Psychologists use various approaches to study the behaviors and conscious experiences. Socio-cultural approach is based on the idea that the society and culture shape cognition. The values, beliefs and language are all involved in shaping identity and reality. To understand cognitive processes, it takes more than an individual (Kregler et al., 1990). This approach focuses on human development interrelating it to human action.
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Here, we see that human development starts with its dependence and care givers. This is influenced by a transmission of resources from the care givers to the dependencies. The genetic law of development that focuses on the human development has an influence from the interaction mode which makes it social.
The ability to function in any individual comes from first social then Psychological. An individual’s behavior is influenced by the environment then later he/she advances in whatever skills or knowledge he acquired by interacting with the others. Why do I say this? Let’s look at a child’s development from birth. When a child is born it solely depends on the parents and in this case the mother for all its provisions.
Its cognition or mental development is influenced by its environment. The kind of attention and language the child gets is from the surrounding. This explains the social effect. The child learns the ways of its people hence influenced culturally .This totally defines the child’s growth. The child will not act as if it was not taught but rather as if it was taught. The events of remembering, problem solving and decision making in the future are therefore influenced by the society.
Cognition refers to the mental process which is solely based on development with the influence from the environment. An individual employs other forms of living that he/she has never encountered, hence our own culture become our main influence in life. Human beings can adopt other culture when they move away from the reach of their own culture. This adoption is basically due to the nature of the surrounding (Kregler et al., 1990).
Weaknesses and Strengths of Socio-cultural Approach
Every approach has disadvantages and advantages. This does not nullify the studies but rather explains various points of view of different researchers. Due to the similarities that the socio-cultural approach has with the other forms of approaches, it has been termed as the most advanced approach in research work in terms of its richness in information for psychological studies.
One of the main weaknesses is the tendency of generalization. The studies are restricted to potions or groups of individuals in the society. This does not give an actual picture for the wider generation. As these studies are extrapolated for the wider group, the essence of social studies is lost because different groups of people in the society function differently (Kregler et al., 1990).
Another weakness to socio-cultural study is the ethics of the study process. It is evident that many individuals are inflicted with emotional stress. This is non ethical as the well being of an individual should be the first aspect to be considered. The findings could also be adulterated since the results are not based on the real individuals feeling but rather imposter feelings. It is very difficult to study social behavior without negatively affecting the participants.
Thus, safe modes that can protect human beings should be employed. In addition to ethics, it is very challenging to have control experiments. This is because the behaviors of participants in the real world do vary. Hence, socio-cultural approach does not provide real results from the study.
The main strength in the event of studying socio-cultural aspects is the use of real situations in behavioral studies. This is important because human beings are social beings .Real situations increases ecological validity hence making research more useful.
Comparison of Socio-cultural Approach of Psychology and other Approaches
|Cognitive||Learned||Learned during information processing|
|Cognitive||Predetermined||There is power to change cognition|
|Cognitive||Focus on the present||Changed cognition changes behavior|
|Cognitive||Scientific||Brain is similar to the computer hence information can be manipulated|
|Behavioral||Learned||Condition classical and operant|
|Behavioral||Predetermined||Condition determines behavior|
|Behavioral||Focus on the present||Only current behavior matters|
|Behavioral||Scientific||Behavior can be observed, measured and manipulated|
|Psychodynamic||Not learned||Results from cause in the unconscious|
|Psychodynamic||Predetermined||Human beings have no control over their behavior|
|Psychodynamic||Focus on the past||Focus on early childhood|
|Psychodynamic||Unscientific||Behavior cannot be measured|
|Biological||Not learned||Biological causes and chemical imbalance|
|Biological||Predetermined||Medical condition predetermined|
|Biological||Focus on the present||Current symptoms and medication|
|Biological||Scientific||Behavior can be measured and manipulated by therapies and treatments|
|Socio-Cultural||Predetermined||Cognition can be changed by the surrounding|
|Socio-Cultural||Focus on the present||Socio-cultural practices change behavior|
|Socio-Cultural||Scientific||The society can manipulate behavior|
Figure. 1. Showing comparison of socio-cultural approach with other psychological approaches.
Socio-cultural points of view takes into account most of the features in the other forms of psychological approaches. It encompasses cognitive, Psychodynamic, behavioral and biological aspects. These views have been influenced in terms of developmental process which concerns human stages of development and cultural aspects that constitutes the surrounding. As the discussion revolves around the society, the biological aspects cannot be overlooked.
Socio-cultural Approach and Behavior
The theory of social-cultural approach to psychology has proved a lot about the social status of every human being. This has been exhibited in the behavior of various individuals. Humans are social being; therefore their behaviors are solely influenced by their next door neighbors. This is the reason why human beings are so friendly. Human beings always want to identify with their culture and the society at large. Any individual would want to be differentiated from other animals which are considered be primitive.
Through demonstration of capacities, a human being would go to any extent to fight for their existence in the world. In addition, human beings are always innovative and are always trying to change the society to become a comfortable zone. In terms of proximity, research shows that a human being would befriend someone who lives in the same neighborhood as him or her. For the ancestors, their mere exposure effect was adaptive this meant that what was familiar was safe.
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Physical attractiveness also tends to explain why human beings are social. Different cultures have different ways to measure attractiveness. Appealing traits such as honesty and trustworthiness seem to make people gather and involve themselves with other members of the society.
In addition to physical attractiveness, similarity also explains why humans socialize. Close friends are more likely to share common views, beliefs, habits and intelligence (Kregler et al., 1990). This explains the cultural influence. When we find people that share similar beliefs with us, we tend to identify with them. In such circumstance one feels more secured than he or she would with other forms of animals.
One main aspect that has promoted this closeness is language. This in the cognitive form has been advancing from time to time. Language development is influenced by the cognitive part of the individual. Therefore, behavior and development are interrelated. As human beings develop they are influenced by their surroundings. This also changes their mental development. Therefore the socio-cultural approach explains why human beings interact.
Kregler et al. (1990). Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development. Chicago: Cambridge University Press.