others – whether overweight or underweight – are in a perpetual state of anxiety about what they consume, living in fear of carbs or fat grams and unable to derive straightforward enjoyment from meals.

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Primary factors that make horror films alluring
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Viewing motivators for horror movies
  • Gore watchers typically have low empathy, high sensation seeking, and a strong identification with the killer.
  • Thrill watchers typically have both high empathy and sensation seeking;they identify themselves more with the victims and like the suspense of the film.
  • Independent watchers typically have a high empathy for the victim along with a high positive effect for overcoming fear.
  • Problem watchers typically have high empathy for the victim but are characterized by negative effect (particularly a sense of helplessness).
Theories on why we love to watch horror films
  • Dr. Carl Jung believed horror films “tapped into primordial archetypes buried deep in our collective subconscious – images like shadow and mother play important role in the horror genre”.
  • Horror films are watched as a way of purging negative emotions and/or as a way to relieve pent-up aggression.
  • Horror movies are enjoyed because the people on screen getting killed deserve it.
  • Cultural historian David Skal has argued that horror films simply reflect our societal fears.