Culture applies to all areas of psychology, such as cultural psychology, educational psychology, industrial psychology, and much more. One goal of psychology is to create a model to help people, and culture is one way to achieve that. It touches every aspect of life, such as religion, family and individual activities, and much more. So let’s try to understand culture before discussing how culture applies to psychology.
The definition of culture
David Matsumoto and Linda Juang, the authors of Culture and Psychology states that culture is learning and sharing certain custom that a group has selected and has passed down from generation to generation. This custom includes learning and sharing attitudes, behaviors, values, beliefs, and norms from various ethnic groups. It includes learning and sharing history, education, language, rules, roles, and health. It is a label to make a distinction between members of a group. Furthermore, it is a guide to control and ensure the community.
Culture is not race
There is a difference between culture and race. “Culture is a set of values, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, practices, perspectives and meanings shared by a particular group of people,” said John Eby, an author of an article “Race and culture are not the same.” People learn and adapt their native or other cultures regardless if they have similar physical features or not.
Race is not a learned behavior. How can it be? “Racial features are genetic and inherited. Features such as skin, hair, and eye color, susceptibility to specific diseases, and some other factors are aspects of race,” said Nancy Jervis, Vice President and Director of Education China Institute and a writer of “What is Culture?”
Culture is not stable. It changes overtime as environment, climate, technology, population, and status change. As humans migrated to other parts of the world, they found ways to adapt to the environment. They made tools to hunt animals and other foods and created their own languages. They made clothes, fire, tents, and much more like the hominins in the prehistoric world. The webpage “Archaic Human Culture,” created by Dennis O’ Neil, a professor emeritus anthropology in the Behavioral Sciences Department, provides an example of what hominins invented as time passed.
Why culture applies to psychology
Culture influences how people act and behave. David Matsumoto and Linda Juang stated that some Western cultures consider men and women are equal, practice direct communication skills and value individualism. They also encourage people to greet each other by a hand shake. On the contrary, some non-Western cultures practice indirect communication skills value collectivism. They encourage people to greet each other by slightly waving hands at each other and to consider the inequality between men and women. For instance, women play a submissive role, and men play a dominant role in society.
Studying similarities and differences between cultures applies to psychology
David Matsumoto and Linda Juang also emphasized that studying the similarities and differences between cultures can produce accurate information about people and create an intercultural model dealing with diversity. It helps to resolve negative emotions toward different cultures and to form explicit guidelines how to deal with cultural differences. What’s more is that it helps psychologists to develop an alternative health treatment.
Understanding cultural psychology enhances better communication. It enhances a better understanding of other peoples’ opinions and solutions. It corrects any misunderstanding or false concept about certain culture. People can integrate other cultures to improve their lives. Most of all, supportive cultures enhance positive social change.