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Folk Psychologies Across Cultures

Folk Psychologies Across Cultures

  • R. M Thomas - University of California, Santa Barbara (Emeritus)

352 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Without taking a single psychology course, ordinary people learn to understand, predict, and explain one anther's actions, thoughts, and motivations. Many cognitive scientists and philosophers claim that our everyday or folk understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. That theory is widely called folk psychology (sometimes-commonsense psychology). The terms in which folk psychology are couched are familiar ones of "belief" and "desire," "hunger," "pain," and so forth. According to many theorists, folk psychology plays a central role in our capacity to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and of others. This book has two goals: (a) to provide a framework for analyzing folk psychologies, and (b) to describe multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures.


· Cross-cultural perspectives illustrate typical variations of folk thinking in the world's cultures and help readers understand the varied ways that people they encounter will likely view life.

· Each chapter opens with and is structured around a central question the chapter is designed to answer, inviting the reader to participate in exploring the issue at hand. A concluding chapter, "Trends in Folk Psychologies," addresses the value of studying folk psychologies and what can be

1. Diverse Cultures, Diverse Psycholgies
Contrasting Conceptions of Folk Psychology

Cultural Diversity

The Book's Twofold Purpose

Delineating the Domain of Folk Psychologies

Sources of Evidence

The Evolution of Folk Psychologies

The Book's Structure

2. Reality
Dimensions of Reality

Reality and Cultural Change

3. Knowing
Knowledge Processes and Sources

Cultural Change and the State of Knowledge

4. Cause
Aspects of Causality

Cultural Change and Beliefs About Cause

5. Competence
Kinds of Competence

Conceptions of Impairment

Cultural Change and Competence

6. Values
Types of Values in Folk Psycholgies

Values and Cultural Change

7. Emotions
The Universality of Emotions

Learning Emotional Responses

Event and Emotion Connections

Emotions and Cultural Change

8. Humor
Examples of Folk Humor

Humor and Cultural Change

9. Self and Not-Self
Psychological Identification

Stereotypical Roles Versus Individualism

The Presentation of Self

Self and Cultural Change

10. Rites and Rituals
Functions of Rites and Rituals

Rituals and Cultural Change

11. Time and the Life Span
Versions of Historical Time

The Human Life Span

Cultural Change and Concepts of Time

12. Gender and Sex
Gender Variations Across Folk Psychologies

Gender and Cultural Change

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Behavior

Cultural Change and Sexual Orientation

13. Prohibitions
Forms and Soruces and Prohibitions

Functions of Prohibitions

Prohibitions and Cultural Change

14. Folk Psychologies' Significance and Trends
The Study of Folk Psychologies



Name Index
Subject Index
About the Author

". . .mandatory reading for students hoping to be service providers and for professionals with a multicultural clientele." 

L.M.C. Abbott Trapp
formerly California School of Professional Psychology

Robert Murray Thomas

 R. Murray Thomas (Ph.D., Stanford University) is an emeritus professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where for three decades he taught educational psychology and directed the program in international education. He began his 50-year career in education as a high school teacher at Kamehameha Schools and Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, then continued at the college level at San Francisco State University, the State University of New York (Brockport), and Pajajaran University in Indonesia before moving to Santa Barbara. His professional publications exceed 340, including 46 books for which he served as author,... More About Author

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