Culture shapes an individual's cognition
Discuss about the Cognition and Cultural Change in Social Class.
Culture of an individual shapes his or her cognition, thinking, perception as well as the personality of the individuals. There are various aspects of culture, like values, beliefs and norms. These values affects the thought process of individuals. Whatever individuals perceive, understand and at times interpret, are largely affected by the individual’s cultural values. For an instance, a well educated person who lives in a city will have different thinking and viewpoints than an individual that lives in a remote or underdeveloped area. They will have different opinions about life, one living in a city will work want to make career in his desired area and the one living in any remote an underdeveloped area will have different opinion, he might think of day to day survival. This big difference in their thought process is mostly because of the culture they have grown (Kahan et al., 2011).
Cognitive abilities of an individual, thought process, attitude, personality and behavior are determined by the cultural values individuals have adopted. This is the main reason why individuals differ from each others, they have different perceptions. According to women living in conservative societies would not aspire high for their career, rather they will think of marriage and family lives. On the other hand according to it is not necessary that people living in conservative societies have conservative thoughts for example, the Noble Laurate Malala who belonged to a very conservative and remote area but her thinking was not affected by the environment she lived in rather she rose and fought for the right of other women. There are so many examples of individuals whose cultural values have not affected them rather they thought different from the masses, they challenged the norms and did not accept to follow the generally accepted rules or the values that was prevalent in the society.
According to Yaghoobi & Abdolahimoghadam, (2016) Culture does affect thinking process of individuals but there are other factors as well that have a greater impact on the cognition of human beings. Learning and experience are some of the factors that have greater impact on the cognition of individuals.
According to a very famous philosopher Daniel Dennett, human beings are affected by the culture they have embedded in a very myriad way. The beliefs vary in different cultures across the word, and there are profound implications in the thought and behavior of human beings. This pattern of similarity within culture and differences between cultures in human beings are evidence of role of the acquired beliefs, desires and values of culture. Also, there are evidences of the similarity in the beliefs of individuals that occur between the cultures of human beings despite the specific patterns that occur in different cultures (Yaghoobi & Abdolahimoghadam, 2016).
Factors influencing cognitive ability and thought process
Many psychologists and cross-cultural anthropologists have argued this fact, they have been focusing on the patterns of similarities and differences that occur between the cultures around the world. The nature and the extent or the roles that are played by cultural factors have been the one of the most discussed topic of psychology, anthropology and sociology. The differences between universalism and relativitism and culture and nature show the enduring interest. Emphasizing on the relations between culture and cognition a distinction between weak and strong cultural cognitions can be made. The fact that the contents of cognition are very much variable between different cultures are often conceded by the weak version of relationship between culture and cognition. The processes that determine these variables across the different cultures are cross culturally not variable (Kahan, 2014).
For instance the language around the world differs in its basic features but there are certain similarities, there is universality in the grammars which are generated by universal psychological mechanisms. The evidence for the weak version of cultural cognition are provided by some empirical researches. For instance, the taxonomies for living things in various cultures have certain commonalities. Certain contents of the division are naturally different, there are cross cultural similarity in classifying the living beings in a hierarchical fashion. However there are certain different plants and animals found in different areas are different biogeographically (Riding & Rayner, 2013).
On the contrary the weak version of cultural cognition, the advocates of the strong version ensures that not just the content of cognition but also the nature of cognitive processes vary across different cultures. Culture hence is seen as radically influencing the fundamental nature cognitive and neutral architecture (Strandell, 2016). According to psychologist Santos, Varnum & Grossmann, (2017) human minds are shaped and structured by cultures not just in terms of elements of cognition which are culturally bound but they also they also organize minds fundamentals, neurologically. Many psychologists give the evidences of such influences, which are based on neural organization. According to, people who are brought up in urban establishments respond in a different way to the visual tests than people who are brought in rural areas. He further claims that people of urban areas give response to the stimuli which are angular and structured more readily than the people brought up in rural areas (Santos, Varnum & Grossmann, 2017).
The cognitive anthropologists claim that environmental factors, that are mostly related to culture affect the nature of cognition. D’Andrade puts emphasis that the relationship between culture and cognition needs to be conceptualized as they are reciprocal to each other. Culture representations influences the psyche which selects own their own and modifies as per the abilities of human cognitive system (Hutchins, 2014).
The debate between universalism and relativism
The contemporary theorists of this field have shown interest towards the role of evolutionary theories in the working of human mind. It is argued by the evolutionary psychologists that to understand how mind works it is very important first pay attention to the problems that mind solves. The mind just like the body has evolved so it is necessary that it should be studied with the help of similar methods. The fact that evolutionary psychology gives new examples for the psychological sciences are rejected, it is argued that questions that are related to evolutionary theory are important to the understanding cognition and its relationship with culture. The evolutionary approach connects both the domain specific view and an anti-individualist approach to human cognition (Grossmann, Huynh & Ellsworth, 2016). It is argued by evolutionary psychologists that cognitive modules are evolved mechanisms that have different phylogenic histories. It is also been argued that general purpose view of cognition is not feasible biologically because the adaptive behavior differs largely in different areas. There is a way in which learning is being framed so that organisms are lead towards a narrow envelope which is important in this reference (Cerulo, 2015).
From the evolutionary perspective cognition needs to be embedded in the real world. In order to generate adaptive behavior there has to be reciprocal relations between the mind and the environment including the social environment. Initially the modular theory of the mind and evolutionary would not seem enough to make the topic comprehensible, one would be unable to understand the role of culture in cognition. If the thoroughly epigenetic features of cognitive development are accepted then cultural diversity can be looked as natural outcomes of an evolution, domain specific mind embedded in a rich social and cultural environment. As per this perspective, cultural learning, do not completely determine the thought process of individuals. Communal mind creates culture and every mind is genetically structured (Berkenkotter & Huckin, 2016). In order to study and understand the cultural diversity it is important to consider the discussions of cognitive anthropologists the exact area for conceptual module is informational in organisms environment. For an instance the living things module are constructed to provide information regarding the different species that is seen by an individual in an environment. In the similar the module for our theory mind are made to generate explanations of human behavior in context of the desires, beliefs and values (Uzzell, Ponton & Ardila, 2013).
Weak and strong versions of cultural cognition
The cognitive operations in all the individuals remain same, the content though remains same which depends on certain local details. It can be concluded that cultural cognition occurs due to certain cognitive domain specific learning. The learning of human beings is not determined by the culture but also to the basic biological factors that is common to all the human beings and this explains the reason why some of the beliefs and basic judgments are common to all the cultures (Ellen, 2016). For instance it is known by all individuals that stealing, killing and torturing someone is not good, it has been mentioned in all cultures, these are basic judgments made by the human mind and not by any culture and hence it is common to all the religions. Apart from culture the consciousness of human mind in identifying the right and wrong is also to a great extent responsible for the decisions made by human beings. It is more often argued that every individual have their judgments, that does not need any cultural norms rather it can be said that the cultural norms have been derived from these judgments that any sane human beings have and this is common to all (Rapoport, 2016).
The norms set by the minds becomes the basis for human cognition. Apart from that a simple example can be taken that an individual was brought up in an environment of violence and have always believed that violence is the only way to get things done, but someday he experiences something that transforms his life, it could be a person or even incidence. The experience will change the perspective of that person, therefore in this case it can be concluded that human beings apart their culture are also influenced by experiences. It can be said that cognition cannot be restricted to cultural norms there are other factor as well that have a greater role to play in this regard (Leung & Morris, 2015).
According to the sociocultural perspective, human beings learn from what they think which I basically a function of social and cultural factors that are limited to the environment they have grown. This perspective focuses mostly on the factors that make individuals different rather than on the common factors in the perspective of human beings. There is a significant difference between the children who grow up in a technologically advanced society and the children who are born in hunter- gatherer society (Beebe et al., 2015). Children solve their problems based on their cognition, they are explorers. They keep discovering new things, it is being argued that there are certain cognition in the individuals who live in socially isolated places. Although, higher psychological processes require social contributions for cognitive growth. Cognitions are not characteristics of individuals rather they are functions that transfers among individuals (Fiske & Taylor, 2013).
Other factors influencing cognition
There are many factors apart from culture and society that affects human cognition which shapes the perception of individuals. The impacts of culture on individuals with maximum number of exposure are very minimum. Experiences, education and interactions with different people in most of the cases affects the human cognitive abilities, but inborn human judgments that develop with growth and development of human beings and their brain have a larger impact than all these factors. This has been argued by many anthropologist and psychologists and still significant discussions are being carried on this topic, which is putting emphasis on the fact that cultural factors have impact on human cognition but that can be manipulated and transformed later by interaction, knowledge, experience and exposures. Cultural cognition are not long lasting. Even if they helps in shaping the cognition of the individuals there are factors that also affect the cognition of individuals. There are differences in the cultures all around the world but also there are certain similarities among the cultures that far away with each other. It is not only the culture of the individuals but the functions of the brain also have influence on the cognitive abilities of individuals and the psychologists have argued this topic, it is a very controversial topic and the argument is in favor of both the sides.
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