Torfi Sigurdsson (
13 Sep 1995 19:41:13 GMT

I am currently participating in a seminar on Folk Psychology,
and am curious to know about the "Ethnopsychology" im-
plicit in cultures outside the western world.

Folk Psychology, as I understand it, refers to concepts and
ideas about our own behavior and the behavior of others,
which, although not explicitly, constitute "theories" about
behavior and its causes. These concepts are a part of our
natural language, and include terms like believe, desire,
think, and want, to name a few. With these concepts and
others like them, we construct our Folk Psychology. We
explain people€s behavior by saying that they want to do
this and that, that they believe and think this and that.
Folk or Ethnopsychology, is therefore essentially the
psychology of the common man, used to explain behavior
in everyday life.

My question is this: how do people from non-western
cultures go about explaining people€s behavior? Are our
concepts of willing, desiring and believing common per-
haps to all cultures? Are there any grounds for believing
that there is a basic, universal ethnopsychology?

I would be grateful if you could, however imperfectly
answer my questions, since I am unfamiliar with Anthropo-

Torfi Sigurdsson