Cross Cultural Psychology

Cross cultural psychology is the comparative and critical study of cultural effects on individual psychology. It is basically the study of differences and similarities in human psychological functioning in several cultural and ethnocultural groups. It is also the study of the relationships between biological variables and socio-cultural, ecological and psychological variables; and of ongoing changes in these variables.

Cross Cultural Psychology

Introduction to the Cross-Cultural Psychology

Cross cultural psychology is a comparative field. It is the comparative and critical study of cultural effects on individual psychology. In cross-cultural psychology any study draws its conclusions from at least two samples and the samples from which the psychologists draw their conclusion represent at least two cultural groups. As we know cross-cultural psychology is all about comparisons, and the act of comparison needs a particular set of critical skills, this study is not separable from critical thinking.

Examination in cross-cultural psychological is not just a single observation made by a psychotherapist, researcher, or social worker. Witnessing a clear event cannot cover for systematic comparisons of experience and behavior measured under different cultural conditions. Cross-cultural psychology must depend on contemporary methods of scientific investigation.

How is cross-cultural psychology different from the cultural psychology?

Cross-cultural psychology is different from the cultural psychology. First of all, cultural psychology seeks to find significant links between a culture and the psychology of persons living in this culture. The important message of cultural psychology is that human behavior is significant only when observed in the sociocultural context in which it occurs.

For example, a cultural psychologist may be interested in explaining investigating how basic principles of Islam are embraced into an individual’s consciousness and personality characteristics. In general the major focus of cultural psychology is to study when, whether, and how individuals growing up in a specific culture tend to internalize that culture’s qualities. Cultural psychology prescribed the idea that mental processes are essentially the products of an interaction between individual and the culture.

Goals of Cross Cultural Psychology

There are three goals of cross-cultural Psychology:

Transport and Test Goal

The transport and test goal was presented by Whiting who argued that we do cross-cultural psychology research by utilizing data from “several peoples throughout the world to test hypothesis concerning individual behavior.

This first goal of cross cultural psychology has been called the transport and test goal by Berry and Dasen. Psychologists find out the validity of their findings in other culture setting. They transport their present hypotheses and findings to other cultural settings in order to test their applicability and validity in other (and, eventually, in all) groups of human beings. For instance, we may ask whether it is everywhere true that “practice makes perfect” (performance improves over trials in a study of learning), or that “antisocial behavior is a normal part of adolescence”.

Exploring Other Cultures

While we may be unsuccessful to find the similar results when pursuing the first goal, we could come back simply from our study in the other culture with the conclusion that there were no performance effects in social problems or learning in adolescence. Although, this second goal of cross cultural psychology makes it clear that we should go afar such a failure to generalize or replicate, and find out the reasons for failure, or seek alternative ways.

Formation of the Universal Psychology

This third goal of cross-cultural psychology is important because of the clear possibility that, in pursuing our first goal, we will find limits to the validity of our existing psychological knowledge, and that in pursuing our second goal, we will find some novel psychological phenomena that require to be taken into account in a more common psychological theory.

In Short
Cross cultural psychology is the study that involves comparisons. It is the study of differences and similarities in human psychological functioning in several cultural and ethnocultural groups. Examinations in cross cultural psychology are not made on the basis of single observation. Its first goal of has been called the transport and test goal, psychologists find out the validity of their findings in other culture setting. In second goal psychologists find out the reasons of failure of their findings. In third goal psychologists make a universal psychology.

Different Approaches On Cross Cultural Psychology

Cross-cultural psychologists utilize various approaches to examine human activities in several cultural settings. Let us now consider several of them.

Evolutionary Approach

Evolutionary Approach is a theoretical model that search the ways in which evolutionary end factors affect individual behavior and thus lay a natural foundation for individual culture. This theoretical model claims that common biological laws of behavior are accurately suited as a basic explanation of individual behavior. Culture is just a form of existence that provides for basic individual needs and subsequent goals. According to the evolutionary approach, the main goal of human beings is survival.

Sociological Approach

This is a common view of individual behavior that focuses on wide social structures that impact society as a whole, and eventually its individuals. Various prominent sociological theories have had a extreme influence on scientific and comparative understanding of individual behavior in cultural contexts. Overall, these theories demonstrate that society exists objectively, aside from individual experience. Specific social forces shape the behavior of huge social groups, and human beings develop and adapt their individual responses in accordance to the demands and pressures of huge social groups and institutions. Thus culture is both a product of human activity and its main forming factor.

Structural-Functional Approach

The structural-functional approach views society as a interconnected or complex system. Consider the human body as an instance, where all of our organs, limbs, and other parts all have their own individual functions but also work together to form a complete functioning system. Structural-functional theory presents that culture functions as the structure in society that exists to meet human requirements.

Social-Conflict Approach

The social-conflict approach given by Karl Marx presents that cultural characteristics always benefit some individuals of a society more than others. This approach is all about the inequality and presents that laws and norms that are formed as part of a culture reflect the interests of the most powerful persons of society.

Observations in Cross cultural Psychology

There are some observations in cross cultural psychology and these are following:

Naturalistic Observation

If you are observing people’s behavior in their natural environments (for example, on the streets of Lahore and Bombay) with little or no personal interference, this observation is called naturalistic observation. Identifiable and measurable variables should be used in a scientific, cross-cultural observation. An instance of cross-cultural observation could be a study of different walking patterns in various countries in which the researcher had no influence on how fast the individuals walked on the street. Spontaneous observation is biased most of the time, and the observer’s attitudes can have an influence on the results of observation.

Laboratory Observation

In the laboratory observation, the participants are brought in, and you—as a psychologist— design particular situations or prepare a set of stimuli and then ask the subjects to respond. The utilization of this method needs the researcher to display two important characteristics: patience and skepticism. One question should be asked persistently: “Did I observe everything about the studied problem, or is there anything else hidden from me?”

Survey Methods

In cross-cultural Surveys are, the most general technique of data collection. In a general survey, the researcher asks the participant to express an opinion regarding a specific topic, issue, or issues. survey could be open-ended and, more generally, multiple-choice questions. Open-ended questions give participants some freedom to express themselves, to describe many shades of their feelings and thoughts. Although, such answers are not easy to interpret quantitatively. Moreover, some participants—small children or people with little language competency or those who are afraid to give away information about themselves—have some problem articulating their ideas. Multiple-choice questions, however easier to analyze, also limit the choice of an answer for the respondent.

Experimental Studies

In experimental studies you put randomly assigned participants in specific experimental conditions. By changing these conditions, you try to detect particular changes in the subjects’ attitudes, behaviors, emotions, and so on. In an experiment, the condition(s) that are controlled, that is, can be changed by researcher, are called the independent variable(s). The aspect of human activity that is studied and expected to change under impact of the independent variable is called the dependent variable. As an experimenter, you control the independent variable: you alter the conditions of the experiment.

Focus-Group Methodology

Focus-group methodology is used extremely both in marketing and academic research. The principal benefit of this method is the opportunity to analyze gender, social, and ethnic discourse on some issues in depth: for instance, whether a specific fashion product would have any success among a particular ethnic group or whether a psychotherapeutic procedure would be “working” for various cultural groups. The most general use of this method is a procedure in which a group responds to certain social, political, or marketing messages. The general focus group contains 7–10 participants. Based on the goal of particularly research, the group could be either heterogeneous or homogeneous (ethnically, nationally, professionally, etc.)

Summary
Evolutionary Approach search the ways in which evolutionary end factors affect individual behavior. Sociological approach focuses on wide social structures that impact society as a whole. The structural-functional approach views society as a interconnected or complex system. The social-conflict approach presents that cultural characteristics always benefit some individuals of a society more than others. There are also some important observations in cross cultural psychology.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions:

What does cross cultural psychology focus on?

Cross-cultural psychology is defined as the study of differences and similarities in behavior among human beings who have developed in different cultures. The search for relationships between cultural context and person behavior is carried out within three general frames of reference.

Why do we study cross cultural psychology?

Cross-cultural psychology is basically a branch of psychology that looks at how cultural factors impact human behavior. Cross-cultural psychology is also rising as an increasingly essential topic as researchers strive to comprehend both the differences and similarities among people of several cultures throughout the world.

Why is cross cultural important?

Cross-cultural communication has become tactically essential to companies due to the growth of global technology, business, and the Internet. This kind of communication includes an understanding of how people from different cultures communicate, speak, and perceive the world around them.

Why are personality psychologists interested in cross cultural differences?

Psychologists are fascinated in cross-cultural differences for three good reasons. Understanding cultural differences is necessary for increasing international understanding for assessing the degree to which psychology applies to people around the world for appreciating the possible varieties of human experience.

Conclusion

Cross cultural psychology is the study of differences and similarities in human psychological functioning in several cultural and ethnocultural groups. It is the study that involves comparisons .It is also the study of the relationships between biological variables and socio-cultural, ecological and psychological variables; and of ongoing changes in these variables. Examinations in cross cultural psychology are not made on the basis of single observation. Its first goal has been called the transport and test goal, psychologists find out the validity of their findings in other culture setting. If the findings of researcher in other setting are not valid then in second goal researcher find out the reasons of failure of their findings. In third goal researcher make a universal psychology.

Evolutionary Approach search the ways in which evolutionary end factors affect individual behavior. Sociological approach focuses on wide social structures that impact society as a whole. The structural-functional approach views society as a interconnected or complex system. The social-conflict approach presents that cultural characteristics always benefit some individuals of a society more than others. There are also some important observations in cross cultural psychology and these are:

  • Naturalistic Observation

  • Laboratory Method

  • Survey Method

  • Experimental Studies

  • Focus-Group Methodology

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I would like to add on to this beautiful article according the sociological conflict perspective with a short overview of it.

Conflict perspective was first introduced by Karl Marx. According to this theory the world has limited resources and due to these limited resources the societies come into conflict with each other. The one who holds power and domination is the one who rules over the society and maintains social order and the power is held by the rich and wealthy people of society and they can use their powers negatively against the poor and powerless members of society. Due to this reason the members of society are in conflict with each other for maintaining their status and wealth to have the power over others.

“According to the conflict perspective of society the economic interests of different groups clash with each other e.g. a state is in clash with small unions one says to increase the pay while other refuses to do so.”

Sociological experts think that societies are constantly adapting, in which conflict is a permanent feature. The word "Conflict” does not necessarily mean utter violence; it includes tension, hostility, competition, and disagreement over goals and values.
This change of conflict is not occasional rather it is a continuous process that is changing the societies rapidly. The conflict perspective is inevitable.
Conflict in a society is between the elite. Classes of society. They can be between the powerful and the wealthy who are the leading personnel of society. The conflict is between the haves and haves due to which poor laborers are exploited

Dynamics (According to conflict perspective)

The unequal distribution of income is a major issue in many countries, mostly in developing countries and in Pakistan it has been the cause of conflict since its birth. In Pakistan the inequality is rising rapidly which is the major cause of conflict between masses. The conflict is arising in Pakistan due to difference in the income patterns, employment rates, difference in resources, social status etc. the difference in the lifestyle, and the job opportunities in the rural and urban cities of Pakistan cause class conflict, as people living in urban areas enjoy lavish lifestyles and when people from rural areas shift to urban areas they are considered in lower status by those living in urban areas with a luxury lifestyle.
Major effects on Pakistan:

Feudalism:

• The Feudal culture in Pakistan is among the major reasons of class conflict. The rich has made the system work for themselves only.

Conflict between classes:

• There is a conflict of class in Pakistan due to which poor people start doing crimes to achieve the same lavish lifestyle as of the rich members of society. The Pakistani government is sleeping and it is unable to solve the income differences because the government itself is enjoying the monopoly.

Unequal distribution of wealth:

• The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and due to this the conflict is increasing between different classes in Pakistan.

Corruption:

• Due to this hunger of status each and every individual is involved in corruption to achieve a higher status in Pakistan. The cultures are effected drastically as people are getting involved in the system of casts which lead to massive aggression of families against other families which continues for decades.