Psychology chooses to explore the human mind and behavior and that is how it makes its way as one of the most popular subjects around. Something that tells us why we behave the way we behave and the influences that lead to a particular behavior streak has got to evoke a reaction like so. For those of you who have studied psychology and know what the basics of the same are will know that there are several factors that come into play when human behavior is studied.
While we tend to study society and its influence on the human behavior in the form of sociocultural psychology, one important factor and yet an often neglected one is that of culture. Culture, it has been said, influences the way in which we think, act, and behave and that is where the importance of cross cultural psychology comes into the picture.
Cross culture psychology studies the different ways in which culture influences human behavior. It studies the similarities as well as the differences that different cultures have on a person's behavior and personality. In this following article we will go into a little more depth about certain important issues regarding this subject and try to understand this subject better.
What is Cross Cultural Psychology
This is a fairly recent branch of psychology and provides a completely new perspective on the other variants that influence behavior and personality as well. But a little something more about the concept of culture first.
Culture has been described as distinct patterns of behavior, styles, mannerisms, reactions, values and customs that are passed on from one generation to the other. A study of the mannerisms and other factors of behavior can be easily done to deduce the fact that a particular group of people belong to a common community and share the same culture. Therefore, it has been proven that the culture does have an influence on the behavior of a person, and the intricacies of how this happens and why, is what this branch of psychology focuses on.
Along with studying the influences of a particular culture on one's behavior, it also studies the similarities between different cultures (The Etic Approach) and the differences between different cultures (The Emic Approach).
Areas of Study - Examples
Does cross cultural psychology limit itself to studying merely the behavior of a person? No, it does not. Along with the behavior of the person, it also studies varied other practices that are common in all cultures - child rearing for example. It studies the influence that culture has on these practices as well.
It has been studied that the way in which parents raise their children is based on the culture and the influences that it makes on a person. For example, in certain countries of the world, a child sleeps in a separate room from the time of its birth. Whereas in many other countries of the world the child sleeps in the parents room till it is slightly older. This is a practice that is influenced by the culture as is clearly seen. Does it have an effect on the behavior of the child? It definitely does. It can be seen in the way two children (or adults) from different cultures react to the concept of 'independence', 'personal space' and 'freedom'.
For a child who has had a separate bedroom from birth, these concepts will be introduced early on in life and might hold the position of being a need as opposed to a luxury. While the same concepts when introduced later in life for the other child and might not hold the same significance as for the former child. Thus even though they are the same concept, the way in which they are viewed can be different in different cultures.
Similarly, it has also been seen that the culture has an effect on the health and the predisposition of a person to varied ailments and conditions. Certain cultures are predisposed to certain ailments while others are not. It is only after a careful dissemination of the same that the role of culture in influencing these is seen and there have been studies done on this subject as well.
The perceptions about different concepts and behavior patterns is also seen to change according to the culture that one belongs to. It is these factors that are studied in great detail in this branch of psychology and an inference is drawn about the same.
Cross cultural psychology is a very interesting concept and when one goes into the details of the same, it becomes clear how an often ignored factor like 'culture' has an effect on a person and his behavior patterns.