Perspectives in Psychology


Bias within studies

Western Educated Industrialised Rich Democratic

90% represent western societies
68% came from America
73% of first authors are American
99% of first authors were at Western unis
Those countries represent 12% of the population
70% are of psychology undergraduates (or studying cognitive science or economics)

Behavioural scientists draw inferences from human mind and human behaviour - very little consideration of WEIRD subject's impacts

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Culture - information acquired from other members of a group and shared amongst the group
   a group of people in a shared context (geographical, historical, linguistic)

Evidence suggests social learning in animals, so possibility of culture
Evidence suggests cross-colony differences, so possibility of culture

Methods of research

  • Experimentation
  • Observation
  • Surveys
  • Anthropological records
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Differences in perception

Visual perception

  • Far, far away - approach of maximum difference
    • Perception of objects as relative vs absolute between Americans and Japanese (Kitayama)
  • Broad sweep approach
    • Muller Lyer illusion (the arrow one) differences in nomadic vs carpentered societies

Sound perception

  • Innate linguistic categorisation - babies thought to have universal distinction
  • Irrelevant sound perception decline throughout development - becomes more specialised

Spatial cognition

  • Egocentric, object centred, geocentric
  • Preverbal children share inherited preference for geocentric processing
    • Learning an egocentric language emphasises egocentric spatial relations
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Comparisons to keep in mind

Differences across groups - including ecological and social environments
   Power asymmetry hypothesis

   Different trait developments
   Look at commonalities as well as differences
      False beliefs (Sally Ann)


  • Social learning and ratchet effect
    • Vertical and horizontal learning
  • Individual learning
  • Cumulative cultural cognition
  • Cultural intelligence hypothesis
    • Improves social learning abilities show better asocial learning abilities, so there are overall more advanced cognitive skills
    • Humans haven't evolved intellectually, but rather have a specific set of social cognitive skills
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Personality traits, personal values, emotional expressiveness are thought of to vary across individuals

Expect all humans to share basic aspects of cognition, motivation, behaviour from all societies

Some differences are socially transmitted (cultural), some are environmental, some are genetic
-developmental or facultative non-cultural phenotypic plasticity
-adaptive or maladaptive

Radical interpretivism and cultural relativity deny shared human psychology across populations

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