The Importance of the Psychology Anthropology Essay Example

There are so many subfields of psychology and anthropology that don’t get much recognition. If they do get recognition, they are soon forgotten or eventually make a comeback. One such field is psychological anthropology, which gained popularity in the 1960s, then faded and got revived in the 1980s and the 1990s. Psychological anthropology has already faded away once, but will it be able to gather enough supporters and scientific breakthroughs to become a major science on its own.

Psychological anthropology is the combination of four different fields of study, ethnology, the study of different cultures and peoples and the similarities and differences between them and folk psychology, the study of the development of belief structures in various societies and the stages that particular doctrines move through over millennia (“Psychological Anthropology Careers”). It also includes anthropology, the study of all human cultures, past and present, and how they’ve changed over the passage of time and psychology, the study of the human mind and its mental, emotional, behavioral, and motivational thought processes (“Psychological Anthropology Careers”). All of these fields of study help make psychological anthropology what it is, but it is defined as the study of psychological topics using anthropological methods and concepts (“Psychological Anthropology”). Psychological anthropology has many areas of interest that can shed light on perspective on the social -environment on human behavior. Some of these areas are personal identity, selfhood, subjectivity, memory, consciousness, and emotion (“Psychological Anthropology”).

Many people believe that psychological anthropology should not be considered its own science because they feel like psychology has no influence over culture and culture has no direct effect on the formation and functioning of the human psyche and that the processes are not real (“The Revival of Psychological Anthropology”). While this is a great point a person’s environment and their home life helps shape who they become as adults. For example, if a person has a terrible home life, coupled with a bad community it is a possibility that that person will think that since that’s all they see that is all they will amount to and be stuck in that environment. They also believe that psychological anthropology has already been left in the background because there was no research field or a reason for this field (“The Revival of Psychological Anthropology”). There is a wide research field for psychological anthropologists. Psychological anthropologists can study small communities, nursing homes, and other undiscovered tribes and communities. By studying these different groups, psychological anthropologists can see how a specific environment shapes a person or group of people mentally and physically.

Cultural anthropology, they believe, is more important because they considered culture as complex. Culture is complex, but so is studying a culture and seeing how that culture psychologically impacts an individual or a group of people. They also said one issue with psychological anthropology was that it failed to prove that culture and psychology are intertwined. Culture and psychology are intertwined because knowing someone’s culture can help scientist and regular people know how to subconsciously and consciously act around a person. They based this on the belief that to understand culture one would have to understand the statements and actions of others according to anthropological methods.

Psychological anthropology is a relatively new field of study compared to Psychology and Anthropology, which both have been around for over a century. Like two of its predecessors, psychological anthropology is a broad field of study but has some core components. Some of psychological anthropology’s components are mental health, motivation and perception and cognition and perception. These are study areas that many science groups are studying but those sciences don’t have the combined aspects of four different fields like psychological anthropology does to help them understand these issues more. Psychological anthropology uses its combined concepts to understand the influences on cultural background, political issues, and undeveloped nations and how those influences could affect the mentally ill or if one or more of these situations lead to mental health issues (“What is Psychoanthropology?”). Pa’s have also found that different cultures are motivated by different cues (“What is Psychoanthropology?”). Meaning that by studying different cultures pa’s have found that by understanding those cultures motivations for doing what they do pa’s can learn more about a set of peoples inherent desires based on where they’re living now or even where they were born. On the cognition and perception standpoint, psychological anthropologists examine differences between developed and undeveloped nations, eastern and western cultures, and different types of cultural histories (“What is Psychoanthropology?”).

All of this new research suggests that combining culture and psychology together it can possibly help the world to understand one another better. Some scientists believe that psychological anthropology itself is not a comprehensive scientific school but a body of research approaches (“The Revival of Psychological Anthropology”). This is half true because psychological anthropology opens many doors on research approaches, but it also uses its many components to help other scientists to understand more of how and why culture impacts our minds and vice versa.

Many other scientists believed that psychological anthropology should become cultural psychology. They felt this way because they didn’t believe psychological anthropology had no research field and that psychological processes are culturally mediated (“The Revival of Psychological Anthropology”). Meaning that there was no real need for psychological anthropology because everyone lives in the same culture constructed world. Some scientists also believe that individuals are the carriers of culture and their subjectivity is a result of cultural practices (“The Revival of Psychological Anthropology”). This means that how a person is viewed as a result of their cultural background and that doesn’t interfere with how they are as a person. The article “The Revival of Psychological Anthropology...” says that psychological anthropology is a weak field and that it contains half of the studies which can be realistically attributed to another discipline. Meaning that some people don’t think that psychological anthropology has enough substance to become a real science and that it should be combined with other fields of study if it wants to become or remain relevant.

In conclusion, while psychological anthropology has doubters that it can prosper it has aspects that can help it become its own major science. Being able to combine four different fields of study into one science to better understand human behavior is a big accomplishment and hopefully, there are more people out there interested in this field that will keep it alive so that it won’t fade away again.


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