CULTURE AND PERSONALITY Classical Psychological Anthropology 1920-1940 exchanges between anthropologists and Freudian psychoanalysis application of Freudian model of how the conscious and unconscious interact to produce symbolic narratives, especially the impact of child-rearing Benedict’s idea that “culture is personality writ large”, i.e. it’s a model of personality Use of projective tests like the Rorschach and TAT (fallen into disrepute) Cross-Cultural Psychology Modern Psychology of personality is about differences on traits; Emergence of the 5 Factor model as a universal model of the structure of personality traits TBD later Indigenous Psychology Emergence (especially in Asia) of alternative systems for valuing personality CLASSICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY Patterns are (a) specific modalities of ideals and behavior, and (b) generalized configurations which structure widely varying contexts of culture content (Kluckhorn, 1941). Modalities: 43 of 46 Navaho preceded their discourse about witchcraft with the phrase, “I don’t know, I just heard about it.” A search for distinguishing characteristics of cultural group, masking individual variability. Generalized configurations: Navaho can see the difference between blue and green, but to distinguish between them verbally disturbs their cultural patterns. Sapir calls this the “inhibition of the randomness of instinctive behavior”. Societies prefer the same mode of disposing with many situations over and over. Personality, then, is the cultural conditioning that enables members of a society to respond to structural situations in modal ways. Benedict (1935) Patterns of Culture “A culture, like an individual, is a more or less consistent pattern of thought and action. Within each culture there come into being characteristic purposes not necessarily shared by other types of society… Taken up by a well-integrated culture, the most ill-assorted acts become characteristic of its particular goals, often by the most unlikely metamorphoses. The form that these acts take we can understand only by understanding first the emotional and intellectual mainsprings of that society.” (p.33) “Cultures likewise, are more than the sum of their traits. We may know all about the distribution of a tribe’s form of marriage, ritual dances, and puberty initiations, and yet understand nothing of the culture as a whole which has used these elements to its own purpose. This purpose selects from among the possible traits in the surrounding regions those which it can use, and discards those which it cannot.” “This integration of cultures is not in the least mystical. It is the same process by which a style in art comes into being and persists. Gothic architecture, beginning in what was hardly more than a preference for altitude and light, became, by the operation of some canon of taste that developed within its technique, the unique and homogenous art of the thirteenth century.” “What has happened in the great art styles happens also in cultures as a whole. All the miscellaneous behavior directed towards getting a living, mating, warring, and worshipping the gods is made over into consistent patterns in accordance with the unconscious canons of choice that develop within the culture. Some cultures, like some periods of art, fail of such integration… But cultures at every level of complexity, even the simplest, have achieved it.” “The importance of the study of the whole configuration as against the continued analysis of its parts is stressed in field after field of modern science.” “It is one of the philosophical justifications for the study of primitive peoples that the facts of simpler cultures may make clear social facts that are otherwise baffling and not open to demonstration.” Benedict presents studies of 3 primitive cultures, describing religion, marriage, art, politics as parts of a seamless whole, and the personality of the ideal person fits with this image. Among Zuni Indians, who “value sobriety and inoffensiveness above all other virtues”, society is fixed by religious rituals, there are few private possessions or offices of power, and conflict is rare, the “ideal man is a person of dignity and affability who has never tried to lead, and who has never called forth comment from his neighbors… Every arrangement militates against the possibility of the child suffering from an Oedipus complex.” Kardiner & Linton (1939) proposed that primary institutions (e.g., basic socialization practices) give rise to basic personality structure, which maintains secondary and projective institutions (e.g., religion). Projection (the general process by which unconscious materials are transformed for admission to consciousness) enables a twoway relationship between personality and institutions. The projective system of personality motivates belief and participation in institutions (that satisfy unconscious desires). This work was the dominant paradigm in cultural psychology in the first part of the twentieth century, but declined along with the rest of psychoanalytic theory in the latter half of the century. Critiques of psychoanalytic theory include its culture specificity, and the difficulty of operationalizing its variables in a reliable manner. e.g., Whiting, Kluckhorn & Anthony (1965) hypothesized that “boys tend to be initiated at puberty in those societies in which they are particularly hostile towards their fathers and dependent on their mothers. The hazing of candidates as well as genital operations, suggests that one function of the rites is to prevent open and violent revolt against parental authority at a time when physical maturity would make such revolt …dangerous and socially disruptive. Isolation from women and tests of manliness suggest another function of the rites is to break an excessively strong dependence upon the mother and … acceptance of the male role.” (p. 284). A sample of 56 societies was selected, from an original range of 150, varying in size from small tribal groups to large nations. Ethnographic data were coded by researchers blind to the hypotheses. In 48 of the societies studied, the baby slept with the mother until a year old. In 24 of these, the baby slept between the mother and father, and in the remainder, the father slept in another bed. Only in 6 societies did the mother and father sleep together and the baby in a separate bed. Similarly, there was variability on the rules regulating resumption of sexual intercourse between the mother and father after birth (from a few weeks (29), to nine months (27) to one case where the ideal is 10 years). The hypothesis is restated as “Societies which have sleeping arrangements in which the mother and baby share the same bed for at least a year to the exclusion of the father and societies which have a taboo restricting the mother’s sexual behavior for at a year after childbirth will be more likely to have a ceremony of transition from boyhood to manhood…” (presumably because the Oedipus complex is stronger in these societies). In the 20 of the societies where both antecedents are satisfied, 14 have initiation ceremonies, 6 do not. Where they are absent, only 2 of 25 have the ceremonies. The ceremonies (or rites of passage) included painful hazing, genital operations, seclusion from women, and tests of manliness. CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY: Originally, anthropology was supposed to study culture, whereas psychology was to study individuals and groups. The emergence of cross cultural psychology has spoiled this disciplinary division with the realization that the basic psychological functioning of individuals is strongly influenced by culture. Cross cultural psychologists might criticize early anthropological theory for being guilty of the ecological fallacy, where causal factors at one level (e.g., ind) are used to explain behaviour at another level (e.g., culture) and vice versa. They think that behaviour at the culture level is influenced by different factors than that at the individual level. Modern psychological theory about personality is based on traits NOT holistic patterns. In later lectures you’ll be told about the Five Factor Model of Personality (McRae & Costa, 1997 etc), a “universal” set of 5 trait dimensions present in all cultures. Indigenous Psychology and Personality Because all indigenous psychologies emerge as a reaction to Western colonizing and individualistic assumptions about of personhood, indigenous psychologies have yet to develop empirical work on indigenous theories of personality. They tend to put personality into the context of social behaviour, emphasizing such groubased and contextual aspects of personhood as “face” (community standing) or “kapwa” (shared identity). Most important aspects of selfhood are social, and dependent on social standing. INDIGENOUS APPROACHES: HEIGHT PSYCHOLOGY? Evidence is far from clear that the FFM is universal, only that the structure of English language terms is replicated when translated to other languages. The NEO-PI-R costs thousands of $ and the owners would like to export it as far and wide as they can. The holistic approach to personality found in anthropology is replaced by an analytical and atomic structure. The FFM does succeed in giving order to the thousands of individual difference scales that have been developed over the years, hence its popularity. Indigenous ideals of personality are also lost on the FFM. To give just one example, the ideal person in Buddhism is one who has “extinguished the fire of craving”, relinquishing all sense of “I” and eradicating egocentrism and all its disturbing symptoms (e.g., the trait terms in the FFM). The very idea of a fixed set of traits constituting personality is by no means universal. Marcus & Kitayama (1998) argue that context dependent “relationality” and changing to fit in with the group are central features of personhood in collectivist cultures. By not obsessing about universality, indigenous creates a space for us to appreciate diverse insights into personhood. Take Confucius, for example: “At fifteen my mind was set on learning. At thirty my character had been formed. At forty I had no more perplexities. At fifty I knew the Mandate of Heaven. At sixty I was at ease with whatever I heard. At seventy I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing moral principles.” You can decompose this discourse into traits or you can see Confucius as “Chinese personality writ large”, but I think that a cultural approach to psychology allows us to recognize that multiple ideals of personhood are possible and that each of us can be enriched by knowing all its various pathways.