Cross-Cultural Topics in Psychology

Cross-Cultural Topics in Psychology

Cross-Cultural Topics in Psychology

Cross-Cultural Topics in Psychology

Synopsis

This second edition of a classic work in cross-cultural psychology brings together scholars from the United States and abroad to provide a concise new introduction to selected topics in cross-cultural psychology, the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes under diverse cultural conditions.

Topics include history and methods of cross-cultural studies, developmental aspects in cross-cultural psychology, personality and belief systems across cultures, and applications for cross-cultural psychology. Within these categories, contributors touch on subjects such as language and communication, child and moral development, gender roles, aging, emotion and personality, international business, and mental health. This volume will be of value to all scholars, students, and practitioners in psychology.

Excerpt

Florence L. Denmark

Psychology is a science that seeks to explain the fundamental questions regarding human thought and behavior. This is a broad and far-reaching goal. The majority of human psychological research today is focused solely on the thought and behavior patterns of Americans. While this research is meaningful, it certainly does not provide an adequate explanation for all human thoughts and behaviors. Restricting the scope of research to the population in the United States of America inherently limits the capability of the results to provide universal explanations. This consequence is a tremendous detriment to the discipline and highlights the overwhelming need to expand the breadth of research to include individuals from other countries across the globe.

Psychologists have long debated whether human behavior is caused by nature, the genetic makeup of individuals, or by nurture—the environment in which individuals are reared. Culture is one of the most pervasive elements of a person's nurture because it represents the overarching principles that shape a society, which will in turn influence upbringing. The study of cross-cultural psychology may play a critical role in resolving specific issues within the nature-nurture debate. Reminiscent of a controlled experiment, individuals living in different countries share the same basic biological composition, but differ in respect to the environmental influences impinging on them. Investigating precisely how their behavior is different is thus a function of cultural difference. We can see more clearly the areas of behavior in which nurture is dominant.

Thus, cross-cultural psychology provides a glimpse of both similarities and differences in human nature. Research is guided by a search for the universal explanations underlying behavior, and one common goal is to synthesize . . .

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