Culture

Some social cognitive strategies are universal across cultures, others are culture-specific. Basic emotions such as fear and joy, for example, are similiarly expressed and recognized across cultures. The ontogenetic trajectory of folk psychology, in contrast, differs across cultures. Various factors have been found to support the development of folk psychology, including mentalistic narrative practices, siblings, and pretend play (Fiebich 2015).

 

We can distinguish between "mentalistic narrative practice" (which involves an explicit reference to another person's mental states) and "behavioral-contextual narrative practice" (which involves an explicit reference to the normative behavior of another person in a specific socio-situational context). Whereas the former is more prevalent in Western cultures than in Eastern cultures, the latter is predominantly used by members of Eastern cultures. Mentalistic narrative practices correlate with cultural divergences in the development of false belief understanding throughout ontogeny but do not seem to play the key role. Rather conceptual change and the acquisition of mental state terms reveals to be essential for passing the false belief task, which speaks in favor of theory being the cognitive process involved in false belief tasks. To account for the varieties and ambiguities that people typically meet in everyday social understanding, however, folk psychology it seems plausible to understand folk psychology as a skill-full know-how (Fiebich 2016)

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© Anika Fiebich