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"Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences" Consider how definitions of abnormality may be influenced by cultural differences

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Introduction

"Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences" Consider how definitions of abnormality may be influenced by cultural differences Cultural differences are always a problem when defining abnormality. What one would consider completely normal in one culture would be considered abnormal in another, for example the island of Java often set fire to a ball soaked in petrol and then play football with it. Here that would be considered wrong and abnormal but is an everyday occurrence for the people of Java. This concept doesn't only apply to eastern cultures; the English could be defined as abnormal by other cultures definitions, even by other western societies e.g. it would not be considered normal by the Italians to wait at a red light when there are no other cars around as the British often do. ...read more.

Middle

When using this approach to define abnormality you would first have to consider what is normal behaviour for that particular culture otherwise a person could be incorrectly diagnosed as abnormal. Cultural differences are also a problem for the 'Failure to Function Adequately' definition of abnormality. This classification of abnormality involves a person who conforms to their 7 characteristics of the abnormal as having ill mental health. Examples of these characteristics are vividness, unconventionality and observer discomfort. This definition does not state the extent of the characteristic in order for it to be abnormal, for example we could class the Native Americans who perform the sun dance (a ritual which involves ripping ropes out of the chests of dancers) ...read more.

Conclusion

Views of abnormality can sometimes vary within cultures, that is from subculture to subculture. Rack found that West Indians are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as abnormal on the basis of behaviour which is perfectly normal in their subcultures. This is due to the ignorance of African - Caribbean culture on the part of white psychiatrists. Variations between cultures mean what could be considered abnormal in one culture would not be considered so in a different culture. This shows the dangers of evaluating other cultures in terms of your own, which is called ethnocentrism. Culture must always be taken into account if using any of the above methods when making judgements about what is abnormal. ...read more.

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This is a highly competent essay written by a candidate who clearly has extensive knowledge of ethnocentrism as it's role in potentially corrupting the temporal validity of psychological research. There is sound appreciation of the problems ethnocentrism poses to generalisability ...

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Response to the question

This is a highly competent essay written by a candidate who clearly has extensive knowledge of ethnocentrism as it's role in potentially corrupting the temporal validity of psychological research. There is sound appreciation of the problems ethnocentrism poses to generalisability and how different cultures interpret the same behaviour. The structure is good and helps the candidate express their ideas clearly and succinctly by discussing separate points in turn, each leading nicely on to the next. This structure helps convey the information well even to a reader who is not familiar with psychological terms.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is very good. There is an outstanding attention to detail and knowledge of the abnormal behaviour, ethnocentrism and other psychology-based terms, like the DSM and the problems of taking the diagnostics of such a manual to another culture due to that culture not viewing certain behaviour in the same way as our Western culture. There are examples of each given (e.g. psychological disorders like anorexia nervosa and even normal behaviour like work behaviour is analysed). The extent of the analysis here is highly indicative of a very able psychology student, and the essay they present here is indicative of a low A grade for A Level.

I would argue though, that at least one example of psychological evidence should be used. For instance, the ideal study here is Gould/Yerkes' which took over 1.75million participants and "tested their intelligence". Due to the study's questions being biased to American culture and not being based on general knowledge, the procedure can be said to be highly ethnocentric due to the number of cultures that were tested not being able to answer questions that were designed for Americans. This study features something called 'the imported etic', in which socially-bound ideas (e.g. Western cultural ideas/etics) are imposed onto other cultures (e.g. Mexican, Irish) as if they were emics (universal behaviour, like rearing young).

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication here is fantastic. There are no spelling, punctuation of grammar errors to speak of and the candidate uses a large variety of psychological terminology with confidence and accuracy. The correct use of such technical vocabulary helps their answer achieve higher grades and would likely impress the examiner.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 12/07/2012

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