Aggression and Violence

Aggression is, “an act or behavior that intentionally hurts another person, either physically or psychologically” (Matsumoto & Juang, 2008, p. 389). While some expressions of aggression are universal, cross-cultural differences exist in the type and level of aggression that are considered to be legally or socially sanctioned. There have been multiple reasons proposed by theorists to explain these cultural differences in the type (verbal, physical, etc.) and level of aggression expressed across cultures.For this Discussion, review the resources and consider how cultures express aggression.With these thoughts in mind:Post a brief description of the Mexican culture. Provide an example of a behavior that may be perceived as aggressive by the Mexican culture and explain why. Then, provide an example of a behavior that may be perceived as aggressive across most cultures and explain why. Finally explain how socially sanctioned violence is acceptable within certain cultures. Support your responses using current literature.3-4 Paragraphs. APA Format. In-Text Citation to Support Writing.
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17
Culture and Social Cognition
Toward a Social Psychology of Cultural Dynamics
Copyright © 2001. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
YOSHIHISA KASHIMA
Social cognition, broadly defined as human thought about social behavior, has received considerable attention in the literature since the cognitive revolution of the
1960s and, indeed, has become one of the most important areas of study in mainstream psychology. Within this large area, cross-cultural research on social cognition
has come to play an extremely important role in defining issues and in influencing research and theory.
In this chapter, Kashima presents a comprehensive overview of the area of culture
and social cognition. He first begins with an excellent discussion of the concept of
culture in psychology, distinguishing the concept of culture as meaning from cultural
dynamics. As Kashima suggests, cultural dynamics has to do with the paradoxical
phenomenon of cultural stability and change, which arises from two contemporary
views of culture: system oriented and practice oriented. These definitions and discussions about the concept of culture are essential to Kashima’s later points about the necessity for the development and creation of theories and research on cultural dynamics, which represent a further evolution of research and thinking about social
cognition, and an integration of approaches and knowledge from various disciplines.
The bulk of Kashima’s chapter is devoted to a state-of-the-art review of research
on culture and social cognition. This review promises to be one of the most comprehensive reviews on this topic. He begins with a treatment of the historical context of
early social cognition research and with a presentation of background studies in the
area. His detailed review spans such topics as availability of concepts, causal attributions, self-concepts, social and personal explanation, self-evaluation, and others. He
delineates many of the issues that are highlighted through his thorough evaluation of
the research literature, pointing out both what we know and what we do not in each
area. The reader is sure to view this area of his chapter as an important resource for
this line of inquiry.
Using his review of the literature as a platform, Kashima delineates his ideas concerning future research and theoretical work in the area. With regard to future empirical work, he suggests that two topics in the area of culture and social cognition—the
explanation of social action and the maintenance of self-regard—deserve closer scrutiny and further research in the future. In particular, while much is known about
what North Americans tend to do with regard to these topics, relatively much less
325
Matsumoto, D. (2001). The handbook of culture and psychology. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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CULTURE AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
Copyright © 2001. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
is known about other people around the world, leaving this area ripe for investigation. In particular, the holistic approach and worldview perspective of East Asians
may bring insights into this area of psychological functioning that heretofore were
unconsidered.
Clearly, however, the major thrust of Kashima’s argument for future work concerns
the creation of what he terms the social cognition of cultural dynamics. As he explains at the beginning of his chapter and throughout his literature review, much of
the early social cognition research and theories were characterized by an individualistic conception of meaning, according to which meaning is constructed solely within
an individual person’s mind. There are many reasons for these biases in the literature, including the fact that most research was done in the United States by American researchers. Even research that was conducted outside the United States was often conducted by researchers who were trained in the United States (and thus
influenced by Western educational dogma) or influenced by these factors. In the future, however, greater emphasis will need to be placed on the development of a theoretical framework that incorporates both cognitive and communicative processes in
understanding cultural dynamics—that is, the processes by which cultural meanings
are constructed in ongoing social activities among multiple individuals, as well as
within an individual’s mind. This view of social cognition is inherently more complex, involving relational, collective, and individual issues, including the incorporation of context and history, as well as future and present time orientations. For these
reasons, the development of such a theoretical viewpoint will necessitate fundamental changes in the ways in which we do research, which will ultimately lead to ways
in which we understand human behavior in potentially profoundly different ways
than now. This development of new theories and methodologies to ensure the continued evolution of knowledge in this area of psychology is commensurate with a message given by all authors throughout this volume.
Until recently, culture has been a neglected
concept in social cognition. Most theories, at
worst, have ignored culture entirely or, at best,
assumed that culture is connected unproblematically to the traditional social psychological
concepts such as attributions and attitudes. To
wit, the first edition of the Handbook of Social
Cognition (Wyer & Srull, 1984) has no entries of
culture, and this marginal status of the culture
concept continued until the 1990s, as seen in
the absence of culture in the second edition of
the Handbook (Wyer & Srull, 1994). However,
culture emerged recently as a major theme
in social cognition. There is an increase in
publication on culture and social cognition according to my recent search of the literature
from 1989 to 1997 of the computer database
PSYCINFO (Y. Kashima, 1998b).
The main aim of this chapter is to make a
case for a perspective that I call a social psychology of cultural dynamics. It attempts to
understand global dynamics of culture as generated from cognitive and communicative processes of individuals in interaction with each
other in social contexts. The chapter is divided
into four sections. In the first section, the concept of culture is examined, and major meta-
theoretical tenets of a social psychology of
cultural dynamics are derived. In the second
section, traditional metatheoretical and theoretical characteristics of social cognition are reviewed. The third section reviews the recent
explosion of research on culture and social cognition that past reviews (e.g., Fletcher & Ward,
1988; J. G. Miller, 1988; Semin & Zwier, 1997;
Zebrowitz-McArthur, 1988) did not cover. In
the last section, empirical and theoretical directions of future research are suggested.
Culture Concept
in Psychology
To clarify the perspective of a social psychology
of cultural dynamics, it is necessary to clarify
the concept of culture. The culture concept,
despite its popularity and long history in social
sciences, is multifaceted, and often ambiguous.
Culture as Meaning
Culture is analytically separable from concepts
such as society and social system (e.g., Giddens,
1979; Parsons, 1951; Rohner, 1984; for a more
recent discussion, see Y. Kashima, 2000a). On
Matsumoto, D. (2001). The handbook of culture and psychology. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waldenu on 2018-04-17 14:27:43.
Copyright © 2001. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
CULTURE AND SOCIAL COGNITION
one hand, society is an organized collection
of individuals and groups, and social system
refers to an enduring pattern of interpersonal,
intergroup, and person-group relationships
within a society. On the other hand, culture
is a set of meanings shared, or at least sharable, among individuals in a society. Therefore,
questions regarding power, resources, and
friends have to do with social systems. In contrast, culture has to do with questions about
what it means to have power and resources and
what it means for a person to be a friend of
another.
The concept of meaning, however, is complex. At this stage, let us approximate meaning
to the use of symbols, that is, material objects
(including sound, light, and other chemical
characteristics that are discernible by human
senses) that are used to stand for something
else. Obviously, words have meanings in this
sense. Nevertheless, this sense of meaning goes
beyond linguistic meaning. When a nonverbal
gesture stands for other ideas (e.g., vertically
stretched index and middle fingers standing
for victory), this involves a meaning. When a
toddler uses a round object as a steering wheel
of a car, the child is engaged in a meaningful
activity.
Nonetheless, what it stands for does not exhaust the meaning of a symbol. The denotative
(extensional) meaning is that to which a symbol
refers (i.e., its referent). However, there is more
to meaning than reference. As Frege (1984)
noted long ago, if the referent of a phrase such
as morning star or evening star is all there is
to meaning, then a statement like “The morning
star is the evening star” is a meaningless tautology. Yet, this statement can have a rich meaning
given that humans had not known for a long
time that the morning star and the evening star
referred to the same object, Venus. Frege called
this extra component of meaning sense. Meaning thus has at least two aspects, reference and
sense.
It is important to note that referential meaning should include not only literal meaning,
but also figurative meaning. For instance, Lakoff and Johnson (1979) noted that a number
of abstract concepts in English were based on
metaphors. English sentences such as, “That
meeting was a waste of time,” can be understood in terms of a metaphor that likens time
to money. Just as money is wasted, time can be
wasted, too. In 1994, Y. Kashima (also see Y.
Kashima & Callan, 1994; Shore, 1996) argued
that cultural metaphors provide rich meanings
327
for the experience of mental and social activities. In addition, narratives may also play an
important role in the production and maintenance of cultural meanings (Bruner, 1990; Y.
Kashima, 1998a).
Cultural Dynamics
Cultural dynamics has to do with the paradoxical phenomenon of cultural stability and change,
that is, how some aspects of a culture are maintained in the midst of constant change, and
cultural change continues despite strong forces
of cultural maintenance. This question arose
from a tension between two contemporary
views of culture, system oriented and practice
oriented (Y. Kashima, 2000a; also see Matsumoto, Kudoh, & Takeuchi, 1996). A systemoriented view treats culture as a relatively
enduring system of meaning. Culture is conceptualized as a repository of symbolically coded
meanings shared by a group of people, which
provides structure to their experience. In contrast, a practice-oriented view regards culture
as signification process in which meanings are
constantly produced and reproduced by concrete individuals’ particular activities in particular situations. The system-oriented view highlights the stability of culture, whereas the
practice-oriented view focuses on the fluid nature of culture in flux.
The culture-as-meaning-system view was
expressed by a number of cross-cultural psychologists and anthropologists. Most notably,
when Triandis (1972) defined subjective culture as a “cultural group’s characteristic way
of perceiving the man-made part of its environment” (p. 4), he was highlighting the enduring
and systemic aspect of culture. A well-known
anthropologist, Geertz (1973), characterized
culture as “interworked systems of construable
signs . . . something within which [social events,
behaviors, institutions, or processes] can be intelligibly . . . described” (p. 14). Geertz’s formulation, called symbolic anthropology, likens
culture to a text, which is publicly accessible
and in need of reading and interpretation. Despite a difference between the views of culture
of Triandis and Geertz, there is an underlying
similarity. They both treat culture as a system
of meanings that is shared within a group of
people.
For example, theorists who take this perspective often characterize a culture by using
a global concept such as individualism or collectivism (Hofstede, 1980; Triandis, 1995), implying that a relatively stable system of beliefs
Matsumoto, D. (2001). The handbook of culture and psychology. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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328
CULTURE AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
and values is shared in a society. Similarly,
when Geertz (1984, p. 126) characterized the
Western conception of the person as “a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational
and cognitive universe,” he implied that this
conception was shared by people in the West.
The culture-as-signification-process view was
put forward by a variety of psychologists influenced by Vygotsky (1978; for an explication of
Vygotsky, see Wertsch, 1985) and other thinkers of the Russian cultural-historical school.
These include Cole (1996), Greenfield (1997),
Lave and Wenger (1991), Rogoff (1990), Valsiner (1989), and Wertsch (1991). Although
their theory of culture has progressed beyond
Vygotsky’s original formulation, they view culture as a collection of concrete everyday practices that occur in everyday life (e.g., basket
weaving, estimating amounts of rice). Boesch’s
(1991) symbolic action theory and Poortinga’s
(1992) context-specific cross-cultural psychology are similarly concerned with concrete activities as they occur within symbolic, physical,
and social contexts. In anthropology, researchers influenced by Bourdieu (1977; habitus) and
Giddens (1979; structuration) or by contemporary Marxist thoughts often take a similar view.
Ortner (1984), a neo-Geertzian, also approaches
culture from a similar viewpoint.
An example of this approach is provided by
a conceptualization of schooling (for a recent
review, see Rogoff & Chavajay, 1995). For instance, Cole (1996) views schooling as a collection of context-specific and domain-specific
cognitive and motor activities (e.g., reading and
writing, remembering a list of words) that influence children’s cognitive task performance, such
as recall and syllogistic reasoning. In other
words, instead of explaining cultural differences in syllogistic reasoning performance in
terms of differences in cognitive style (e.g., logical versus prelogical reasoning), this approach
suggests that people from Western cultures
tend to perform syllogistic reasoning tasks better than illiterate people because the reasoning
tasks resemble activities that the former are
used to at school.
The two conceptions of culture differ on a
number of metatheoretical dimensions. First,
they differ in time perspective. The systemoriented view tends to see culture from a longterm perspective and attempts to capture stable
aspects of a culture within a historical period
(decades or centuries). In contrast, the practiceoriented view tends to construe culture from
a short-term perspective and tries to identify
activities (that is, people doing things together
with tools) that recur in specific contexts. In
other words, a unit of time is longer for a system-oriented investigation than for a practiceoriented analysis.
Second, they differ in context specificity and
domain specificity. The system-oriented view
is generally concerned with culture viewed as
a whole, as a context-general and domain-general meaning system that is carried and realized
by a group of individuals. Culture, then, is abstracted from specific contexts of social action.
Culture is often regarded as present, although
it may lay dormant, in all contexts of social
activities and all domains of life. The practiceoriented view, on the other hand, is interested
in culture as particular activities that use particular artifacts (i.e., tools and other material objects) in particular contexts. This is a view of
culture as a collection of context-specific signification activities. To the extent that a domain
of meaning is often associated with a particular
context (e.g., things to do at school or at home),
this view tends toward a view that cultural
meanings are domain specific.
Third, they differ in unit of analysis. The
system-oriented view takes a group of individuals as a unit of analysis, and culture is a phenomenon closely associated with the collectivity. In a way, culture is regarded as a property
of the group. In contrast, the practice-oriented
view takes a practice (a pattern of activities
carried out by people) as a unit of analysis. In
this perspective, culture is a property of situated activities, that is, people acting in context.
It should be noted that this notion of practice
and situated activities includes not only individuals, but also routine activities that take
place in space and time.
Neither view alone can provide a complete
picture about cultural dynamics. One view’s
strength is the other’s weakness. On one hand,
the system-oriented view takes culture as given
for a collective in a historical period. Culture in
this sense becomes a “cause” or an independent
variable in a quasi-experimental design of typical cross-cultural studies. In fact, comparative
investigations must by necessity treat culture
as stable systems and compare the slices of cultural traditions. However, this view often looks
for factors external to culture as engines of cultural change (e.g., technology, material wealth,
and ecology). Creative activities within a culture as a basis for cultural change tend to fall
outside the scope of this perspective.
Matsumoto, D. (2001). The handbook of culture and psychology. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waldenu on 2018-04-17 14:27:43.
Copyright © 2001. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
CULTURE AND SOCIAL COGNITION
On the other hand, the practice-oriented
view takes culture as constantly produced and
reproduced. As such, both stability and change
are part and parcel of culture. Developmental psychologists, who are concerned with
how children are enculturated to become fullfledged participants of a culture, are necessarily
interested in context-specific activities. After
all, children must learn culture not by osmosis,
but from concrete everyday activities. However, it is unclear in this view how one can
determine theoretically which aspects of situated activities are to persist and which are to
change. Furthermore, while this view provides
detailed analyses of particular activities, it fails
to shed light on a general pattern, a cultural
theme, or something like a context-general
meaning system that seems to cut across a number of domains of activities (e.g., see Jahoda’s
1980 criticism of Cole’s 1996 approach).
Thus, the system-oriented and practice-oriented views of culture provide complementary
perspectives on cultural dynamics. The culture-as-system view highlights the persistence
of culture over time, whereas the culture-aspractice view focuses on the fluctuation of cultural meaning across contexts and over time.
Nonetheless, both local fluctuations and global
stability characterize culture. My contention
is that we must investigate how both can be
true. From the present perspective, the central
question of cultural dynamics is how individuals’ context-specific signification activities can
generate, under some circumstances, something stable that may be called a context-general
meaning system and, under other circumstances, a rapid and even chaotic change.
Culture and Social Cognition:
Historical Context of Early
Social Cognition Research
Despite some early attempts at incorporating
cul …
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