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Cross-cultural psychology Series: Introduction

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Cross-cultural psychology

Cross-cultural psychology is a field of study in which we study the similarities and differences of basic psychological processes i.e., learning, perception, memory, emotions, motivation, etc., between two or more than two cultures.

In the modern era of study and research, we need more Cross-cultural psychology to understand the patterns of conflicts and how to resolve them in the first place. Most of the world conflicts are due to a lack of understanding of cultural differences.

In this series of posts, you will find important information about different cultures and you will not see other people with anger any more after understanding their cultural values and norms.

This is an introduction so, you will feel a bit frustrated like I was in its class, but the time you start knowing differences and similarities of different cultures you will feel excited and more interested. But, without reading this post you will not be able to understand and enjoy other posts in this series.

Working definition

The empirical study of members of various cultural groups who have had different experiences that lead to predictable and significant differences in behavior” for example; the study conducted by Brislin, Lonner, and Thorndike (1973)

Historical development of cross-cultural psychology

According to, Walter Lonner (1975) field of cross-cultural psychology can be divided into three eras, the first era which starts from the late 1900s to early 1930s.

The second era starts from the late 1930s to early 1960s

The third era starts from the late 1960s – to date, which can be described as, continuing era, due to its timing, this era has been further subdivided into two further sub-eras i.e., the pre-1969s and the post-1969s

Characteristics of the first era:

  • Psychologists went into strange cultures
  • Studies conducted in this era were those in which ethnocentrism was unchecked
  • In this era, there were no properly designed cross-cultural studies
  • Cultural relativism (a person’s behavior should be studied in his own culture, not in others culture) was given importance

William Wundt in his book, Principles of physiological psychology 1904 said that our thinking is heavily conditioned by language and social customs.

It is so true, that no one can deny it.

Characteristics of the Second era 1930-1960

  • Lonner also refers to this era as workhorse model, because in this era numerous studies were carried out and it enriched this field literature.
  • Personality and intelligence tests were administration in different cultures then the concept of culture-fair tests was coined.
  • One researcher one instrument can result in anything, some notable examples of studies are:

Frederic Bartlett on remembering 1932

Klineberg study on emotional expression in Chinese literature 1938

The Third era

Main points in Pre-1969

  • Multi-methods were adopted by two or more than two researchers in multiple cultures
  • The psychoanalytic emphasis, the focus was on a person rather than interaction in society.
  • Western theoretical statements were used
  • Many lists of tests were developed, translated and adopted.
  • Emphasis was on the attribute of personality traits and intelligence

Post-1969

  • The post list explored the relationships between person and environment
  • HC Triandis hold few such items as attributes of persons in certain situations

In these eras following research methods were used:

Cross-cultural research methods

1) Cross-cultural comparisons

In these studies, two or more than two cultures on the same psychological variable of interest are studied.

2) Unpackaging studies

These studies are like peeling off an onion layer by layer to understand why cultural differences occur in context variables.

3) Ecological level studies

Use of countries or cultures as the unit of analysis

Geert Hofstede 1980-83 studies of cultural values across 50 plus countries

4) Cross-cultural validation studies

A measure of psychological construct, that was originally generated in a single culture applicable, meaningful and thus equivalent in other cultures.

5) Ethnographies:

Anthropologist and psychologists would be immersed in a culture for extended periods of time, these researchers learn firsthand the customs, rituals, traditions, beliefs, and ways of life of the culture to which they were exposed.

This was enough for today, further posts about cross-cultural psychology will be published soon, what do you think about this post, let me know in the comments below…

Thank you in advance…

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