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The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant of aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters cultural difference and change a program from the series. Human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service. These programs have been developed from interviews with men and women who have the too often unglamorous job of basic research. Research in medicine the physical sciences social sciences and the behavioral sciences. OK usually you will hear what may seem like strange or unfamiliar sobs. These are the sounds of the participants office his laboratory or clinic where the interviews were recorded. The people you will hear today are professor of anthropology John Whiting of Harvard University Dr. Robert Carneiro of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and Robert Anderson professor of anthropology at the University of Utah.
And my name is Glenn Philips. The cultural heritage of man plays a vastly important roles in their behavior and their philosophy. What does the term culture mean when used in this context. For that answer I talked with two men Professor Robert Anderson and Professor John Whiting. First Professor Anderson stated his views to the anthropologist I think culture is more than the three beams are lifting little finger. When drinking tea or picking the right fork or spoon table. It includes are her social heritage. The language as we speak. The way we phrase are thoughts. The behaviors between our friends relatives or. Other people who meet socially. The tools and techniques we have for making a living. Our religions or philosophies or sciences. Well the whole thing was our social heritage it's what we were born into and not with. It contrasts with our social heritage.
After all we are born with a potentiality for a certain stature of a certain skin color and perhaps hair form and eye color. These come by means of biological herdsman's through our genes comes or is learned. Every human is born into might say a sea of culture. We swim in it we conform to it as a fish swims in the water maybe even the fish ball. But it's more than just an compassing medium it saturates said. It seeps into our very behavior. It becomes part of us and we part of it. The anthropologist like to think of this. Body of things we call culture a standing outside or being outside of human because it's much easier to study it. It's not necessary to look at behavior in this fashion but we enter politics on a very useful to consider that to say that culture is an extra organic super organic super individual sort of thing. And this exposes that to analysis and lets us do our business of analyzing culture and predicting
how it is going to move because how it moves it. Will influence the way we move. Professor John Whiting in answer to what his culture set at Harvard University. As I use it it's much more encompassing. However as I use it it is more restricted than the way many other anthropologists use it. I think of culture as not. Being These are the artifacts produced by human beings nor the moral behavior of human beings but rather they ideas beliefs and techniques that are shared by a group of people in a sense it's entirely in my view and I use the term. Cognitive and matter of of beliefs and ideas rather than either behavior or material objects.
Returning for a moment to a comment made by Professor Anderson he said there was a difference between anthropological studies and social studies. Oh I wonder did they differ. And Professor what tells us in his recent works the business of the psychologist in the end for both of us and for the material consider the same. We study human behavior. The anthropologist However considers the bits of behavior which he observes for interpretive purposes in the context of each other. When we put that. If one were to visit an Indian reservation and watch an Indian notice a approached the edge of a mesa. Raise his arms to the sun. Stand in silent prayer for a moment and then turn away and walk back to his to his village. I want him to read it. Well I don't want to have to sketch a background of the trimed religion its value is the position of this particular fellow in the tribal structure the tribal social organization.
One interpret his behavior in terms of in the context of other such behaviors. Those would be the builders of the anthropologist and the psychologist in turn interprets this particular behavior in terms of that individual's life history or his peculiar life history. So there is no quarrel with him psychological and anthropological interpretations. Our materials are the same into something that our theoretical contacts are constructs are different to get some additional idea about the framework in which anthropologist work. I ask each of these men to describe their current research projects and how these projects will contribute to greater knowledge. First Professor Anderson stated and proposed to a lots of things. In the past I study the Cheyenne Indians and the unions and some other Indians over the plains but since coming to Utah I moved into cooperation with the Department of Psychiatry and we are. Developing research programs in the behavioral
sciences. You know him behind this work is that. A person's behavior after all has run in one aspect it is relatable to more than one area of causes. A person who is said to be ill health is not only not healthy biologically maybe not healthy socially or culturally after all. And in particular is a mental ill health symptom is also a cultural behavior is one of being a psychological behavior. Mental health problems are important this country today. It has been said that we are approaching the point we've got to have a Braz we'll have a breakthrough. We've explored a great many avenues for taking care of or studying or devising techniques of therapy for men to mentally on and on and for some years years bank
anthropologists have been incorporating and cultural studies. It appears to be this. This is situation at. A piece of behavior which is called a symptom. Or is a symptom of a certain culture not another's. That is to say what is normal in some cultures abnormal another one and what is abnormal and one is normal somewhere else. Mental ill health. Is defined culturally. The behavior of the person shows is a label symptomatic. Is Different may contain accommodated or rejected in different groups. Therefore this psychiatrist called upon the anthropologist to sketch cultural background to give him some notion of predicting murmur and abnormal behavior in any particular given population and this is where anthropologists have been gradually moving in to help psychiatrist in their very pressing problems.
Now Professor Whiting stated research in which he and his associates are engaged. Well we're doing a number of kinds of research. Now we have about nine projects going on in the laboratory and I don't suppose you want to hear about all of them. Perhaps I'll tell a little bit about this one that is nearing completion and one that's. Sort of in the middle and one assess beginning. When one is nearing completion as a study of. Six villages. Okay now in Philippines India Mexico Kenya and New England. And this was a and intensive study of child rearing practices and child
behavior and the six villages of these villages were started by a field team who were trained together and trained to ask the same kinds of questions. And they each of them consisted of a married couple. Sometimes with their children and with one exception. And they live for a year or more in this village. Got to know all the kids. All the children and I asked all the parents questions about them and one of the most interesting parts of this was a very detailed standard observation of children interacting with one another and with their parents. And this has been a very laborious job that was started five years ago and we are still in the process of analyzing the results of all of these observations. These are
carefully coded and put on IBM cards and we have some 20000 cards that we're now working on. We don't know what we've got yet. Here then are two examples of research projects in anthropology. Another example would be the activities of Dr. Robert Carneiro. His studies deal with the Indians of the Amazon basin in South America. Why should these primitive peoples be studied in our modern civilization. I ask this of Dr. Khan arrow and he answered this way. Well frankly and here I think I disagree with perhaps most of my colleagues. I don't think it's a very great practical value. I think it's it's. Pure science and we do get an understanding of what culture is like how it changes the factors involved in it and it's changed. But as far as being able to in any significant way change the direction of our own culture I don't think that our knowledge of anthropology does that. Certainly there are cases where
well there's one famous case in New Guinea where the colonial colonial administrators were interested in getting a tribe to stop its head hunting activities. The young man was supposed to be able who was supposed to obtain a human head as a necessary prerequisite for getting married and an anthropologist was able to persuade them to substitute a head of a wild pig for a human head. So in in ways like this some with anthropological training may be able to modify and redirect culture but as far as the movement of culture as a whole I think it's it's beyond outside of our personal control so that I don't think that anthropology is of practical utility as far as reshaping our destiny. Some people would put it you love it by understanding the Indian again of the Amazon basin. That is just going to make it easier for you to understand the. Behavior the habits and so forth of contemporary America or
the contemporary world. Well when you ask it that way probably not I think that there's very little new to be learned from the Indians of the Amazon basin that would provide us with any new insights about the behavior of cultural systems in Western Europe or the United States because we're doing in this latter case with much more complicated systems. And the answer is that we need that we are searching for are not to be just to be thought on the study of very simple societies like those of the Amazon basin but in more complex societies. But there is there are plenty of of broad ethnological problems on which research and Amazon based will throw light such as one of the proud one of the principal problems in cultural anthropology is to account for the rise of civilisation. Exactly what is it that
the chain of events that transpired that gave that lead from Sambo autonomous small Neolithic communities farming communities to civilizations. We still there are a lot of traditional answer given but I think many of these are in satisfactory and. I think that. Subsistence had a great deal to do with the origin of civilization I think especially that it's under conditions where. The land available for subsistence is circumscribed. That we get the essentials for the formation of a large political units we have competition over land. Without the possibility of the defeated societies retreating to an occupied areas as could happen in the Amazon basin as could happen early in the history of Western Europe. With a defeated society has to stay there and be subjugated and incorporated into the into the victorious
group. And by that by continuation of this process we eventually from a larger political unit have the characteristics of states that can then develop the. In terms of arts and crafts and religious organization and so on the hallmarks of civilization. And. This study by culture in the Amazon basin I think. It's important for me should do one of the early steps in this process. Findings of research be practically applied. Dr. Whiting answered by using its example the child rearing research in which he has engaged for the present moment I don't see how they could be. This was a question of theoretical interest. Let me put it this way there have been a number of theories about child rearing and or child behavior and what accounts for it. Anthropologists are likely to say if you know a person's culture you you can
tell what he will do this we've already discussed as I did tell other people like I said well if the main thing is to know how old a person is it doesn't matter what culture he comes from. Children of certain ages behave in certain ways. This is somewhat exaggerated what he would say. Freud would say if you know that person a child's family background you can tell what he will do. Other people like. Roger Barker says the main thing to do is to know the setting in which a child is that is you. The most important thing is to know whether he's in church or on the playground or at home eating supper. Still others say well you have to know his ex. His reward and punishment history. That is what he's learned to not tell what he will do. And some people even said it might be important to know whether
he's a boy or girl. And we kind of think that all of these factors may be important and what we're trying to do is to pull them apart to see which. All of these contribute most to an understanding or a production of bad children's behavior. But even if we are able to throw a little light on this its importance will only be has a matter of further knowledge whether it'll be any use to anybody or not I have no idea. Very frequently one hears that research is important even if the findings cannot be practically applied. I asked Dr Whiting if he could state why knowledge is important merely for the sake of knowledge. This was his answer. I have and I think that's somewhat justified. And this is another study that we've been knowing about two or three years ago I
started an investigation of the possible causes for the curious man and his Yashin rites of puberty where boys. Are a used and. Isolated from women and and. Treated badly. A typical initiation rites similar to the ones we used to have in our fraternities and these occur. Interestingly enough and about a third of this is known societies around the world question that we asked ourselves or I asked myself is why. Do some societies have these and why not. Now this was when I first asked a theoretical question by one of but I saw no practical value for except one of understanding
a widespread phenomenon of the world as a. Consequence of this study yet the evidence pointed strongly to the fact that it occurred in societies where the boys were. Separated from their fathers and. Coddled if you like by their mothers. That is to say societies which have the typical mother child household where the father lives in a separate house of his own or. Lives with his other wife and poisonous societies. During the. First two or three years of a child's life. And the function of the ceremony seemed to be these initiation rites to change. The boy from being a. Love of the feminine to being masculine
to make a man of the boys in fact many of the societies are very explicit about this that there were two kinds of people there were women and children and men. And the initiation ceremony consisted of rebirth into manhood. Well I don't know as I looked at these results and began thinking about. The juvenile delinquency that was going around in our society today. Others there seemed to be striking resemblance as much of the delinquent behavior seemed not motivated by economic gain but rather senseless. Things that were. Seen designed to prove. Manhood proved to prove the boys proving themselves. The game of chicken was proving himself. To be not a sissy. And so I began looking at the family structure and household structure in which these kids were brought up in our own society.
And this is another study that we are now engaged in the study of. Of a slum area and Cambridge. In which we're checking. Out. Whether or not. A same. Degree of. Of closeness between a mother and a child. May account for the delinquent behavior we find in our own society. There is some evidence already coming in since this time that that tends to support this recent study in New Orleans that. Just has been published. He strongly supports this idea. Secondly that it is. A been long been known by social workers that in the in the slum areas they do have the so-called Serial monogamy pattern where a. Unmarried mother would have broken homes all these terms have been used. But in an and I sense these.
There. Are in some places half the. Children are brought up. By their mother along without any father being present during most of their life. Well. Here is I don't know and I'm not sure I study. We're just beginning to make a study on how it's going to come out but here is where a very impractical curiosity led us into something that may throw light on my. On a problem of. Of. Some Consequence today. However the movie find this out this doesn't. Do any good. This is not a solution to the problem but it does. Say. Tell us where to look in solving the problem. In reply to Dr Whiting I stated that many people felt it unsatisfactory to merely say knowledge for knowledge sake. I wondered if he agreed but I agree with this although I have on the other
hand. I feel that very often if you start the other end around and start with a practical problem. They are often less likely to come to a. Novel and searching and creative conclusion. Then if you start with something that seems a very strange and his attack but I was keeping your your mind alert to. The application of your findings from anthropological studies gut human behavior be predictable. Doctor can narrow supplied the answer to this question I think to a large extent it is. It depends of course what's whether you mean. Human behavior in the growth or whether you mean the behavior of a particular individual. The more if you're dealing with just a single individual then you would have to know more than the cultural heritage in which he was brought up you would have to know his particular upbringing that
which was of course different from that of any other individual in his culture. If you know for example that a person is is a Moslem or a group of people or Muslim or Muslims and you presented them with a in with a cultural situation. With a situation for which their culture had some ready made norm as far as behavior went you could predict what they would do if you served. There were a banquet of Muslims and you serve pork and you could be sure they would need it they would be horrified and show their their disgust in the Boeotians some particular way. With people moving about from one nation to another in this modern era one important question seemed to be what happened to persons when they are placed into another culture different from the one to which they had become accustomed. Dr. Whiting expressed this view. This is a very interesting question. I would say this depends in large part on kind of a person kind of a culture that one
comes from. There are love those who have what might be called a strongly internalized value is what they've gotten from the way they've been brought up in their particular peculiar culture. And when a person has brought up in this way and I was from this kind of a culture he was likely to carry along with him deeply embedded feelings of right and wrong and to often find it difficult to adjust to a different set of rules and values. They are likely to be shocked and disgusted by it. Events which are counter to the way they've been brought up by others who have less strongly internalized beliefs because of the way they've been brought up are much more
ready to adapt to the behavior in another culture. Now there is one interesting exception to this and that is if a strongly imbedded value is to believe to understand. Different beliefs and values to be understanding of other people then one can accept even with a very strong conscience deviant values but I think this can be even in this instance can be done only with some cost. And many of its apologists report what is called culture shock. Even so I have to apologise who had. How long training in the relativity of values. Still you may find it difficult to eat
grubs or to participate in a cannibalistic feast. He will have been trained to do so and that you are very strongly understanding of other people's ways. Our thanks to Dr. Whiting Dr. Canario and Dr. Anderson for their participation in this discussion. Cultural changes in our society. Next week you will hear Dr. Morris I Stein of the University of Chicago as he discusses creativity on the next program from the series human behavior social and medical research consultant for this program was Professor Leslie white of the University of Michigan Department of Anthropology. We extend our special thanks to the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan for their assistance. We would like to take this opportunity of calling to your attention the following programs following next week's program on creativity on the week after that will
come. Computers as simulators appearing on that program will be Professor Russell L. A cough who is director of the Operations Research Group at the Caisse Institute of Technology in Cleveland Ohio. And then weeks after that the man and machines two programs on the first program will be Dr. Harry Hilson Dr. Jack W. Dunlap and Dr. Edward R. Jones. And then two more programs featuring Dr. Max F. Milliken of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jacob Marshak of Yale University and Dr. Kenneth J erro of Stanford University as they discuss how behavior influences the economy. And then on the second program about economics will be Dr. Marsh our conductor arrow as they discuss decision making in economics. Glenn Phillips speaking asking that you join us next week and thanking you for being with us at this time.
This program has been produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Behavioral science research
Cultural difference and change
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University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the study of cultural difference and change. Guests are: Robert Anderson, Ph.D; John Whiting, Ph.D, Harvard University; and Robert Garneiro, Ph.D., American Museum of Natural History, New York City.
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A documentary series on behavioral science and its role in understanding human health.
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
Interviewee: Anderson, Robert
Interviewee: Whiting, John Wesley Mayhew, 1908-1999
Interviewee: Garneiro, Robert
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:29
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Chicago: “Behavioral science research; Cultural difference and change,” 1961-07-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
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APA: Behavioral science research; Cultural difference and change. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from