Editorial Cross, cultural psychology

by | Feb 6, 2024 | 0 comments

Editorial Huib Wursten

Cross-cultural psychology and psychiatry are interdisciplinary fields that examine the influence of culture on psychological and psychiatric phenomena

Frequently, it is assumed that, in principle, people are basically the same everywhere.

This is mostly assumed by the so-called “Weird” people. Weird stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. 

Most leading research is done by Western scholars among Western people.  For a very long time, economists, psychologists, and sociologists, especially from the Anglo-Saxon countries (USA, UK, Australia, N. Zealand), based their arguments and findings on ‘evidence-based approaches’ without considering the origin and gender of the people in their samples. 

Evan Watters concluded in ‘We aren’t the World’: “Economists and psychologists worked with the convenient assumption that their job was to study the human mind stripped of culture. it was agreed that the human brain is genetically comparable around the globe, so human hardwiring for much behavior, perception, and cognition should then be universal.)

In the last decade, the insight that these assumptions create a bias is gaining ground. Several examples of the problematic elements of these assumptions can be found.  More and more research is done to discover differences in gender, ethnic origin, or culture. 

A 2008 survey of the top six psychology journals dramatically shows how common that assumption was: more than 96 percent of the subjects tested in psychological studies from 2003 to 2007 were Westerners — with nearly 70 percent from the United States alone. Put another way: 96 percent of human subjects in these studies came from countries that represent only 12 percent of the world’s population.” 

The papers in this special aim to explore cultural variations in psychological processes and diagnostic practices across cultures; by addressing these issues, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers can enhance their understanding and promote culturally sensitive approaches. 

The focus of the papers ranges from cultural variations in cognition and perception to diagnostic practices across cultures. 

Geert Hofstede defined culture as the subconscious “programming” of the human mind. As a consequence, it is important to look at cultural variations in parenting and child development. 

Parenting practices vary across cultures, impacting expectations of what defines “good parenting”.  One of the articles in this special analyzes this in “Mothering away from Motherland”

Other articles show, for example, significant cultural differences in individualistic cultures (e.g., Western societies) versus collectivistic cultures (e.g., East Asian societies) in terms of values, self-construal, and social behavior. Individualistic cultures prioritize personal goals and independence, while collectivistic cultures emphasize group harmony and interdependence.


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