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Cross Cultural Psychology


Cross-cultural psychology is a scientific field of study dealing with cognitive processes together with human deportment. It entails both the variance and invariance of these attributes across different cultural settings. This is an emerging field of study set to redefine psychology by incorporating research methods to establish cultural variability in languages, values, and behavior among other cultural factors. Issues like anxiety, psychopathology, self-perception, and depression to mention but a few are the focal points of cross-cultural psychology as it tries to establish the universality with regard to these constructs. Even though cross-cultural psychology operates under the umbrella of culture, it encompasses a wide variety of issues without assuming that one cultural effect is the same across different cultures regardless of location. Lonner and Adamopoulos (1997) posit that cross-cultural psychology is more of a research methodology than a different field of study within psychological science (P. 23). Globalization brought with it different issues and psychology was not left out. In the wake of globalization, many social sciences in a bid to purify some areas of research ended up giving biased information in favor of western culture. However, cross-cultural psychology seeks to make these research areas less ethnocentric as it endeavors to establish what happens in different cultures with respect to psychology.

On the other hand, cultural psychology is the scientific study of the relationship between culture and the mind. This field of study presumes that culture cannot be divorced from the mind and this disqualifies the notion that there are ecumenical laws defining the functionality of the mind. It states that psychological hypotheses founded on a given culture may found no pertinence in the context of other cultures. Generally, cultural psychology deals with the subject of analysis and impingement of culture or social patterns on the thinking pattern of people towards the oneness of humanity (Shweder, 1991, p. 72). Culture is like a stream running deep down the lives of many people and its effects on psychology are outstanding.

Relationship between Cultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology

The relationship between cultural and cross-cultural psychology is profound. Firstly, cross-cultural psychology is grounded on cultural psychology. Without cultural psychology, there would not be cross-cultural psychology. While cultural psychology restricts its study to a given location tackling given perspectives, values, and beliefs of a given culture, cross-cultural psychology tackles how these different cultures affect each other and seek to establish how one culture can become tender to the needs, values, beliefs, and desires among other factors of the other. Moreover, cultural psychology differs from cross-cultural psychology in that, within the precepts of cross-cultural psychology, culture is only a tool for determining the universality of psychological patterns. This is in contrast to cultural psychology, which uses culture to establish how cultural constructs mold psychological patterns. Therefore, instead of a cross-cultural psychologist imploring the role of social exercises in a given culture to determine processes within that culture, he or she will be interested in determining the universality of say, Piaget’s phases of development across diversified cultures.

Role of Critical Thinking in Cross-cultural Psychology

According to Shiraev and Levy (2008), critical thinking offers cognition tools, which arms critical thinkers with assorted schemes to investigate and solve problems. Taken from this perspective, therefore, critical thinking serves as an antidote to thought patterns that are always prone to simplicity, bias, or rigidity among other personal variables. Interestingly, when handling a given phenomenon, particularly a social one, people are inclined to use language that constantly muses over their personal beliefs, values or likes and dislikes. Therefore, critical thinking intervenes in such cases to question, criticize, and give insight into these personal sentiments. This strategy helps in developing cross-cultural psychology. As aforementioned, cross-cultural psychology, deals with a comparison of different cultures and someone may be biased towards a given culture given that these people also belong to a given culture.

Shiraev and Levy (2008) posit that all situations or phenomena have both similarities and differences from one another. No phenomenon is a replica of the other or peculiar from the other. In relation to this, cross-cultural psychology may face phenomena that are either similar or dissimilar from each other across two cultures. To analyze the relationship between these phenomena, cross-cultural psychologists have to utilize critical thinking to draw a logical conclusion. There are general descriptions that may be practically applicable to all people but they may not give typical information on a given person or group. In such a situation, cross-cultural psychology becomes invalid. Nevertheless, critical thinking offers a way out of this quagmire by analyzing and eliminating these generalizations hence establishing differences. Additionally, critical bias eliminates errors due to motivational or representation biases. However, the most important part of critical thinking in cross-cultural psychology is the ability to overcome the failure of co-relational studies to answer the question ‘why.’

Methodology Associated with Cross-Cultural Research

Despite the enormous contribution of cross-cultural psychology in explaining the cultural facet in psychology, both theoretical and methodological defects have rocked it. Nevertheless, there are different methodological approaches employed in cross-cultural psychology. The first methodology applied here is determining the relationship between cultural and biological effects on thought patterns. This methodology employs biological tools as test materials to determine how this stimulates social environments. According to Ratner (2003), the other methodology is the use of scale items like Holfstede’s tools like collectivism-individualism. For instance, the differences between say, China and the US on the view of injustice may be ascribed to collectivism- individualism perspectives of the two sides. This methodology utilizes literature as the source of scales to come up with informed conclusions.

The other methodology according to Ratner (2003) is the use of fragmentary responses. This involves the use of questionnaires and interviews among other data collection methods to draw similarities or differences across cultures. Finally, researchers utilize activity theory methodology, which relates psychology, biology, and culture in a logical manner. The issue of correlation comes in here to establish similarities and differences in psychology across cultures.


Cross-cultural psychology is one of the upcoming fields of scientific study. It deals with cognitive processes together with human deportment across cultures. This field is so autonomous and distinct that some people argue that, it should be a research methodology and be severed from mainstream psychology. This study differs largely from cultural psychology in that, within the precepts of cross-cultural psychology, culture is only a tool of determining the universality of psychological patterns unlike in cultural psychology, which uses culture to establish how cultural constructs mold psychological patterns. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in cross-cultural psychology in that it helps as an antidote to thoughts that are more often biased and personalized. In other words, critical thinking restores logic in cross-cultural psychology. Researchers apply varied methodologies in cross-cultural research.

References List

Lonner, W., & Adamopoulos, J. (1997). Culture as Antecedent to Behavior. In J. Berry, Y. Poortinga, & J. Pandey, (Eds.), Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychology.Theory and Method. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ratner, C. (2003). Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Cross-Cultural Psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior. 33 (4). 67-69. Web.

Shiraev, E., & Levy, D. (2008). Critical Thinking and Contemporary Applications. Pearson Education, Inc. Allyn & Bacon. Web.

Shweder, R. (1991). Thinking Through Cultures. Harvard University Press.