There is an emerging consensus among researchers on the need to integrate universal and culturally specific psychological perspectives. Important tasks in this process have included identifying the appropriate level of generality for putatively universal processes, how to understand culturally different processes in light of shared universal capacities, and the development of transparent scientific means for investigating cultural differences. In this chapter, the authors discuss each of these issues. It appears to be true that many psychological processes appear to reflect culturally-specific instantiations of universal capacities. The authors then consider implications of this emerging integration for psychology, by applying it to the study of psychopathology. They report on formal models that explain why some cultures embrace dysfunction among members. They then use the integrative framework to describe methods for determining whether putative disorders bring universal or contextual life dysfunction, and to clarify etiological models of three disorders. Models of psychopathology can be more informed and precise if they include careful consideration of both universal and cultural influences on behavior. Cultural psychology is not a separate discipline within psychology; rather, it informs, and should be integrated with, the various content domains within the field.
Smith, G. T., Spillane, N. S., & Stairs, A. M. (2009). An emerging integration of universal and culturally specific psychologies and its implications for the study of psychopathology. In G. Aikaterini & K. Mylonas (Eds.), Quod Erat Demonstrandum: From Herodotus’ ethnographic journeys to cross-cultural research: Proceedings from the 18th International Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/iaccp_papers/33/