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Cross-cultural psychology Series: Introduction

Cross-cultural psychology

Cross-cultural psychology is a field of study where 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. You will not see other people with anger anymore after understanding their cultural values and norms; this is an introduction so, you will feel a bit frustrated like I was in its class. Still, when you start knowing the differences and similarities of different cultures, you will feel excited and interested. But, without reading this post, you will not 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 research conducted by Brislin, Lonner, and Thorndike (1973)

Historical development of cross-cultural psychology

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

The second era starts from the late 1930s to the 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 adequately designed cross-cultural studies
  • Cultural relativism (a person’s behavior should be studied in his own culture, not in others culture) was given the importance

in his book, William Wundt 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 the workhorse model because, in this era, numerous studies were carried out, and it enriched this field literature.
  • Personality and intelligence tests were administered 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


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

In these eras, the 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 the psychological construct was initially generated in a single culture applicable, meaningful, and equivalent to other cultures.

5) Ethnographies:

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

The above discussion is enough for today; I will publish other posts about cross-cultural psychology soon; what do you think about this post? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you in advance.

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