Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Achieving a Global Psychology

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Achieving a Global Psychology

Article excerpt

Abstract

Psychology has a long history in only a few countries of the world. Initially developed in Europe and the United States, it necessarily has close ties to the cultural traditions of those particular societies. As a result, the discipline and practice of psychology are largely culture-bound, limited in its origins, concepts, and empirical findings to only this small portion of the world. The discipline is also culture-blind, largely ignoring the influence of the role of culture in shaping the development and display of human behaviour. This article draws on concepts and strategies in psychology (particularly cross-cultural and intercultural psychology) to propose some remedies to these problems. It is based on a universalist vision for the discipline; this view asserts that basic psychological processes are common to our species, while their development and expression are culturally shaped. The eventual goal is to achieve a global psychology that incorporates concepts and findings from societies and cultures from all parts of the world.

Keywords: acculturation strategies, culture-blind, culture-bound, dominance, emic, etic, global psychology, indigenous psychology, prevention, universalism

The discipline and practice of psychology have long histories in only a few countries of the world. Initially developed in Europe, then further in the United States, it has close ties to the cultural traditions of those particular societies. Although more and more taught, studied and practiced in other parts of the world, psychology remains largely culture-bound (Berry, Poortinga, Segali & Dasen, 1992; Henrich, Heine & Norenzayan, 2010), being limited in its origins, concepts, and empirical findings to only a small portion of the world. And although the concept of culture has been recognised as a core variable in psychology in a book that documents the origin and development of 15 key psychological concepts (Berry & Triandis, 2006), the discipline has also been culture-blind, largely ignoring the influence of the role of culture in shaping the development and display of human behaviour.

As a result of these limitations, missing from the international scene are the insights, and the knowledge of psychology from the largest, most complex and in many ways the earliest-developed societies of the world. In particular, the psychological contributions from China, India, and the Arab world are largely unknown to Western psychology. Similarly missing are those from societies in Africa, and the indigenous peoples in North and South America, and the Pacific region.

If human beings are all one people, belonging to one species, how can a discipline that thinks of itself as "the science of human behaviour" not be based on all human experience and knowledge? Answers to this rhetorical question serve a basis for my approach to the development of a global psychology. In this article, I argue that the discipline and the profession of psychology are overwhelmingly rooted in and practiced in Western Euroamerican societies (Pawlik & Rosenzweig, 2000). The rest of the world has often assumed the roles of "consumers" or "subjects"; psychology is "sold to" or "tried out on" other peoples. The evidence for this state of affairs has been clearly presented by Adair, Coehlo and Luna, (2002); Adair and Kagitcibasi (1995); Allwood and Berry (2006); and Cole (2006). For example, Cole (2006, p. 905) has noted that the leadership of international psychology, particularly the International Union of Psychological Science has "remained firmly in Euro American hands. These countries dominate participation and management of the congress to this day, despite the fact that psychologists from approximately 100 countries currently participate" (Rosenzweig, Holtzman, Sabourin, & Belanger, 2000).

To deal with these limitations, I argue that human behavioural diversity needs to be fully sampled and examined in all its variety, as a basis for discerning what may be common to all human behaviour. …

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