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Psychology And The Nature Of Humanity

1503 words - 6 pages

The American Psychologist Association (APA) defines psychology as ‘the study of the mind and behaviour . The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. ‘(Association, 2014). With such an extensive definition, it is not overly surprising that its scientific kudos has been used to propagate political dogma, including abominable beliefs such as the innate inferiority of black people (Howitt and Owusu-Bempah, 1994) and to facilitate the legalislation of racist laws such as the American Jim Crow laws that placed severe restrictions on the rights and privileges of African Americans in 1877 (Brown and Stentiford, 2008). Furthermore, Howitt and Owusu-Bempah emphasise how even psychologists who have claimed to abhor racism (for example, Hans Eysenck) have used so called scientific evidence to support claims about black people being intellectually inferior. As stated by Jones psychology is a socially embedded activity that uses a number of methods to produce knowledge about human nature and behaviour and that is is conducted by psychologists with many purposes behind what they do.
Certainly, psychology has tremendous power to indoctrinate government policies. These policies may include policies on welfare, education, health and economics. As such, can one universal psychology really be expected to cover the complexities of all the different cultures and societies throughout the world with their differing needs and histories? Psychology has historically been dominated by American psychology (Lunt and Poortinga, 1996) Though Americans only form less than 5 percent of the world’s population, 70 percent of psychological research, even in recent decades, takes place in the United states (Shiraev and Levy, 2013). Despite this dominance, there is an increasing awareness in many countries of the need for a psychology to be developed to meet local needs Lunt)
(Brislin, 1990)highlights how modern day life has increased the contact between cultures. This may be through increased travel, the internationalization of the world economy or through immigration. Cusher describes how such contact can bring both advantages and disadvantages, for example,
Our behaviour is inextricably linked with our culture and what might be considered abnormal behaviour in one culture could be the norm for another. For example,

Psychology is a . . . discipline. This paper discusses whether numerous indigenous psychologies are needed to help professionals and parents understand the development and needs of all children or whether it is possible or even desirable to develop a ‘common’ psychology.

It is widely held that psychology as a modern day science started with the first laboratory experiments carried out by Wilhelm Wundt in 1879 (Howitt and Owusu-Bempah, 1994, Kim et al., 2006)However, it has been suggested that even before this date...

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