Abnormal as Norm Actions deemed odd, psychotic or even barbaric by one culture may be perfectly acceptable to another according to Steve J. Ayan and Iris Tatjana Calliess in this article from Scientific American, April 2005, leading us to consider cultural context before we label a behavior a personality disorder.
Activities and Videos for Teaching Cross-Cultural Issues in Psychology. Bill Hill, Kennesaw State University, put this list of resources together in 1998 for the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2) Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology. This resource includes lists of books, articles, journals, and Internet resources for teaching cross-cultural psychology and for expanding course coverage of cross-cultural issues. Still a valuable resource years later. (Opens in PDF format).
Are the men of the African Aka tribe the best fathers in the world? Describes the fascinating Aka tribe in Africa in which males and females have set roles which are virtually interchangeable: women hunt while men take care of children. From The Guardian, June 15, 2005.
Chinese Personality at Work Research Project. From the website: This project examines the use of personality assessments, highlights the benefits of such methodology and introduces a program of international research that has taken place to develop and examine the reliability and validity of a number of workplace personality assessments that are used in Asia. Includes background research, five factor model, indigenous personality, personality in Asia, and results.
Cultural Comparisons Compare any two cultures on Geert Hofstede's 5 dimensions of cultural values (power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation). From the website: this research gives us insights into other cultures so that we can be more effective when interacting with people in other countries. If understood and applied properly, this information should reduce your level of frustration, anxiety, and concern.
Cultural Intelligence Linn Van Dyne at Michigan State University does research on Cultural Intelligence: the capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. This page includes an overview of cultural intelligence, a description of the four factors of cultural intelligence, recent research, results, and the 20-item, four-factor Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS). Universal Person What qualities do all humans share? Anthropologist Donald Brown claims that there are over 400 universal qualities. Check out the entire list.
Culture Wires the Brain According to research by Denise Park and colleagues from Perspectives on Psychological Science, Where you grow up can have a big impact on the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and even how your brain works […] There is evidence that the collectivist nature of East Asian cultures versus individualistic Western cultures affects both brain and behavior according to this summary from Science Daily, August 3, 2010.
Emotion: When it Comes to Emotions, Eastern and Western Cultures See Things Very Differently People from Eastern cultures take the context into account when judging emotions more so than people from Western cultures. The emotions of background figures were more likely to influence the judgments of Japanese participants more so than that of North Americans in this research by Takahiko Masuda published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and summarized in Science Daily March 7, 2008. Also summarized in here in Live Science,'' April 21, 2008.
Toward an Inclusive Psychology Joseph E. Trimble's 39-page booklet Toward an Inclusive Psychology: Infusing the Introductory Psychology Textbook With Diversity Content for infusing diversity into psychology classes. Opens in PDF format.
I feel like a Different Person Wray Herbert summarizes the work of Claire Ashton-James on the relationship between mood and identity in his blog We're Only Human from March 12, 2009. He takes up the question of How much of our self is subject to the vagaries of our moods? by summarizing Shton-James's research on mood, attitudes, and cultural stereotypes.
Mood: How We Feel Linked To Both Our Culture And How We Behave This summary describes research by Claire Ashton-James et al. who found that Feeling good did indeed encourage the volunteers — both European and Asian — to explore values that are inconsistent with their cultural norms. And elevated mood even shaped behavior, allowing volunteers to act 'out of character'. From Science Daily, April 19, 2009.
Multicultural Pavilion Paul Gorski at the University of Virginia Diversity designed, facilitates and maintains this site which features links on a wide range of topics including sexual orientation, religious diversity, gender, and ethnicity, e-mail forums, and online networking.
Multicultural Teaching The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan sponsors this page of information and strategies for multicultural teaching. Everything from course planning, teaching social justice, to responding to difficult decisions, and instructor identity.
Overview As part of Michael Dean Murphy's Anthropology class at the University of Alabama, Katherine McGhee-Snow and Lucy Lawrence wrote the Internet guide: Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared by Students for Students, which presents a good overview of the impact of culture on personality.
Self-Recognition: Cross-Cultural Reflections on the Mirror Self-Recognition Test. The British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog urges caution when extrapolating Western research findings to other cultures. While early studies suggested that children in non-western cultures were delayed in self-recognition, better-designed research found that they were merely more compliant or timid than western children, failing to question the researcher's intentions by marking their foreheads in a such a strange manner.
Universal Emotions: Pride and Shame The victory stance of a gold medalist and the slumped shoulders of a non-finalist are innate and biological rather than learned responses to success and failure, according to a University of British Columbia study using cross-cultural data gathered at the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games. While the article itself, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is available to subscribers only, you can read an abstract and download supporting information including graphs, photos, and results broken out by type of culture (e.g. individualistic, collectivistic) here. (opens in PDF).
Assignments, Exercises, and Activities
Culture: Barnga This game teaches participants about inter-cultural awareness: In Barnga, participants experience the shock of realizing that despite many similarities, people of differing cultures perceive things differently or play by different rules. Players learn that they must understand and reconcile these differences if they want to function effectively in a cross-cultural group. Essentially, the game induces feelings of culture shock in the limited (and safe) environment of a classroom. See also a PDF of directions here
Cultural Identity: The Cultural Circles Exercise Phani Radhakrishnan, University of Toronto, designed the Cultural Circles Exercise to help students in her Diversity in the Workplace class become more aware of cultural identity. Students discuss their own heritage and cultural background one-on-one with others in the class and identify sources of pride in their own culture.
Multicultural Activities Group activities to make people aware of the impact of the culture on themselves and others.
Cultural Understanding: Teaching Resources from the Peace Corps The Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program of the Peace Corps provides resources to enrich the K-12 classroom (many can be modified for college-level classes) ranging from publications, speakers, volunteer stories, multimedia, service learning, classroom projects, and lesson plans. Many of the lesson plans include exercises and simulations for teaching diversity in social studies, science, literature, and psychology classes.
The Religious Experience: East, West, Everywhere John Suler, Rider University, maintains the excellent Teaching Clinical Psychology website. He suggests the following exercise: Many psychologists, philosophers, and theologians talk about how some people have an intense, sudden, usually unexpected experience of a "higher reality" or "higher power" beyond what we normally experience. Some say it is the experience of "God." Here are how William James (one of the greatest American psychologists) and D.T. Suzuki (one of the greatest Japanese Zen philosophers) described religious experiences in their cultures. Are there any similarities between east and west?
Online Readings in Culture and Psychology. The Center for Cross-Cultural Research at Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, provides Online Readings in Psychology and Culture edited by Walter J. Lonner, Dale L. Dinnel, Susanna A. Hayes, and David N. Sattler. According to the website, the collection is free to professors, students, and others throughout the world. The articles, written by noted scholars, may be used by professors to supplement lectures and textbooks in any psychology course, or may be used as the primary readings for courses in culture and psychology.
Examples and Illustrations
Evoked Culture: A Genetic Map of Europe. Biologists have constructed a genetic map of Europe showing the degree of relatedness between its various populations. New York Times writer Nicholas Wade's explanation of genetic variation provides a good illustration of genetics and evoked cultural variation. Originally published on August 13, 2008.
McDonald’s Advertisements and Culture: I’m Loving It The McDonald’s famous I’m Loving it campaign looks different, depending on the culture in which the ad is targeted. For example, in India the ad features more collectivistic values: A father and son share a bonding moment. In the individualistic United States, the ads most often feature a person alone. Würtz (2005) explains all about cultural differences and advertisements and this companion website includes many illustrations of McDonald’s Ads from China, Japan, India, and the United States.
Tests, Measures, and Scales
Cultural Intelligence Scale Linn Van Dyne at Michigan State University does research on Cultural Intelligence: the capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. This page includes an overview of cultural intelligence, a description of the four factors of cultural intelligence, recent research, results, and the 20-item, four-factor Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS).
Test Your Cultural Awareness Kwintessential, a company specializing in intercultural communication, translation, interpretation, and training provides these free online tests of respondents' cultural awareness and knowledge. Includes quizzes of country locations, world capitals, world languages, and cultural awareness like business card etiquette and dining etiquette. There are a few general quizzes as well as over 20 tests of cultural awareness in specific countries including Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia, Chile, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and more.
Audio and Video
The Laugh Song illustrates how laughter -- and some kinds of jokes -- are universal.
Calisphere: The University of California Image Library A project of the California Digital Library, Calisphere features oral histories, photos, and other media covering themed collections organized by historical era; images of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics Americans, and Native Americans; the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive and more. Special section for teachers of K-12 History and Social Sciences and how the collection meets the California curriculum standards for these classes.
Clips for Class From the website: We launched an extensive search for videos on the internet that could be used both in class and by students at home. The videos range from news clips, to popular television shows, to student projects, and represent many psychological fields of study. This collection of creative videos for all areas of psychology includes these notable ones on personality: individualism vs. collectivism, psychosexual stages explained in the spirit of High School Musical, Self-Efficacy Theory (a la Masterpiece Theatre), a clip from the MTV show room raiders to illustrate the Five Factor model, and others.
Control and Culture: Sheena Iyengar, Psycho-Economist On the Art of Choosing For Americans, choosing is a way of asserting our individuality, while in other cultures deferring to the choices of respected others is a way of creating community and fostering harmony. Her her talk about her work on choice, locus of control, and culture, including the famous 24 varieties of jam study, in this TED talk. (Posted July 2010. Duration: 24:05)
Discovering Psychology: Cultural Psychology (Program 26) The complete updated series hosted by Philip Zimbardo is available online for streaming in the classroom or for outside of class viewing as well as in DVD format. From the website: This newly emerging field is integrating cross-cultural research with social and personality psychology, anthropology, and other social sciences. Its main new perspective is centered on how cultures construct selves and other central aspects of individual personality, beliefs, values, and emotions — much of what we are and do. This area has become more important in both psychology and American society with the globalization of our planet, increasing interaction of people from different cultural backgrounds, and emerging issues of diversity. With Dr. Hazel Markus of Stanford University, Dr. Kaipeng Peng of the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Ricardo Munoz of the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital. New. 30 minutes.
Seven Billion: Are You Typical? In the year 2011, the worldwide population will reach 7 billion people. As part of their year-long series on world population, National Geographic Magazine put together this 2 minute, 55 second video identifying the typical person and inspiring us all to think about how our choices affect others on the planet.
SPARROW: Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women This website preserves and shares oral history, photograph images, videos, and more about the lives of women in India.
Taboo The National Geographic series Taboo explores rituals and customs that are acceptable in some cultures but forbidden, illegal, or reviled in others. The site features videos, photos, and an interactive game How taboo are you?
Where the Hell is Matt Dancing? Matt, a 31-year old self-proclaimed deadbeat from Connecticut, was once told by his friend while traveling in Hanoi Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it. The rest is, as they say, Internet history. In 2005, 2006 and 2008 Matt traveled around the world dancing and spreading joy. The brief video montages from his travels are sure to make you smile even as they introduce cultural differences (clothing, housing) and cultural universals (dancing, smiling, music, positive emotions, and camaraderie) to your students. Update: In his newest (2012), and possibly most inspirational video yet, Matt shares dances with people in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, the Gaza Strip, North Korean, and strife-ridden Syria (with their faces blurred for their own safety).