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The Effects of Culture on self Concept

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There are a million different things in the world we live in that influence and affect how we perceive "Self Concept is the sum total of knowledge and understanding of ones self...Components of the self-concept include physical, psychological, and social attributes, which can be influenced by the individual's attitudes, habits, beliefs and ideas." But the most influential I believe are family and history, the area's and people that one grows with,basically the culture people grown up in and the experience's it allows them. Culture has an amazing impact on self concept!

When first looking at how culture impacts someones vision of themselves, I decided to rely on my own life experiences to gather information. The culture we reside is a facilitator to all our experiences, it is the environment which allows for these events to take place. That is why i think my history and my culture are intertwined. My family is the first thing I can call myself remembering. I know everyone must feel this way about there family but, I think we have the most interesting past. My eyes have witnessed abuse of all sorts. I can remember watching my Dad get in a fist fight with my Mothers new boyfriend! I can remember the day I found out the reason my Mom was in a wheel chair was because she had attempted suicide and jumped off a bridge! But I can also recall all of the amazing Christmas' and Thanksgiving's at my grandmother's house. Growing up in the later part of my life has been in an urban community. The way I act is a direct result of my community. The same community that has endowed me with the most important experiences I can think of. From seeing friends falsely accused of rape and gang fights, to winning state football games and competing in National Track meets. In the end I think that what mostly defines who you become are the experiences, trials, tribulations and accomplishments that you encounter in you life, each providing a fork in the road, and a new path to follow.

My perspective of life can be summed up in a common cliche. Let your conscience be your guide. God instilled the sense of right and wrong in us for a reason, and it certainly was not to be ignored. Everyday is filled with important moral choices whether it being telling a simple white lie, or stealing money out of someone's wallet. Making the right choices one by one will ultimately land you in a comfortable place you enjoy. Another cliche that is circulating frequently is "Walk the walk, don't just talk the talk." Leading by example is the best way to impose your beliefs of others. It is much better than preaching or trying to force your ideas upon other people. If you life your life right, and we all know what right is, others will notice and admire. I believe my life experiences directly connect with my African American culture. As do my Christian beliefs and outlook on life.

Various studies have been done regarding the impact culture has on self concept. Qi Wang from the University of Cornell specializes in human development. "Contrast of U.S./Chinese memories shows impact of culture on 'self-concept'", by Susan Lang is an article about Wangs findings. The study interviews many American and Chinese students asking them to recall evens and memories of their childhood.Wang expressed that early childhood memories are a big part of self concept. They are also essential in growing and maturing. The data received from the two groups were consistently different and the Americans seemed to remember further back than the Chinese students. It also views parents and there young children communicating about past events. During this test the American mothers and their children had more convectional conversations. They were more detailed and in depth with the child's feelings and responses. On the other hand the Chinese mothers and their kids were barely ever in depth and seemed to focus on moral and behavioral issues. The last of the three studies compared "social, emotional and cognitive characteristics..." This data was collected from the stories of 6 year old, American and Chinese. The American children mostly wrote fictional stories and past experiences, while the native Chinese kids wrote about do the right thing and authority. They seemed less concerned with their individual selves."These findings indicate that cultural differences in autobiographical memory are apparently set by early preschool years and persist into adulthood. They are formed both in the larger cultural context that defines the meaning of the self and in the immediate family environment," Wang concludes. "The self and autobiographical memory are intertwined not only within an individual but also in the overarching cultural system."

This leads into a common example of culture and self concept. You can group many cultures together into eastern and western hemispheres. In general these two cultures have very different view points of the "Self". Where as western culture is very narcissistic in a way. Very focused on the individual and self achievements. And eastern cultures are very family oriented and more concerned with the health of the community.

When thinking about the impact that Culture has on our concept of self its absurd to think that it isn't very important.. defines culture as "the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group". Through varies studies its clear to see that different cultures not only see themselves in a different light, but see the concept of self very differently. Some cultures don't deem the "self" very important at all, rather concerning themselves with the whole group. Whereas other cultures focus on the individual self very vainly. And even then the culture is divided on the true definition on "self".

More about this author: Julian Hooks

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