Cross-Cultural Differences and Similarities
When we investigate psychological concepts, what is similar and what is different across geographical boundaries?
Much of what we have learned in social psychology takes a Western prospective, which has often been assumed to be applicable to the rest of the world. Our social lives are inherently imbedded in the culture context where they occur which may not be similar across cultural contexts; therefore, in our effort to understand social psychological concepts, we must reexamine what we know and how we know it.
Along with acknowledging the possibility of cross-cultural differences, we are also are interested in establishing instances of cross-cultural similarity. Put together, this means we have the goal of systematically looking at the boundaries of cultural influence in different contexts.
Some of the focal points in current research on this topic are on how we define ourselves and our groups as well as how we can be more confident that we are making the appropriate cross-cultural comparisons. For example, what is important in how people define their groups? Is the categorical labels of the groups or the personal relationship to other in-group members and how does this relate to the self-concept and injustice toward others.
Also, regarding the basic question about how do we know what we think we know about cultural comparisons, it is important to reflect on the measures we use and the way we collect data; therefore, I look at cross-cultural differences in the mode of data collection as well and the comparability of measures across contexts.