Understanding Culture and Ethnicity: Basic Rudiments of an "Anthropsychological" Perspective for Understanding Human Behavior

Article excerpt

Abstract: While there appears to be general consensus in the behavioral sciences as to the importance of culture and ethnicity in shaping behavior, the discipline of psychology, a major producer of psychotherapists, is often resistant to the study of the basic concepts; seeing it as the domain of other disciplines. Thus, psychologically trained practitioners may not have rudimentary understanding of these concept; while endorsing and even trying to incorporate ethnically and culturally sensitive practices and techniques. This paper provides a basic reformulation of culture and ethnicity and presents the novel concept of an "anthropsychological" model for understanding individual behavior while being sensitive to ethnicity and culture.

Key Words: Culture, Ethnicity, Basic Rudiments, Anthropsychological Perspective, Human Behavior

There is general agreement among social, behavioral, and medical scientists that ethnic group affiliation and resulting cultural experience can be impactful in shaping and individual's psychological development and consequenting behaviors. There is further agreement that in order to fully know and understand-an individual one would best know something about the individual's ethnic heritage and cultural experience.

Notwithstanding the acknowledged importance of ethnic and cultural factors in shaping behavior, contemporary psychologists other than perhaps African-American or other minority group psychologist (Azibo, 1991; Baldwin, 1979, 1981, 1984; BoydFranklin, 1989; De La Cancela 1986, 1990; Jenkins, 1982; Jones, 1972, 1980,1991; Marsella & Pedersen, 1981; Myers, 1988; Nobles, 1972,1986; sue, 1981; Sue & Sue, 11972; Williams, 1972, 1981; Wilson, 197; Yamato, James, & Palley, 1968), have not shown a decisive interest in this area of research; rather leaving it to the domain of cultural anthropology. Nonetheless, we as psychologist, are continuously called upon to help explain actions and behaviors of ethnically and culturally diverse groups. While research in early in social psychology (Baker & Wright, 1954; Cattell 1949; Davis & Havighurst, 1946; Gardner, 1959; Hodgen, 1952; Melikian, 1959; Miller & Swanson, 1958; Nadel, 1937; Sears, Maccoby, & Levin, 1957; Whiting & Child, 1953) offered promise for understanding in this area, it did not show a continuous line of research and study. there was a theoretical shift toward greater focus on individual differences; tests and measurements, cognition, and social cognitive development (Jensen, 1964; Bandura & Walters, 1963; Bandura, 1977, 1986; Piaget, 1967; Piaget & Weil, 1957; Kohlberg, 1969; Selman, 1977, 1980; Cattell, 1957, 1959, 1970; Mischel, 1973; Rotter, 1954; Eysneck, 1976).

Again, today, we are in a place and time where understanding of ethnicity, culture, and behavior seem warranted and are indeed imperative in education, clinical, and medical practice and administration of social policy This paper provides a general theoretical overview of the terms "Culture" and "ethnicity" which are then incorporated into an "Anthrops chological" theoretical perspective for broader understanding of development and behavior.

ETHNICITY AND CULTURE

Ethnicity

The term "ethnic" is used regularly by professionals and nonprofessionals; academicians and non-academicians. Despite, and perhaps because of its widespread use, there is often confusion and lack of specificity and clarity as to the true meaning of the term. The question most often raised has to do with what factors or elements should be included in determining "ethnicity" (e.g. race, national origin, language, etc. ). At this point confusion often results; some theorists and researchers stressing one element and others stressing another component. One common misconception is to view race and ethnicity as one and the same. In such cases "ethnicity" is used to refer to groups of color (i.e. Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, etc. …