What Is Cultural Psychology?

Many aspects of how we behave and how we think have to do not with our personal life experiences or our genetics, but with the culture in which we are immersed.

In fact, although currently the predominant point of view is the Western one, we must not lose sight of the fact that, in certain places, the cultural border means that tribes living in the same region do not understand each other if for language nor by customs and mentality.

Cultural psychology is the branch of psychology that tries to deal with this aspect of the human mind, based on diversity and the cultural heritage we receive. Let’s see what exactly it is and what it is for.

Cultural Psychology: a definition

Cultural psychology is a branch of psychology that is responsible for studying the way in which cultural elements influence behavior, customs and perception of groups of people. That is, it examines the context in which people live to find causes why individuals tend to act in one way and not another.

For example, have you ever wondered why many people in India refuse to slaughter cows? The easy answer to this is to point out that for a large part of the population cows are sacred, but in reality this does not explain much. What makes cows being sacred sustainable?

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Cultural psychologists are able to investigate the different ways in which the society of this country takes advantage of these animals without having to kill them. At the same time, they have tools to know where the limits of the respect that these people have for cows are.

The same goes for many other cultural phenomena. This type of psychologist is responsible for search in society for the causes of behavioral patterns and, through predictions, know which new actions would clash with these customs and which would not.

Its relationship with sociology and anthropology

Cultural psychology is closely related to two social sciences: sociology and, especially, anthropology.

with sociology

Sociology is responsible for studying social phenomena in a broad sense. For example, the formation of ghettos and social stratification, or migration patterns in a country As for cultural psychology, it can provide data, especially quantitative, to help understand the historical dynamics that have shaped a specific culture.

with anthropology

Anthropology, unlike sociology, focuses rather on understanding cultures themselves, with all the characteristic symbols, customs, rituals and concepts. In other words, while sociology studies the forms of what happens in society, anthropology studies the content of things. cultural units that intervene in this dynamic of collective changes

The functions of Cultural Psychology

The main areas of application of cultural psychology are the following.

1. Helps understand ethnicities

In an increasingly globalized world like ours, it is very important to know the type of population that exists in a region in which foreign initiatives are going to be deployed. The cultural psychologists They can work as advisors for companies or any other type of organization so that what is done does not have a negative impact on the way of life of these people and, in the process, a lot of time and money is not wasted on initiatives that simply do not work.

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2. Allows you to intervene in conflicts

In mediation efforts it is always good to be clear that the opposing parties sometimes do not share the same vision of reality. Language and ideology differ between groups, and if what you want is to achieve a good fit, you must first know what the pieces you intend to put together are like.

3. It serves to detect differential aspects

Something that characterizes the hegemony of a culture (in the case of present times, the Western one) is that all those ethnicities that are not part of the dominant one are so ignored that many of them are unknown, and it is simply assumed that they are like the others but with certain folkloric and aesthetic characteristics

Cultural psychology participates in the process of understanding the depth of these differences between communities and, ultimately, shedding light on something that previously seemed like a mixture of cultures due to simple ignorance and Eurocentric bias.

4. Support other disciplines

Of course, cultural psychology not only draws on sociology and anthropology: it also contributes to their advancement. It does so by participating in the rest of the functions that we have seen and adopting a perspective focused on the way in which the social and cultural, over time, influences people’s actions, perceptions and thoughts.