Cross-Cultural Psychology: Definition and Meaning

Every community or society lives in particular kind socio-cultural environment. And, all such socio-cultural environments are different from each other. Likewise, an individual living in a society, has unique behavioural pattern. Human behavior norms and experiences—which were established and evolved in varied environments—could also vary from group to group. Cross-cultural psychology investigates these types of differences (and, of course, commonalities).

What is Cross-Cultural Psychology?

Cultural influences on human psychology are the subject of cross-cultural psychology, a critical and comparative study. Two key components of this definition should be noted. This field is comparative, to begin with. Any cross-cultural psychology research must use a minimum of two samples, each of which must reflect a minimum of two different populations, to make valid results. Second, the study of cross-cultural psychology cannot be separated from critical thinking since it inevitably includes comparisons, and making comparisons calls for a specific set of critical abilities.

The study of cross-cultural psychology focuses at psycho-social diversity and its underlying causes of it. Cross-cultural psychology, in particular, investigates the connections between cultural norms and individual’s behavior as well as the ways in which some human behaviors are influenced by many, sometimes even disparate, social and cultural influences. Cross-cultural psychology makes an effort to identify psychological differences across groups as well as psychological phenomena that are often shared by all individuals and social groups.

History of Cross-Cultural Psychology

The study of cross-cultural psychology helps to understand many aspects of an individual in particular and entire society in general. Researchers of this field work to comprehend both the distinctions and the commonalities among people from different cultures across the world. Interestingly, the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) was founded in 1972, since then, this it has expanded and advanced in many terms. Many of the psychologists and also researchers of other fields, such sociology, political science, etc. are now looking into how behavior varies between diverse cultures around the world.

Western researchers and experts surprised whether many of the facts and concepts traditionally thought to be universal would apply to civilizations outside of these places after focusing on European and North American studies for many years.

Based on this, cross-cultural psychologists contend that many findings regarding human cognition and behavior might only apply to particular populations. It is crucial for academics to take a close look at individuals from many cultures in order to create a larger, fuller knowledge of people that can be applied to a wider variety of cultural circumstances.

Despite the fact that there is a substantial prejudice against the West in research, data shows that this bias still exists today. A study found that almost 90% of psychological research participants come from Western, developed nations, with 60% of them being Americans.

Cross-Cultural Psychology's Uses

Students interested in other psychological areas may decide to additionally concentrate on cross-cultural psychology because it covers a wide variety of issues. For instance, a child psychologist may research the effects of various cultural approaches to childrearing on development. Teachers, educators, and curriculum designers who develop multicultural education classes and materials can benefit from cross-cultural psychology by understanding more about how cultural variations impact student learning, achievement, and motivation

Case Studies with Actual Applications

Over the past few decades, cross-cultural psychology has been utilized in (and influenced) numerous, different sectors of human care.

  • Narrative approach in psychotherapy – "A community of people with similar worldviews might be thought of as a culture" (Howard, 1991). As stories capture the core of human cognition and cultural context, they may be a valuable rehabilitation technique. Psychotherapists can better relate to their patients and comprehend the formation of their identities by using narrative.

  • Multicultural counselling and therapy – The study of cross-cultural psychology benefits mental healthcare. Systems of care must, in fact, adjust to cultural complexity if they are to provide effective and acceptable services (Gielen, Draguns, & Fish, 2008).

    To enhance service delivery, it is crucial to start with an awareness of biases and privilege, then develop a profound grasp of the cultural implications on well-being and suffering (Gielen et al., 2008).

  • Learning and Teaching – Cross-cultural psychology has been included in educational psychology to inform it and has resulted in several instructional changes. Researchers and educators are encouraged to examine the biases of educational institutions at all levels in light of a more global perspective (Watkins, 2000).

  • Speech Therapy – Cultural variables invariably have an impact on how speech develops. The understanding of children's needs and challenges obtained through cross-cultural psychology also increases clinicians' and evaluators' awareness of potential bias (Carter et al., 2005).

Impact of Cross-Cultural Psychology

Not only cross-cultural psychology, but many other branches of psychology also focus on how social factors such as family, friends, and other people affect behavior. Many people, however, fail to consider the significant influence that culture may have on specific human behaviors.

For a better understanding of the universality of various psychological phenomena, cross-cultural psychology research and the use of more representative and diverse samples in psychology research are essential. Researchers may be better able to comprehend the underlying effects and causes if they are aware of how these aspects manifest in distinct cultural contexts.


The critical and comparative study and analysis of cultural influences on the human psyche is the major study area of cross-cultural psychology. So, cross-cultural psychology is a comparative social science that derives its findings from a minimum of two samples that represent a minimum of two cultural groups. Comparing things calls for a certain set of critical thinking abilities.

Updated on: 27-Apr-2023


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