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Culture, a Missing Link in Psychology


for Members

Culture, a Missing Link in Psychology

Monday, October 26, 2009

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by the Psychology Section


Early in psychological thought Wundt (1916) vigorously pioneered both behavioral and cultural psychology. In retrospect, his principal objective of integrating them into an objective, generalizable, yet culturally sensitive science is still a project in progress. The outcome has been that psychological main stream has overstressed internal validity, and taken excessive liberties in regards to external validity, producing broad and ill founded generalizations of results obtained from small culturally homogenous samples. On the other hand, Wundt´s “folk psychology” is apparent in the empirical and theoretical contributions by those who are focused on discovering and describing behavior based on its ecological and cultural context.

As a result, the acknowledgement of culture is certainly present in cross-cultural psychology; however, the simple comparison of some psychological process or phenomenon of participants representing diverse groups does not insure the presence of culture as a studied variable. In fact, attempts of curving rampant intuitive interpretations of non equivalent samples and variables across alleged cultures by suggesting specific methodological strategies (Poortinga & Malpass, 1986), have generally fallen on deaf ears. A truly ecological or cultural perspective requires the direct inclusion or measurement of cultural and structural variables as well as the functional relationship of psychological variables within a cultural system, before any attempt of cross-cultural comparisons are made.

In consideration of the sound methodological and theoretical proposals made by some cross-cultural psychologists, but ignored by most, we will review the development of a Mexican ethnopsychology (e.g. Diaz-Guerrero, 1994; 2002), which is directed from a universal conception of psychology, but also stresses the importance of measuring psychological manifestations of culture through norms, beliefs, values and education, the behavioral manifestations of psychological constructs common to the participants in different sub-cultures, and the interrelationship between cultural and psychological variables.


Rolando Diaz-Loving,PhD

University of Mexico

Rolando Diaz-Loving, received his PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981. He is currently a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico were he is Head of the Psychosocial Research Unit and is president of the Interamerican Psychological Society. He has been the mentor and dissertation and thesis director of 27 Ph.D., 23 Masters and 9 professional students. His scholarly work is well recognized and appreciated in the field of Personal Relationships, Ethnopsychology, Cross-cultural Psychology and Health.

He has given hundreds of Congress presentations, and published over 300 articles and chapters in scientific journals and specialized books, 2 text books and 7 research books. He has served on numerous Editorial boards, including the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Personal Relationships and the Interamerican Journal of Psychology. He has also received multiple awards for his academic achievements, among the most important are the National Award for Research in the Social Sciences from the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the Interamerican Psychologist award from the Interamerican Society of Psychology, the National Psychology Award from the Mexican National Council for Teaching and Research in Psychology and the Social Sciences Research Award from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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