Cross Cultural Psychology

Cross Cultural Psychology

 Cross-Cultural Psychology

Behavior can be strongly influenced through biological tendencies; however, all behavior can be influenced by experience. Culture remains one important factor shaping individual behavior through customized sets of attitudes, beliefs, and values shared by a large population of region (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The goal of cultural psychology is to find the meaningful links underlying cultural influence and behavior; in relation, cross-cultural psychology seeks to explain the vast diversity between varying regions through critical, comparative studies of culture. Through research methods, psychologists can conduct varying scientific experiments to test, study, and explain cultural effects on human behavior. However, critical thinking becomes vital to sound evidence, to help avoid biased information relating to description and explanation. This hub will discuss the definitions of both cultural and cross-cultural psychology, analyze the relationship between the two fields of study, discuss the role of critical thinking in cross-cultural psychology, and also, the methodology associated. 

Defining Cultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology

Our genetic makeup, in itself, can only partially explain and describe human behavior; however, as behavior is influenced by biological tendencies, all behavior can be shaped by experience (Segall, Dasen, Berry & Poortinga, 1999). In experience, cultural influence becomes a main factor shaping diversity in behavior. Culture, as defined as “a set of attitudes, behaviors, and symbols shared by a large group of people and usually communicated from one generation to the next,” can vary from place to place impacting individual behavior across regions (Shiraev & Levy, 2010, p. 3).

The goal of cultural psychology is to uncover significant relationships between culture and the psychological phenomenon in relation to individuals living in the particular region (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Cultural psychology will place emphasis on specific behavioral influence in the specific socio-cultural context in which the behavior takes place (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Opposing, as cultural psychology focuses on the interaction of behavior and the specific environmental influence, cross-cultural psychology focuses on the psychological diversity amongst varying cultures. According to Shiraev and Levy (2010), cross-cultural psychology is defined as the “critical and comparative study of cultural effects on human psychology” (p. 2). Cross-cultural psychology places emphasis on the critical thinking and comparative aspects of study, demonstrating the ways human activity is impacted by cultural forces (Shiraev & Levy, 2010).

The Relationship

Regarding the definitions of both cultural and cross-cultural psychology, both study the effects of culture on individuals; however, cultural psychology focuses on the cultural influence on the individuals specific to the region, and cross-cultural psychology is the critical and comparative study of psychological phenomenon across diverse social populations. While each contributes valuable information regarding human behavior, the two approaches differ in regard to understanding and explaining the relationship between culture and psychological phenomenon (Ratner, 2006).

Cultural psychology presents valuable data collected from varying regions of population; thereby providing a framework for cross-cultural psychology to study, test, and compare within psychological principles. According to Berry (2004), the relationship between cultural and cross-cultural psychology anticipates to “reveal how culture is influenced by processes operating at the individual level (e.g., cognitions, goals, information processing strategies) as well as at the interpersonal level (e.g., communication, social influence)" (para. 2). A greater understanding behind cultural influence can be fulfilled by examining the actual nature of psychological phenomenon in the specific intrapersonal connections, to then, perform a critical, comparative analysis on the subject matter across varying regions (Ratner, 2006).

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a vital facet in learning and remains a crucial component in cross-cultural psychology to provide the psychologist specific approaches for inquiry and problem solving procedures (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Common to many, we tend to be easily convinced by means of subjective evidence than by reliable facts and statistics through thorough investigation (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). To avoid the biased perspective when assessing varying hypotheses of speculation, critical thinking skills can help produce sound evidence of support.  

When attempting to explain and understand social phenomenon, many will tend to report observable descriptions based through a personal lens of perspective; meaning, we are more prone to modify external information to accommodate our pre-built mental schemas of description (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). However, by doing so, reliable data and statistical information relevant to speculation becomes applicable to circumvent. The meta-thoughts, “thoughts about thoughts,” are cognitive tools to provide the psychologist with suggestions to promote meta-thinking and reduce the use of biased information in cultural investigation (Shiraev & Levy, 2010, p. 89).  “To respect the uniqueness of every client, [Stuart] suggests that culturally sensitive therapists humbly ask, and do not assume” (Stuart, 2005, para. 12).


To gain an increased understanding into the vast diversity amongst varying regions, reliable evidence must be collected to verify facts and data collected in the most unbiased way (Shiraev & Levy, 2010).  Through many different methods, research is gathered to support psychologists in explaining and predicting behavior, to further, help people understand how to control and manage behavioral actions. According to Stuart (2005), since “psychology purports to be a behavioral science… the basic and applied literature of psychology must be anchored by research” (para. 5). In addition, the drive of the current multicultural advancement is encouraged by its success in using varying research methods to assess psychological hypotheses about the diversity within cultural groups of influence; without this database of information, psychologists would be more prone to creating biased assumptions about the impact of cultural influence on behavior (Stuart, 2005).

To accomplish the main goals of description, interpretation, prediction, and management, psychologist must rely on valuable data; which, in cross-cultural psychology, can be obtained within two groups of methodology: quantitative and qualitative (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The quantitative approach involves the statistical measurement of behavior from a comparative outlook, and the qualitative approach is usually conducted from natural setting of experimentation (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The typical forms of methodology commonly used in cross-cultural psychology consist of: observation, survey, experiment, content-analysis, psychobiography, meta-analysis, focus-group methods, and other statistical procedures of analysis (Shiraev & Levy, 2010).

Concluding Summary

The fundamental nature of human potential is the ability to acquire learned habits throughout life, persistently modifying behavior in response to environmental influences (Ratner, 2006). Cultural psychology seeks to identify the associations between the cultural influence and behavioral reactions. In addition, cross-cultural psychology focuses on the vast diversity amongst varying cultures of influence using critical and comparative methods of evaluation. Critical thinking is a vital component in relation to cross-cultural psychology, as people have a basic tendency to follow subjective description and avoid relevant data and statistical information. By applying critical thinking antidotes, psychologists reduce the chance of providing biased information in research. Within the field of research, cross-cultural psychology focuses on two main groups of methodology: quantitative and qualitative, additionally, cross-cultural psychology uses all the typical methods of investigation. In summary, culture is a label for the many characteristics that vary from region to region, and cross-cultural psychology seeks to explain and predict the diversity of cultural influence. 




Berry, J. (2004, November). The psychological foundations of culture. Canadian Psychology,    

45(4), 315.

Ratner, C. (2006). Cultural psychology: a perspective on psychological functioning and social

reform. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Segall, M. H., Dasen, P. R., Berry, J. W., & Poortinga, Y. H. (1999). Human behavior in global

perspective: An introduction to cross-cultural psychology. (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.

Shiraev, E. B. & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and

contemporary applications (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.

Stuart, R. B. (2005, October). Multiculturalism: Questions, not answers. Professional

Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(5), 576.

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Comments 3 comments

Natalia 4 years ago

Very interesting.

Laura 4 years ago

Thank you for posting your assignment online and screwing up mine and other students similarity index on the plagiarism checker!

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Anjo Bacarisas II 4 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

Cultural relativism.

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