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Culture and Human Evolution – Personal Psychology Essay

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Updated: Apr 2nd, 2020

Introduction

Personal identity is a concept that people develop upon their self and it changes with time. This aspect involves situations in one’s life that cannot be controlled and others that can be influenced such as originality, racial affiliation, gender, what we believe, and how we interact. The way individuals dress and the class that they occupy in society determines their personalities.

Cultural identity

Culture shapes what we become as our identity keeps on evolving as we are exposed to different cultures. In a bid to feel part of a certain group, one has to identify with what that group practices, values, and believes, such as what food we eat, what we wear, and how we talk. As a child grows up, he or she acquires different traits in a process referred to as acculturation. These practices shape our personalities as we grow.

Culture involves shared experiences, which relate to the social effects of emotional expressions. For instance, most cultures influence how we should react at certain events such as weddings, funerals, or during the birth of a child. In many cases, we do not choose to be happy or sad, but situations determine our status.

Race and ethnicity play a major role in the construction of our identities. For instance, someone moving to the United States from another country, hence a different culture might have trouble in the process of adapting to the American way of life. One might be forced to have an English name in a bid to avoid attention.

In addition, one’s skin color may instill a sense of inferiority due to racial stereotypes. You have to adjust your eating habits, learn English, and dress like the people you identify with. These adjustments do not occur easily. The unavoidable circumstances compel us to adjust. In the process, we are faced with emotional conflicts, as we want to maintain what we are, but the environment does not accommodate our feelings.

Social identity

Gender roles and statuses define our personal experiences in every activity we execute. For instance, the division of labor by gender in many societies varies, and it ranges from equal to male domination. The concept of male chauvinism prevails in some societies.

This perspective belittles the role of women, and even those holding high social statuses do not feel appreciated as the overall belief of the society has little attention on women. This aspect creates a negative emotional workplace for the women. In the family unit, the father is looked upon by the children and the wife as the provider. This notion shapes our personal identity as we grow to take new responsibilities.

The kind of social places we go, the music we listen to, and religious beliefs influence who we are. Playing and watching soccer is a national passion especially in Ecuador. Soccer reflects regional diversities. For instance, when playing international matches, racial discrimination may emerge thus creating emotions, as some races feel superior to others. Each kind of music reflects the impacts of past and modern intercultural affiliation, and every genre empowers through personal modes of expression.

As human beings, we are faced with many social dilemmas and when things do not work out to our expectations, we develop specific emotions. For instance, if you grow up in a poor family, you may develop a negative attitude towards life by thinking that it is not fair and you end up interacting with the people of your class.

This aspect lowers self-esteem. Our sexual orientations, for instance, female, male, gay, or straight influence our identity. Most women feel subordinate to men as society expects the same. On sexual orientation, most societies expect people to be straight and anything short of that is disdainful. In most societies, gays and lesbians live an isolated life and their sexual orientation is termed as an immoral choice. This aspect creates conflict within one self, which leads to self-denial.

Having been raised in a society holding the aforementioned values and practices, it took the intervention of my parents to form the best out of me. My parents had a broad view of the world due to the virtue of having travelled across many cultures. I learned the good values of respect to all and doing well to others.

With a positive thinking mentality, it was okay interacting with the poor, rich, black, white, Christians, Catholics, believers, and pagans and studying abroad was a great experience. Undeniably, the culture had an impact on my identity, but nothing held me back from pursuing my interests. What my friends thought of themselves as being black or white was not my view of what there were, as I viewed them as wonderful human beings.

Research review

This review focuses on Ecuador, which is a multicultural state with the Spanish language as a common dialect. Class distinction is prevalent with the elites focused on personal achievement and terming themselves as highly cultured (Hurtado & Sipe, 2010). The black people occupy the middle and lower classes. However, identification as Ecuadorians is for all people. Black leaders lack majority support and funding.

The elites control labor in the most professional ventures through family links and they exploit the blacks and other minority groups by giving them meagre paying jobs. In addition, the minority groups are excluded from accessing power, which leads to poor self-esteem. Male chauvinism is prevalent as traditional gender roles are maintained. Children are brought up with the knowledge that they will have distinct roles in life.

Despite the several factors influencing personal expression, being raised in a family that acknowledges that people are different and act differently helped me to become tolerant to diversity. Therefore, personal ethics and morals are important in shaping one’s identity. Family values of doing well to others regardless of their race or class had a great impact in shaping my identity. This study reflects on discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or social class.

Anyone who moves to another region and faces different experiences might feel discriminated. However, this assumption does not apply, as I believe discrimination hinges on the perception of the discriminated. If you meet people from different cultures, you just adjust and believe in your values and personal sense of worth. For instance, in a case where people from different cultures are marriage, they may decide to eat different foods and live together despite their inherent differences (Richerson & Boyd, 2005).

Unfortunately, most cultures have embarked on a cultural overhaul to adopt values and norms reflected in the American culture, which then becomes the standard in a process referred to as Americanization. Most individuals move to the US for studies, and thus they listen to American music, dress like Americans, and adopt new eating habits (Lu & Sorensen, 2010). Personally, I embrace change but I kept my indigenous culture as well as adopting emerging practices, thus shaping my identity.

My parents opt to keep their indigenous identity regardless of its allegedly low social status with limited opportunities. They take pride in their cultural identity as they endeavor to eliminate the negative aspects associated with their culture. In my opinion, the emerging dynamics and new approaches to the American culture are highly accommodating and universal, and thus easy to develop self-esteem.

The difference between cultures is narrowing every day. I do not see the relevance of living in the past by clinging on traditional cultural practices with limited opportunities. The contemporary society is identified with the worldwide view. The question arising today is how well can someone fit in the modern society? To what extent can you go to achieve self-actualization? What makes a person happy is the ability to see and evaluate what one can achieve with the available resources.

Today, the issue of ethnicity, race, or gender is just but a mere perception by the conservatives. The eating habits, naming, and dressing among other cultural aspects differ from other states or regions. Nevertheless, should this affect our emotional expression in any way? For example, some societies eat snakes like the Chinese, but mine eat beef, and thus if I am not forced to eat snakes then I should not be offended by my friends enjoying the delicacy.

Conclusion

Our identities hinge on what we stand for in life. If a society practices discrimination based on skin color, class, gender, and food, then that is what defines such a society. People view themselves as black, poor, powerless, elites, powerful, and white. This perception creates emotional expression, and thus if we are seen as poor, we feel bad and useless; on the other hand, if we are seen as rich we become happy and proud.

However, this perception is wrong, as everybody should be seen as a human being, equal, and worth existing. We should be identified on the world’s perspective as having different capabilities complementing each other for sustenance.

References

Hurtado, O., & Sipe, B. (2010). Portrait of a nation: Culture and progress in Ecuador. Lanham, MD: Madison Books.

Lu, F., & Sorensen, M. (2010). Crude, Cash, and Culture Change: The Huaorani of Amazonian Ecuador. The Journal of Sustainable Development, 4(1), 18-32.

Richerson, P., & Boyd, R. (2005). Not by genes alone: How culture transformed human evolution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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