Cultural psychology addresses a few questions: What is culture? And what does it have to do with you and your psyche? With that being said, what is cultural psychology?
Cultural psychology is defined as, “Cultural psychology is an interdisciplinary field that unites psychologists, anthropologists, linguists, and philosophers for a common pursuit: the study of how cultural meanings, practices, and institutions influence and reflect individual human psychologies” (Snibbe, 2003).
While culture is considered as the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group, what does this have to do with psychology? One example is the way that people think, or more specifically two types of thinking: analytic and holistic (Geeraert, 2018). The American Scientist asked Western cultures which fit together best out of a banana, monkey, and panda. A majority answered with the monkey and panda because they are both animals, an example of analytic thinking. They then asked people from Asian culture the same question, but they answered with the majority being a monkey and a banana, an example of holistic thinking. So what do these answers mean and tell us? According to the American Scientist, “Because it is clear that cultural differences can affect something as fundamental as memory, any theory that attempts to describe seemingly universal thought patterns should take possible cultural influences into account” (Geeraert, 2018).
This is especially apparent in global business as well and should be looked at by the everyday person, not people just studying cultures and the people within them. Along with this, is an example of how stereotypes begin without the thought process behind why those stereotypes are begun anyway.
Hiroshi Yama is a professor at Osaka University and wrote an article “A Perspective of Cross-Cultural Psychological Studies for Global Business” that addresses these stereotypes and how they associate themselves in cultural psychology. He points out stereotypes have developed the way they have throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th century and gives credit to cultural differences (Yama, 2016). While it’s a lot more complicated than effectively understanding cultural psychology, knowing why it integrates itself in society is a start.
While Yama points out stereotypes, it is still an open conversation because “without human beings, cultures don’t exist, and without cultures, human beings don’t exist” (Snibbe, 2003). One should keep in mind that while cultures exist, they help predict but they do not “cause” which can help explain why Yama started the conversation in the first place.
Geeraert, N. (2018). Many Cultures, One Psychology?. Retrieved 29 November 2019, from https://www.americanscientist.org/article/many-cultures-one-psychology
Snibbe, A. (2003). Cultural Psychology: Studying More Than the ‘Exotic Other’. Retrieved 29 November 2019, from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/cultural-psychology-studying-more-than-the-exotic-other
Yama, H. (2016). A Perspective of Cross-Cultural Psychological Studies for Global Business. Retrieved 29 November 2019, from