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Unit 1 - Historical Perspectives on the Study of Psychology and Culture

Many IACCP members who have been involved in the early activities of the Association in the 60ies have recently retired. Their recollections of events leading to the founding of IACCP are a valuable resource that needs to be preserved. These individuals, and others, have substantial files and documents from the early days, and subsequent years. All of these things are candidates for inclusion in the IACCP-sanctioned Archives Project, which seeks to collect and organize these materials, and to make them available to interested scholars.

An invited symposium at IACCP-Bremen (July, 2008) highlighted some of the aims of the Archives Project. The major goal of the symposium was to feature most of the following papers that largely examine the early history of IACCP, including some activities that preceded its foundation, and the seminal role of John Dawson and others in bringing these activities together to form the Association. Some details of the first meetings in Hong Kong and Kingston are also included.

These articles are extensively revised versions of presentations in the Bremen symposium. The presenters were Gustav Jahoda, Harry C, Triandis, John W. Berry, Walter J. Lonner, and Pieter J. D. Drenth. Marshall Segall could not attend the Bremen conference but also contributed an extended paper version of his intended presentation.

These presented views are not the only people who witnessed, in some way, the early developments that in various events and paths led to the inauguration of IACCP and other culture-oriented activities in psychology. Certainly there are others whose participation goes back to the formative years. And still others may have their own perspectives on the early years, despite the fact that they may not have lived through them.

This is an open invitation to help enlighten and educate the younger set. If deemed appropriate, submissions will be added to this collection of views on the early days of cross-cultural psychological research. Together, they can help shape activities that will be crafted and developed by future generations of psychologists who believe that culture is a crucial concept to consider in all aspects of psychology.

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Subunit 1.1 - Events Leading to the foundation of IACCP

Subunit 1.2 - History of Cross-Cultural Psychology

Unit 2 - Theoretical and Methodological Issues

This unit concerns two pillars of cross-cultural psychology: the theoretical issues on the one hand and the methodological issues on the other. Understanding of the notion of culture and research methods have been two important contributions of cross-cultural psychology to general psychology.

That culture has important implications for human psychology makes intuitive appeals, perhaps to some students of psychology more than others. In subunit 2.1 (Conceptual Issues in Psychology and Culture) we present some personal reflections of prominent cross-cultural psychologists (Harry Triandis, Gustav Jahoda, Rogelio Diza-Guerrero, and David Matsumoto) regarding how they came to be in contact with the concept of culture – how the concept of culture fascinates them but has also become an important issue in their explorations of psychology.

Contributors to subunit 2.1 also address the question of “How to conceptualize culture?” directly, taking some different approaches – for example through a functionalist view on cultural differences (Stefan Strohschneider), a comparison of theoretical approaches to morality (Diane Sunar), an analysis of cultural dimensions (Geert Hofstede), and through a comparison of cross-cultural psychology and cultural psychology (e.g., Jaan Valsiner, Carl Ratner, Douglass Price-Williams).

Given certain conceptualizations of culture, how do we proceed with our empirical investigation of culture, and how do we deal with the psychological data that we garner? Thus, in subunit 2.2 (Methodological Issues in Psychology), there are some different methodological approaches or emphases within cross-cultural psychology itself and Fons van de Vijver compares these approaches. Harry Triandis discusses his approach to analysing culture which he referred to as the Subjective Culture approach in 1972.

It is the fact of life that cross-cultural data involve both within-group and between-group variability. Peter Smith grapples with the important issue concerning the relationship between individual-level and group/collective-level analysis. Sometimes cross-cultural investigations encounter an intra-cultural variation larger than a “cross-cultural” variation, due to regional and religious differences, for example. This issue is addressed by Anu Realo and Jüri Allik. Dianne van Hemert introduces readers to two types of cross-cultural meta-analytic integration of data. Cheryl Foxcroft discusses ethical issues in cross-cultural research and testing.

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Subunit 2.1 - Conceptual Issues in Psychology and Culture

Subunit 2.2 - Methodological Issues in Psychology and Culture

Unit 3 - Indigenous Approach

This unit focuses on the ways cultural and ethnic membership shape human beliefs by emphasizing an emic perspective. The idea is to understand the knowledge, skills, and beliefs of native people in their cultural setting without imposing Western theories of psychology that are culturally bound themselves and to analyze the means by which life gains meaning and purpose for members of various cultural and ethnic groups.

While culture is usually an unconscious and pervasive influence in human experience, some groups become more aware of the meaning of their culture when others try to force changes. This was for example the case when Asian, African, Hispanic, and Native American children in the U.S. were forbidden to speak their languages in schools. Similarly, for many indigenous people around the world, their social and economic resources have been and continue to be confiscated by colonizing or dominating groups. This has necessitated conscious efforts to protect and retain the cultures of those who are so besieged. Some articles in subunit 3.1 (Perspectives from Various Ethnic and Cultural Groups) refer to the four prominent ethnic groups in the U.S., namely African Americans (James Jones), Native Americans (Beatrice Medicine), Hispanic Americans (Amado Padilla), and Asian Americans (Joyce Chu and Stanley Sue). This subunit will allow readers to consider such struggles and gain a new perspective on the significance of cultural values in daily life.

As part of such indigenous approaches, folk beliefs form part of a people's value system and culture. They reflect the customs, traditions, and mores of a group. All cultures maintain beliefs that can be labeled as folk beliefs, or common beliefs that are not necessarily grounded in scientific fact but are widely accepted as truth by most members of the group. The analysis of folk beliefs represents an interesting approach to study commonalities and cultural differences of values and their implications for the social life of group members in an emic perspective. One topic of folk belief that is highlighted in the subunit 3.2 (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) refers to the question how cultures interpret the meaning of death. The articles demonstrate the broad range of human abilities to cope with the universal fact of dying.

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Subunit 3.1 - Perspectives from Various Ethnic and Cultural Groups

Subunit 3.2 - Cultural Perspectives on Death, Dying, and Bereavement

Unit 4 - General Psychological Issues in Cultural Perspective

Contributions of cross-cultural psychology to general psychology spun a wide range. In this Unit, we present some of these important contributions. An implicit assumption of general psychology as a discipline has been that human psychological processes are fundamentally universal. Nevertheless, cross-cultural investigations of basic personal processes have revealed that there are considerable differences in these processes across distinct cultural groups, concerning affect (emotion, mood, feeling), motivation (needs, motives, desire, goals), and cognition (beliefs, language, memory, planning, decision, problem-solving). These cultural differences are highlighted in Unit 4.

Subunit 4.1 (Basic Psychological Processes and Culture) focuses on cultural differences in implicit motives (Jan Hofer & Athanasios Chasiotis), decision making (Stefan Strohschneider), planning (Dominik Güss), decision making (Dominik Güss), emotion representation and perception (Jeanette Altarriba, Dana Basnight & Tina Canary).

Subunit 4.2 (Language, Communication, and Culture) highlights the cultural differences in language, memory and communication. C-y Chiu discusses in depth on the role of language in cultural processes. Jeanette Altarriba examines the effects of bilingualism on memory and emotion expressions.

Subunit 4.3 (Intelligence, Abilities, and Creativity Across Cultures) concerns cultural differences in intelligence (Robert Sternberg), the conceptualisation of intelligence (Elias Mpofu), and in the development of creativity (Denise de Souza Fleith).

Subunit 4.4 (Personality and Values Across Cultures) covers the topic of personality and values across cultures, including the Five-Factor Model as a universal structure of personality trait (Robert McCrae), the personality factors specific to specific cultures (Tim Church & Marcia Katigbak), measurement of personality and values across cultures (Fanny Cheung & Shu Fai Cheung), the sexuality-personality links across cultures (David Schmitt), and the theory of basic human values and its application (Michael Hills).

These essays also address some critical questions concerning culture and general psychology – What aspects of psychological processes are shared generally and what aspects vary considerably across cultures? If certain psychological processes differ across cultural groups, what are the extents of their cultural variation? How can culture influence a particular process?

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Subunit 4.1 - Basic Psychological Processes and Culture

Subunit 4.2 - Language, Communication and Culture

Subunit 4.3 - Intelligence, Abilities, and Creativity Across Cultures

Subunit 4.4 - Personality and Values Across Cultures

Unit 5 - Social Psychology and Culture

Much of our behavior occurs in interaction with others. How are our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influenced by others? The others may be strangers we have never met, or people with whom we have on-going relationships. They may be members of formal groups, or members of social categories who may or may not know each other. When we are with others, we first have to define the situation, in terms of who we are in relation to each other, in order to know how to treat each other and what to expect from each other. Are we friends, relatives, or others with whom we have obligations defined by our social statuses and cultural norms? Are we strangers with whom we can engage in some positive exchange, potential enemies who must be cautious, or people whom we can safely ignore?

To make these judgments, we categorize others in social categories, such as race, nationality, gender, age, religion, and social class. We often have stereotypes about people in those categories, which can be negative or positive. These stereotypes provide the basis for our initial thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward others. We often treat people in ways that elicit responses that appear to confirm our stereotypes. And when our stereotypes are not confirmed, we often say that those people are the exceptions. Research on stereotypes and prejudice and their effects on others, is included in this unit.

People also categorize themselves, often in response to others’ categorization of them, or due to perceived attributes or desired group memberships. They thus develop various identities. These identities have implications for self-esteem, depending on whether the groups are valued or devalued by others. Research on self and identity is also included in this unit

All people have various needs, including physiological, safety, social, status, cognitive, and aesthetic needs. But cultures differ in their emphasis upon various needs and values, and differ in the ways of meeting those needs depending on the physical and social environments. For example, in crowded areas such as parts of Asia, there may be more emphasis upon group harmony. Research on social motives is included in this unit.

To meet human needs, cultures may organize social relations in different patterns, which may be described in terms of dimensions such as association-dissociation, superordination-subordination, and intimacy-formality. Research on patterns of interpersonal and intergroup relations is part of this unit.

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Subunit 5.1 - Stereotypes and Prejudice

Subunit 5.2 - Self and Identity

Subunit 5.3 - Social Motives and Behavior in Cultural Context

Subunit 5.4 - Interpersonal and Intergroup Relations

Unit 6 - Developmental Psychology and Culture

Imagine showing a video of parenting practices of rural Cameroonian mothers (a country in West Africa) to urban German mothers, and vice versa - studies have found that mothers react puzzled or even horrified to many of the practices of other cultural contexts, starting with the simple judgment on how much body contact is desirable for a child.

Similar discrepancies are plain to see when we go through questions related to the psychological development across cultural contexts: If a culture expects most young children to assume responsibilities like tending flocks of animals while their parents of 13 or 14 years cultivate and harvest crops, would those parents be considered awkward or abusive teenagers? Can eight year old children teach themselves math as they set up displays, take payments, and make change for customers in an open bazaar? Long before the articulation of Piaget's stage theory children in most cultures were given direct or hands-on training to perform physical tasks adults thought were relatively appropriate based on observations of other children's levels of mastery.

When one considers that children are probably the most important resource that any country in the world possesses and that the future literally belongs to them, it becomes immediately apparent how important it is to try and understand the relationships between culture and human development. Issues that have been considered in this regard are summarized in the contributions throughout this unit; for example how childhood socialization practices gears children towards trajectories of independence or interrelatedness (Heidi Keller), how developmental pathways can better be understood in an ecological framework (Rachel Seginer), and how cultural contexts vary even in the actual presence of a period generally refered to as ‘adolescence’ in the Western literature (see the contribution by Chuansheng Chen and Susan Farruggia) – to name just a few highlights.

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Subunit 6.1 - Culture and Human Development: Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence

Subunit 6.2 - Culture and Human Development: Adulthood and Old Age

Subunit 6.3 - Cultural Perspectives on Families

Unit 7 - Applied Psychology and Culture

With increasing globalization, and continuing migration around the world, it is more important than ever to be culturally competent. One must be able to get along with and interact effectively with people from differing cultural backgrounds. To do this, one must have knowledge of other cultures, and be sensitive to cultural differences in verbal and non-verbal communication as well as cultural values and expectations for social behavior.

To understand others' expressions, one must understand not only the stated words or gestures, but also the background of the cultural context in which they occur. This is often captured in cultural symbols (like a national flag), or in a cultural metaphor (such as American football), which is applied to other contexts (such as teamwork in an office). Research on cultural competence is included in this unit.

An important context for cultural competence is in organizations that are international in scope or have members from differing cultures. In analyzing both multicultural and monoculture organizations, we need to be cautious in applying perspectives from "developed" countries to "developing" countries, which may have characteristics that are different than those of developed countries or are different from each other. These differences may affect both leadership and teamwork. Research on organizational psychology is included in this unit.

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Subunit 7.1 - Perspectives on Becoming More Culturally Competent

Subunit 7.2 - Organizational Psychology in Cultural Context

Unit 8 - Migration and Acculturation

The history of humankind has always been a history of migration; movements of whole populations can be observed throughout human history. But even if such phenomena are not restricted to just the last decades in which buzzwords like globalization have surfaced, societies have to come to terms with the rapidly changing cultural landscape.

A positive take on this would include that people nowadays are much more geographically mobile and come into firsthand contact with other cultures more frequently – in many different forms, ranging from the occasional tourist trip to business trips in foreign countries, and from prolonged work stays abroad to following you job wherever it may take you. On the other hand, with dozens of conflicts, civil wars, and natural disasters, there are many “push” factors leading people to leave their countries in search for a better place to live. At the same time, in many countries one does not have to leave one’s home town anymore to come into contact with individuals from different ethnic backgrounds; chances are overwhelmingly high that you just have to walk out your door.

The study of acculturation and adaptation to other cultures is one of the most active areas in psychology and culture. Psychologists active in this area invariably are interested in one overarching question: What are the psychological consequences to individuals who either voluntarily or (usually) involuntarily switch cultures (see for example the contributions by Nan Sussman on sojourners or Ute Schoenpflug on coping in this unit)? There are also increasingly developmental approaches in trying to understand the processes of acculturation (see the contribution by David Lackland Sam). Last but certainly not least with Floyd Rudmin’s catalogue acculturation taxonomies, an excellent overview is provided in this unit, which will serve as a starting point for many researchers interested in the investigation of acculturation.

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Subunit 8.1 - Acculturation and Adapting to Other Cultures

Unit 9 - Biological Psychology, Neuropsychology and Culture

While it may not sound common to pay close attention to biological factors in the investigation of culture, the inclusion of such considerations has been present in many ideas that try to incorporate the ecological, geographical, and climatic contexts in which people live. Such approaches can often be described as an ‘ultimate’ explanatory route that is interested in delineating the overarching factors in human history contributing to a specific behavior or psychological phenomenon. Findings of such endeavors often provide insights into the causal factors responsible for these phenomenon; they address the questions of ‘why’ some psychological mechanisms have emerged, while others have not.

On the other hand, more proximate approaches are concerned with more immediate explanations for behavior and psychology; not historical accounts, or chains of such events leading up to their emergence, but factors that are closer to the experiences of individuals and are revolving around the ‘how’ of psychological phenomenon. Among those approaches focusing on the proximate, experiential aspects, neuropsychological studies need to be mentioned which are received increasingly more attention with the availability of ever-advancing neuro-imaging techniques. For example, the interplay between psychology and biology becomes evident in considerations of how bicultural individuals represent their selves in experimental brain imaging studies, in which they have been primed for, say, either their Hong Kong Chinese or Western self.

Already in early notions of cultural differences and similarities, notably in stances derived from a universalist perspective, the limitations placed upon individuals by their ecological context (as well as the opportunities associated with the contexts) have been taken into consideration. Underlying this notion is the concept that one’s context (including its cultural, economic, and ecological aspects) is more than a bodiless idea - but a tangible factor that can be observed in its impact on human behavior and psychology.

The present unit will present a set of contributions that strive to highlight why it can be helpful to know more about biological constraints in human development when trying to understand cultural differences and similarities, and clarify that old dichotomies of nature vs. nurture do not add, but hinder this very progress. The interplay between biological and psychological factors is at the core of these contributions, and with an ever-growing number of studies in this blossoming field can provide us with new insights into old as well as new problems.

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Subunit 9.1 - Biology and Culture

Unit 10 - Health/Clinical Psychology and Culture

Promoting health and healing mental illnesses are universal goals of human beings. Counseling and psychotherapy serve to reach these goals. Based on this perspective, this unit is divided into three subunits.

Cultural values and beliefs that influence general areas of health and well being are presented in subunit 10.1 (Health and Well-Being Across Cultures). Along with physical health, questions of mind-body interaction are examined (Aboud). Practices that enhance survival such as sharing of food and other life sustaining materials, are usually passed from generation to generation for the purpose of sustaining the strengths of a people, especially when living conditions may be challenging as in climates of extreme heat, cold, moisture, or dryness. Although people in richer countries seem to be happier than people in poorer countries but this perspective is incomplete as there are other relevant features to predict happiness (Suh & Oishi).

We know that in different cultures the symptoms of mental illness are not always interpreted as illness or dysfunction. For example, in some cultures, those who hear voices and appear to have many persons inhabiting and functioning within their body are regarded as extremely gifted or "god-like" in their unusualness. An age-old question concerns the universality or cultural specificity of conditions we tend to call "mental". Clinical psychologists are constantly challenged by these issues, all of which affect both diagnosis and treatment. These issues are discussed in subunit 10.2 (Culture and Mental Illness). Beside a more general perspective on the link between culture and mental illness (Sam & Moreira), depression (Tanaka-Matsumi & Chang) and emotional distress (Ryder, Young, & Heine) as specific forms of mental illnesses are discussed.

Due to the increase of migration, clinicians and counselors from are often confronted to counsel or offer therapy to people from quite different cultures. It is often difficult to be an effective counselor with people from one's own culture. When other cultures and world views enter the picture, things can become quite complicated and challenging. Yet there is currently, at least in the United States, an increasing requirement that counselors and psychotherapists become interculturally competent. To avoid or neglect this area of preparation is considered by many to be professionally irresponsible. The articles in the subunit 10.3 (Counseling and Psychotherapy in Cultural Context) address many of the problems in this active area of professional involvement. The articles range from broader overviews (e.g., Pedersen) to talk about culturalle senstivie approaches in counseling and therapy in relation to specific groups, e.g. Japanese clients (Nippoda), Canadian first nation clients (Blue, Darou, & Ruano), or native Americans (Hayes). These articles should be especially interesting to individuals who are either in or are contemplating a career in professional counseling.

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Subunit 10.1 - Health and Well-being Across Cultures

Subunit 10.2 - Culture and Mental Illness

Subunit 10.3 - Counseling and Psychotherapy in Cultural Context

Unit 11 - Teaching of Psychology and Culture

All units and articles in the ORPC are designed to deal with relatively independent topics across a broad spectrum of psychological research, theory, and everyday applications, to give an overview of the state of art, but also to serve for teaching purposes. This unit 11 is exclusively designed to information about Teaching. There is some information on the IACCP homepage (IACCP.org) – included are course syllabi and a list of institutions that feature courses or programs that were designed to be part of the psychological curricula of many colleges and universities throughout the world – and we plan to integrate this information into this section in the near future. We have created a tentative structure for this unit that consists of four main parts.

Subunit 11.1: Reflections about Teaching of Psychology and Culture. The first article, by W. J. Lonner and E. Murdock gives an overview of an ongoing project involving the extent to which “culture” is covered in a wide range of popular introductory texts in psychology.

Subunit 11.2: Books, Journal Articles, and Monographs Useful to the Teaching of Psychology and Culture. We will identify various types of routinely-published material that instructors should find useful and/or direct readers to lists that are currently available. Rather than merely listing them, we will provide brief descriptions and overviews of what we consider to be the most relevant items. Included, we hope, will be invited commentaries by the authors of the material that we cite. We will occasionally update such offerings, primarily because there is a constant stream of such resources.

Subunit 11.3: Case Studies, Critical Incidents and Ethical Dilemmas. Popular and proven ways to emphasize a point or explain culture-related phenomena include real-life case studies (without disclosing real names). This may include Youtube videos. Case studies might focus, for example, on such things as intercultural adjustment problems, difficulties encountered in schools and the workplace, marriage difficulties brought about by cultural differences, and so forth. Highly related to real-life case studies is the material involved in the so-called “Critical Incidents” technique. The critical incident technique was made popular in books by Cushner and Brislin that dealt with intercultural interactions. Critical incidents, fabricated to illustrate hypothetical problems often encountered in real life, deal with a broad range of issues that involve “critical” (i.e. difficult, confrontational, confusing, etc.) encounters with people from other cultures. Another possible feature might embrace discussions of ethical dilemmas encountered by culture-oriented psychologists in their research in other societies and cultures. Many researchers have experienced difficulties in conducting research in other cultures, and many of these difficulties involve ethical issues that must be resolved. For instance, should a particular set of questions designed for use in a number of cultures be used among people who are completely unfamiliar with such things? Discussing such material in various classes could be both instructive and cautionary, especially for anyone who may be contemplating research in the area and may be encountering problems that impinge on cultural realities of an ethical or moral nature.

Subunit 11.4: Lectures, Anecdotes, Exercises, and Demonstrations will be a clearinghouse for a variety of items that instructors submit for consideration. Included will be favorite lectures on different topics, anecdotes that will be helpful in clarifying concepts and ideas, sharing with others various classroom exercises and demonstrations that have proven to be effective, and classroom projects that will engage the students. Experiences abroad that have been enlightening regarding psychology and culture, and perhaps even occasional photos, might be included. Movies, both educational and popular, might also be listed and briefly described, together with information about obtaining them for use.

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Subunit 11.1 - Reflections about Teaching of Psychology and Culture

Subunit 11.4 - Lectures, Anecdotes, Exercises, and Demonstrations