对不同文化的了解动摇了心理学的根基

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Holistic thinking, common in Japan, leadsto a certain way of memorising.

(图解:整体型思维在日本稀松平常,这也形成了一种特定的记忆方式)

The academic discipline of psychology wasdeveloped largely in North America and Europe. Some would argue it’s beenremarkably successful in understanding what drives human behaviour and mentalprocesses, which have long been thought to be universal. But in recent decadessome researchers have started questioning this approach, arguing that manypsychological phenomena are shaped by the culture we live in.

心理学科主要是在北美和欧洲发展起来的。有人主张,它在理解是什么在驱动人类行为以及心理过程方面已经取得了显著的成功,而且很长时间以来被认定是普适的。但在最近几十年,一些研究者已经开始怀疑这套方法,并主张很多心理现象是由我们身处的文化所塑造的。

Clearly, humans are in many ways verysimilar – we share the same physiology and have the same basic needs, such asnourishment, safety and sexuality. So what effect can culture really have onthe fundamental aspects of our psyche, such as perception, cognition andpersonality? Let’s take a look at the evidence so far.

显然,人类在很多方面都是相像的,我们的生理机能是一样的,而且有着同样的基本需求,比如营养、安全和性行为。那么,文化到底能对我们心灵的基本面产生什么影响呢,例如感觉、认知和个性?让我们来考察考察目前的证据。

Experimental psychologists typically studybehaviour in a small group of people, with the assumption that this can begeneralised to the wider human population. If the population is considered tobe homogeneous, then such inferences can indeed be made from a random sample.

实验心理学家通常会在一小群人中研究其行为,他们会假定这种研究(得出的结论)能推而广之到更广大的种群中。如果认为种群是同质的,那么确实能从随机样本中得出这种推论。

However, this isn’t the case. Psychologistshave long disproportionately relied on undergraduate students to carry outtheir studies, simply because they are readily available to researchers atuniversities. More dramatically still, more than 90% of participants inpsychological studies come from countries that are Western, Educated,Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic (W.E.I.R.D). Clearly, these countries areneither a random sample nor representative for the human population.

然而,情况并非如此。长期以来,心理学家们不成比例地依赖在校大学生来进行他们的研究,单纯因为他们对于大学里的研究人员来说是现成可用的。更戏剧化的是,超过90%的心理研究参与者都来自西方/受教育程度高/工业化/富裕/民主的国家(首字母为W.E.I.R.D)。显然,这些国家既称不上随机样本,也不能代表全人类。

Thinking styles

思维方式

Consider which two of these objects gotogether: a panda, a monkey and a banana. Respondents from Western countriesroutinely select the monkey and the panda, because both objects are animals.This is indicative of an analytic thinking style, in which objects are largelyperceived independently from their context.

想一想哪两个对象应被归到一起:一只熊猫,一只猴子和一个香蕉。来自西方国家的受访者照例会选择猴子和熊猫,因为这两个对象都是动物。这表明了一种分析型思维方式,在这种方式下,对于对象的认知,很大程度上是独立于它们的环境的。

In contrast, participants from Easterncountries will often select the monkey and the banana, because these objectsbelong in the same environment and share a relationship (monkeys eat bananas).This is a holistic thinking style, in which object and context are perceived tobe interrelated.

相较而言,来自东方国家的受访者通常会选择猴子和香蕉,因为这些对象属于同一个环境,而且能构成一组关系(猴子吃香蕉)。这是一种整体型思维方式,以这种方式认知时,对象和环境是相互关联的。



Holistic thinking is prent in Asiancultures, such as India.

(图解:整体型思维在亚洲文化中非常普遍,比如印度)

In a classic demonstration of culturaldifferences in thinking styles, participants from Japan and the USA werepresented with a series of animated scenes. Lasting about 20 seconds, eachscene showed various aquatic creatures, vegetation and rocks in an underwatersetting. In a subsequent recall task, both groups of participants were equallylikely to remember salient objects, the larger fish. But the Japaneseparticipants were better than American participants at recalling backgroundinformation, such as the colour of the water. This is because holistic thinkingfocuses on background and context just as much as foreground.

在一场思维方式层面体现文化差异的演示中,向来自日本和美国的受访者展示了一系列的动画场景。整段动画持续20秒,每个场景都呈现出水下环境中不同的水生生物、植物和岩石。在随后的回忆任务中,两个受访者小组均有同样的可能忆起显要的物体,即体形更大的鱼。但相比美国受访者,日本受访者在回忆背景信息方面做得更好,比如水的颜色。这是因为整体型思维像专注于前景一样,专注背景和环境。

This clearly demonstrates how culturaldifferences can affect something as fundamental as memory – any theorydescribing it should take that into account. Subsequent studies have shown thatcultural differences in thinking styles are pervasive in cognition – affecting memory,attention, perception, reasoning and how we talk and think.

这清楚地展现了文化差异是如何影响像记忆这类基本的东西的,任何描述记忆的理论都应该将这一点纳入考虑。随后的研究已经显示:体现在思维方式中的文化差异在认知层面是无处不在的,会影响记忆、注意力、感知、推理以及我们交谈和思维的方式。

The self

自我

If you were asked to describe yourself,what would you say? Would you describe yourself in terms of personalcharacteristics – being intelligent or funny – or would you use preferences,such as “I love pizza”? Or perhaps you would instead base it on socialrelationships, such as “I am a parent”? Social psychologists have longmaintained that people are much more likely to describe themselves and othersin terms of stable personal characteristics.

如果要你描述下自己,你会说什么?你会不会就个人特质来描述你自己,比如才智或幽默?会不会拿偏好说事,比如“我爱披萨”?或者也许你会基于社会关系来说明,比如“我为人父母”?社会心理学家长久以来都认为人们更可能用稳定的个人特质来描述自己和别人。

However, the way people describe themselvesseems to be culturally bound. Individuals in the western world are indeed morelikely to view themselves as free, autonomous and unique individuals,possessing a set of fixed characteristics. But in many other parts of theworld, people describe themselves primarily as a part of different socialrelationships and strongly connected with others. This is more prent inAsia, Africa and Latin America. These differences are pervasive, and have beenlinked to differences in social relationships, motivation and upbringing.

然而,人们描述自己时似乎受限于文化。西方人确实倾向于把自己看成是自由、自主乃至独特的个体,具有一组固定的特质。但在世界其他很多地方,人们在根本上会把自己描述为不同社会关系的一部分,而且与其他人保持着紧密联系。这种情况在亚洲、非洲和拉丁美洲更加普遍。这些差异是无处不在的,并与社会关系、动机和教养方面的差异有关。



Zulu people are more likely to think ofthemselves in terms of social relationships.

(图解:祖鲁人(南非)倾向于用社会关系来看待他们自己)

This difference in self-construal has evenbeen demonstrated at the brain level. In a brain-scanning study (fMRI), Chineseand American participants were shown different adjectives and were asked howwell these traits represented themselves. They were also asked to think abouthow well they represented their mother (the mothers were not in the study),while being scanned.

这种自我建构方面的差异甚至会显示在大脑层面上。在一项脑扫描研究(fMRI)中,向中国和美国受访者展示了不同的形容词,并询问他们这些品质在多大程度上能描述他们自己。他们也被要求思考这些品质在多大程度上能够描述他们的母亲(他们的母亲不在研究中),与此同时接受扫描。

In American participants, there was a cleardifference in brain responses between thinking about the self and the mother inthe “medial prefrontal cortex”, which is a region of the brain typicallyassociated with self presentations. However, in Chinese participants there waslittle or no difference between self and mother, suggesting that theself-presentation shared a large overlap with the presentation of the closerelative.

美国受访者在想到自己与母亲时,脑部内侧前额叶皮质上出现的反应呈现出清晰的差异,大脑中的这个部位通常与自我描述有关。然而在中国受访者中,在想到自己和母亲时,出现的差异很小或者无差异,这就表明自我描述与对至亲的描述之间存在相当大的重合部分。

Mental health

心理健康

Another domain that was originallydominated by studies on W.E.I.R.D. samples is mental health. However, culturecan affect our understanding of mental health in different ways. Because of theexistence of cultural differences in behaviour, the framework – based ondetecting deviant or non-normative behaviours – isn’t complete. What may beseen as normal in one culture (modesty) could be seen as deviating from thenorm in another (social phobia).

另一个由W.E.I.R.D(即西方/受教育程度高/工业化/富裕/民主国家)样本占主导地位的研究领域是心理健康。然而,文化能以不同的方式影响我们对心理健康的理解。由于在行为中存在文化差异,基于探测异常行为或非规范化行为的体系并不完整。在某种文化中被视为正常的行为(比如谦逊),会在另一种文化中被视为对常规的偏离(社交恐惧症)。

In addition, a number of culture-specificsyndromes have been identified. Koro sufferers (mostly in Asia), are men whichhave the mistaken belief that their genitalia are retracting and willdisappear. Hikikomori (mostly Japan) is a condition that describes reclusiveindividuals who withdraw from social life. Meanwhile, the evil eye syndrome(mostly in Mediterranean countries) is the belief that envy or other forms ofmalevolent glare will cause misfortune on the receiver.

此外,还发现了若干因文化不同而不同的综合征。缩阴症患者(主要在亚洲)是那些错误地相信他们的生殖器正在回缩并会消失的男性。蛰居族(主要在日本)描述的是那些脱离社会生活的隐居个体。同时,邪恶之眼综合症(主要在地中海国家)则相信嫉妒或其他形式的恶毒怒视会导致接受者的不幸。

The existence of such culture-boundsyndromes has been acknowledged by both the World Health Organization and theAmerican Psychiatry Association recently, as some of these syndromes have beenincluded their respective classifications of mental illnesses.

这些受限于文化的综合症的存在已经在最近被世界卫生组织和美国精神病协会承认,因为这类综合症中的一部分已经被纳入这两个组织各自的精神疾病分类中。

Clearly culture has a massive effect on howwe view ourselves and how we are perceived by others – we are only justscratching the surface. The field, now known as “cross-cultural psychology”, isincreasingly being taught at universities across the world. The question is towhat extent it will inform psychology as a discipline going forward – some seeit as an extra dimension of it while others view it as an integral and centralpart of theory making.

很明显,文化对于我们如何看待自己以及别人如何感知我们有着巨大的影响,而我们只是触及了皮毛。该领域如今被称为“跨文化心理学”,正日益在全世界的大学中被教授。问题在于,作为一门学科,它将在多大程度上活化心理学并推动其向前发展,有些人将其视为心理学的一个特别的方面,而另一些人将其视为构建理论的一个必不可少的核心部分。

With more research, we may well find thatcultural differences pervade into even more areas where human behaviour waspreviously thought of as universal. But only by knowing about these effectswill we ever be able to identify the core foundations of the human mind that weall share.

有了更多的研究,我们很可能会发现,文化差异的影响渗透进先前人类行为被认为是世界通用的更多领域。但只有通过了解这些影响,我们才能发现我们共有心灵的核心基础。

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1、avid Morley
Attitudes to sex and sexuality are clearlyanother fertile area for exploration. The common thread of sexual Puritanism in the west, running fromreligion, through social purity movements to modern feminism has often beenremarked on. The ideology and therationalisation has changed, but the underlying attitudes and feelings remain -often accompanied by strange unresolved contradictions.

对性和性欲的态度显然是另一块值得探索的沃土。与西方性方面的清教(禁欲)主义遵循共同的路线,摆脱宗教,经过社会净化运动乃至现代的女权运动,这些都常常被谈论。意识形态和合理性已在嬗变,但潜在的态度和感受犹存,往往伴随着奇奇怪怪的无解矛盾。

Japanese attitudes, for example, areclearly very different.
People from a Christian cultural backgroundare rather shocked by Mohamed’s multiple wives, and especially by the claimthat he could satisfy them all every night. To us this seems entirely at odds with spirituality, which we tend tosee as anti-sexual or at least asexual.

比如说日本人的态度,显然是很不一样的。
默罕默德的多妻制让来自基督文化背景的人相当震惊,尤其他还声称每晚他能满足她们所有人。对我们来说这完全和灵性相悖,我们倾向于把灵性看作反性的,至少也是无性。

2、Paul Burns
I studied Social Anthropology as wellPsychology. Is that why I am not surprised by the article?

我学的是社会人类学,也学心理学。难道这就是这篇文章完全没让我惊讶的原因吗?

Cultures influence behaviours in many ways.And that includes local cultures, sub-cultures and micro-cultures, such as a small workplace.

文化以多种方式影响行为。而且那包括本土文化、亚文化、微型(孤立封闭环境)文化,比如一个小车间。

In terms of medical diagnoses andtreatments, one only has to go from the UK to France or Germany to findcultural differences, such as the French predisposition to use analsuppositories for medication or the German concept of “heart insufficiency”.

在医疗诊断和治疗方面,你只需要从英国去到法国或德国,就能发现文化差异,比如法国人倾向于把肛门栓剂当药来用,或是德国人“心功能不全”的概念。

3、Geoffrey Watson
Since monkeys don’t often eat bananas inthe wild, this particular difference is best explained by (a) Eastern cultureswatching too many cartoons or (b) Western cultures being more familiar withzoology.

鉴于在野外的猴子并不会常常吃到香蕉,这个特定的文化差异能被两种情况最完美地解释:1、这个东方文化看了太多的卡通片;2、这个西方文化对动物学更为熟悉。

4、Tony Somera
I’m not sure this is really a culturalissue. In particular, I did not grow up with a holistic preference, but in the60’s opened myself up to that kind of thinking after being convinced of itssuperiority. It was a deliberate choice for me, and I’m convinced we all makesimilar choices, often in spite of our particular home culture.

我不确定这当真是个文化问题。确切说,我的成长过程中并没有形成对于整体性的偏好,但在确信其优越性之后,我在60年代敞开身心投奔了那种思维方式。对我来说这是一种刻意的选择,我也深信我们都会做出类似的选择,无论我们来自哪种特定的家庭文化。

For another example, I was exposed to thekind of strong group identification described as typical for Latin-Americans,Asians and Africans. But I was much more strongly attracted to anindividualistic sense of self and have lived my whole life like that.

再举个例子,我接触过那种非常强烈的族群认同,这被说成是拉美人、亚洲人和非洲人特有的。但更加强烈地吸引着我的,是个人主义的自我观念,而且我一辈子都是这么过来的。

You might consider me an outlier, but I’venever felt all that alone. There’s always been other ways to connect withthings greater than myself, and I’ve seen many others do the same.

可能你会把我看作一个(不合群的)局外人,但我从未感到过孤独。总有其他方式去连通那些比我伟大的事物,而且我看到许许多多其他人也做着同样的事。

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