Outline Culture as Cognition Culture, Attention, Sensation, and Perception Perception and Physical Reality Cultural Influences on Visual Perception Attention Culture and Thinking Culture and Categorization Culture and Memory Culture and Math Abilities
Outline (cont’d.) Culture and Thinking (cont’d.) Culture and Problem Solving Culture and Creativity Culture and Dialectical Thinking Culture, Regrets, and Counterfactual Thinking Summary Culture and Consciousness Culture and Dreams Culture and Time Culture and the Perception of Pain
Outline (cont’d.) Culture and Intelligence Traditional Definitions of Intelligence and its Measurement The Concept of Intelligence in Other Cultures Recent Developments in Theories about Intelligence in Contemporary Psychology Conclusion
Culture as Cognition Psychologists view culture as cognition Culture is viewed as set of mental representations about world Norms, opinions, beliefs, values, and worldviews are all cognitive products Knowledge system—culture—created to solve complex problems of living and social life Humans have certain cognitive skills other animals do not, allowing for culture
C ULTURE, A TTENTION, S ENSATION, AND P ERCEPTION
Perception and Physical Reality People’s perceptions of world do not necessarily match physical realities of world Once we begin to question our own senses, we want to know their limits: Do experiences and beliefs influence perception? Do other people perceive things as we do? What aspects of others experiences and backgrounds explain differences in perception? How does culture influence this process?
Cultural Influences on Visual Perception Optical illusions: perceptive discrepancy between how object looks and what it actually is Carpentered world theory: unconscious expectation that objects have squared corners Front-horizontal foreshortening theory: interpretation of vertical lines as horizontal lines Symbolizing three dimensions in two theory: Westerners experienced in interpreting pictures People of different cultures may be differently motivated to perceive certain types of objects
Attention Culture influences what we attend to Masuda studies: Americans and Japanese differ in attention to background objects and individuals vs. groups Cultural differences in environment affords cultural differences in perception and attention Holistic vs. analytic perception Westerners use analytic perceptual processes by focusing on salient object independent of context in which it is embedded East Asians engage in context-dependent and holistic perceptual processes by focusing on object within context
Culture and Categorization People categorize on basis of similarities and attach labels to groups of common objects Creating mental categories helps sort out complex stimuli Some categories are universal across cultures Way in which people categorize things may be culturally variable Sorting tasks: common way to study cultural differences in categorization
Culture and Memory Differences in memory as a function of oral tradition may be limited to meaningful material Serial position effect: first or last item in list are easiest to remember Memory constants across cultures: age, hindsight bias, collective remembering of past Cultural differences in episodic memory are due to differences in self-construals, emotion knowledge, and interpersonal processes
Culture and Math Abilities Math is universal human psychological process National differences in math abilities and achievements exist Mapping of numbers onto space is universal Gender stratification hypothesis: gender differences related to cultural variations in opportunity structures for girls and women Even without formal educational systems, members of all cultures learn math skills
Culture and Problem Solving Problem solving: process of discovering ways of achieving goals not readily attainable Psychologists isolate process of problem solving by asking people from different cultures to solve unfamiliar problems in artificial settings Luna (1976): hypothesized logical reasoning is artificial; taught in Westernized schools Illiterate people may not understand hypothetical nature of verbal problems or view them with same degree of importance
Culture and Creativity Creativity depends on divergent rather than convergent thinking Constant across cultures: Creative individuals have high capacity for hard work, willingness to take risks, high tolerance for ambiguity and disorder Differences amongst cultures: High on uncertainty avoidance: work within norms Higher on power distance: gain support Collectivistic countries: seek cross-functional support
Culture and Dialectical Thinking Dialectical thinking: tendency to accept what seems to be contradictions in thought or beliefs Positive logical determinism: contradictions are mutually exclusive categories East Asians prefer dialectical thinking whereas Americans prefer logical deterministic thinking Naïve dialecticism: belief that truth is always somewhere in the middle Westerners believe something cannot be both truth and false at same time
Culture, Regrets, and Counterfactual Thinking Counterfactual thinking: hypothetical beliefs about past that could have occurred to avoid or change a negative outcome Regrets related to thoughts of inaction are more prevalent than regrets related to action Degree to which people experience regret over inaction than over action was comparable across all cultures
Summary Ancient cultural systems produce differences in ways of perceiving and thinking about world: Westerners: analytic thinking East Asians: holistic thinking Social orientation hypothesis: Cultures differ in independent vs. interdependent social orientation patterns Many other factors for cultural differences uncovered to date: Educational systems, linguistic, genetic differences
Culture and Dreams Differences in dream content amongst cultures: Palestinian children from Gaza incorporated more external scenes of anxiety in dreams Finnish children had more "inner" anxiety scenes in dreams Role of dreams differs amongst cultures: Dream sharing and interpretation common among Mayans American culture does not place much emphasis on importance of dreams as symbol of individual and social concerns
Culture and Time People of different cultures experience time differently Long- versus short-term orientation is cultural dimension that differentiates among cultures Pace of life correlated with ecological and cultural variables Most cultures represent time spatially from left to right or right to left, or from front to back or back to front, with respect to body
Culture and the Perception of Pain Culture influences experience and perception of pain in several ways: Cultural construction of pain sensation Semiotics of pain expression Structure of pain's causes and cures Cultural display rules govern expression, perception, and feeling of pain Tolerance of pain may be rooted in cultural values
Traditional Definitions of Intelligence and its Measurement Intelligence: conglomeration of many intellectual abilities centering on verbal and analytic tasks Intelligence tests rely on verbal performance and cultural knowledge, thus immigrants are at disadvantage Do cross-cultural differences in intelligence reflect biological or cultural differences?
The Concept of Intelligence in Other Cultures Many languages have no word that corresponds to our idea of intelligence Because of enormous differences in definition of intelligence, it is difficult to make valid comparisons from one society to another Tests of intelligence often rely on knowledge specific to particular culture
Recent Developments in Theories about Intelligence in Contemporary Psychology Gardner (1983), seven types of intelligence: Logical mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal Sternberg (1986), three "subtheories“ of intelligence: Contextual, experiential, and componential intelligence Collective intelligence: Strongly correlated with average social sensitivity, equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and proportion of females in group
Conclusion Perception, cognition, and consciousness are at the core of many psychological constructs: Cultural differences in these processes exemplify various levels of psychology that culture influences Cultural differences and similarities in definitions and processes of intelligence have considerable relevance to various applied settings Awareness of cultural differences in intelligence raises difficult questions concerning testing and use of test scores
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