What is culture?
The IB Guide (2017) tells us “Cultures are made up of a set of attitudes, behaviours, and
symbols shared by a large group of people, and usually communicated from one
generation to the next. Cultural groups are characterized by different norms and
The IB Guide (2017) also makes the distinction between surface and deep culture when they say “There is a distinction between surface and deep culture. Surface culture refers to the behaviours, customs, traditions and words of a culture that can easily be observed. Deep culture refers to the beliefs, values, thought processes and assumptions of a culture that may be more easily understood by members of that culture but may be less accessible to members of other cultures”
Here is the PowerPoint we used in class to help get us thinking about defining culture:
Test your understanding
- Define what socio-cultural psychologists mean when they talk about culture (2)
- THINK: Why do you think so many cultures exist in the world?
- THINK: Do you think cultural differences between groups are starting to disappear; if so why? Is this a good or a bad thing?
- Give examples of aspect of surface and deep culture from one specific culture. (2)
- Suggest one way in which attitudes are culturally determined (tip: you could think think about prejudice towards specific out-groups)
- Suggest one way in which behaviours are culturally determined (tip: you could think think about conformity to group norms)
- Suggest one way in which thinking processes (cognition) are culturally determined (tip: you could think think about memory)
- Explain one problem associated with studying culture (2)
- What is meant by tight and loose cultures and how does this distinction affect people’s behaviour? (2)
- Define what is meant by cultural norms with reference to one example (2)