Culture plays an important part in one’s life as it relates to the field of psychology. Culture enables one to define him or herself and differ from one to another, and helps one survive. Culture facilitates self-expression, through language, appearance, and behavior. Culture exists everywhere and is a product of one’s environment. The significance of culture and its influence by oneself and others will be explained in this paper. In addition, the role of critical thinking in cross-cultural psychology and the scientific method involved with cross-cultural research will be addressed, and defined.
Definition of Cultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology Culture is learned, passed down, from generation to generation and strongly influences individual behavior. It is an existing element in one’s environment, shaped by oneself and many others. Culture either shapes or influences one and is what makes one human. Psychology is the study of human behavior and performance; therefore, it is vital that the cultural and cross-cultural aspects are considered in determining the cause of one’s actions.
Behavior is affected by sources both biological and environmental in nature but these do not entirely explain human behavior. There must be an acknowledgement of the social-cultural conditions, in which behavior occurs. Thus, cultural psychology looks to identify the link that between culture and psychology. This recognition allows one to perceive that cognitive operations are variable products occurring between culture and oneself in the kind of environment by which one is surrounded (Segal, Dasen, Berry & Poortinga, 1999). Culture is two-fold, either bringing people together or pulling people apart.
This newer discipline of cross-cultural psychology, acknowledges important factors and considers many cultures when defining the actions and behaviors of individuals. Culture should be not confused with society, race, and ethnicity. Though these factors contribute to individualism, they differ from culture itself. For example, culture is a shared experience within a group and leads to specific behaviors among the group, whereas society is made of people. Cross-cultural psychology uses various approaches to facilitate one’s understanding of how human behavior varies in diverse cultural settings.
These include evolutionary, sociological, and ecocultural. The evolutionary approach, for instance, considers biological factors contributing to one’s behavior whereas the ecocultural approach considers that a person cannot be acknowledged without considering one’s environment (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The Relationship between Cultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology Cultural psychology interfaces with other disciplines, including philosophy, and anthropology. While other disciplines permit a wider perspective, cultural psychology focuses solely on how one’s culture affects his or her behavior and how this connection comes into existence.
G Cultural psychology is aware that human energy cannot be solely explicated by other factors including one’s genetic predispositions. Instead, cultural psychology sees one’s mind and culture forming a unity that should be not separated when trying to explain behavior. On the other hand, cross-cultural psychology, despite interfacing with other fields such as anthropology and history, prefers to compare various cultures against each other while discovering more about differences and similarities and their effect on humanity.
Both disciplines clearly consider the aspects of culture; therefore, their starting points do not differ much. However, they also deviate from each other in that cultural psychology is mostly concerned with understanding the relationship one has with a culture, whereas cross-cultural psychology is mainly interested in the comparison of various cultures (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The Role of Critical Thinking in Cross-Cultural Psychology When used correctly, critical thinking can, and will benefit one in countless ways.
Life, just as humanity itself, is very complex and at times, difficult to understand. Being able to go through life with a certain purpose and sense, and being able to understand human nature is not an easy task, often requiring specific knowledge and experience in doing so. Critical thinking provides the necessary tools to enable one to navigate through the fog of life with the determined intent. However, critical thinking is not something one is born with; rather, it is something that needs to be learned and trained.
Thinking abstractly, being able to decipher problematic puzzles, coordinating thoughts accurately and intentionally, and being able to communicate succinctly require the use of critical thinking. Thinking critically means asking the right questions and solving problems. If one is unskilled and unqualified using the tools provided by critical thinking, then one most likely is not developing to his or her fullest. Part of being able to apply critical thinking also means one can learn, and learn even more.
Various characteristics describe a critical thinker and are, for instance, the correct use of language, the ability of organizing, and patience when making vital decisions (Hunter, 2009). All these above mentioned factors matter to the field of cross-cultural psychology. For example, language can be at times very tricky and therefore, lead to discrimination. The correct translation is very significant so that one can understand someone else in the way he or she wants to be comprehended. However, interlingual rendition is not easy and translating one word to another does not entirely mean the purpose of the word used is understood correctly.
One clearly must know that language can be applied in many ways and can traumatize, be incontrovertible, and inspiring. Another way critical thinking supports cross-cultural psychology is in the research performed by this discipline. Being able to overlook biases, leave out emotions, chose right from wrong, and acknowledge the validity and reliability of research requires critical thinking skills. In addition, critical thinking becomes a necessity whenever a comparison is made of different groups and therefore cultures.
These are just few of many examples of how critical thinking helps cross-cultural psychology. Without it, one’s understanding of how culture affects diverse behaviors could become affected leading to wrong impressions (Segal, Dasen, Berry & Poortinga, 1999). Methodology Associated with Cross-Cultural Research Research is very significant to the field of cross-cultural psychology. Without the implementation of research, the subjects appealing to cross-cultural psychology would mainly rely on assumptions. Cross-cultural psychologists are very interested in examining commonalities between cultures.
He or she is occupied with how they interact with each other resulting in certain behaviors and psychologists do so by describing, explaining, foretelling, and managing. Doing research means carrying out a scientific investigation and using suitable methods. Cross-cultural psychology uses a research methodology that can be divided further into two subcategories, the quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research, which is done through observation, measures human behavior by utilizing the mode, the median, and the mean (central tendency).
In this process, four different scales can be used to measure, which are nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. Alternatively, qualitative research is preferably done in unconditioned settings, also referred to natural settings. This kind of research method is chosen when measuring variables are impossible to collect, measurement tools are not on hand, and when specific scales cannot be read. Further, there are two different strategies, the application-oriented strategy and the comparativist strategy, from which a researcher can chose when conducting research.
In addition, a researcher can also utilize and benefit from various strategies to collect samples such as through convenience, systematic, or random sampling (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The psychological methods available to a cross-cultural psychologist to investigate are “observation (naturalistic and laboratory), survey (direct and indirect), experimental studies (independent and dependent variables), content-analysis, psychobiography, meta-analysis, focus-group method” (Shiraev & Levy, 2010, pp. 35-40). When conducting cross-cultural studies, certain obstacles may appear.
For instance, language can create additional problems when research is done; therefore, the correct translation is essential. The researcher should be capable of translating a specific method as authentically as possible. In addition, a good researcher should also pay attention when comparing two phenomena (acknowledge similarities) and avoid biases of generalization at all times (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Conclusion Because culture plays such an important part in one’s life, it is crucial to acknowledge it when determining the causes of one’s behavior.
Culture is something appearing at all times and is manmade. Clearly, cultural and cross-cultural psychologies are two essential disciplines, which help one comprehend the affect culture has on an individual and his or her environment. Through cultural psychology, one can see the connection between culture, psychology, and therefore, behavior. Existing parallel to cultural psychology, cross-cultural psychology helps one acknowledge the differences and similarities existing between cultures and the affect they have on one’s action. Without it, one will never entirely understand the complex nature of humanity.
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