papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Encyclopedia of Psychology Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, Editor-in-Chief


Psychological Anthropology

Constructs like “identity,” “self-representation,” and “personhood” abound within sociocultural anthropology generally, but such terms are typically applied to culture groups rather than to individuals. More familiar to psychologists would be the concepts and analyses used in the specialty labeled psychological anthropology, which in broadest form explores the relationships between psychological phenomena and their social and cultural contexts.

Cultural Psychology

A more radical orientation like cultural psychology argues that mind is content driven, that mind is variable across cultures because cultural forms are variable, and that mind cannot be separated from its specific culture-historical determinants. Activity theory likewise rejects the notion of the psychic unity of humankind, but places less emphasis on analysis of “mental representations” as revealed in language and discourse, and more on the grounding of concepts, both psychological and cultural, in socially organized activities. Both cultural psychology and activity theory are built upon early theorizing by Lev Vygotsky, Alexander Luria, and other European psychologists who took as fundamental the proposition that mental activity is inspired by practical social activity.


The study of indigenous models of persons, selves, and experiences, ethnopsychology takes as problematic the Western psychology-based conceptions of these terms. It asserts, for example, that the concept of personality, so central to Western and social-scientific thought, is a culture-bound concept based in individual-centered theorizing, and that in some other societies the person descriptions refer almost entirely to interpersonal behavior. Similar arguments are made with respect to phenomena like emotions, the self, mental illness, and altered states of consciousness.

As a profession, anthropology is relatively small, with the total number of active anthropologists worldwide at about 20.000, and more than half of them in the United States.


As with psychology, the majority of U.S. doctorates are now awarded to females (versus one third in the early 1970s).

Tags: encyclopedia of psychology
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