Identity and roles
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Identity and Roles. Gender!. Nature vs. Nurture How is culture obtained?. Nurture: John Locke (1690) “ An Essay Concerning Human Understanding ” Theory: A baby is a blank slate. Adult personalities are exclusively the products of post-birth experiences, which differ from culture to culture.

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Identity and Roles

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Identity and roles

Identity and Roles


Nature vs nurture how is culture obtained

Nature vs. NurtureHow is culture obtained?

  • Nurture: John Locke (1690) “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”

    • Theory: A baby is a blank slate. Adult personalities are exclusively the products of post-birth experiences, which differ from culture to culture.

  • Nature: Genetic Research

    • Some genes/gene combinations are linked to human nature – To what extent we are not yet sure.

Nature vs nurture how is culture obtained1

Nature vs. NurtureHow is culture obtained?

  • Today, Nature + Nurture:

    • Genetics (Nature) are responsible for broad behavioral potentials and limitations.

    • Cultural values and expectations, and life experiences –especially in the early years (Nurture), contribute more to the intricacies of personality formation.

Enculturation exactly what is passed down from generation to generation and how is it done


  • Self-Awareness

    • How: Early positive reinforcement of the self via Mom, family and peers. Personal naming.

  • Concepts of the Environment (Worldview)

    • How: Object orientation, spatial orientation, temporal orientation and normative orientation.

  • Personality

    • How: Childhood experiences, dependence and/or Independence training,

  • Gender Concepts

    • How: Through ideas about Intersexuality, Transgender, and the male/female gender split

  • Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

    • How: Through behaviors deemed normal/abnormal, what is considered psychotic.

Self awareness


Allows one to assume responsibility for one’s conduct, to learn how to react to others, and to assume a variety of roles in society. Develops along with neuromotor skills…

  • Early mother/family cultural impressions

    • Modern industrial societies vs. small-scale farming/foraging communities

      • Examples…

Self awareness1


  • Modern industrial: Self-awareness develops slowly (~2yrs old) perhaps due to limited mother-to-infant contact.

    • Ex: (United States) Infant sleeps isolated from mother, does not nurse as frequently, spends ~20% of time directly next to mother. Positive correlation between longer breastfeeding and higher cognitive test scores, lower risk of attention deficit disorder, fewer allergies, ear infections and diarrhea.

  • Small-scale farming/foraging communities

    • Ex: Zhutwasi (San Bushmen) Infant sleeps with the mother, is carried/held most (70%) of the time, and frequently breast-feeds (~4 times an hour for 1-2 minutes).

Self awareness2


  • Personal Naming

    • Naming acknowledges a child’s birthright and establishes its social identity. Without a name, an individual has no identity, no self. For this reason, most cultures have naming ceremonies: A special event or ritual to mark the naming of a child

      • Ex: Icelanders. A patrilineal society. A girl would take her father’s first name (i.e. “Olaf”) and add “dotter” on the end, creating “Olafdotter” as her last name. A son would take his father’s first name (i.e. “Sven”) and add “sen” on the end, creating “Svensen” as his last name.

Concepts of the environment worldview

Concepts of the Environment(Worldview)

  • Object Orientation

  • Spatial Orientation

  • Temporal Orientation

  • Normative Orientation

  • When confronted with uncertainty, humans must clarify and give structure to the situation. Cultures construct explanations of the universe, and every culture has a different view, a different cultural lens.

Concepts of the environment worldview1

Concepts of the Environment(Worldview)

  • Object Orientation

    • Cultures single out for attention certain environmental features, while ignoring others or lumping them together into broad categories

      • Ex: What objects could be labeled “household” items? Of the category we term “animals”, which are the most important to us? Why?

Concepts of the environment worldview2

Concepts of the Environment(Worldview)

  • Spatial Orientation

    • Names and significant features of places.

      • Ex: “Plymouth” is located at the “Mouth” of the river “Plym”

      • Ex: “Mediterranean” (Greek) means “Between” the “Lands” (of Egypt/Greece/Troy).

      • Ex: How to direct someone to Interstate 280?

Concepts of the environment worldview3

Concepts of the Environment(Worldview)

  • Temporal Orientation

    • Connecting past actions with those of the present and future provides a sense of self-continuity.

      • Ex: How old are you? How (by which units) do you measure this? At which age are you no longer a child? When would you consider yourself ready for retirement?

Concepts of the environment worldview4

Concepts of the Environment(Worldview)

  • Normative Orientation

    • How to morally gauge your own actions or those of others. How to evaluate yourself based on culturally transmitted ideals, moral values and principles.

    • Ex: Why would taking and then permanently keeping your neighbor’s garden hose without asking, be considered wrong?



Personalities are products of enculturation, as experienced by individuals, each with his or her distinctive genetic makeup

  • Culture + Genetic makeup = Personality

    • Culture is like a mask. Gradually the “mask” of culture as it is “placed” on the face of the child, begins to shape that person until there is little sense of the mask as a superimposed alien force. Instead it feels natural, as if one were born with it. The individual has successfully internalized the culture.



  • Dependence vs. Independence training

    • Dependence Training: Child-rearing practices that foster compliance in the performance of assigned tasks and dependence on the domestic group, rather than reliance on oneself.



  • In Dependence Training, the individual is subordinate to the group. Community wishes and ideas have more weight than an individual’s.

  • Selfish/aggressive behavior actively discouraged.

  • Family members all actively work to help and support one another. Characteristic of societies with an economy based on subsistence farming, or in foraging societies in which many family groups live together.



  • Dependence vs. Independence training

    • Independence Training: Child-rearing practices that foster independence, self-reliance, and personal achievement.



  • Independence Training is characteristic of societies in which a basic unit of parent(s) and offspring fends for itself.

  • Typically found in trading and industrial societies. Babies are more separated from the mother.

  • Children typically not given tasks/chores until later childhood. These tasks are usually carried out for personal benefit (i.e. for an allowance) rather than contributions to the family’s welfare.

  • Competition and winning are emphasized in school and life. Displays of individual will, assertiveness, and even aggression encouraged.




    • Those character traits that occur with the highest frequency in a social group and are therefore the most representative of a culture

    • Statistical concept

      • How more complex societies organize diversity and how diversity related to cultural change

      • Data on Modal Personality gathered via tests like the Rorschach test

      • Life histories and dreams, analyzing popular tales, jokes, legends, and traditional myths

Gender concepts

Gender Concepts

  • Biology: Sex is determined according to whether a person’s 23rd chromosomal set is XX (female) or XY (male). People born without one or the other, or with a mutation on the X or Y chromosome do not fit neatly into the male/female gender split.

Gender concepts1

Gender Concepts

  • Intersexual: A person born with reproductive organs, genitalia, and/or sex chromosomes that are not exclusively male or female.

    • 1% of all humans (60 million people)

  • Transgender: A person who crosses over or occupies a culturally accepted position in the binary male-female gender construction.

    • Winkte: Among the Lakota, a third recognized gender, accorded considerable prestige in their communities.

Gender concepts2

Gender Concepts

  • Acceptance/Importance of people who are intersexed varies culturally

    • Greece/Ottoman Empire (~1500 years ago)

      • Eunuchs: Castrated male individuals. The term means “guardian of the bed” in Greek. Ottoman Empire: Were in charge of harems, but also occupied valued position such as priests, administrators and army commanders.

    • India

      • Hijra (also called Eunuchs)

    • People who are Intersexual/Transgender widely accepted in Western Society?

      • Issues over Gay Marriage

      • Changing sex

Culturally acceptable behaviors

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • What is considered normal and acceptable in one society may be abnormal and unacceptable (ridiculous, shameful, and sometimes criminal) in another).

Culturally acceptable behaviors1

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • Some cultures tolerate or accept a much wider range of diversity than others and may even accord special status to the deviant or eccentric as unique, extraordinary, even sacred.


Culturally acceptable behaviors2

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • Ex: (ancient Egypt) Dwarfs and the Blind.

    • If one had Achondroplasia: Associated with the protective God Bes (below far right) and were revered for their jewelry-making skills (above)

    • If an individual was blind, playing the harp was destiny 

Culturally acceptable behaviors3

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • Ex: (North America) the Manic and Hyperactivity

    • More and more viewed as assets in the quest for success.

    • “Finely wired, exquisitely alert nervous systems”, able to make one highly

      Sensitive to signs of change, able to fly from one thing to another while pushing

      the limits of everything and doing it all with an intense level of energy focused

      totally on the future.

Culturally acceptable behaviors4

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • Culture-bound syndrome: A mental disorder specific to a particular culture.

    • Windigo among northern Algonquian Indian groups: Individuals afflicted by the psychosis developed the delusion that, falling under the control of these monsters they were themselves transformed into Windigos, with a craving for human flesh. Although there are no known instances where sufferers of Windigo psychosis actually ate another human being they were acutely afraid of doing so, and people around them were genuinely fearful that they might.

Culturally acceptable behaviors5

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • Culture-bound syndrome: A mental disorder specific to a particular culture.

    • Paranoid Schizophrenia among Euramerican cultures: Characterized by feelings of persecution from others, a withdrawal of the individual from society, a fear and mistrust of nearly everyone.

Culturally acceptable behaviors6

Culturally Acceptable Behaviors

  • Culture-bound syndrome: A mental disorder specific to a particular culture.

    • Both of the previous examples draw upon whatever imagery and symbolism their culture has to offer. Northern Algonquian culture, this includes myths featuring cannibal giants. Irish Schizophrenia draws on Saints/Virgin Mary imagery. In secular Euramerica, this includes more non-religious persecution ideas.

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