Cultural consonance and psychological distress: examining the associations in multiple cultural domains

Abstract

Cultural consonance is the degree to which individuals, in their own beliefs and behaviors, approximate widely shared cultural models. In previous research in Brazil and the United States we found that higher cultural consonance in the cultural domains of lifestyle and social support was associated with lower psychological distress. The aim of this paper is to expand on these results in two ways. First, the measurement of cultural consonance has been improved through a closer link of cultural domain analyses and survey research. Second, the number of domains in which cultural consonance has been examined has been expanded to include—along with lifestyle and social support—family life, national identity, and food. We found that cultural consonance in these five domains can be conceptualized as two latent variables of generalized cultural consonance, and that this generalized cultural consonance is associated with lower psychological distress. These results continue to support the usefulness of cultural consonance as a theoretical construct in the explanation of human social suffering.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Almeida-Filho, Naomar (1987) Becoming Modern After All These Years. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 22(3):285–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Almeida-Filho, Naomar, Ines Lessa, Lucélia Magalhães, Maria Jenny Araújo, Estela Aquino, Sherman A. James, and Ichiro Kawachi (2004) Social Inequality and Depressive Disorders in Bahia, Brazil. Social Science and Medicine 59(7):1339–1353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Anderson, Benedict (1993) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Antonovsky, Aaron (1981) Health, Stress, and Coping. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Atran, Scott, Douglas L. Medin, and Norbert O. Ross (2005) The Cultural Mind. Psychological Review 112(4):744–776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Averbug, A. (2002) The Brazilian Economy in 1994–1999: From the Real Plan to Inflation Targets. World Economy 25(7):925–944.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Berger, Peter L., Thomas Luckman (1966) The Social Construction of Reality. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bourdieu, Pierre (1990) In Other Words: Essays toward a Reflexive Sociology. M. Adamson, trans. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  9. Burns, E. Bradford (1993) A History of Brazil. 3rd ed. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Caulkins, D. Douglas (2001) Consensus, Clines, and Edges in Celtic Cultures. Cross-Cultural Research 35(2):109–126.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cohen, Sheldon, Thomas Karmarck, and Robert Mermelstein (1983) A Global Measure of Perceived Stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 24(4):385–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cooper, Catherine R., and Jill Denner (1998) Theories Linking Culture and Psychology. Annual Review of Psychology 49:559–584.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Coreil, Jeannine, and Patricia Marshall (1982) Locus of Illness Control: A Cross-Cultural Study. Human Organization 41(2):131–138.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Crossley, Nick (2001) The Phenomenological Habitus and Its Construction. Theory and Society 30(1):81–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. D’Andrade, Roy G. (1984) Cultural Meaning Systems. InCulture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion. Richard A. Schweder and Robert A. Levine, eds., pp. 88–119. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. (1992) Schemas and Motivation. InHuman Motives and Cultural Models. Roy D’Andrade and Claudia Strauss, eds., pp. 23–44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

    Google Scholar 

  17. (1995) The Development of Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. da Matta, Roberto (1985) A Casa e a Rua. São Paulo, Brasil: Editora Brasiliense.

    Google Scholar 

  19. de Munck, Victor (2000) Culture, Self, and Meaning. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Dohrenwend, Bruce P., and Barbara S. Dohrenwend (1969) Social Status and Psychological Disorder: A Causal Inquiry. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Dressler, William W. (1985) Psychosomatic Symptoms, Stress, and Modernization: A Model. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 9(3):257–286.

    Google Scholar 

  22. (1991) Stress and Adaptation in the Context of Culture: Depression in a Southern Black Community. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. (2004) Culture and the Risk of Disease. British Medical Bulletin 69:21–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. (2005) What’s Cultural about Biocultural Research? Ethos 33(1):20–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Dressler, William W., and James R. Bindon (2000) The Health Consequences of Cultural Consonance: Cultural Dimensions of Lifestyle, Social Support, and Arterial Blood Pressure in an African American Community. American Anthropologist 102(2):244–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Dressler, William W., and José Ernesto Dos Santos (2001) Correlaçoes sociais e culturais com a pressão arterial: os estudos de Dressler e Dos-Santos. Revista Brasileira de Hipertensão 8(2):225–229.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Dressler, William W., Mauro C. Balieiro, and Jose Ernesto Dos Santos (1997) The Cultural Construction of Social Support in Brazil: Associations with Health Outcomes. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 21(3):303–335.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. (1998) Culture, Socioeconomic Status and Physical and Mental Health in Brazil. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 12 (4):424–446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. (2002) Cultural Consonance and Psychological Distress. Paidéia: Cadernos de Psicologia e Educação 12(22):5–18.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Dressler, William W., Mauro C. Balieiro, Rosane P. Ribeiro, and José Ernesto Dos Santos (2005) Cultural Consonance and Arterial Blood Pressure in Urban Brazil. Social Science and Medicine 61(3):527–540.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Dressler, William W., Camila D. Borges, Mauro C. Balieiro, and José Ernesto Dos Santos (2005) Measuring Cultural Consonance: Examples with Special Reference to Measurement Theory in Anthropology. Field Methods 17(4):331–355.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Dressler, William W., Jose Ernesto Dos Santos, and Mauro Campos Balieiro (1996) Studying Diversity and Sharing in Culture: An Example of Lifestyle in Brazil. Journal of Anthropological Research 52(4):331–353.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Dressler, William W., Jose Ernesto Dos Santos, Philip N. Gallagher, Jr., and Fernando E. Viteri (1987) Arterial Blood Pressure and Modernization in Brazil. American Anthropologist 89(2):389–409.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Dressler, William W., Rosane P. Ribeiro, Mauro C. Balieiro, Kathryn S. Oths, and José Ernesto Dos Santos (2004) Eating, Drinking and Being Depressed: The Social, Cultural and Psychological Context of Alcohol Consumption and Nutrition in a Brazilian Community. Social Science and Medicine 59(4):709–720.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Finch, B. K., R. Frank, and William A. Vega (2004) Acculturation and Acculturation Stress: A Social-Epidemiological Approach to Mexican Migrants Farmworkers’ Health. International Migration Review 38(1):236–262.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Gaines, Atwood D., and Paul E. Farmer (1986) Visible Saints: Social Cynosures and Dysphoria in the Mediterranean Transition. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 10(3):295–330.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Good, Byron (1994) Medicine, Rationality, and Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Goodenough, Ward H. (1996) Culture. InEncyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. David Levinson and Melvin Ember, eds., pp. 291–299. New York: Henry Holt.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Gorer, Geoffrey (1948) The American People: A Study in National Character. New York: Norton

    Google Scholar 

  40. Guarnaccia, Peter J., and Orlando Rodriguez (1996) Concepts of Culture and Their Role in the Development of Culturally Competent Mental Health Services. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 18(4):419–443.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Handwerker, W. Penn (2001) Quick Ethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Jaskyte, Kristina, and William W. Dressler (2004) Studying Culture as an Integral Aggregate Variable: Organizational Culture and Innovation in a Group of Nonprofit Organizations. Field Methods 16(3):265– 284

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Jenkins, Janis Hunter (2004) Specifying Culture, Self, and Experience. InSchizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity. Janis Hunter Jenkins and Robert Johns Barrett, eds., pp. 29–61 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Jenkins, Janis Hunter, and Robert Johns Barrett (2004) Introduction. In Schizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity. Janis Hunter Jenkins and Robert Johns Barrett, eds., pp. 1–28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Kaplan, George A. (1995) Where Do Shared Pathways Lead? Psychosomatic Medicine 57(3):208–212

    Google Scholar 

  46. Keesing, Roger M. (1974) Theories of Culture. In Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 3. Bernard J. Siegel, Alan R. Beals, and Stephen A. Tyler, eds., pp. 73–97. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Kleinman, Arthur (1988) Rethinking Psychiatry. New York: Free Press

    Google Scholar 

  48. Kuper, Adam (1999) Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Leite, Dante Moreira (2002) O Caráter Nacional Brasileiro. 6th ed. São Paulo, Brazil: Editora UNESP.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Lopez, Steven R., and Peter J. Guarnaccia (2000) Cultural Psychopathology. Annual Review of Psychology 51:571–598.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Maercker, Andreas (2001) Association of Cross-Cultural Differences in Psychiatric Morbidity with Cultural Values. German Journal of Psychiatry 4(1):17–23.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Manuck, Stephen B., and Jay R. Kaplan (1999) Status, Stress, and Atherosclerosis: The Role of Environment and Individual Behavior. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 896:145–161.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Newkirk, Christine N., Kathryn S. Oths, William W. Dressler, and José Ernesto dos Santos In press Intracultural Diversity in Food Knowledge in Southern Brazil. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 42(4):303–324

  54. Nichter, Mark (1981) Idioms of Distress. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 5(4):379–408.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Oths, Kathryn S., Adriana Carolo, and José Eduardo Dos Santos (2003) Social Status and Food Preference in Southern Brazil. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 42(4):303–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Palinkas, L. A., J. Russell, M. A. Downs, and J. S. Petterson (1992) Ethnic Differences in Stress, Coping, and Depressive Symptoms After the Exxon Valdez Oil-Spill. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 180(5):287–295.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Pastore José (1982) Inequality and Social Mobility in Brazil. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Rezende, Fernando (1998) Brazilian Economy: Recent Developments and Future Prospects. International Affairs 74(3):563–575

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Ribeiro, Darcy (1995) O Povo Brasileiro. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Rodspeth, Lars (1998) Distributive Models of Culture. American Anthropologist 100(1):55–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Rohner, Ronald P. (1984) Toward a Conception of Culture for Cross-Cultural Research. Journal of Cross- Cultural Psychology 15(2):111–138.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Romney, A. Kimball, and Carmella C. Moore (1998) Toward a Theory of Culture as Shared Cognitive Structures. Ethos 26(3):314– 337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Romney, A. Kimball, Susan C. Weller, and William H. Batchelder (1986) Culture as Consensus: A Theory of Culture and Informant Accuracy. American Anthropologist 88(2):313–338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Rosenblum, L. A., and G. S. Paully (1987) Primate Models of Separation-Induced Depression. Psychiatric Clinics of North America 10(3):437–447.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Ross, Norbert (2004) Culture and Cognition: Implications for Theory and Method. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Sapir, Edward (1949) The Unconscious Patterning of Behavior in Society. InSelected Writings of Edward Sapir. David Mandelbaum, ed., pp. 544–559. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Sapolsky, Robert (1999) Hormonal Correlates of Personality and Social Contexts. InHormones, Health, and Behavior. Catherine Panter-Brick and Carol M. Worthman, eds., pp. 18–46. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Searle, John (1995) The Construction of Social Reality. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Segall, Marshall (1984) More Than We Need to Know about Culture, but Are Afraid Not to Ask. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 15(2):153–162

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Shore, Bradd (1991) Twice-Born, Once Conceived: Meaning Construction and Cultural Cognition. American Anthropologist 93(1):9–27

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Shore, Bradd (1996) Culture in Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Silveira, Dartin Xavier da, and Miguel Roberto Jorge (2000) Escalade rastreamento populacional para depressão (CES-D) em populações clínica e não-clínica de adolescentes e adultos jovens. InEscalas de Avaliação Clínica em Psiquiatria and Psicofarmacologia. Clarice Gorenstein, Laura H. S. G. Andrade, and Antonio Waldo Zuardi, eds., pp. 125–138. São Paulo, Brasil: Lemos-Editorial.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Sperber, Dan (1985) Anthropology and Psychology—Towards an Epidemiology of Representations. Man 20(1):73–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Strauss, Claudia, and Naomi Quinn (1997) A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Tylor, Edward B. (1871) Primitive Society. Boston, MA: Estes & Lauriat.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Veblen, Thorstein (1899) The Theory of the Leisure Class. New York: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Weller, Susan C., and A. Kimball Romney (1988) Systematic Data Collection. Vol. 10. Qualitative Research Methods Series. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a research grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0090193). Roy D’Andrade offered helpful comments on an early draft of the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to William W. Dressler.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dressler, W.W., Balieiro, M.C., Ribeiro, R.P. et al. Cultural consonance and psychological distress: examining the associations in multiple cultural domains. Cult Med Psychiatry 31, 195–224 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-007-9046-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • cultural consonance
  • cultural consensus analysis
  • psychological distress
  • culture theory
  • Brazil