Cultural Psychology

Cultural Psychology

Culture is a term that can be used to describe and distinguish the unique characteritics of an ethnic group, a nation, a corporation, or other distinct groups of people. Athletic teams, religious groups, professions, and the military are examples of groups that have unique cultural characteristics. Cole in Cultural Psychology defines culture as existing when people engage in an activity over a period of time. Cultures have characteristics of what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not acceptable. Cultures differ on a variety of dimensions including emphasis on individuality vs being part of the group, type of hierarchy, distribution of power, long-term or short-term orientation, parenting styles, decision-making patterns, and values just to name a few. In the text we looked at group think and the pressure to embrace certain ways of thinking that can lead to disaster such as with NASA and taking unwarranted risks with the space shuttle or the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba disaster.


Your task for this assignment is to:

  • Research and identify a specific culture that you may have experienced, observed, or researched.
  • Identify the unique characteristics of the culture that distinguish and characterize it from other cultures.
  • Discuss the following ideas:
    • How the unwritten rules of the culture influence and control the members of the group
    • How the rules cause members to emphasize certain values and ignore or discount other values
    • How group dynamics keep the members loyal and committed to the group, etc


The culture at Enron is a great example for demonstrating the kind of analysis I want you to conduct. Enron valued innovation, thinking outside the box, developing new business opportunities, and taking risks. To be valued by the company a worker had to be involved in projects that resulted in sales and brought increased income to the corporation. Individuals that managed and worked in areas that supported the business such as the accounting department where they kept track of the company financial health and the insurance department that protected business assets and tried to minimize corporate exposure to business risk were seen as not providing much value. The workers in these areas weren’t compensated on the same level as the innovators and didn’t have the same level of prestige in the company. Success was measured in terms of new products and the income it brought to the company. Staff members who questioned the ethics of a proposal were seen as stifling progress and being too rigid in their thinking. Risk taking was a valued cultural more that even influenced worker leisure activities.