• Carl Ratner
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


World events have alerted social scientists to the fact that people in diverse cultures are psychologically different in many ways. Research, in cross-cultural psychology, psychological anthropology, history, and sociology has attempted to investigate the effect of culture on perception, emotions, personality, reasoning, memory, and psychological disturbances. This field of research is generally called cultural psychology. It has indicated that psychological phenomena have cultural origins, characteristics, and functions. “Cultural templates penetrate to the innermost of people’s souls, so to speak, and mold emotional life and somato-psychic reactions in stereotyped and patterned ways” (Wikan, 1990, p. 17). Thus, “emotional meaning is fundamentally structured by particular cultural systems and particular social and material environments. Talk about emotions is simultaneously talk about society, about power and politics, about kinship and marriage, about normality and deviance” (Lutz, 1988, pp. 5–6). “Political and economic structures are embodied in experience” (Good, 1992, pp. 200–201).


Cultural Aspect Qualitative Methodology Cultural Origin Psychological Phenomenon Folk Psychology 
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  1. 1.
    The complex relationship between environment and experience is exemplified in perception. Perception of things (distal stimuli) is not completely isomorphic with those things. Perception is also affected by intraorganismic processes (proximal stimuli) including attitudes. In a classic paper on this subject, Postman and Tolman (1959, p. 513) drew out the implications of this complex relationship. They stated, “There is uncertainty, then, in (1) predicting proximal effects from distal causes and (2) inferring distal causes from proximal effects.” The same uncertainty makes it difficult to predict social psychological experience from social conditions and to infer social conditions from experience.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    C. Wright Mills ( 1959, p. 226) expressed the practical import of this kind of analysis. He said the social scientist should know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues- and in terms of the problems of history-making. [Conversely] Know that the human meaning of public issues must be revealed by relating them to personal troubles- and to the problems of the individual life. Know that the problems of social science, when adequately formulated, must include both troubles and issues, both biography and history, and the range of their intricate relations.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Ratner
    • 1
  1. 1.Humboldt State UniversityArcataUSA

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