Folk Psychologies across Cultures


R. Murray Thomas

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    To R. Reed Johnson


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    The contents of this book are based on the following five assumptions:

    • Everyone carries in mind a psychology in the form of an explanation of how and why events occur as they do. In effect, a psycology is the answer to the two-part question: By what thought processes do people account for the objects and events of the world, and what beliefs do people acquire by means of those processes?
    • A large portion of any person's psychology is held in common with other folks with whom that person is identified either directly or else vicariously through such mass communication media as newspapers, books, radio, and television. That commonly held portion of a person's beliefs can be referred to as a group's folk psychology.
    • That folk psychology can be regarded as part of the group's culture, when culture is defined as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another” (Hofstede, 1980, p. 25).
    • Frequently the misunderstanding, confusion, and conflict in people's social interactions result from differences in people's psychologies, that is, from differences in their beliefs about life and in the way they interpret events.
    • If people hope to interact with others in a constructive manner, they can profit from understanding other folks' beliefs and ways of interpreting events. That understanding is fostered by a person recognizing the likenesses and differences among the psychologies of diverse cultural groups, with the resulting knowledge promoting well-informed relationships with members of those groups.

    In keeping with the five assumptions, this book (a) provides a framework for analyzing folk psychologies and (b) describes multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures—descriptions intended to help readers understand the varied ways that the people they encounter will likely view life.

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    Name Index

    About the Author

    R. Murray Thomas (PhD, Stanford University) is an emeritus professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where for three decades he taught educational psychology and directed the program in international education. He began his 50-year career in education as a high school teacher at Kamehameha Schools and Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, then continued at the college level at San Francisco State University, the State University of New York (Brockport), and Pajajaran University in Indonesia before moving to Santa Barbara.

    His professional publications exceed 340, including 46 books for which he served as author, coauthor, or editor. His earlier books that relate to the contents of Folk Psychologies Across Cultures include:

    • Social Strata in Indonesia—A Study of West Java Villagers (1975)
    • From Talking Chiefs to Videotapes—Education in American Samoa, 1700s-1980 (1987)
    • Oriental Theories of Human Development (editor, 1988)
    • The Encyclopedia of Human Development and Education (editor, 1990)
    • Moral Development Theories—Secular and Religious (1997)
    • Human Development Theories: Windows on Culture (1999)
    • Comparing Theories of Child Development (5th ed., 2000)
    • Multicultural Counseling and Human Development Theories (2000)
    • Recent Theories of Human Development (2001)

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