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Enculturation

Allen Gnanam, University of Windsor

Abstract

Enculturation is the process by which individuals of an ethnic group unintentionally, unconsciously, and naturally, acquire culture specific values, knowledge, behaviours, manners, and identities (Gob, Lee, & Yoon, 2008) (Grovtevant, Gunnar & Hellerstedt, 2006) (Kim & Omizo, 2006) (Constantine & Miville, 2006). There are many psychological concepts that can be linked to enculturation such as psychological protective factors, perceived sense of well being, social connectedness, psychological health, cultural identity, help seeking, self efficacy, and self esteem. Research literature pertaining to enculturation has illustrated that, the degree to which these psychological concepts are present within individuals, are strongly influenced by enculturation. Due to ecological variations, religious variations, differential economical values, differential cultural beliefs, and differential cultural behaviours, individual psychological diversity among intra- ethnic and inter- ethnic groups are empirically evident (Grovtevant et al., 2006) (Lamb & Nsamenang, 1995) (Lumsden, 1984). With that, it is equally important to note that certain products/ consequences of enculturation and similar cross cultural environments and values, have contributed to transcultural similarities that are evident among individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds (Grovtevant, et al., 2006) (Kim & Omizo, 2006). In essence, the enculturation phenomenon can be used to understand and explain both the psychological similarities and psychological differences, that are seen among intra- ethnic group members and inter- ethnic group members. This literature review will provide valid definitions of the above mentioned psychological concepts (based on the context of this paper), empirical cross cultural research evidence that illustrates reasons for cultural similarities and differences due to enculturation, the problems/ limitations associated with the enculturation phenomenon, and in close this review will discuss how enculturation impacts the ABC’s of psychology, referring to affectivity, behaviour, and cognition.

Suggested Citation

Allen Gnanam. 2009. "Enculturation" The SelectedWorks of Allen Gnanam
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/allengnanam/12