Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

The Role of Culture

How do cultural differences complicate our theories of psychology?

Psychology is the study of the human mind and aims to find universal rules of human behavior. As the science of psychology developed in Western Europe and America, many psychological theories have been limited by a kind of cultural myopia, a short sightedness. Aspects of psychological development that were assumed to be universal turn out to be culturally specific. This does not mean that all of our classic psychological theories are without merit, but we have to be cautious when assuming that what is true in one culture is necessarily true in another.

A child’s psychological development can be influenced considerably by the culture in which he or she is raised. Some cultures, for instance, frown on allowing too much free emotional expression, especially in public. Gender roles also vary widely from culture to culutre (iStock).

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