Cross Cultural Psychology Essay, Research Paper
Psychology is a science with abounding applications. It pertains to nearly all aspects of human life and behavior. It reveals mysteries about people, and culture as well. Psychology plays a large role in the field of Anthropology, a field devoted piecing together the puzzle of cultures around the world. The area of psychology best suited for this field is named cross-cultural psychology.
Psychology and Anthropology are two studies that go hand in hand. To study one is to use the other. Anthropology is reliant on the science of behavior, to better grasp culture. Cross cultural psychology explores human nature through a deep understanding of the relevant cultural context (including history) and the cultural aspects embedded within it that shape human cognition, emotion, motivation, and behavior in cross-culturally divergent ways. This can be used to determine why a culture does what it does, therefore pertains to Anthropology.
Cross-cultural research investigates social behaviors, personality differences, problem solving intellectual abilities, perceptual abilities, and esthetics. Cultures differ with respect to two major classes of variables: biological and ecological. Biological variables include such factors as diet, genetics, and endemic diseases. Ecological variables include such factors as geography, climate, political systems, population density, religion, cultural myths, and education. Behavioral differences among people of different cultures result from differences in biological and ecological variables. From an Anthropological standpoint, this would be helpful in tracing a culture’s roots through it’s behavior.
An example to back this up would be the situation of the American Indian and the culture they once had. For an Anthropologist to fully understand the culture and their situation, the field of cross-cultural psychology would be applied. It would be used to show how the Indian’s attitudes towards whites have changed throughout the years, as a result of their drastic change in culture and environment. Cross-cultural psychology would associate the general decline in happiness in their culture to the shrinking of their tribal lands; something of great importance of their culture. Also, to understand why Indians smoke(d) grasses like peyote and cohoba, one would realize that it is part of a cultural tradition.
For anthropologists, it is fundamental to establish chronological patterns- the time sequences of past human activities that have left remains to be excavated. Anthropology has become increasingly an applied science, as researchers concentrate on social issues in areas such as health care, education, environmental protection, and urban development. All of these areas could be broken up into different areas of psychology, but cross-cultural is the area that would best inform science as a whole. “Cross-cultural psychology can be seen as an attempt to understand why so few generalizations about one human group appear capable of traveling unproblematically across social, historical and cultural boundaries”1
The Center for Cross Cultural Research, housed within the Department of Psychology at Western Washington University, is an excellent resource of information on cross-cultural psychology. Since 1969, there have been many significant developments regarding the influence of culture in all aspects of psychological functioning. Through its activities, the CCCR has made substantial contributions to this growth. The organization states that “…for Psychology to become a universally valid science it must expand its horizons beyond the narrow cultural basis that continues to characterize much of psychology in the western world.”2 The main publication with which the Center is associated is the Journal of Cross- Cultural Psychology.
Psychology is relevant to all fields of study, as it is broken up into several areas all devoted to getting an in-depth perspective on human life and nature. The field of Anthropology has wide use for this science, more specifically the area named cross-cultural psychology. It aids in unraveling the mysteries of history and the present, from a cultural standpoint.