Folk Psychologies across Cultures
Publication Year: 2001
Without taking a single psychology course, ordinary people learn to understand, predict, and explain one another’s actions, thoughts, and motivations. Many cognitive scientists and philosophers claim that our everyday or folk understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. That theory is widely called folk psychology (sometimes commonsense psychology). The terms in which folk psychology are couched are familiar ones of ‘belief’ and ‘desire,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘pain,’ and so forth. According to many theorists, folk psychology plays a central role in our capacity to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and of others. This book has two goals: (a) to provide a framework for analyzing folk psychologies, and (b) to describe multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Diverse Cultures, Diverse Psychologies
- Contrasting Conceptions of Folk Psychology
- Cultural Diversity
- The Book's Twofold Purpose
- Delineating the Domain of Folk Psychologies
- Sources of Evidence
- The Evolution of Folk Psychologies
- The Book's Structure
- Chapter 2: Reality
- Dimensions of Reality
- Reality and Cultural Change
- Chapter 3: Knowing
- Knowledge Processes and Sources
- Cultural Change and the State of Knowledge
- Chapter 4: Cause
- Aspects of Causality
- Cultural Change and Beliefs about Cause
- Chapter 5: Competence
- Kinds of Competence
- Conceptions of Impairment
- Cultural Change and Competence
- Chapter 6: Values
- Types of Values in Folk Psychologies
- Values and Cultural Change
- Chapter 7: Emotions
- The Universality of Emotions
- Learning Emotional Responses
- Event and Emotion Connections
- Emotions and Cultural Change
- Chapter 8: Humor
- Examples of Folk Humor
- Humor and Cultural Change
- Chapter 9: Self and Not-Self
- Psychological Identification
- Stereotypical Roles versus Individualism
- The Presentation of Self
- Self and Cultural Change
- Chapter 10: Rites and Rituals
- Functions of Rites and Rituals
- Rituals and Cultural Change
- Chapter 11: Time and the Life Span
- Versions of Historical Time
- The Human Life Span
- Cultural Change and Concepts of Time
- Chapter 12: Gender and Sex
- Gender Variations across Folk Psychologies
- Gender and Cultural Change
- Sexual Orientation
- Sexual Behavior
- Cultural Change and Sexual Orientation
- Chapter 13: Prohibitions
- Forms and Sources of Prohibitions
- Functions of Prohibitions
- Prohibitions and Cultural Change
- Chapter 14: Folk Psychologies' Significance and Trends
- The Study of Folk Psychologies
To R. Reed Johnson
Copyright © 2001 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Thomas, R. Murray (Robert Murray), 1921-
Folk psychologies across cultures / by R. Murray Thomas.
Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index.
ISBN 0-7619-2459-0 — ISBN 0-7619-2460-4
1. Ethnopsychology. I. Title.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
01 02 03 04 05 06 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Acquiring Editor: Jim Brace-Thompson
Editorial Assistant: Karen Ehrmann
Production Editor: Sanford Robinson
Cover Designer: Jane Quaney
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.[Page x]
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About the Author[Page 335]
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)