Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 393
Culture/Goodenough/Saucier: Goodenough (1981)(1) emphasizes the similarities of how culture is represented in individuals with how language is represented in individuals.
Idiolect: Speakers of one language (one might call them a language-community) are not one homogeneous group. There are individual differences in knowledge as well as usage of both grammar and vocabulary. One person may know slang or technical or other vocabulary that another person does not; the individual’s unique version of the language might be called an ‘idiolect’.
Dialect: The analogue of a sub-culture would be a dialect. One can learn to speak more than one language, and even so, to participate in more than one culture.
Language/Goodenough: Like a culture, a language embodies embodies a set of standards (for how to communicate). The standards attributed to a group can come to be seen as operating apart from the individuals in the group – a common illusion.
Culture/Goodenough: it is as nonsensical to speak of ‘belonging to a culture’ (or being a member of it) as it is to speak of ‘belonging to a language’. As Goodenough puts it, you ‘cannot be a member of a set of standards or of a body of knowledge of customs’ (1981, p. 103). You utilize a culture, just as you utilize a language.
Goodenough itemizes the contents of culture in systematic relation to one another, beginning with the most basic units, moving from
(a) forms (categories, concepts, ideas), up to
(b) propositions, up to
(c) beliefs. Personal values
(d) are those personal beliefs associated with inner feeling states, wants, felt needs, interests, and with maximizing gratification and minimizing frustration.

The next most abstract units seem less overtly psychological language might be called an ‘idiolect’. The analogue of a sub-culture would be a dialect. One can learn to speak more than one language.
Belonging to a group/membership/Goodenough: it is as nonsensical to speak of ‘belonging to a culture’ (or being a member of it) as it is to speak of ‘belonging to a language’. As Goodenough puts it, you ‘cannot be a member of a set of standards or of a body of knowledge of customs’ (1981, p. 103). You utilize a culture, just as you utilize a language.

Content of culture/Goodenough: (a)-(d) (see above) plus
There are
(e) rules and public values – systems that set out rules, codes, duties, obligations, rights, privileges and standards of fairness;
(f) recipes (known procedural requirements for accomplishing a purpose, as in how-to and etiquette guides);
(g) routines and customs; and finally
(h) institutions that organize and systematize units (e) through (g). See >Culture/Schwartz, >Personality system/Saucier.


1. Goodenough, W. H. 1981. Culture, language, and society. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings


Gerard Saucier, „Semantic and linguistic aspects of personality“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Goodenough, Ward
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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