Behavior as mind in context



Section title Behavior as mind in context: A cultural psychology analysis of 'paranoid' suspicion in West African worlds
Section author(s) Glenn Adams, Phia S. Salter, Kate M. Pickett, Tuğçe Kurtiş, Nia L. Phillips
Book title The mind in context.
Book editor(s) Batja Mesquita, Lisa Feldman Barrett, Eliot R. Smith
Start page 277
End page 306
Date 2010
Abstract (from the chapter) Like some other contributors to this book (Kitayama & Imada, Chapter 9), we approach the theme of "mind in context" from the perspective of cultural psychology (CP). This theme is central to the concept of culture, which we define as explicit and implicit patterns of historically derived and selected ideas and their material manifestations in institutions, practices, and artifacts (Adams & Markus, 2004, based on Kroeber & Kluckhohn, 1952, p. 357). In contrast to popular associations of culture with group, this statement explicitly defines culture as structures of mind in context: "patterns of ideas... and their material manifestations" in everyday worlds. Associated with this definition is a conception of culture not as membership in rigidly bounded groups, but rather as engagement with flexible structures of mind in context distributed across unbounded worlds. The key to our discussion of behavior as mind in context comes from the second half of this definition: Cultural patterns may be considered both products of action and as conditioning elements of further action (also based on Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952, p. 357; see Adams & Markus, 2004). Although theory and research in psychology typically portray behavior as the end product of experience, a CP analysis implies a more dynamic conception in which behavior—and its intentional counterpart, action (Bruner, 1990)—is also a "conditioning element" of further experience. As such, behavior and its observable sediment constitute intentional worlds: structures of mind in context that not only bear psychological traces of previous behavior and action, but also direct subsequent behavior and action toward particular ends. (

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