Culture plays a significant role in influencing how humans behave in the world. It’s like the blueprint that shapes how we think, act and interact with others. Culture can be defined as the principles, ideologies and traditions carried over from one generation to another by a group of people. It is the way of life for a particular community (Stanford University, 2021). Being part of a culture creates a sense of belonging which is the basis of most societies. An analogy that can help explain the influence of culture on behaviour is to think of it as a set of instructions for a recipe. Just like a recipe needs instructions to make a cake, culture provides instructions for how to behave in a particular society. It tells us what is considered acceptable behaviour and what is not.
From a psychological point of view, culture influences our behaviour in many ways. For example, the values and beliefs passed down from generation to generation can shape how we view the world and interact with people. We also learn about what is expected of our gender, age group, and social class from our culture (Hernandez, 2019). All of these things can have an impact on our behaviour. However, the influence of culture on behaviour can vary depending on the society’s specific cultural norms and values. To narrow down these influences to general behavioural tendencies or attributes of society would be difficult mainly because cultures are as complex and multifaceted as they are unique and variable from region to region. Looking into specific situations where culture influences behaviour can help us better understand this relationship.
We can see the influence of culture on behaviour in statistics. For example, in the US, there is a strong correlation between religiosity and traditional gender roles: people who report being religious are more likely to adhere to traditional gender roles (Perales & Bouma, 2018).
Culture has been found to affect how individuals respond to mental health problems. Research shows that people from different cultural backgrounds may have different ways of expressing their mental health issues and different ways of seeking help. Different cultures handle mental health differently (National Library of Medicine, 2001). For example, in some cultures, talking about mental health and seeking help is a sign of strength. Individuals may seem very open and expressive. People may speak openly about their emotions and talk to a therapist or a family member for help. In other cultures, mental health is seen as a sign of weakness, so people may be more reserved and reluctant to get help or talk about their experiences. For example, a study conducted in 2017 looked at how mental health is viewed in Latinx communities. The study found that Latinx people are more unlikely to seek treatment for mental conditions than other populations due to stigma and a lack of resources. However, the study also found that many Latinx people turn to their families for support and advice about their mental health (Huizen, 2021). Culture can greatly impact how we think, feel, and act. In some cultures, it is common to greet each other with a hug, while it is more common to greet one another with a handshake in other communities.
Cultural influences can also influence our attitudes and behaviours towards things like gender roles, education, and even technology. For example, in some cultures, women to stay at home and take care of the children while the men are involved in work that is outside the home (Worthy et al., 2020). In other cultures, both men and women contribute to work in the home and outside of the home.
Additionally, in some cultures, technology is viewed with suspicion and distrust. In other cultures, technology is embraced and seen as a way to improve the quality of life. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018 revealed that 81% of people in the United States say that technology has had a mostly positive impact on their lives (Smith, 2018). While some of them expressed disdain for technology, claiming it has done more harm than good in their lives, from adopting excessively sedentary lifestyles to social media addiction.
In conclusion, the human mind and mannerisms are shaped by numerous factors, one major factor being culture. The psychological impact of cultural influences can be observed in various aspects of our lives, from our attitudes toward mental health to everyday practices. It is essential to recognize and understand the impact of culture on human behaviour, as it can help us foster greater understanding and respect for diverse perspectives and ways of life. We can ultimately promote greater harmony and inclusivity in our society through greater awareness and appreciation of cultural differences.
Hernandez, M. (2019, July 1). How Previous Generations Influence Our Decisions. MIT Sloan Management Review. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-previous-generations-influence-our-decisions/
Huizen, J. (2021, January 28). Mental health stigma in Latin America: Culture, resources, and more. Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mental-health-stigma-in-latin-america
National Library of Medicine. (2001, August). Chapter 2 Culture Counts: The Influence of Culture and Society on Mental Health. Nih.gov; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44249/
Perales, F., & Bouma, G. (2018). Religion, religiosity and patriarchal gender beliefs: Understanding the Australian experience. Journal of Sociology, 55(2), 323–341. https://doi.org/10.1177/1440783318791755
Smith, A. (2018, April 30). Declining Majority of Online Adults Say the Internet Has Been Good for Society. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech; Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/04/30/declining-majority-of-online-adults-say-the-internet-has-been-good-for-society/
Stanford University. (2021). Culture Defined. Stanford.edu. https://web.stanford.edu/~hakuta/www/archives/syllabi/E_CLAD/sfusd_cult_03/melissa/Culture%20Defined.htm
Worthy, L. D., Lavigne, T., & Romero, F. (2020, July 27). Stereotypes and Gender Roles. Open.maricopa.edu; MMOER. https://open.maricopa.edu/culturepsychology/chapter/stereotypes-and-gender-roles/