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Social Psychology

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1.0 Introduction

Culture is the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together form a people's way of life. Culture includes what we think, how we act, and what we own. Culture is both our link to the past and our guide to the future. Essentially, culture is extensively identified as a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behavior. It was studied "indirectly" by studying behavior, customs, language, and material culture such as artifacts, tools, and technology. Furthermore, it is usually apply by the dominant culture found in most societies. For exemplar are the American culture, Chinese culture, and Muslim culture. A basic function of culture is to ensure the society can be living collectively with one and another.

Culture shapes not only what we do but also what we think and how we feel - elements of what we commonly, but wrongly, describe as "human nature". The warlike Yanomamo of the Brazilian rain forest think aggression is natural, but halfway around the world, the Semai of Malaysia live quite peacefully. The cultures of the United States and Japan both stress achievement and hard work, but members of Western society value individualism more than the Japanese (Asian), who value collective harmony.

The term "culture" calls to mind other similar terms, such as "nation" and "society", although each has a slightly different meaning. Culture refers to a shared way of life. A nation is a political entity, a territory with designated borders, such as the United States, Canada, Peru, or Zimbabwe. With the present of shared culture, an individual can adapt to their surroundings. Besides that, culture is a pass on hard-learned knowledge and experience to next generation. It is also categorized as a living guideline that at the moment actually set a limit on certain behavior.

There exist a number of standard psychological and social processes which tend to accompany intercultural encounters. The simplest form of intercultural encounter is between one foreign individual and new cultural environment. The foreigner usually experiences some form of culture shock. The inexperienced foreigner can make an effort to learn some of the symbols and rituals of the new environment but it is unlikely that he or she can recognize, the let alone feel and the underlying values. Therefore, it is important for every individual to at least know the culture of other even though it is seem simple.

2.0 Content ^^

Although cultures vary greatly, they all have common elements, including symbols, language, values, and norms. Basically the characteristic of each group distinguishes one culture from another and indirectly enables people to appreciate the notion. The elements of culture include history, religion, values, social organization and language. Culture learning started since we born as in the formal and informal way. Informal way is through interaction, observation and imitation, while, formally through schools, churches, mosques, and institutions.

2.1 Language

Language the key to the world of culture is a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another. Humans have created many alphabets to express the hundreds of languages we speak. Language not only allows communication but also the key to cultural transmission, whereby, it is the process by which one generation passes culture to the next. Language is the key that unlocks centuries of accumulated wisdom.

Besides that, language is central to national identity. It is usually thought of simply as a way to express ideas and feelings and to communicate messages. In this commonsense view any language can convey any idea. Different names and sounds are used, but the things named and the thoughts expressed are assumed to be basically the same. Besides that, different languages are not merely different codes for the same messages; they shape the kinds of messages that one can communicate and even the kinds of thoughts one can think.

For example, Japanese is Japan's official language. Educational and mass media systems use a "standard" Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect. In Japanese, the verb comes at the end of the sentence, and modifying clauses come before the words they modify. The Japanese culture is reflected in many ways in the language. The value of harmony is reflected in that the language has at least 16 ways to avoid saying no and makes use of many aisatsu, or "lubricant expressions," that serve to reinforce feelings of independence and harmony. Thought processes and perceptions of reality are differing. Both are intertwined where one language determines the categories of thought open to someone. It's a way of defining experience.

Furthermore, language may not determine the way we think but it does influence the way we perceive and remember. Still, linguistic relativity which suggested by scholars is controversy. There are different words for many verbs depending on whether you are talking to an older, younger or similarly aged person. When you walk into a shop or restaurant you will often be greeted by a deep bow and the very polite expression (although often shouted) irrashaimase - meaning "welcome" or "please come in". These social conventions are often very different from those of Western people and can seem a little bewildering at first. A strict code of behavior and politeness is recognized and followed by almost all Japanese.

Manners and custom are an important part of many facets of Japanese life. The language, although basically quite simple to pronounce and speak, is made very difficult to master because of the codified layers of respect and humility that are used depending on to whom you are talking. However, the Japanese are well aware of these differences and indeed often talk up the uniqueness of Japanese culture and customs, thus they expect foreigners to stand out and not understand.

2.2 Cultural Patterns/Customs

Cultural patterns or customs are generalized guides to conduct rather than absolutely clear and rigid rules that govern the society behavior. A cultural value is a belief or feeling that is widely shared and considered an important part of community or group identity. Efficiency, individualism, equality, and freedom are examples of value that strongly influence the way people live, how they are governed, and what they feel is worthwhile. Generally it has expressed in norms that guide conduct in specific situations. Some norms apply to everyday activities, and others apply to situations that occur rarely. Japanese



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