Cross cultural psychology is a sub-discipline within the wide psychology discipline that is concerned with the cultural factors that affects the behavior of human beings. Cross cultural psychology looks at the behavior of humans and its relationship with the mental processes. The behaviors are studies in the context of the cultural conditions taking into consideration the variations in the cultural influences. Since the early 1970s when the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology was founded, the field of study has continuously grown.
Numerous researches have been carried out since then as the number of scholars in the field increase. Most of the research in this field has concentrated on how behaviors of individuals vary depending on their cultural background. The research has been prompted by the large variation on individual behaviors around the world with people from the same culture exhibiting a characteristic behavior (Berry, et al, 1992). Cross cultural psychology is quite different from other fields of psychology.
Almost all other fields of psychology looks at the how the behaviors of the individual are influenced by their parent, their peers and generally people around them. However, they do not take into consideration the powerful effect of culture on the behaviors of people. While looking at the behaviors of different people, cross cultural psychology takes into account this powerful influence of culture. Some of the most important topics covered in the cross cultural psychology include child rearing, personality and language development (Ho & Wo, 2001). Culture and cross culture psychology
Cross cultural psychology is closely related to culture psychology. Cultural psychology is a branch of psychology that is based on the assumption that the culture and mind of an individual cannot be separated. It looks at how the cultures and social practices in a certain society influence the psyche of individuals. It is therefore mainly concerned with the impacts of the traditions and cultures of the society on the mind of individuals resulting into unity of humankind (Shore, 1996). However, the two branches of psychology are very distinct though they are closely related.
This is because the cross cultural psychology is mainly used in psychology as a measure of how the psychological processes in individuals are universal in a certain cultural setting rather than testing the influence of the culture and traditions on the psychological processes. Therefore, cross cultural psychology will seek to explain why stages of human development may be universal when different cultures are considered while cultural psychology focus on the influence of culture and traditions on the cognitive development of individuals (Heine, et al, 2002).
In the past few years, there has been some collision between cultural and cross cultural psychologists. This has been as a result of recent studies that indicate the differences in attentions, cognition, perception and self when Americans and Asians are considered. The cultural psychologists have been criticized as a result of these research and accused of cultural stereotyping. They have responded to these accusations blaming the criticism on the increased emphasis of psychologists on cross cultural studies.
The cultural psychologists have defended their finding since their research is based on ethnographic and tangible evidence while the cross cultural findings are based on laboratory findings (Masuda & Nisbett, 2001). Critical thinking in Cross Culture Psychology Cross cultural psychology research has indicated that people from Western Europe and North American culture think more critically when compared to people from Asia. Individuals from Asian cultures have been found to be faced with difficulties in the development of informed opinion or argument.
They have limited ability to judge an argument or arrive to conclusions by integrating the information available and reject or accept the argument. Cross cultural psychology research has played an important role in the explanation of these variations in individuals from different cultures (Shiraev & Levy, 2006). Cultures have different ideal qualities that are considered desirable which are the main sources of variation in the level of critical thinking. For example, obedience and religious standards are considered the ideal qualities in the Asia societies.
On the other hand, independence of thought and the ability to develop one owns opinions on different issues are considered to be undesirable in the society. Cross culture psychologists have suggested this to be one of the reasons why the Asians have difficulties in critical thinking (Shiraev & Levy, 2006). Methodologies in cross culture research Despite cross cultural psychology playing an important role in the explanation of the cultural aspects that affects the behaviors of individuals; it has experienced several methodology and theoretical challenges.
This has been as a result of misunderstanding of the relationship between the cultural issues in the society and psychology. This misunderstanding has obscured the relationship between psychology and biological and cultural aspects of the individual. Other challenges are related measurements and definitions of cultural aspects that effect individuals and errors on data analysis and interpretation (Ratner, 2003). There is no doubt that methodology is an important aspect of cross cultural psychology. Cross cultural psychology is mainly based on positivistic methodologies.
On the other hand, cultural psychology mainly focuses on humanistic methodologies which are based on the classical hermeneutic psychology. Positivistic methodologies have resulted in research on the relationship between culture and psychology being in line with basic principles of analysis. However, measurement and analysis based on positivistic methodologies principles in many cases obscure the cultural and traditions features and origin of behaviors and psychological aspects of an individual (Ratner, 2003).
Cross cultural psychologists are for the argument that if the conclusions drawn from the research has to be accurate and reliable, the methodologies used which includes the materials used as well as the conditions should have the ability to stimulate the social environment of the people. However, many researchers in this field of psychology in many cases use artificial materials in spite of the caution. The reason why psychologists use these materials is because of the ease at which they can be controlled or calibrated.
However, if positivist methodologies have to be effective, the measurement and analysis of the data stimuli must be as simple as possible, easy to manipulate, not vague and quantifiable. This is because it is possible to obtain more straightforward and quantitative responses. It has been found that artificial test materials and conditions though unfamiliar fit better when compared to natural circumstances and are thus preferred by many cross cultural psychologists (Ratner, 2003). Conclusion
Cross cultural psychology is an important branch of psychology. It seeks to explain the relationship between the culture and traditions of the people and the behaviors of the individuals. This field of psychology has received a lot of attention in the last three decades due to criticisms against cultural psychology. Reference Berry, J. W. , Poortinga, Y. H. , Segall, M. H. , & Dasen, P. R. (1992). Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Heine, S. J. , Lehman, D. R. , Peng, K.
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