Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cultural Specificity?

The idea behind cultural specificity is compelling, to say the least. For example, Asians seem to be generally more pessimistic than Caucasians (Chang, 1996). Even how and what we fear has a cultural basis: examining amygdala responsivity showed differences across cultures - greater fear (amygdala responsivity) was shown culture wide to specific images (Chiao et al., 2008). My take away from this is that we learn culturally to respond in general ways to specific stimuli. I find it compelling to see how deep our cultural roots are in ways that are below the level of conscious awareness. For counselors, the implication of this is tremendous. In essence, we have to become aware of any cultural tendencies that provoke stereotype and bias.

Chang, E. (1996). Evidence for the cultural specificity of pessimism in Asians vs Caucasians: A test of a general negativity hypothesis. Personality and Individual Differences, 21(5), 819-822. doi: 10.1016/0191-8869(96)00110-9

Chiao, J. Y., Iidaka, T., Gordon, H. L., Nogawa, J., Bar, M., Aminoff, E., ... Ambady, N. (2008). Cultural Specificity in Amygdala Response to Fear Faces. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(12), 2167-2174. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20151

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