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What is Cultural Psychology?

What is Cultural Psychology?

September 10, 2022

Many aspects of how we behave and how we think have to do not with our personal life experiences or with our genetics, but with the culture in which we are immersed.

In fact, although the predominant point of view is the western point of view, we should not lose sight of the fact that, in certain places, the cultural frontier means that tribes that live in the same region do not understand each other if language or by customs and mentality.

Cultural psychology is the branch of psychology that deals with this aspect of the human mind, based on diversity and the cultural heritage we receive. Let's see what exactly it is and what it is for.


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Cultural Psychology: a definition

Cultural psychology is a part of psychology that is responsible for studying the way in which cultural elements influence behavior, customs and perception of groups of people. That is, it examines the context in which people live to find in it causes that individuals tend to act in one way and not another.

For example: have you ever wondered why in India many people refuse to sacrifice cows? The easy answer to this is to point out that for a large part of the population the cows are sacred, but in reality this does not explain much. What is it that makes the fact that cows are sacred something sustainable?


Cultural psychologists are able to investigate the different ways in which the society of this country takes advantage of these animals without having to kill them. In turn, they have tools to know where the limits of respect that these people have for cows are.

The same goes for many other cultural phenomena. This type of psychologists takes care of search society for the causes of patterns of behavior and, through predictions, to know what new actions would clash with these customs and what not.

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Its relationship with sociology and anthropology

Cultural psychology has a close relationship with two social sciences: sociology and, especially, anthropology.

With sociology

Sociology is responsible for studying social phenomena in a broad sense. For example, the formation of ghettos and social stratification, or migratory patterns in a country . With regard to cultural psychology, it can provide data, especially quantitative, to help understand the historical dynamics that have shaped a specific culture.


With anthropology

Anthropology, unlike sociology, focuses instead on understanding the cultures themselves, with all the symbols, customs, rituals and characteristic concepts. In other words, while sociology studies the forms of what happens in society, anthropology studies the content of the cultural units that intervene in this dynamic of collective changes .

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The functions of Cultural Psychology

The main fields of application of cultural psychology are the following.

It helps to understand ethnic groups

In an increasingly globalized world like ours, it is very important to know the type of population that exists in a region in which foreign initiatives are going to be deployed. Cultural psychologists can work as advisers to companies or any other type of organization so that what is done does not have a negative impact on the way of life of these people and that, incidentally, not wasted a lot of time and money on initiatives that simply do not work.

Allows intervention in conflicts

In mediation efforts, it is always good to be clear that the opposing parties sometimes do not share the same vision of reality. The language and ideology differ among groups, and if what you want is to achieve a good fit, you have to know first how are the pieces you want to put together.

It serves to detect differential aspects

Something that characterizes the hegemony of a culture (in the case of present times, the Western) is that all those ethnic groups that are not part of the dominant are so ignored that many of them are unknown, and they are simply assumed to be like others but with certain folkloric and aesthetic characteristics .

Cultural psychology participates in the process of understanding the depth of these differences between communities and, in short, to shed light on something that once seemed a culture malagama due to the simple ignorance and Eurocentric bias.

Support other disciplines

Of course, cultural psychology is not only nourished by sociology and anthropology: it also helps them to advance. It does so by participating in the rest of the functions we have seen and adopting a perspective centered on the way in which the social and cultural, over time, influences the actions, perceptions and thoughts of people.


Cultural Psychology, Part 1 (September 2022).


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