Psychology of American Culture

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The book provides a comprehensive view of a psychology of the American culture. It expands on the template of the European American cultures showing how its values of individualism, competition, Protestant work ethics, materialism, enjoyment of leisure activities, physical attractiveness and need for status and power are expressed in everyday communications styles, and educational, and social activities. It shows how the significance of individualism focuses on the importance of the self and the maintenance of high self-esteem; and how these and other closely related American values are all exemplified in, social relationships, sports activities, and television programs.

The study also elaborates on America’s cultural diversity resulting from its immigration history, and shows how this phenomenon only adds to the dynamic nature of a culture which now includes numerous ethnic groups with varying attitudes and values associated with group affiliation, family structures, conception of physical and mental illness, languages, religions, time orientation, religious holidays and cultural celebrations. This book weaves the picture of a cultural mosaic, that, notwithstanding its diversity, through processes of acculturation and enculturation, now includes individuals who work to attain the American Dream by adapting to the values and beliefs of their new home.


“This book is a comprehensive view of the beliefs, values and behaviors of the American culture…In this book the author guides the reader through all the psychological variables that Americans employ… [it] includes the vast array of pastime activities, including sports, movies, and holiday celebrations, that are endemic to the culture’s needs… these pastimes fulfill the psychological needs for affiliation, social identity formation, competition, and rugged individualism involved in their free and independent choices.”
-Dr. Guda Gayle-Evans,
University of South Florida

“This work fills a cavernous gap in the multicultural literature…Various readers will find this book an indispensable resource, whether they are studying counseling, psychology, education or political science…the strengths of Dr. Hall’s book are: the originality of the conceptualizations, the clarity of the writing, and the validity of the conclusions…[it] illuminates the subtle influences of the American culture on our sense of self…”
-Dr. Ellen Flynn,
University of Bridgeport

“This work has a relaxed mode of expression throughout, and engages with a broad subject which initially was daunting as to whether its scholarly approach could be successfully achieved…but Hall achieves this, admirably.”
-Dr. Glen Reynolds,
University of Sunderland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Guda Gayle-Evans
Abbreviated Table of Contents: Preface / Introduction
Part I: Template of the European American Culture
Cultural Values / Rugged Individualism /Competition/Action Orientation
Communication /Limited Physical Contact / Control of Emotions
Time / Holidays / History / Protestant Work Ethic
Emphasis on Scientific Method /Linear Thinking
Status and Power / Space / Family Structure / Aesthetics / Religion
Chapter 1: Individualism and the Independent Self: An American Prerogative
Adverse Effects of Individualism and Independence
Loneliness / Narcissism / Enculturation and the Development of Independence
Socialization Agents / Parent’s Siblings / Peers / Schools / Religion / Health Care Services / Mass Media
Chapter 2: Collectivism and Acculturation
Cultural Diversity
African Americans / Asian Americans / Hispanic Americans / Native Americans
Multiculturalism / Acculturation
Chapter 3: Self-Esteem Development and Maintenance
Self-Enhancement/ Self-Serving Bias / Self-Serving Attributions
False Consensus / False Uniqueness / Group-Serving Bias
Self-Serving Bias: Adaptive or Maladaptive?
Locus of Control
Part II: Emotions
Chapter 4: Cultural Display Rules, Expressivity, and Cultural Experiences
Cultural Display Rules
Expressivity / Emotions and Cultural Experiences
Part III: Physical Attractiveness, Social Relationships, and Gender
Chapter 5: Attractiveness in Social Interactions
Physical Attractiveness and Relationship Choices
Attractiveness Stereotypes / Body Image and Culture
Disordered Eating / Anorexia Nervosa/ Bulimia Nervosa / Eating Disorders in Men
Methods of Weight Control: Gender Similarities and Differences
Obesity and its Implications
Chapter 6: Social Relationships
Social Relationships: A Cultural Imperative
The Need to Belong / Friendship / Romantic Love
Dating / Marriage / Divorce
Chapter 7: Gender Role Ideologies
Gender and Culture / Gender Roles over Time / Gender Inequality / Some Current Issues
Part IV: Social Values
Chapter 8: Social Status
Materialism / Education /Language and Communication Styles
Time Orientation / Proxemics, Space, and Status
Chapter 9: The Protestant Work Ethic
History of the Protestant Work Ethic
Attitudes Toward Work Ethics / Evolution of the American Work Ethic
Work and the Self / Job Satisfaction and Family
Workholism, Work-life Imbalance, and Culture
Chapter 10: Prosocial Behavior, Attribution, and the Role of Political Ideology
Factors Associated with Giving and Volunteering
Individualistic versus Collectivistic States in the United States
Influence of Social Class
The Role of Attribution and Emotion in Judgments to Help
Political ideology and Attitudes Toward Poverty
The Role of Religiosity
Part IV: Health Care
Chapter 11: Physical and Psychological Health Care
Medicare and Medicaid
Hospitals / Health Care for the Homeless / Some Pitfalls of the Entrepreneurial Approach to Health Care
Affordable Health Care /Cultural Diversity and Health
Psychological Disorders and Psychotherapy
Mental Health
Asian Americans / African Americans / Hispanic Americans / Native Americans
Psychological Disorders / Schizophrenia / Depression
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Culture-Bound Syndromes / Healing Systems
Part VI: American Pastimes
Chapter 12: Sports
Sports and Group Affiliations
Some Historical Perspectives
College-Level Football
Economic Factors / New Developments / The Fans
Baseball and Softball / Tennis / Brief History / Current Issues
The US Open / The Sony Ericsson Open/ Indian Wells
Some Historical Perspectives / Gender Issues / Successes of Golf / Sports and Aggression
Gender and Sport Aggression /Sport Type and Aggression
Chapter 13: Holidays, Movies, Television, and Alcohol
US Holidays and Laws
Major American Holidays
Christmas / New Year’s Day / Thanksgiving / Independence Day
President’s Day / Memorial Day / Martin Luther King Jr. Day /Labor Day
Halloween / Valentine’s Day / April Fool’s Day Jewish American Holidays
Ethnic Group Celebrations / Special State Observances
Who Attends the Movies and Why
Something New: The Experience and Needs of the Audience
Film Series, Multiple Parts, and Remakes
From Pages to the Screen
Individual Choice Films / Escaping and Critique
Television Viewing / Television Content / Influences and Effects of Television Viewing
The Media and Aggression
Outer Space and the American Culture
A Brief History of Space Exploration / Ongoing Fascination with Space
Star Trek and the American Culture /Star Trek and Its Influence on Modern Technology
Some Significant Cultural References / Trekkies and Trekkers
Alcohol Consumption / Alcohol and Traffic Accidents
Alcohol and Aggression /Ethnicity
Part VII: Challenges
Chapter 14: International, National, and Immigrant Challenges
International Challenges Mainstream American Challenges
Core Values / Identity Denial / Family Structures /Diverse Religions
Languages / Gender Stereotype/ Racial Prejudice /Ageism
Egalitarianism / Immigrant Challenges / Time / Independence / The Self Conflicts in Cultural Practices
Conflicts in Child-Rearing Practices
Parental Conflicts with Teenagers
Self-Enhancement / Self-Serving Bias /Locus of Control / Gender Roles /Divorce
Epilogue / References /Index

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