Do you want to know what cultural psychology is ? André Malraux declared that “culture is what continues to be alive in death”. This is why, perhaps, this branch of psychology offers us a broader vision, which includes the past, the present and the future of a society.
Because a large part of our behavior, beyond our individual way of being, is linked as much to the culture in which we live as to our own experiences. This does not mean that experiences and genetic inheritance do not have an influence, but that they are not the only factors that moderate and contribute to the way we are and behave.
What is cultural psychology?
For those who wish to know what cultural psychology is, we will define it briefly. Most experts agree that this is a current that has emerged as an alternative to the methods and theories of more speculative psychology. She is therefore considered to be the heir to Wundt’s psychology.
The psychology of culture focuses on the influence of culture on the people who come into contact with it. An influence that manifests itself not only at the level of behavior, but which also seems to condition our way of thinking and feeling. Moreover, this influence is exerted on behavior in particular through an instrument: habits / customs.
In other words, cultural psychology would try to explain the reasons by which a group of individuals inserted in a specific context acts in a specific way, and not another. This perspective allows us to observe many details or to give an explanation for what we observe from other points of view. For example, why the Western point of view, today very globalized, leads us to observe with horror the facts of the past or other societies with diametrically opposed customs? Why do people immersed in these cultures not see these facts with horror or why did our ancestors not see them with horror?
This leads us to ask ourselves another question: what is – what will cause terror for generations when history will tell them everything that we normalized today?
When we look at the big picture , we find that there are a great number of cultural barriers. For example, the language. Or a particular custom, a mentality, a way of thinking …
If we look closely, in each country we find common customs among the population, but also others that are not inasmuch as they belong to or are located in a certain city, region, area, etc. All of this produces variations in the human mind as each receives a unique cultural heritage depending on many factors.
To give simple examples, we can observe that the Muslim community does not eat pork, that India considers cows to be sacred animals, that regions such as the Basque Country have their own language in a bilingual context. All this creates a unique cultural heritage differentiated from other peoples.
What is the use of cultural psychology?
Well, it is obvious that, depending on the territory and the inheritance received, the culture varies, influencing the behavior and thinking of those who come into contact with it. Now what is the goal of cultural psychology? To go beyond the simple fact, to be interested as much in the origins as in the consequences which they produce, define and maintain as being traditional in this particular framework.
Let’s give an example in order to better understand. Taking advantage of what we said earlier, we already know that in India cows are sacred. But why is this so? How did they come to this in the present day?
Obviously, cultural psychology does not look only at the heart of the story to find out why a people has a particular culture. She also studies how this culture affects its members. Why are some customs successful and others not? How do these affect behavior? What future implications may these traditions have?
A branch closely linked to anthropology and sociology
It is evident that this branch of psychology has a very intimate relationship with the social sciences, mainly with anthropology and sociology. While sociology studies societies at large, this branch of psychology focuses on the proportion of quantitative data to study historical dynamics. This makes it easier to know how a specific culture was formed and how it influences its members.
As for anthropology, which is responsible for studying the cultural content of a society and the collective changes that take place in it, it is also fundamental insofar as both seek to understand the symbols, concepts, staging, etc. Therefore, if you were wondering what cultural psychology is, you now have a summary approach. Through cultural psychology, n o us’re even, for example , to understand the behavior ethnic or studying intercultural conflicts.