How Culture Affects Who We Are, Or, Think We Are

What any one of us might consider “normal” thinking is influenced by the culture around us. The field of psychology has been prying open the box of cultural influence that remained in the realm of sociology and anthropology for a long time. Where it will eventually lead is fascinating to contemplate.

How would you answer this question: Which two of the follow three have the closest relationship: a panda, a monkey or a banana?

In western culture the most common answer is the panda and monkey. This analysis comes from seeing both as animals. But in eastern cultures the most common answer is the monkey and banana. Why is this?

People who study cultures say eastern cultures have what is called a “holistic” understanding of life. Each issue is seen in its context. Food and living things are a package. Religion, values and human behavior are all related–each needs the other.

It seems to me this plays out in religion as well. The main western religion, Christianity, is about individuals and their sins. Various sins of individuals are spotlighted, abortion and homosexuality.

If we take these two, the sins favored currently by conservative Christians, and put them in context we might see them differently. Some humans are attracted to the same sex. So do some from the animal world. Abortions are chosen by women in the context of their lives and the lives of their children.

We would do well to consider the Eastern concept of context.

14 Responses

  1. Jinx II

    Culture is how we adapt to our environment and survive, culture is learned from the moment we are born until we die. We would die with out culture and our species is exterminated.

  2. Juan Ruiz

    I recall years ago a chat with a born-again Christian teenager who commented that she loved Jesus so much, she just knew that if she had been born in Saudi Arabia she would still be a Christian. What does one say to that? A long discourse precisely on the influence of culture would have fallen on empty ears. So I just responded “That’s nice.”

    1. Juan 11:32 if she had been born in Saudi Arabia she would still be a Christian..So I responded, “That’s nice.”

      Some who post here would answer the same way. It can be like talking to a stone.

      If we look across cultures, atheists (humanists, agnostics, etc) are quite the same no matter the country. Religions change with the culture. Certainly, there are some differences between atheists, humanists and agnostics, but the differences are not due to different cultures like religion.

      1. Henry

        Jon2:19″Certainly, there are some differences between atheists, humanists and agnostics, but the differences are not due to different cultures like religion.” Comparing cultural differences between atheists, Atheist Stalin the epitome of atheist bolshevism, at times killed homosexuals, and at the very least gave them 5 years hard labor. Atheist Americans would want us to be compelled to give homosexuals extra special rights and sacrifice our children to them. Atheism does vary in culture as much or more than religion.

        1. Henry 5:48 Atheist Americans would want us to be compelled to give homosexuals extra special rights and sacrifice our children to them.

          Great comedy. I thought it was religious clergy that wanted our children.

          1. Henry

            Jon:”I’d like to see the numbers on this.” Sure. 100% of public school children except for a protesting Alabama school system or similar is under the atheist theology. That is a fact. There is your number. Incidentally, I personally believe that a public school system DOES have to be more in an atheist format than Christian for practical reasons (I really do not want someone misdirecting my progeny into an Islamic faith or other). However, the pendulum has swung too hard after the change from the “Christian Nation” years. Evolution is pushed too hard and too much as if it is scientific law. Origin of earth and “Big Bang” are pushed too hard, again virtually presented as scientific law. Historical Christmas programming in public school now has to be revised and reduced to include a made up holiday and its music. The push for legitimization of homosexuality in public school rather than discussing it as needing a treatment mode also is a work against those practicing with Christian faith.

    2. Henry

      JR11:32″A long discourse precisely on the influence of culture would have fallen on empty ears.” We are just so blessed to have a sophisticated erudite like yourself on this blog from which to tap knowledge. That gullible teenager in your anecdote is obviously just so-oooooo dense and very lucky to have a man of your stature to answer their every curiosity. Thank you for being you.

      1. Juan Ruiz

        “Thank you for being you.”

        I appreciate your compliments, Mr. Rogers. Now time for you to go back to Make Believe. Say Hi to X and Daniel Tiger for me.

        1. Henry

          Wow! You are really deep into that PBS stuff! I had to look up “X” and “Daniel Tiger” to see what the hell you were talking about. Thank you for educating!

          1. Juan Ruiz

            ” You are really deep into that PBS stuff! ”

            When I was growing up it was Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo, and Soupy Sales. With my kids it was Mr. Rogers. I watched him with them.

        2. Juan Ruiz

          Henry,

          You are a good guy. And I think we could share a Coke together. (I don’t drink alcohol after my heart attack). But, you are welcome.

          1. Henry

            Well, a Coke is fine. I also like a good drink every once in awhile at noon if it is not offensive to those around me. More often than not, though, I find myself swilling a raspberry ice tea.

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