This chapter identifies the mainstream approach in (cross-cultural) psychology as "variables psychology" and contrasts it with two versions of functionalist thinking. Functionalist approaches are concerned with the purpose of cultural differences and with the psychological mechanisms that produce them. Whereas questions of purpose are frequently debated in cross-cultural psychology, the problem of the basic psychological mechanisms is not. This reading demonstrates how this problem might be tackled by explaining empirical differences between individualists and collectivists through the concepts and mechanisms of a general model of action regulation. The consequences of this approach for the development of cross-cultural psychology are briefly discussed.
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