Chapter Review

Culture refers to patterns of learned and shared behavior that are cumulative and transmitted across generations. Historically, the role of culture has been overlooked in the field of psychology and a majority of psychological research has focused on Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) cultures. Cultural psychology has emerged as a specialty within the field of psychology to increase awareness of culture in shaping thinking and behavior. Etic and emic are cultural perspectives through which we can view psychological phenomena that include non-material culture like values, attitudes and beliefs. Stereotyping and ethnocentric bias can occur when we view other cultures from our own perspective which often results in a misunderstanding or disparagement of unfamiliar cultures.


Culture is defined as patterns of learned behavior that are shared, cumulative and transmitted across generations and groups.

Cultural psychology is an interdisciplinary study of how cultures reflect and shape the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors of its members.

Cross-cultural psychology uses culture to test whether some psychological processes are universal rather than determining how cultural practices shape psychological processes.

Cultural relativism is the principle of regarding and valuing the practices of a culture from the point of view of that culture and to avoid making hasty judgments

Cultural universals are psychological processes that exist in every human culture and includes attributes such as values and modes of behavior.

Emic perspective which focuses on cultural differences and culturally specific processes that shape thinking and behavior

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s own culture.

Etic perspective refers to a psychological construct or process that is universal, or true across all cultures

Goals of psychology

  • Description is the first goal of psychology intended to identify “what” is happening when a behavior takes place including context, frequency, intensity, and duration.
  • Explanation is the second goal of psychology intended to address “why” a behavior is taking place. The association between related factors and the behavior is exploratory not correlational or causal.
  • Prediction is the third goal of psychology intended to assess the likelihood (i.e., correlational probability) that a behavior will take place again or not.
  • Control is the fourth goal of psychology intended to address how behavior can be changed. This goal includes a cause-effect association between an intervention and a behavioral change.

Hofstede’s cultural values provide a framework that describes the effects of culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior.

  • Masculinity and Femininity refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders.
  • Uncertainty Avoidance refers to a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.
  • Power Distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like a family) accept and expect their power is distributed unequally
  • Individualistic and Collectivist refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups and their community.
  • Long Term and Short Term describes a society’s time horizon; the degree to which cultures encourage delaying gratification or material, social, emotional needs of the members.

Material culture refers to the objects or belongings of a group including food, fashion, architecture or physical structures

Nonmaterial culture (subjective) consists of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs of a society.

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.

WEIRD is an acronym that stands for demographic factors that represent the population that has been traditionally included in research and development of psychological theory. This population has the following characteristics: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic cultures.


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Culture and Psychology Copyright © 2020 by L D Worthy; T Lavigne; and F Romero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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