The polysemy expression “thinking through culture” is an aspect intended for when reflecting upon cultural considerations through the psychology of human understanding and development. Cultural considerations and diversity can be studied by viewing an item from another’s perspective, deconstructing to understand, and witnessing cultural concepts are demonstrating actions which further study the human psyche. This examination of the human psyche has inspired human developmental research, gathered findings, and has highlighted areas of both debate and concerns. Though research continues to capture an understanding of human development and psyche in a variety of diverse contexts, it still fails to acknowledge the importance in diversity through societal structures, gender, across races, and also fails to consider the mentally ill population.
Diversity in Societal Structures
With her study that examined gender and group process, Maccoby (2002) explored the distinctive nature of the group structures, activities, and interactions that typify all male as compared with all-female groups, in addition to the socialization between these groups as aspects (p. 54). It was found that individuals progressively acquire a set of behaviors, interests, personality traits, and cognitive biases that are more typical of their own sex than of the other sex (Maccoby, 2002, p. 54). Trautnera et al. (2005) further supported this finding, as they found that there are high levels of gender rigidity and these higher levels can be understood as a predictable developmental trajectory (p. 374). Though Trautnera et al., (2005) expanded on the acquired sets of behaviors by considering whether rigidity–flexibility of gender stereotyping is a normative transitional developmental stage or a stable individual difference (p. 367), it failed to consider a culturally diverse sample size when utilizing a sample group from a previous study to provide insight longitudinally. The sample size utilized German children, which did in fact provide comprehensive findings. However, for this study to have only considered German children displays the lack of consideration and precautions taken, as its participants were derived from a societal structure that is not inclusive or applicable to the other outstanding societal structures which include both individualistic and collectivistic cultures.
With individualistic cultures characterized by its individualistic dominance and importance over one’s group, collectivistic cultures emphasize the later by which the group’s goals is of higher importance over the self. When choosing to ignore the drastic differences between and amongst cultures on a world scale by choosing to only consider one specific culture, its failure places this research at jeopardy with regards to its validity. In theory and by design, when considering multiple groups that are involved in studies, group-level analysis is inherent. Alongside this, the importance in examining the individual is unmatched in understanding observed cultural difference, however without this, it remains difficult to uncover confounding factors that could have accounted for observed differences. With that, by only considering Germans as exhibited by Trautnera et al., (2005), it fails to account for differences that exists amongst the diverse societal structures. For example, within the last decade, gender fluidity, identification, and barriers have all been reconstructed and understood, more prominently amongst individualistic societies such as the United State of America. With appropriate theoretical insight and research deigns, culture diversity could have been achieved as seen with .
Another important concern when considering cultural differences and diversity is to ensure that human developmental research links the gap in understanding and acknowledging the variety of ways in how familial structures can be displayed. When considering Diana Baumrind’s findings in her 1971 study regarding parenting styles and outcomes explored, it remains challenging to accept her findings completely as she not only explored two parent homes, but also only considered white families. With Baumrind’s first goal to identify valid patterns of parenting as a push towards identifying child outcome measures (Dixon, 2003, p. 159), it remains irresponsible to accept such validity without considering other aspects of parenting. Though future research much of it done herself, refined many concepts, there was no mention of considering research with single parents (Dixon, 2003, p. 165). With the Dixon’s (2003) results stating how mothers should practice self-confident, secure, and potent behaviors while fathers should promote nonconformity and authoritarianism (p. 158), how does this translate well when considering children who are raised in single parent homes or with same sex coupled parents. While this research helped for different parental styles to be identified, it lacked various parent types that remain both critical and influential when considering all types of parenting styles and socialization. It remains important to consider these diverse familial structures as they may reveal new truths or support previous findings.
Diversity Across Populations
Studies have not only done little to examine cultural diversity in societal structures, but research has also demonstrated a lack of diversity both racially and within the mental health population. This concept dates back to research conducted by Mary Ainsworth and colleagues (1978) in their examination of The Strange Situation. As described by the work of Ainsworth, the assurance and need for a secure base is not uncommon, but a fundamental part of being human (Dixon, 2003, p. 141). Dixon’s (2003) analysis revealed that her sample came from white, middle-class families (p. 143). However, for her work to be considering, “arguably among the most ingenious experimental methodologies” is unacceptable when failing to consider a vast population (p. 144). As her worked paved the success in predicting child success with regard to parenting outcomes, it only considered the white middle-class sector.
Though Ainsworth failed considerably with the sampled population in her work, both Nancy Darling and Laurence Steinberg (1993) in their research addressed the issues with the effects of parenting style as a function of the child’s cultural background, the processes through which parenting style influences the child’s development, and the operationalization of parenting style (p. 487). The research conducted makes mention that many researchers have continued to focus their samples predominantly with White, middle-class families. Darling and Steinberg (1993) argue for one to successfully study parenting styles and socialization in a way that is inclusive of diversity and cultural influence researchers must stop treating parenting styles as a socialization process and more of a context in which socialization occurs (p. 495). It remains important for this argument to be carried out in research as culture undoubtedly influences parenting in how it is conducted, understood, and its perceived outcomes. Without consideration of findings across multiple backgrounds, as culture proves its impact in psychology, much will go undiscovered.
Not only are racially diverse populations under considered throughout the current articles under review, but the mentally ill or impaired population also relics a group of individuals who lack adequate consideration in a variety of research. Carl E. Schwartz, Wright, Shin, Kagan and Rauch (2003) explored the idea that infants with a reserved temperament tend to develop into children who avoid people, objects, and situations that are novel or unfamiliar (p. 1952). Within his sample, it was unveiled that an inhibited temperament is a risk factor for the development of generalized anxiety disorder, while noting that these aspects should not be regarded as a specific marker for a disorder (Schwartz et al., 2003, p. 1953). The concept of that research much remain diverse with regard to mental illness is one of great importance. Without cross-sectional studies as exemplified by Schwartz et al., (2003), considerations for those with mental illness often go unaddressed. The failure to do so is critical to understand how individuals reflective of all levels interpret and comprehend the meaning of the situations and events around them. Expanding on the work completed by Schwartz et al., (2003), was Vreeke et al., (2012)
- Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 487–496.
- Dixon, W. E., Jr. (2003). Twenty studies that revolutionized child psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Maccoby, E. E. (2002). Gender and group process: A developmental perspective. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(2), 54-58.
- Schwartz, C. E., Wright, C. I., Shin, L. M., Kagan, J., & Rauch, S. L. (2003, June 20). Inhibited and uninhibited infants “grown up”: Adult amygdalar response to novelty. Science, 300, 1952-1953.
- Trautner, H. M., Ruble, D. N., Cyphers, L., Kirsten, B., Behrendt, R., & Hartmann, P. (2005).
- Rigidity and flexibility of gender stereotypes in childhood: Developmental or differential? Infant and Child Development, 14(4), 365-381.