Transforming Perspectives

Culture is Essential

Culture is essential to human behavior and communication. We are born with the capacity to learn and absorb culture, just as we are with language.

Although culture is a learned way of seeing the world, it cannot be learned in the same way in adulthood as throughout childhood. From birth through adult maturity, a person goes through a process of learning the culture(s) they are exposed to.

As an example, studies of children and stereotypes show that after age nine, "racial attitudes tend to stay constant unless the child experiences a life-changing event." (Children and Prejudice, Frances Aboud)

The development of racial/cultural identity is described by Louise Derman-Sparks, Professor Emeritus of Pacific Oaks College, in this lecture. As early as age 3 and 4, children show evidence of how they feel about themselves and/or group identity in ways that reflect internalized superiority or oppression.

The influence of culture on the way we think and interpret the world begins at a very early age and remains with us throughout our lives. Much like language, culture is an essential aspect of human development and how we function in the world.

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