PART 2- If money and time were not an issue, what emerging issues would you like to research in multicultural psychology?
PART 3- Review this week’s course materials and learning activities, and reflect on your learning so far this week. Respond to one or more of the following prompts in one to two paragraphs:
- Provide citation and reference to the material(s) you discuss. Describe what you found interesting regarding this topic, and why.
- Describe how you will apply that learning in your daily life, including your work life.
- Describe what may be unclear to you, and what you would like to learn.
8 Some Implications for Research and Practice
[C]ultural meanings, practices, norms, and social institutions … constitute the matrix in which are embedded the intentions, rules, practices, and activities through which people live their lives (Fiske, Kitayama, Markus & Nisbett, 1998, p. 917).
What goals or objectives must our profession and society adopt to become truly multicultural in vision, values, and practice? (Sue, Bingham, Porche-Burke & Vasquez, 1999, p. 1067).
This final chapter is the most difficult one to write. The quotations above suggest the complexity of understanding individual behavior within a cultural matrix. With the broad definition of culture proposed in this book, applicable to all significant groups that meet the criteria, complexity increases. To take seriously the multicultural nature of persons is to raise theoretical and empirical questions that are very difficult to answer. As a science and profession, we are not accustomed to thinking routinely and easily of individuals in this way. Our discipline will be enriched, however, if we can design creative new research strategies to address these questions.
The implications for practice may be least problematic because, whether in counseling, therapy, or education, theoretical emphasis has long been on taking into account “the whole person.” And in these areas, there is typically one-on-one interaction between persons – between client and mental health worker, or between student and teacher. An individual’s unique social identities or cultural memberships will be evident in behavior – overt or subtle. Whether they are recognized, acknowledged, respected and used positively in the actual practice of counseling, therapy, or education (beyond statements of theory) is a central concern. In research, a multicultural perspective presents a different set of interrelated problems pertaining to sampling, study design, methods, data analysis and interpretation.
Each participant or respondent in an investigation brings to it unique experiences and beliefs, perceptions, and response potentials that reflect far greater individual complexity and far more cultural memberships than most researchers are prepared to identify. We agree with Shields (2008, p. 304) that “[t]he facts of our lives reveal that there is no single identity category that satisfactorily describes how we respond to our social environment or are responded to by others.” We also agree with Mann and Kelley (1997, p. 392) that “knowledge is and should be situated in people’s diverse social locations.… [and] grounded in the social biography of … the observed.” Such agreement, however, does not lead easily or directly to researchable empirical questions that can be investigated in a practical way. Multiple issues and problems face the researcher who is accustomed to obtaining demographic descriptions of participants that are usually limited to age, ethnicity, and gender, or to the single-identity or group-membership category viewed as an independent variable.
A viable strategy is to begin, first, with a stringent analysis of the dependent variable(s) under investigation. Suppose, for example, we are investigating the voting choice made in the 2008 presidential election. As West and Fenstermaker (1996) caution, gender, ethnicity, and social class are only three ways of exploring difference in social life. Beyond these are the possible influences of respondents’ age, political culture, geography, family status, and other social identities found to be important in prior research on voting behavior. Instead of treating each of these as separable independent variables, a bundling approach may be more revealing and thus yield more accurate and reliable information. As noted by Frable (1997, p. 154) most research “focuses on the personal meanings of these social categories one at a time.” But a politically conservative middle-aged middle-class gay Latino man living in Florida, for example, may behave in a way that reflects more than the sum of his individual identities.
I have no easy answer to the question posed by Shields (2008, p. 310) about how to “formulate research questions that allow for and can reveal the responses of individuals as a reflection of the identities that form them.” I am, convinced, however, that we must collectively make the effort to devise and propose various possibilities. We will have to construct strategies for empirical research that will reveal the salience and influence of diverse cultural memberships and how they operate simultaneously in intersection (West & Fenstermaker, 1996). This will probably mean giving more careful attention to the design and analysis of qualitative studies.
In everyday interactions we are often surprised when persons do not behave as we assume or expect prototypical members of their cultures to act. One study by Mendes and colleagues found more than just surprise, but anxiety and defensive behavior, when participants were introduced to partners who were Asian American and spoke with southern drawls (cf. Munsey, 2007). Similarly, we may know that African American culture is not monolithic (Asumah & Perkins, 2000) but Black Republicans are disorienting. So are gay (“log cabin”) Republicans, and so are women who choose not to bear or rear children, or American Indians who are not environmentalists. Researchers must move well beyond accepted assumptions in the investigations we design and the information we hope to obtain. For example, Akom (2000) describes a subset of urban inner-city African Americans for whom identity is ghettocentric and tied to the ‘hood, not just to skin color. What matters most to them is experience, social class, and neighborhood. To organize research data around ethnicity without understanding such within-group variations and taking them into account will yield faulty or incomplete or inadequate information of little predictive value.
Warner (2008) cautions that explicit care be taken in choosing those categories of identity on which the research questions are best focused and also in choosing which are to be collapsed or ignored. These decisions will be influenced by theoretical concerns, by new hypotheses, and prior research. The new formulations which can guide research may well come from critical theory which posits that we all are embedded in a system of power relations. Thus, the politically conservative middle-aged middle-class gay Latino voter mentioned earlier is both advantaged (by gender and social class) and disadvantaged (by minority ethnicity and sexual identity) in comparison with others in his immediate and distant environment. Questions posed to study participants about their perceptions of such power considerations in relation to the realities of their daily lives may add considerably to the predictive utility of an investigation’s findings.
Qualitative research and case studies may be more amenable to capturing the influence of multiple cultural memberships on behavior than the traditional quantitative research of experiments and surveys. But while the former are more likely to encourage respondents to reveal more of their complex and unique wholeness, the qualitative researcher, too, may not tap into the cultural communities that are most important to the research participant, or most relevant to the research question, by not asking the right questions. For example, a heterosexual African American woman who is part of a study about religion and spirituality may not ever be asked about the importance to her life of her single, never-married status. Bowleg (2008) has written convincingly about the difficulties facing qualitative researchers in attempting to capture the nuances of intersectionality, “the interdependence and mutuality of identities” (p. 316).
The avowed aim of counseling or psychotherapy is to assist individuals in coping constructively with the problems of living that are specific to their situations. This must surely necessitate recognizing an individual’s multicultural uniqueness and understanding how particular social identities intersect in the past and present contexts that are relevant to the person. An explicitly multicultural training program (Dana, Gamst & Der-Karabetian, 2008) goes beyond attention to ethnicity. It calls for “recognition of the full array of possible identity components” (p. 293) and suggests that they and their interrelations function as positive sources of strength and power.
A “cultural context” model in clinical psychology, described by Hernandez (2008) suggests, further, that it is important to take into account the structural issues in society, to identify “the current and historical impact of oppressive social forces” (p. 10) that have impacted a client’s experiences. An attempt to link interpersonal processes to larger societal institutions is seen as a goal of the therapeutic practice.
Similarly, Reid and Comas-Diaz (1990) call attention to the role of social status in mediating information and providing expectations to individuals and to those with whom they interact. “High status individuals are accepted as leaders and models; low status people are devalued and ignored” (p. 398). The personal and social consequences of status need to be recognized and taken into account in therapeutic practice. But status is not fixed. It can change with time, changed life circumstances, and situation. As Hurtado (1996, p. xii) has noted, “within certain contexts we can be victims of subordination, and within others we can be oppressors.”
Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2001), in responding to criticism of work on “positive psychology” that has ignored people of color, maintain that positive psychological goals “cut across social and cultural divides” (p. 90). But such a hypothesis requires considerable testing before it can be accepted as a valid generalization. While it is likely that most cultures contain ideas and prescriptions about what is good and what is moral and acceptable behavior (Fiske, Kitayama, Markus & Nisbett, 1998), the content of these ideas and the direction of the prescriptions are known to vary. Individual striving for material success may well be considered a positive goal to strive for within some cultural communities, while cooperative efforts toward mutual benefits are positive goals within others. Similarly, developing one’s physical strength to the maximum may not be a goal shared by those who prefer focusing on the development of their social or intellectual skills.
Assumptions about positive goals cannot be made within a counseling or clinical setting without considering social status and all the cultural memberships or identities that are most relevant and most salient. An emphasis on personal change may raise questions about maintaining or abandoning old goals and perhaps adopting others. But these goals are embedded in intersecting multicultural positions and cannot be easily understood without taking them into account.
Pedersen (1999, p. 13) recognized the “profound consequences” for our discipline that arise from a “culture centered perspective.” Others, cited throughout the pages of this book, have shared this recognition. We will need to ask new research questions, formulate different hypotheses from those tested in the past, perhaps sample smaller populations, be much more sensitive to environments and to time and place and context. In assessment, formulation of generalizations, and proposing solutions to social and individual problems, we will need to consider as much as possible the multicultural nature of persons. Flannery, Reise, and Yu (2001), for example, make the case for emerging ethnicities and point to the uniqueness of Italian Americans living in New York City or Chinese Americans in San Francisco, Irish Americans in Boston, or Chicanos in Los Angeles.
Questions focused on ethnicity or gender or social class need to be reformulated so that these identities in combination are seen as more reliable predictors of different forms and different levels of social or political action. Under what conditions, if any, for example, will low-income heterosexual White urban men behave or react like middle-income African American women? The majority of both groups voted for Obama for president. What research would have led to this prediction? What strategies to increase union membership will be most effective with middle-aged Latinas, older Southern White men, young Midwestern white collar workers? How will the strategies differ or be much the same?
The newest mission statement for the American Psychological Association, adopted by the Council of Representatives (Farberman, 2008), speaks of advancing “the creation, communication, and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives” (p. 70). To realize these objectives, we will need to do the best we can in searching for generalizations across persons and across cultures. Generality across settings, times, and populations, however, cannot be assumed (Tebes, 2000). We may well find an “essential sameness” among human beings” (Guyll & Madon, 2000, p. 1510) in capacities and needs. But when we study attitudes, beliefs, skills, values, social perceptions, and expectations, we will inevitably be compelled to respect and understand diversity and the multicultural uniqueness of individual persons.
29 Cross-Cultural Psychology in Perspective: What Does the Future Hold?
Kenneth D. Keith
The field of cross-cultural psychology, as embodied in research and teaching, has come a long way since its modern era inception early in the twentieth century. From an early fascination with so-called primitive cultures, and how they differed from those researchers considered more advanced, investigators have moved toward a much more nuanced approach to the study not only of differences and similarities, but of the complex interplay between culture and behavior as well.
As the authors of the chapters in this volume have illustrated, cross-cultural researchers have explored a wide range of psychological processes, principles, and phenomena representing the spectrum of interests and subject matters of the discipline. From basic research methods to complex social interactions and organizations, cross-cultural researchers continue to advance our understanding. Yet there remain major issues for cross-cultural psychologists of the future. A host of serious challenges faces the world’s cultures, and many of these challenges are candidates for psychological and behavioral understanding and solutions. Among these are the cultural conflicts engendered by political and governmental differences; major ecological and environmental problems; distribution of resources necessary for sustaining human communities; and the implications of technological change.
World Conflict—Can Psychology Help?
Violent conflict between cultural groups has existed throughout human history (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005), and researchers have conducted studies aimed toward illuminating psychological principles that could aid understanding of international events and the kinds of decisions that lead to conflict. Bourne, Healy, and Beer (2003), for example, used various priming strategies to establish cross-cultural conflict scenarios, including the existence of hypothetical peace treaties, and tested the level of conflict responses of young American adults. Although these researchers found that dominant individuals were more aggressive than others in the face of the conflict scenarios, and that there are differences in response for men and women, they acknowledged the need to take such research beyond the laboratory, to the international context in the real world. Despite its limitations, their work illustrates the potential contributions of psychology to cross-cultural relations in a world that is too often threatening and violent.
One form of violence that seems to cry out for cross-cultural understanding is the behavior of those individuals whom members of Western and Asian cultures have labeled terrorists. Several countries, including Bali, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the U.S. have seen violent attacks in which the attacker deliberately dies (Locicero & Sinclair, 2008). Social scientists have offered explanations for such violent behavior, ranging from the individual level to the community or cultural level. However, psychological analyses are sometimes contradictory, prompting Locicero and Sinclair to develop a psychological model including recognition not only of politics, but also the religious and ideological backdrop of terrorism. In the context of such developmental and ecological approaches, cross-cultural knowledge of development, cognition, altruism, personality, and social processes will surely have a role to play.
Psychologists have long understood the importance of tolerance for differences, but acceptance of cultural difference is too often overcome by anger, hate, fear, ethnocentrism, and nationalism (Hatfield & Rapson, 2005). A key to effective relations and communication across cultures is the ability of individuals to control negative feelings and judgments about others—the ability researchers call emotional regulation (Matsumoto & Juang, 2008). In a related vein, Smith (2004) proposed that one of psychology’s greatest contributions to international relations could be empathy—an understanding of the thoughts and feelings of others. Despite the fact that progress toward intercultural understanding sometimes may seem unattainable, well over a half century ago psychologists banded together to make a statement about peaceful relations among cultures (Smith, 1999). Signed by some of the most prominent psychologists of the time, The psychologists’ manifesto: Human nature and the peace: A statement by psychologists (Allport et al., 1945) identified a number of tenets that remain timely today. They included:
· War can be avoided: War is not born in men; it is built into men.
· Racial, national, and group hatreds can, to a considerable degree, be controlled.
· Condescension toward “inferior” groups destroys our chances for a lasting peace.
· Liberated and enemy peoples must participate in planning their own destiny.
· The root desires of the common people of all lands are the safest guide to framing a peace.
· The trend of human relationships is toward ever wider units of collective security (Smith, 1999, p. 5).
World events of the six decades since they issued the Manifesto might seem to suggest these psychologists had little influence on cultural relations. Yet the possibility that psychology could contribute to understanding and reduction of conflict still might seem self-evident. However, Ratner (2006) observed that cultural psychologists have seemed disinclined to include political issues as a part of their studies of culture. And historically, out-group enemies have often served to preserve in-group cohesion (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). Nevertheless, psychologists have persisted, studying the psychosocial consequences of violence, terrorism, and disasters for children (Williams, 2007), the relation between international conflict and social identity (Kolbe, Boos, & Gurtner, 2005), and moral characteristics of rescuers, bystanders, and Nazis during the Holocaust (Monroe, 2008), among many other correlates of intercultural conflict. The need for continuing cross-cultural research and teaching seems clear.
Further prospects for cultural conflict may be found in the connection between cultures and the environmental limits of the earth, and in the vast global inequalities that exist among the countries of the world—inequalities in, for example, income, nutrition, education, and healthcare. For instance, billions of people, about two thirds of the earth’s population, have no safe sanitation facilities, more than a billion lack access to safe drinking water, and nearly two million children die each year as a result of these conditions (George, 2008). To those living in the industrial world, these resources are necessities, taken for granted by many—yet modern culture would not exist without them (see Johnson, 2006), and increasing world population will only bring the likelihood of more cultural competition for limited supplies of such natural resources as water. Life in the least affluent countries is especially difficult for people with disabilities, where no more than 10% of such individuals may receive any kind of human services (McConkey & O’Toole, 2000).
Similarly, while obesity has become a significant problem in some industrialized countries, at least a quarter of the world’s population lacks adequate daily nutrition (Bryjak & Soroka, 1997). The increasing human population and the efforts of that population to develop the resources necessary to sustain it have resulted not only in conflict between cultures, but also in degradation of the natural environment. Thus, in developing countries, increasing population has produced massive deforestation, including destruction of millions of acres of rain forests each year (Bryjak & Soroka, 1997).
Cross-cultural researchers have begun to investigate behaviors and attitudes in the realm of environmental and ecological concerns. This work has included, for example, studies of motives concerning environmental issues (Milfont, Duckitt, & Cameron, 2006), water conservation (Corral-Verdugo, Carrus, Bonnes, Moser, & Sinha, 2008), and environmental values (Reser & Bentrupperbumer, 2005). Lest we assume that such environmental problems and conflicts exist only in developing countries, we need look only as far as heavily populated and industrialized regions of the U.S. to see major cultural conflicts over issues like availability of water and use of land (Walters, 2009). The time has surely come for a psychology that not only describes cultural differences, but also grapples in a serious way with the underlying causes of such differences as we move toward improved understanding of cultural and societal relations (Heine & Norenzayan, 2006).
I remember a fascinating conversation with my grandfather. He told me about his earliest recollections of the first locomotive when it arrived in his small town; the barnstorming airplanes that came to local fairs and festivals; driving to his wedding in a horse-drawn wagon; and the wonder he felt when, later in his life, he watched on television as the first humans landed on the surface of the moon. My grandfather’s story reflects enormous cultural and technological change occurring within the lifetime of a single person. The lives of billions of people have changed in important ways as a result of changes in technology, transforming how we do business, how we educate our young, and even how we interact interpersonally.
For many of the world’s people, technology, particularly as embodied in the computerized, digital realm of modern industrialized societies, has brought convenience, access to information, and greater affluence. On the other hand, according to Argyle (1999), heavy television watching is actually associated with reduced levels of happiness, perhaps suggesting that not all technology produces good outcomes for people, even in rich societies.
Many of the world’s people, of course, lack access to technology. According to a report published by the International Monetary Fund (Jaumotte, Lall, & Papageorgiou, 2008), wider access to education is one key to a broader ability to take advantage of the opportunities associated with technology. But technology may be a double-edged sword; although income inequality (between “haves” and “have nots”) has decreased somewhat in sub-Saharan Africa, in many other places around the world, including most industrialized nations, it has increased in the past two decades (Chen & Ravallion, 2004, 2007). This increasing inequality in income, Jaumotte et al. (2008) reported, has come as a result of the impact of technological change. And, although inequality of resources may not lead inevitably to cultural conflict, there is a need, especially in developing countries, for reliable, high-quality data from researchers studying the issue (Cramer, 2005).
The issues I have mentioned in this section represent only a few of the pressing challenges facing the people of planet Earth in the twenty-first century. As long as we continue to exhibit the universal tendency to elevate in-groups and denigrate out-groups, humans will experience cultural conflict. Although today we would see many of his views as outmoded, Sumner (1906), writing more than a century ago, discussed these issues, and others—war, land, inequality, racial divides, women’s roles, economy, and more—that continue to trouble us today. It is no doubt true, as Cole (2006) concluded, that psychologists cannot solve all the world’s problems, but, Cole pointed out, if they work with others—from different cultures and different disciplines—psychologists can certainly be contributors to solutions for the common problems of humanity. There is no lack of opportunity, no dearth of challenges, for the budding psychologist with an interest in culture.
Where Have We Been?
The authors of the earlier chapters in this book have provided a variety of cultural perspectives from which to view many of the subject matters of twenty-first- century psychology. These have included such broad concepts as universal ethnocentric tendencies, basic research methods underlying cross-cultural research, the wide scope of human development, the culture–cognition connection, the roles of women across cultures, culture and emotion, and human health and well-being. Some other chapters have a more specific or focused emphasis: educational assessment, the teaching of mathematics, historical aspects of research in perception, sexual minorities, psychotherapy, disabilities, conceptions of self, attribution theory, attractiveness, and African organizational styles. The authors of chapters on these topics, and more, have demonstrated that cross-cultural psychology spans a fascinating range of theoretical, empirical, and applied interests.
Although we have used the term cross-cultural psychology as an inclusive label, these chapters contain ideas consistent with the perspectives identified by previous writers as cross-cultural (Segall, Dasen, Berry, & Poortinga, 1999), cultural (Heine, 2008), and indigenous (Shams, 2002). And they touch upon aspects of all the domains that Kagitçibas¸i and Berry (1989) suggested cross-cultural psychology should encompass: theory and method, biology and evolution, perception and cognition, social psychology, values and attitudes, personality, gender, human development, mental health and therapy, ethnic psychology and acculturation, and work and organizational psychology. Further, the authors of this volume share at least three core values:
1. 1 They couch their work in research-based findings arising from empirical investigation.
2. 2 They assign culture a central role in their research and their interpretations.
3. 3 They are committed to broadening cultural understanding, and to strengthening cross-cultural psychology, through teaching.
The last of these, teaching, holds promise not only for development and communication of the content of cross-cultural psychology, but also for cultivation of the next generation of psychologists who will place culture at the fore in their own future work. What can we learn from psychologists who have made the teaching of cross-cultural psychology their central emphasis?
Teaching Cross-Cultural Psychology
As you have seen in Chapter 1 of this volume, teaching in American psychology has too often been limited in its scope, with its focus placed largely on white European Americans. Western psychologists have too often assumed that their findings were universally valid (e.g., Arnett, 2009), leading critics to argue that mainstream psychology has been mechanistic, individualistic, and acultural (Misra & Gergen, 1993). The cultural limitations of Western psychology are not new; Albee (1988), for example, pointed out the ethnocentrism and prejudice present in the work of early leaders in the field, including Francis Galton, G. Stanley Hall, and Robert Yerkes, among others. Despite longstanding neglect of culture in the teaching of undergraduate psychology, Segall, Lonner, and Berry (1998) argued that cross- cultural psychology is a scholarly field that should find its place in the curriculum.
A number of teachers of psychology have worked to develop pedagogical approaches to effectively teach cross-cultural psychology. As early as 1975, Brislin wrote about teaching the subject, and Cushner (1987) characterized cross-cultural psychology as the “missing link” in teaching, suggesting that students’ understanding of culture may be impaired by their lack of experience, and that, conversely students who have traveled abroad may lack the conceptual foundation to properly appreciate the experience. At about the same time, Cole (1984) observed that cross-cultural psychology was “often treated as a slightly miscreant stepchild, or perhaps as just a specialized method” (p. 1000). Cushner described the use of scenarios presenting students with depictions of incidents involving people from different cultures. This is a technique that Brislin, Cushner, Cherrie, and Yong (1986) called culture-assimilator training. Participants chose from among possible alternative responses to the incidents, and received feedback about their choices— resulting in improved knowledge and empathy.
Goldstein (1995) offered guidelines to psychology teachers for integration of culture and diversity into the curriculum. Specifically, she recommended:
1. 1 avoiding the marginalization of cross-cultural materials and perspectives
2. 2 raising awareness about bias within the cross-cultural literature
3. 3 avoiding the creation or reinforcement of stereotypes
4. 4 using accurate terminology to make cross-cultural comparisons
5. 5 distinguishing between etics and emics
6. 6 creating a classroom environment in which diversity is valued. (pp. 228–231)
Cross-cultural teachers, Goldstein argued, could be transformative agents in moving the field of psychology toward recognition of human diversity and preparing students to more effectively combat bias and stereotyping in research and practice.
Hill (2002) further emphasized the importance of integration of cross-cultural perspectives in the teaching of psychology, not only noting the limitations of an ethnocentric American psychology, but also suggesting that the field would suffer the loss of multicultural and international students who might choose not to enter a field they perceived lacking in ethnic and cultural diversity. Hill’s message echoed that of Albert (1988), who described the neglect of the concept of culture, and Romero (1988), who advocated for teaching emphasizing ethnic psychology.
More recently, Abrahamson (2009) described a variety of assignments designed to increase student awareness of culture and to bring students into contact with people of other cultures in meaningful ways. Abrahamson concluded that students gained heightened awareness and that faculty members reported improvement in students’ ability to interpret research across cultures. Goldstein (2008) presented a large collection of teaching activities, demonstrations, and assignments similarly intended to aid student understanding and application of cultural concepts in psychology courses, and Phan (2009) reported the use of a variety of games and simulations to engage students with cultural issues.
Clearly, teachers of psychology are increasingly making culture an integral part of their courses, and courses in cross-cultural psychology seem to be increasing in number in curricula (Hill, 2002). And, in addition to the aforementioned teaching activities and resources, such groups as the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (http://teachpsych.org) and the Center for Cross-Cultural Research (http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~culture/) offer a variety of materials to support the teaching of culture and diversity. Cross-cultural psychology has indeed become a field meriting a place in the curriculum of the discipline (Segall et al., 1998).
In an article prepared for an undergraduate student audience, Lonner (2000), a pioneering figure in cross-cultural psychology, emphasized the availability of resources, and the exciting promise yet to come in twenty-first-century psychology. He highlighted the vibrancy of the field, and the opportunities that lie ahead for students contemplating careers in psychology.
Increasingly, we live in a world made smaller by electronic communications, international travel, and multinational business. As I write this chapter, people have serious concerns about the H1N1 influenza virus—a pathogen that can spread easily from country to country as air travel facilitates rapid movement of people around the world. The people of Africa have more than 280 million mobile phones—vastly changing access of poor people to medical care, market information, and distant relatives (McPhee, 2008). The availability of information has, of course, become mind-boggling; for example, a recent Google® search using “culture” as a search term returned 187 million entries! And the interconnected components of the multinational financial system nearly collapsed in the financial crisis of 2008. These examples, as well as the ease with which international commerce has both created and displaced industrial and commercial interests, illustrate the importance of cross-cultural communication, negotiation, and understanding in the twenty-first century.
In addition to the potential for conflict at the level of governments, religions, or economies, individuals increasingly face the need to communicate and interact in their work and their travel (Brislin, 2000), with all the possibilities for misunderstanding and uncertainty inherent in such exchanges. Cross-cultural psychology is a discipline that will be important to the future of today’s students, and researchers will continue to refine and develop more useful and effective methodologies (Heine & Norenzayan, 2006; Matsumoto & Yoo, 2006).
For the near term, advocates for the teaching and development of cross-cultural psychology (e.g., Hill, 2002) are likely to continue to seek more cross-cultural courses in the curricula of psychology programs. This seems destined to be both useful and necessary. But, as we come to the conclusion of this volume, we might imagine a future in which culture would be an integral part of all teaching and research in psychology. In such a future, we would not need specialized courses to ensure consideration of cultural variables, and our psychology would be a psychology of all people, not an ethnocentric European American discipline. This is the future Segall et al. (1998) dreamed of when they wrote that
cross-cultural psychology will be shown to have succeeded when it disappears. For, when the whole field of psychology becomes truly international and genuinely intercultural—in other words, when it becomes truly a science of human behavior— cross-cultural psychology will have achieved its aims and become redundant. (p. 1108)
I hope that you, the student reader, will be a contributor to this goal.
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Albee, G. W. (1988). Foreword. In P. Bronstein & K. Quina (Eds.), Teaching a psychology of people: Resources for gender and sociocultural awareness (pp. vii–x). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Albert, R. D. (1988). The place of culture in modern psychology. In P. Bronstein & K. Quina (Eds.), Teaching a psychology of people: Resources for gender and sociocultural awareness (pp. 12–18). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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Argyle, M. (1999). Causes and correlates of happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology(pp. 353–373). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.