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Perspective on Psychopathy across the Different Cultures

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The relative perspective on psychopathy is where psychological phenomena is put in a relative perspective. “Human beings develop ideas, establish behavioral norms, and learn emotional responses according to a set of cultural prescriptions. Therefore, people from different cultural settings should understand psychological disorders differently, and the differences should be significant.” (Shiraev, p. 218). The relative perspective of psychopathology is unique and different for each culture, is culture-specific, and cannot be understood outside of its own context. Some examples of this are religious, political, and social norms, for which each country should be different. Therefore, it could be considered useless to study different mood disorders in China, while using North American diagnostic methods, because the people of that country may view symptoms, feelings, and reactions differently.

The universalist perspective on psychopathology suggests the existence of absolute, invariable symptoms of psychopathology across all cultures. “Despite cultural differences, people share a great number of similar features, including attitudes, values, and behavioral responses. Therefore, the overall understanding of mental disorders ought to be universal.” (Shiraev, p. 218). I would say that I, myself, would be more of a relativist. What symptoms and signs for me might be different for other countries, or even other people. Some examples of this are the fact that I am a very emotional person, I show my feelings, and cannot hide my feelings when I am “down” sometimes. This is not the norm for everyone, and it could be seen as different things; some cultures might find it “weak”, while others find it “embarrassing”; it is not easy to tell exactly how you are feeling, or what is right or wrong. Another example, is that every year we spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. Some could feel that I am “abandoning” my family, or that I should split it up. The truth is, Thanksgiving is a big holiday for my in-laws, while Christmas is big in my family. Therefor, we spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws and Christmas Eve with my family. This trend seems to work for our families, yet might not work for other families. Also, it could be viewed by other cultures as crazy or not acceptable.

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Briefly describe each of the following types of bias and provide one (1) original example of each: self-centered bias, Unassuming bias, & Group-serving bias.

  • Self-centered bias is when a person avoids taking blame or responsibility for failure, but tends to take credit for personal success. An example for this would be getting a speeding ticket; the person would blame the cop for pulling her over and writing her a ticket, even though it was her fault for going over the speed limit, thus getting caught and reaping the results and punishment.
  • Unassuming bias is a tendency to relate personal success from a result of external things, such as help from others, or luck; failure is seen as a result of the person’s own weaknesses or mistakes. An example of this would be a high school student making the honor roll, and relating all of their success to their amazing teachers and tutors, rather than them putting in effort to earn the grades.
  • Group-serving bias is the tendency to explain the success and happiness of other people by internal factors, while failure by external factors. Group-serving bias involves attributing positive aspects to a group that a person is affiliated with, and negative aspects to those who are not part of a person’s group. An example would be the workers of Target to talk about how great their products are and how amazing their employees and service are, while talking about how useless Wal Mart is. They are talking great about their group and company, and talking bad about others.

Conformity is “action in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, practices, etc… Compliance or acquiescence; obedience.” ( Conformity would be an effective behavioral response if a person were in a cult, or serious religious group. They would need to conform to the church’s standards and laws to keep them safe. Also, they would not want to act out in any way, as to not get in trouble or get hurt. Another example would be to conform to the rules of school; you need to follow all of the rules and respect others. If you do not conform, even somewhat, to the school, then you would be considered an “outcast” or even get in a lot of trouble. In school, it seems somewhat hard to conform to everything, without losing yourself, but it is possible, and necessary to succeed in school. You would not want to get in trouble with the teachers, or your parents for not following the rules.


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