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Hawaiian supernatural and natural strategies for goal attainment

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Item Summary

Title:Hawaiian supernatural and natural strategies for goal attainment
Authors:Heighton, Robert Herbert
Hawaiians -- Psychology
Medicine -- Hawaii
Traditional medicine -- Hawaii
Nanakuli (Hawaii)
Date Issued:1971
Abstract:This study was made in the context of a Hawaiian community. The problem was to understand why some individuals use the supernatural as an adjustive mechanism in illness situations. This dissertation topic arose from an apparent conflict within anthropological literature concerning two possible explanations of differences among individuals and among cultures in the use of the supernatural. One of them explained that the individual when faced with a problem uses the supernatural to bridge gaps in his empirical knowledge. The other explained that the amount of individual use of the supernatural is determined by the particular orientation of the culture in which the individual participates. A research hypothesis was framed for the study of these possible explanations. The hypothesis states that within a culture the use of supernatural tactics to solve the problem of illness will be greater among those individuals who, compared with other individuals, possess significantly less natural (empirical) knowledge which they can effectively use to overcome illness. The investigation of this hypothesis consisted of two phases. The first phase involved participant observation within the community, and the use of the resulting data in the second phase. This second phase involved the development of questionnaires and the administration of a formal schedule of these questionnaires to a randomly selected test population of seventy-two individuals. The interview schedule contained items designed to measure the respondent's tendency to use the supernatural, his level of both Western health and Hawaiian therapeutic knowledge, and basic demographic data. Analysis of the answers to the questionnaires indicated a negative relationship between use of the supernatural and Western health knowledge and a positive relationship between use of the supernatural and Hawaiian therapeutic knowledge. The question arose whether these results might be due to differential acculturation. To examine this question, the individuals of the sample were divided into four categories based on the type and amount of knowledge they used in handling illnesses. This division grouped the individuals according to whether their scores were on or above the median (high) or below the median (low) on each of the two tests of knowledge, the Health Information Test (Western) and the Hawaiian Therapeutic Test. From a comparison of the four categories of amount and type of knowledge, two relationships evolved. First, individuals who had high Hawaiian therapeutic knowledge used the supernatural significantly more often than individuals who possessed high Western, but low Hawaiian, health knowledge; this difference might have been due to differential acculturation. Second, the group of individuals who possessed little knowledge of either type used the supernatural significantly more than the other three categories of individuals who had a large amount of knowledge of either or both types. These test results supported both possible explanations presented in the reviewed literature. However, this study tried to synthesize these seemingly different explanations through an underlying principle. This principle states that the supernatural will be used as an adjustive mechanism when the extent and effectiveness of empirical knowledge and techniques are found to be insufficient for solving a problem. A culture may differ from another in amount and effectiveness of empirical knowledge and techniques for handling illnesses, just as individuals within a given culture may differ from one another in amount of effective knowledge. Thus in a community undergoing acculturation, such as the Hawaiian cummunity of this study, individuals differ in the use of the supernatural because of both the amount of knowledge and the types of knowledge they possess.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii, 1971.
Bibliography: leaves [166]-170.
x, 170 l graphs, tables
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Anthropology

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