Psychology has studied the behavior of the human being from a theoretical perspective, using observation as the primary tool. The main sources of inspiration for these psychological studies came from fields that provided formal schemes.
These compendiums resulted in stripping the human being of one of its defining and most essential features, that of a language being, a being that expresses itself in various forms. The human being, above all, is a transmitter and generator of meanings.
In this brief intervention, We will quote the main authors and theories regarding a relatively new concept, Cultural Psychology, since this multidisciplinary vision gives a broader meaning to human behavior, the reasons of their tastes, identity, language, expressions, among other characteristics.
Cultural Psychology is a new approach aimed at exploring and analyzing the psychological dimensions of the human being. From this new theoretical orientation, numerous studies have been born, especially in Spain and the United States, which demonstrate the cultural and historical determination of all psychological processes: cognitive (ability to assimilate and process data, valuing and systematizing the information accessed from experience, perception or other paths), emotional, perceptive and in general mental states: level of consciousness, degree of attention, orientation and behavior, and psychic functions: thought, language, memory, perception, and learning.
“From this new theoretical orientation, numerous studies have emerged, especially in Spain and the United States, which demonstrate the cultural and historical determination of all psychological processes.”
Since its inception, this concept has been studied by psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, educologists, among others. And as with most ideas, theorists have not reached a consensus agreement on their meaning.
However, we can highlight the following: Cultural Psychology is “a way of understanding and making psychology that assumes the idea that culture and mind are inseparable since they constitute each other” (Markus and Hamedani, 2007).
That is, it can be understood the psychological characteristics of people we have to go through the study of the contexts in which, directly or indirectly, they participate, and to understand the culture, we have to go through the senses and meanings that men and women have built.
It is interesting to analyze this connection, since our ideas, beliefs, values, and preferences are formed according to the context in which we develop, and each activity we perform is creating a change in our psyche and in the mind of the people around us, which, creates a physical change in our environment, can be observed and perceived by other people.
A musician, for example, composes a song that is heard by many people, that song provokes emotions and feelings and acquires a value determined by the community at a particular time, those emotions and feelings can modify their way of acting, therefore, there is observable behavior that changes their context.
A different definition is that of the American anthropologist, Richard Shweder, who was mentioned in 1990 that Cultural Psychology is the study of the way cultural traditions and social practices that regulate, express and transform the human mind, which was supplemented by Cole in 1996, “the minds in dialogue weave together these cultural traditions, and these social practices.”
From this approach, it is considered that both mental developments grow along with cultural development, between the person and that which surrounds him or her, as can be other people, objects, symbols, and language.
For Serrano (1996), Cultural Psychology is the study of the mental constitution and by symbolic forms, that is, significant human actions and expressions are structured and historically contextualized and socially produced, reproduced and transmitted.” This means that many of the attitudes we have as people are determined by a representation of past events that have been represented by the nuclear family, and that is how they pass from generation to generation.
This leads us to reflect that our attitudes and actions have an impact on the people around us, from family, friends, colleagues, and coworkers.
A very important author and quoted in multiple texts on Cultural Psychology, is a Russian psychologist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (1896-1934), founder of Historical-Cultural Psychology.
His work and his early death made him known as “the Mozart of Psychology.”
For Vygotsky, human consciousness is not merely a cognitive-intellectual phenomenon but is also the result of affectivity and emotions, impulses, desires, or motives that guide human behavior.
From his perspective, he emphasizes the importance of meaning, which includes or expresses a feeling marked by previous experiences and by “common sense” or way of thinking and proceeding as the generality of people would do, that is, by culture, and which express and build the people’s ways of feeling and living.
Cultural Psychology requires not only conceptual learning but also the transformation of sensitivity, mentality, and openness to various disciplines.
The different authors cited, and some others agree that the goal of this discipline is to understand how human development processes take place in culture. (De la Mata y Cubero, 2003).
Values, Creations, And Symbols
In this context “culture” is not understood as something physical, observable, tangible, abstract; but as a concept that encompasses interpretations, values, creations, shared symbols, ideas, meanings, languages, practices that are defined and generated through the family, the community, the state or country where the person is developed.
Also, it is like the implicit and explicit forms shared by a particular cultural unit, beliefs, thoughts, and ways of behaving, which is reflected in the dimensions in which a society or community is attracted. And it is identified with different actions such as reading, sports equipment, and symbolism.
How can we carry all of the above to our daily life? What would be the best examples to understand the theories mentioned here?
We have to think a little bit about the reasons why we like to dress in such a way. Why do we like a specific type of music? they are just our choices when buying food, books, clothing, accessories, our idioms, accent, preference, or ease to learn a language, events, places to go, favorite drinks, sports equipment, or decorating our home.