Culture can be defined in numerous ways. In the words of anthropologist E.B. Tylor it is “that complex whole
which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other
capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
Alternatively, in a contemporary variant, “Culture is defined as a social
domain that emphasizes the practices, discourses, and material expressions, which,
over time, express the continuities and discontinuities of social meaning of a
life held in common.
As a defining aspect of what it means to be human, culture is a
central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of
phenomena that are transmitted through social learning
in human societies.
The word is used in a general sense as the evolved ability to categorize and
represent experiences with symbols and to act imaginatively and creatively. This ability
arose with the evolution of behavioral modernity in humans around
50,000 years ago] This capacity is often thought to be unique to
humans, although some other species have demonstrated similar, though much less
complex, abilities for social learning. It is also used to denote the complex networks
of practices and accumulated knowledge and ideas that is transmitted through
and exist in specific human groups, or cultures, using the plural form. Some
aspects of human behavior, such as language,
social practices such as kinship, gender and marriage, expressive forms such as art, music, dance, ritual,
such as cooking,
are said to be cultural universals, found in all human
societies. The concept material culture covers the physical
expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the
immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization (including, practices of political organization and social institutions),
and oral), and science
make up the intangible cultural heritage of a society.
culture is “the way of life, especially the general
customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.”
Terror Management Theory posits that
culture is a series of activities and worldviews that provide humans with the
basis for perceiving themselves as “person[s] of worth within the world of
meaning”—raising themselves above the merely physical aspects of
existence, in order to deny the animal insignificance and death that Homo
Sapiens became aware of when they acquired a larger brain.
diversity is the
quality of diverse or different cultures, as opposed to monoculture, the global
monoculture, or a homogenization of cultures, akin to cultural decay. The
phrase cultural diversity can also refer to having different cultures respect
each other’s differences. The phrase “cultural diversity” is also
sometimes used to mean the variety of human societies
in a specific region, or in the world as a whole. Globalization
is often said to have a negative effect on the world’s cultural diversity.
percipio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory
in order to represent and understand the environment.
All perception involves signals in the nervous
system, which in turn result from physical or chemical stimulation
of the sense organs.
For example, vision involves light striking the retina
of the eye, smell is mediated by odor molecules,
and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive
receipt of these signals, but is shaped by learning, memory,
expectation, and attention.[
- Our perceptions,
or how we interpret the world around us, are affected by our biases, motivations,
All of these are rooted in culture.
- Biases often allow people to see themselves in a more
favorable light. Some biases include egocentric
over-confidence bias, status quo bias, ingroup
bias, the halo effect, false consensus bias, and projection
- Motivational factors play a role in influencing
perceptions both positively and negatively. Highly motivated individuals
may perceive a task as easier, whereas people with less motivation may
perceive a task as more difficult.
- Emotions influence our perceptions of places,
situations, people, and objects. While emotions are universal and are experienced
in similar ways across all cultures, they may be perceived and treated
- Culture provides structure,
guidelines, expectations, and rules to help people understand and
interpret others’ behavior.
- Two theories
perception are attribution
theory and social comparison theory. Attribution theory focuses on the
causes of an action, and social comparison theory explains the tendency
for individuals to compare themselves with others who closely resemble
of Social Perception
are Attribution theory and Social Comparison theory. These theories explain how
we perceive others and also how we perceive ourselves through the social lens
of perceiving others. Attribution theory, also called actor-observer bias,
focuses on the attribution or causes of an action. This theory demonstrates why
individuals have a tendency to blame others for getting themselves into bad
situations; however when an individual is in a bad situation him- or her-self,
he or she will tend to blame the situation. For example, if a peer fails a test
there is a tendency to blame the peer for not studying hard enough; however if
you fail the test yourself, you are more likely to feel that the test was
poorly constructed or asked questions not covered by the materials. Of course
this is not true across the board, and all of this is influenced by other
cultural influences such as gender,
race, class, religion, and ethnicity.
the tendency for individuals to compare themselves with others who closely
resemble themselves in order to improve ones own feeling of value. By looking
at others who closely resemble us, we are able to form a more positive
perception of ourselves. The main pitfall of social comparison theory is that
sometimes we compare up, which makes us feel inferior, and other times we
compare down, which makes us feel superior.
or showing an unfair inclination for or prejudice
against something, also influences our perception in both positive and negative
ways. The Egocentric bias causes individuals to think more positively about
themselves than others think of them. The Over-confidence bias causes
individuals to overestimate their own confidence. The Status Quo bias
demonstrates that individuals give preference to things which are familiar. The
Ingroup bias shows a preference for individuals who are in one’s own group
affiliation. The Halo effect causes individuals to think favorably or
disfavorably on an individual due to general traits.
False Consensus causes individuals to assume that other share the same beliefs
or are in agreement with them.
factors also influence perceptions both positively and negatively. An
individual who is highly motivated to perform a task may perceive the task as
being easier. On the other hand, an individual who lacks the motivation to
finish a task may perceive the task as being more difficult.
various emotions we experience can influence both how we perceive things and
also how others perceive us. Both positive and negative emotions can drive
us toward or away from a thing. The feelings we have influence our perceptions
of places, situations, people, objects, etc. If an individual feels negative
emotions toward someone, for example, then everything that person does or says
will be perceived in light of that negative emotion. It is as though we are
wearing colored glasses which color the way we see the world. The phrase
“seeing the world through rose colored lenses” indicates that our
biases, emotions, and social interactions color the way in which we perceive
Barker, C. (2004). The Sage dictionary of cultural studies. Sage.
Terrence Deacon (1997). The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of
Language and the Brain. New York and London: W. W. Norton.
“Culture: A Human domain”. Current Anthropology. 10 (4):
Boundless. “Cultural Influences on
Perception.” Psychology In Modules. Boundless, 20 Sep. 2016. Retrieved
29 Sep. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/alternative-to-psychology-in-modules-10th-david-g-myers-1464102619-9781464102615/sensation-and-perception-6/advanced-topics-in-perception-44/cultural-influences-on-perception-211-12709/