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The Culture and Personality

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Culture simply refers to customs and beliefs, art and way of life, and the social organization of a particular country, society or group of people. While personality is the key factor in defining individual exceptionality and determining an individual’s course through life shaped by the elucidation of experiences, guided by figurative configuration. The process by which culture is passed from one generation to the next is known as enculturation. Culture, like an individual, has also been defined as a relatively constant blueprint of deliberation and action. Within each culture there existed characteristic purposes not essentially shared by other types of the social order. In compliance to these purposes, each people further consolidates its knowledge, and in proportion to the necessity of these drives the assorted items of performance take increasingly congruent nature. Taken up by a well-integrated ethnicity, the most irreconcilable acts turn into an attribute of its atypical goals, frequently by the most improbable metamorphoses (Walton & Rao 2004, p.48).

Man has prepared for himself frameworks of customs with which every human life was distinguished by appearance and connotation. Each people formulate this fabric in a different way, selects some clues and ignores the rest, emphasizes a diverse segment of the entire sweep of potentialities. Where one culture uses as a foremost thread the defenseless ego, rapid to take offense or die of embarrassment, a different one selects adamant gallantry (Walton & Rao 2004, p. 1). The study of culture and personality enables us to learn about cross-cultural similarities and differences in human development as well as their penalties for distinctive styles of mental alteration. Culture and personality explains associations between childrearing customs and human behaviors in diverse societies. The study of culture and personality can be viewed through diverse angles. There is one that studies the relationship between culture and human nature. The other looks at the correspondence between culture and individual personality. It is assumed that humans are genetically equivalent, but again, this makes us wonder why people are so distinctive from society to the other. This has led to the fascinating innovation that the differences between people in a range of societies frequently curtail from cultural differences installed in childhood. That is to mean that the fundamentals of personality development are set in early childhood according to each society’s unique cultural qualities. To appreciate the complicating patterns and symbolisms of culture, anthropologists have been encouraged to study child development.

The first agents of enculturation in all societies are the members of the family into which a person is born (LeVine 2002, p.120). This enculturation process principally begins with the mother and father. Depending on the society, siblings, grandparents and family members may be brought into the enculturation process, in addition to other individuals as the child matures. Based on this acquaintance, the hypothetical school of Culture and Personality researched childrearing in dissimilar societies and compared the outcome cross-culturally. They described typical character of people in definite cultures and accredited these unique behavior to the different ways of childrearing. The intend of this comparison was to demonstrate the correspondence between childrearing practices and adult personality types. The theory of Culture and Personality gives the analysis of the correlation between childrearing customs and human behaviors was, at that juncture, a practical substitute to using racism explanations for analyzing special human behaviors. In consequence, different cultural ways of life value immeasurable qualities of the same personality around the world. 

Human beings are said to have an adaptive behavior that varies from one population to the next. It is quite obvious that the characteristics of all human beings operate as limitations on human behavioral unpredictability. The severity of the constraints and the conduct in which they function and the interaction with the natural science of early human beings inhabitants is a subject that is yet to be exposed by scientists. Some subfields of anthropology like psychological anthropology study the interface of cultural and mental processes. The subfield tends to center on habits in which humans’ progress and enculturation in a meticulous cultural group-with its own account, idiom, practices, and theoretical categories-outline processes of human perception, feelings, mental health , motivation, and cognition. It also examines how the indulgent of cognition, sentiment, inspiration, and comparable psychological processes notify or restrain our models of cultural and social processes. Children progressed through three levels of perceptive or of psychological organization and the studies have explained that techniques of child-rearing formed adult personality and that cultural symbols (including mythology, imaginings, and rituals) could be interpreted using psychoanalytical theories and techniques.

An amalgamation of anthropology and psychology attempts to elucidate culture by looking at the individual typeset and personalities in hopes to unearth common qualities repeating in a culture to pilot to a detection of a general temperament, configuralist personalities and replica personality types. This was completed in an effort to shun hierarchal or xenophobic models, despite the fact that it seems that by creating national characters and modal personality types that it may well be moderately uncomplicated to glide into racialist and hierarchal models. According to scientific concepts, all humans are the same at the commencement but the child-rearing and improvement caused deviations in manners and perhaps personality disorders. And for that reason, child-rearing is the solitary rationale why humans fluctuate from each other and cultural differences to them are just illusions. This developments are vindicated with their own variety of Cultural Revolution.

Evolutionary psychology is one of many biologically knowledgeable approaches to the learning of human behavior. Along with cognitive psychologists, evolutionary psychologists suggest that a large amount, if not all, of our behavior can be explained by petition to interior psychological mechanisms. What distinguishes evolutionary psychologists from numerous cognitive psychologists is the suggestion that the pertinent inner mechanisms are adaptations-products of innate assortment-that helped our intimates acquire about the globe, endure and replicate. To appreciate the innermost claims of evolutionary psychology we necessitate an indulgence of some key concepts in evolutionary biology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and cognitive psychology. Philosophers are concerned in evolutionary psychology for a numerous reasons. Philosophers of mind are also critical of evolutionary psychology but their criticisms are not as all-inclusive as those obtainable by philosophers of natural science. Evolutionary psychology is also invoked by philosophers fascinated by decent psychology both as a foundation of experimental hypotheses and as a serious objective. Behavioral ecologists also deem that a great deal of individual behavior can be explained by appealing to evolution whereas rejecting the proposal held by evolutionary psychologists that one era of our evolutionary record is the spring of all our significant psychological adaptations.

Conversely, developmental psycho biologists take yet another approach: they are anti-adaptationist. These theorists suppose that much of our behavior can be explained without appealing to a collection of definite psychological adaptations for that behavior. As an alternative they highlight the function of development in the production of various human behavioral character. Which are reasons to doubt that evolutionary psychology neither unifies nor provides foundations for intimately neighboring fields such as behavioral ecology or developmental psychobiology. They present their approach as being reliable with or well-matched with adjacent approaches such as behavioral ecology and developmental psychobiology. The evolutionary psychology’s claim that the brain is a computer premeditated by innate selection to extort information from the surroundings. Individual human behavior is generated by this evolved computer in reaction to information it gets from the environment. Understanding behavior requires articulating the cognitive programs that breed the behavior. The cognitive programs of the human brain are adaptations that exist because they produced behavior in our intimates that enabled them to survive and reproduce. These cognitive programs of the human brain may not be adaptive now, but were adaptive in ancestral environments. Natural selection ensures that the brain is self-possessed with numerous diverse special function programs and not a domain common design thereby relating the evolved computational architecture of our brains allows a logical thoughtfulness of cultural and social phenomena” ( Gray, 2003, p.18).

Our conduct can be produced by fundamental psychological mechanisms that arise to react to meticulous conditions in our ancestors’ environments. Many of us may think that moral psychology is based in innate capacities, but evolutionary psychology is a superior source of experimental outcomes and theories. One account of the composition of our ethical psychology follows from the immense modularity description of the design of the brain. Our moral judgments are an artifact of field exact mental modules that are adaptations and emerged from our hominid pedigree in retort to contingencies in our societal environments. This situation is at present extensively broken down by philosophers functioning in ethical psychology. Human beings are said to have cognitive domains which include moral analysis, substantial interpretation, and reasonable reckoning and are progressed through a sequence of universal stages that transcended customs and background. Comparatively few researchers have examined similarities and differences in the positive sides of morality. There have been few examinations of the dilemmas in which one person’s wishes or requirements diverge with those of others in necessitate in a framework with the responsibility of prohibitions like formal laws or rules.

Most people are faced with the decision to help others at cost to themselves. Those decisions have been the focus of prosocial moral reasoning research that emphasizes reasoning about moral dilemmas in which one’s needs or desires conflict with those of others in need . The development of prosocial moral reasoning is consistent and similarity is due to the role of cognition as a necessary, but not sufficient factor, for reasoning about moral dilemmas. Life is continual change: moral character changes as cognitive and emotional developmental processes (from hedonistic or egocentric behaviors to self-reflexive perspective taking and internalized norm-related or other-related judgments and behaviors) combine and as individuals face new social and familial roles and contexts. There are increases in personal and social responsibilities that parallel the developmental changes that occur during the life cycle. Each change provides new opportunities for having a greater impact on personal development, society, and others. Although the aforementioned changes are common to many people during the life cycle, ecological theorists suggest that different culture-specific socialization experiences lead to specific developmental outcomes. Socialization experiences, including social norms, expectations, and educational experiences, may indeed be different for individuals from different cultures depending on the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors deemed desirable for success in that society. These culture-specific experiences may lead to different patterns of thinking about moral and prosocial issues.

However the situation of a cross-cultural approach to human development has improved significantly in the last two decades, but that there is still a lot to be done to completely disengage developmental psychology from its inherent ethnocentrism by “taking culture seriously”. For instance, a study carried out by Pierre R. Dasen of the University of Geneva, Switzerland and Ramesh C. Mishra of Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India to research on the cognitive test scores of children in Great Britain and the United States in vocabulary, reading, mathematics, and memory of words and numbers indicated the major differences brought about by human development in diverse cultures and environment. Children aged 5-9 years in Britain systematically outperform their US counterparts on reading and mathematics tests, while children aged 10-14 years show far fewer differences. In most comparisons for white children aged 10-14 years, there are no statistical differences in the distributions of test scores between the British and United States children. The explanation for the observed differences between the younger children in the two nations in reading and mathematics may be the earlier age of entry into formal schooling in Britain. The similarity of the observed skills of the older children in the two nations, given the differences in social and economic conditions experienced by those children, challenges the notion that these differences are critically important in the children’s cognitive development.

The existence of universal versus culture-specific personality patterns has long been debated. Evidence for universality is found when consistent factor structures emerge across different cultures. Evidence for culturally specific personality domains is found when unique patterns are consistently found for different cultural groups (e.g., general personality patterns among Hawaiian, Korean, or Japanese cultures). Acculturation to Western norms may be related to culturally specific patterns of personality. However, there have been cross-cultural variations on which of the five dimensions is most important in encompassing personality. Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism have garnered strong cross-cultural validation. The validity of the Openness dimension, however, has been comparatively weak. Cross-cultural differences can exist, however, even when cultural equivalence is found within the dimensions of culture mentioned above. It has been averred that personality may reflect both universal and culturally specific aspects of personality. In support of this, studies suggest that the personality dimensions express themselves differently in different contexts. For instance, Chinese samples score lower relative to American samples on the dimension of Extraversion while Malays scored higher relative to Western samples in Agreeableness and lower in Extraversion and Openness. These group differences suggest that cultural context may be associated with personality.

A working hypothesis is that because Asian cultures tend to be high on collectivism, their personality expressions may be more highly associated by social context. In a culture that emphasizes interdependence and in-group norms, Agreeableness may facilitate the maintenance of social harmony while extraversion may violate those values. Differences in personality can often be attributed to varying levels of acculturation. Therefore, it is proposed that moderating factors in discriminating personality will be indicators associated with immigration and levels of acculturation. It is interesting to realize that the more fully one tries to understand a culture, the more it seems to take on the characteristics of a personality organization. Basic personality structure entails the study of the development of personality is the suggested solution to the problems posed by the way that, in anthropological accounts; culture can be made to assume the appearance of a closed system of behavior, however, vast reaches of culture are discoverable only as the peculiar property of certain individuals. While culture and personality were similarly integrated, there was a specific causal relationship between them. Environment, social organization, technology and child-training practices are vital in the course of growing up, where a child adapts to these institutions, but this process itself produces shared, unconscious conflicts and anxieties which are given form in projective systems like the secondary institutions such as religion and rituals.

On the other hand, modal personality and national character studies do not suppose that a certain personality construction is widespread to all members of the social order, but that they are the most recurrent. Childhood knowledge determines adult personality and a single personality type characterizes each society. A particular common essential or modal personality gives augment to a particular cultural organization and projective tests developed in the West could be used somewhere else given that anthropologists were intent and liberated from ethnocentric prejudice. Therefore, culture and personality theorists are open to criticism for the main reason that each assumption itself requires pragmatic research. Eventually, it all boils down to the fact that some cultural principles emerge as integrated into the individual’s superego for them to turn into an element of the individual’s genuine intellect of what is accurate. Some cultural symbols appear to have comatose connotation and under confident state of affairs, apparently suit an essential part of an individual’s uniqueness. And some cultural schema materialize to be internalized by a majority of individuals and to purpose as general goal systems or motives.

McGee, R. Jon and Richard L. Warms. 2004 Anthropological Theory: An IntroductoryHistory. New York: McGraw Hill.

Moore, Jerry D. 1997 Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

Culture and personality: contemporary readings 1974 By Robert Alan LeVine Transaction publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Culture and Public Action, Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton (editors), Stanford University Press, 2004.

Triandis HC, Suh EM. Cultural influences on personality. Annual Review of Psychology. 2002;53:133-160.

Buss, D., 1990, “International preferences in selecting mates: A study of 37 cultures”, Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 21: 5-47.

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