MATERIAL CULTURE

It is a common phenomenon worldwide that human beings own objects. The objects owned by human beings are either necessities or luxuries but at the end of the day, they all have a purpose and meaning in the life of the owners. More than mere utensils, junk or luxuries people’s belongings become extensions of the selves (Snyder and Deaux 2012, p. 28). People use the objects to signal to themselves and others, who they want to be and where they want to belong. And long after the owners are gone, the objects they used become their legacy. The objects human beings use have the ability to construct their personalities through a number of theories such as psychology, anthropology or semiotics. The paper addresses how the objects people own psychologically construct their personality.

People’s relationship with objects starts during the early stages of life.  According to Rochat (2011, p. 39), when children grow to above five years, they start exhibiting the endowment effect and placing more value on objects simply by virtue that they own them. The study further showed that children below the age of four hold the postulation that the primary holder remains the owner irrespective of whether they give it away later. Ownership of stuff brings about envy. For example, when children are playing with their peers, they discover other children’s toys and admire to own them. In his study, Gaddini and Gaddini (2013, p. 45) observed that babies will express jealousy by giving signs of rage when an object is taken from them.  Through the adolescence, possessions continue to psychologically construct peoples’ personalities or at least tell how they like to see themselves. Rochat (2011, p. 40) stated that teenage girls exchange and share clothing not only to enhance their friendship but also psychologically create their identities.

A similar object owned by different people could have different meanings depending on how the object is used, placed, handled or even taken care of (Hodder 2013, P 24). Objects have different meanings to different people across the cultures; hence they construct different personalities among individuals. For instance, a table is a common object owned by people in almost all cultures. However, it is clear that people from different cultures use it differently. To some, a table is used for dining purposes, others in studying rooms and others use a table to place other objects such as flowers and electronics. In such a situation, it is clear that a table is valued differently and this can determine how human beings think about it in terms of what it means and its use. From the above illustration, one can say that the meaning of the table partly replicates personal way of expressing themselves. The table here has constructed a psychological personality through its use and meaning. Anthropologists use objects to build personalities of human beings belonging to different generations (Gould and Schiffer 201, P 17). As the tools that the Stone Age generation used can be used by anthropologists to analyze the personality of the people who belonged to that generation. Similarly, objects used by the current generation can be used to construct their personality.

The way people package commodities such as electronics, foods, clothes among others also reveal about who they are. For instance, the robust packaging of TVs, computers and other electronics indicates the importance and the role that technology plays in the modern culture (Heine 2015, P. 29). The packing of these electronics is robust because people of this generation value them and don’t want to incur losses in situations where these electronics break due to poor packaging. The cultural foods and drinks that people take psychologically construct their personalities. There are some people who believe there is certain food for a certain period and the type of food should not be alternated with the other. For example, someone could have a psychological belief that there is a specific type of food that should be taken for breakfast and other types of food for dinner. Then this person will stand to the point that the breakfast food should not be exchanged for dinner. Therefore this becomes a personality that is constructed psychologically from the food that the individual own or have access to (Hobhouse, Wheeler and Ginsberg 2013, p. 33). The way people handle their food in terms of wrapping and packaging, the presence of empty bottles of soda or alcohol and processed food also communicates how these things have psychologically constructed their personality.

In the same way, the objects that are no longer in use such as the thrown away tickets stubs express something about individual’s personal psychological attitude towards leisure. Research has shown that one of the easiest ways to establish personal psychological information about a celebrity in the modern culture is by checking their bin (Berger 2016, p.  37). Discarded objects give an accurate personal imprint of their owner. In fact thrown away, objects can even be used to indicate a personality that even the owner sometimes could wish to hide. According to Boas (2016, p. 19), one of the easiest ways of finding out the character of a someone, is by going to their living room, bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom or hallway and have a close look at their objects. Most information of their personality will be displayed not only in terms of what the objects are but also their arrangement, storage, the way they are sorted, and the care given to the objects.

In addition, the objects people own psychologically construct individuals’ personality by expressing how they don’t relate or relate with each other, how they adapt to the changes in technology and how they are influenced to be co-operative and competitive in their activities. More to it, objects people own constructs psychological personality of how they make a judgment about differences and similarities, the things they choose to make, produce, use, consume, display, reuse, misuse, resell, discard exchange, give as presents and destroy. A psychological personal desire for innovation is most likely to be instigated by the objects individuals own (Bronner 2015, p. 36). Studies have demonstrated that most innovation activities come from improving or redesigning what is presently in possession. There has been an argument that the 21st century has become more innovative due to the presence of both tangible and intangible objects such electricity that never existed during the previous generations.

Psychologically, specific objects construct particular personalities. However, as earlier mentioned object and construction of individual’s personality differs according to the meaning and use of the object to the owner. For example, electronics dumped from one country like America could be high valued objects somewhere else like in the African or Asian country. Psychologically technology has really changed people’s personality and specifically people of the current generation. Technology is responsible for the largest percentage of the activities carried out by the modern man, thus taking the largest role in the process of psychologically constructing their personalities. To many, technology has changed the psychological view of how things should be done. Individuals have used technology to boost their efficiency and speed of carrying out day to day activities (Snyder and Deaux 2012, p. 27). With technology comes the psychological desire to know and learn more in order to be more competitive. Therefore people who own technology likely to develop a personality that is psychologically competitive.

Individuals who own technology will always feel that they are superior to others. It is believed that technology evolves each day hence becoming a continuous learning exercise for those who have access to it. Blascovich, Loomis, Beall, Swinth, Hoyt and Bailenson (2012, p. 112) holds that technology can psychologically boost one’s social class. For example, in some societies, persons with the most current technology are regarded as the most informed and updated. In this case, this particular person who owns it will feel that their social class has been hyped. Further, these people are left with more self-confidence and self-believe. This type of appraisal could make one develop some kind of pride (Funder 2015, P 28). A laptop, for example, makes the owner develop a psychological personality of its specific features. The person’s psychology adapts to the way that laptop is supposed to be used and handled. A laptop requires the owner to be informed about how to use it either as it is or together with its complements. Some owners of laptop go through some form of training to acquire the required skills and understand its concepts. In the process one becomes knowledgeable. The laptop also requires some maintenance, which the owner must adapt in order to successfully operate and achieve their intended mission. The person owning the laptop will have to understand when and where it is applicable to use it. Considering that a laptop is a delicate object then a person owning it must adapt to its required maintenance and mode of handling. Therefore the laptop constructs the psychological character in the person owning in several ways. The personality created does not only create a good relationship between the person and the laptop but also creates an identity that distinguishes the owner from those doesn’t own a laptop. The purpose of the laptop to the owner also takes a role in psychologically building the owners’ personality (Smith, Meyers and Cook 2014, p. 35).

In all cultures, worldwide toys of guns and cars have been introduced to the boy child during a certain stage of life. According to (Lubar and Kingery 2013, p. 47) the type of a toy given to a boy child in his early stages of life has a significant impact in his future life. The young boy needs to psychologically familiarize with the type of men culture to be experienced in future. Most the toys used by boy children differ from the ones used by the girl child and this becomes the first sign of personal identification that tells the boy that he belongs to the male gender. These toys are designed in a way that they deliver a message to the boy that in their culture, men have certain responsibilities and have a particular position. For example, a certain toy given to a boy could be a man with muscles. This constructs a psychological personality within the boy that men should grow to have muscles or perhaps men should be strong (Leaper 2013, p. 13). Basically, these toys have an influence in boys and enable them, to positively understand the sexual roles they are likely to fulfill in future.

Some of the toys given to boys include those that involve fights and another sort of hostility that men go through in real life. These objects create psychological awareness to the boy that during the process of growth he will encounter some situations that are not very friendly. Heine (2015, p. 233) stated that the objects that are introduced the young person could psychologically construct both positive and negative personality depending on the type of the toy.

Psychologically, a person who owns objects related to entertainment will develop a personality that is entertainment oriented (Hurcombe 2014, p. 19). For example, a young boy from the Latin nation owns a football. The chances are the football will construct a personality that that is football oriented. This particular boy will adopt football as the source of entertainment.  One could say that if the same boy had a guitar instead of football then his psychology could have chosen music as his choice of entertainment instead of football. According to Elsevier, Wheeler, and Ginsberg (2013, p. 31), the reason to this is that as an individual owns an object and gets familiar with it, there is a psychological development of some sense of attachment towards that thing. With time, its meaning and uses changes and consequently the personality of the person changes. Different objects construct different personalities. Technology requires its unique way of handling that is different from handling a boys’ toy (Bertran 2015, p. 195). A football will as well require its unique care different from the others hence each psychologically constructing different personalities.

Concisely, when objects that human being owns are studied in psychology, anthropology, and semiotics, it was identified that they construct different personalities. Objects construct individuals’ personality depending on how they require to be used or handled. The idea of an individual owning objects starts during the early stages of life. It is during these early stages that ownership starts to psychologically construct individuals’ personality. The understanding of the individuals’ objects and their use also expresses some individual personality. The food and drinks people eat and drink psychologically construct personalities. There are people who psychologically develop a firm food culture out of the food they own or have access to. This psychological personality could be the one to guide them on when and what food to eat. Further, the way people handle the food they own affects their psychology. The psychologically constructed personality will, however, differ because different food will need a different way of handling such as wrapping and packaging. Additionally, peoples’ object in possession will construct their psychological character in terms of how they arrange, keep, regard, decorate or simply organize them in their common habitual places such as kitchen, hallway, bathroom, bedroom, sitting room or dining room.

The toys psychologically influence the young boys to accept the passive males’ sex role boys are expected to fulfill in future. The toys prepare the boys’ psychology on how to be men in the society, the appearance of a man and the position men occupies in the society. At the early stages the toys are introduced to boys helps them to have a psychological preparation of tasks, activities, and hostilities they are likely to encounter in future. Objects construct different psychological characters among young boys and girls. It is for this reason that boys are given different toys from those given to girls. Some objects owned by people develop individuals’ life activities such as leisure, entertainment, and hobby. The outcome is a personality with entertainment, leisure or hobby-oriented to the object they own. Generally, a personality is constructed according to the other requirements of the owned object such as how it should be maintained, the attendance it requires, its purpose and the general meaning attached to it by the owner.  The objects people own psychologically constructs personality in even the way they appear in terms of color and shape. Severally people talk of their favorite colors, for example, a teenage girl would insist that she loves clothes of a certain color. Objects people own can construct their direct psychological emotions such as happiness, sadness, depression and joy and have the ability to change and affect persons’ emotions. However, research shows that personalities could change if objects were exchanged across the cultures.

 

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Berger, A.A., 2016. What objects mean: An introduction to material culture. Routledge.

Bertran, M., 2015. Factors that influence friendship choices in children under 3 in two schools: An approach towards child culture in formal settings in Barcelona. Childhood22(2), pp.187-200.

Blascovich, J., Loomis, J., Beall, A.C., Swinth, K.R., Hoyt, C.L. and Bailenson, J.N., 2012. Immersive virtual environment technology as a methodological tool for social psychology. Psychological inquiry13(2), pp.103-124.

Boas, A., 2016. Crusader archaeology: the material culture of the Latin East. Routledge.

Bronner, S.J., 2015. Grasping Things: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America. University Press of Kentucky.

ElsevierHobhouse, L.T., Wheeler, G.C. and Ginsberg, M., 2013. The Material Culture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples (Routledge Revivals): An Essay in Correlation. Routledge.

Funder, D.C., 2015. The Personality Puzzle: Seventh International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company.

Gaddini, R. and Gaddini, E., 2013. Transitional objects and the process of individuation: A study in three different social groups. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry9(2), pp.347-365.

Gould, R.A. and Schiffer, M.B. eds., 2014. Modern material culture: the archaeology of us. Elsevier.

Heine, S.J., 2015. The material culture of multilingualism: moving beyond the linguistic landscape. International Journal of Multilingualism10(3), pp.225-235.

Heine, S.J., 2015. Cultural Psychology: Third International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company.

Hobhouse, L.T., Wheeler, G.C. and Ginsberg, M., 2013. The Material Culture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples (Routledge Revivals): An Essay in Correlation. Routledge.

Hodder, I., 2013. The meanings of things: material culture and symbolic expression. Routledge.

Hurcombe, L., 2014. Archaeological artefacts as material culture. Routledge.

Leaper, C., 2013. Parents’ Socialization of Gender in Children. Gender: early socialization, p.6.

Lubar, S. and Kingery, D.W. eds., 2013. History from things: essays on material culture. Smithsonian Institution.

Rochat, P., 2011. Possession and morality in early development. New directions for child and adolescent development2011(132), pp.23-38.

Smith, P.H., Meyers, A.R. and Cook, H.J., 2014. Ways of making and knowing: The material culture of empirical knowledge. University of Michigan Press.

Snyder, M. and Deaux, K., 2012. Personality and social psychology. In The Oxford handbook of personality and social psychology.

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