Cross-Cultural Psychology and Research

Kenneth D Keith. 21st Century Psychology: A Reference Handbook. Editor: Stephen F Davis & William Buskist. Volume 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: Ssage Publications. 2008.

I first taught introductory psychology as a young graduate student 40 years ago, using one of the most popular textbooks (Morgan & King, 1966) of that era. That book included a brief discussion of culture in the chapter on social psychology, an acknowledgment of culture as a source of influence on personality development, and a page and a half of discussion of differences in intelligence among American racial and socioeconomic groups under the heading “Differences Due to Cultural Environment” (Morgan & King, 1966, p. 440). Today I continue to teach the introductory course, still from a widely used textbook (Myers, 2007), and I note with interest that these days the index includes references to the relation of culture to a much wider variety of topics, including aggression, attractiveness, child rearing, eating disorders, emotional expression, prenatal development, self-esteem, and taste preferences, among others. Further, this text includes another lengthy list of topics under the heading “social-cultural influences” (Myers, 2007, p. S-11). Textbooks now acknowledge that some of the traditional findings we accepted as universally true are true for North American or European American people, but perhaps not for everyone.

Clearly, the role of culture in our understanding and teaching of psychology has changed over the past generation, and cross-cultural psychology now holds an established place within the discipline (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004). Triandis and Brislin (1984) were right in asserting that if we understand psychology as the scientific study of behavior, such study must encompass behavior in the entire world—not simply behavior found in industrialized countries.

Defining the Field

Cross-Cultural Psychology: What is it?

Numerous writers have defined cross-cultural psychology in various ways. Shiraev and Levy (2007), for example, called it the “critical and comparative study of cultural effects on human psychology” (p. 3). Brislin, Lonner, and Thorndike (1973) defined cross-cultural psychology as “the empirical study of members of various culture groups who have had different experiences that lead to predictable and significant differences in behavior” (p. 5), and Malpass (1977) described it as “a means of discovering the degree to which knowledge of behavior and basic processes obtained in one culture is representative of humanity in general” (p. 1069). A good, comprehensive definition is the one proposed by Berry, Poortinga, Segall, and Dasen (2002):

Cross-cultural psychology is the study: of similarities and differences in individual psychological functioning in various cultural and ethnocultural groups; of the relationships between psychological variables and socio-cultural, ecological and biological variables; and of ongoing changes in these variables. (p. 3)

Today, key elements of an understanding of useful definitions of cross-cultural psychology include recognition of the importance of mainstream psychological science; acknowledgment of the influence of cultural forces on psychological functioning of individuals; and realization that people across cultures share many similarities, as well as differences. Taken together, these elements allow for a legitimate science of cross-cultural psychology.

Foundations of Cross-Cultural Psychology

Several foundational principles underlie contemporary research in cross-cultural psychology. Some of the most basic of these principles are as follows:

  • Culture consists of both objective and subjective components, but is essentially a psychological construct.
  • Although we tend to notice and focus on differences, people across cultures are more alike than different.
  • All people are likely to view and judge other cultures from the perspective of their own.
  • Cultures vary along important dimensions that are useful to psychological investigation of cross-cultural issues.
  • Some psychological truths are universal; some are culture-bound.

Further discussion of each of these points will help to put the basic premises of cross-cultural psychology into perspective.

Culture as a Psychological Construct

Teachers in the field of psychology have recognized the importance of promoting an understanding of culture in a liberal arts education (McGovern, Furumoto, Halpern, Kimble, & McKeachie, 1991). Writing much earlier, Herskovits (1948) pointed up the distinction between person-made and natural aspects of environment, considering the former to be cultural and the latter a part of the physical features to which culture must respond. Put most simply, culture is “the shared way of life of a group of people” (Berry et al., 2002, p. 2), and definitions generally include such concepts as attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors shared by members of a group (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). Further, culture (as opposed, for example, to personality) is passed on from one generation to the next (Brislin, 2000), as Matsumoto (2000) suggested when he defined culture as a dynamic system of rules, explicit and implicit, established by groups in order to ensure their survival, involving attitudes, values, beliefs, norms, and behaviors, shared by a group but harbored differently by each specific unit within the group, communicated across generations, relatively stable but with the potential to change across time (p. 24).

Although culture possesses tangible, objective elements, including such physical features as architecture, clothing, and food (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004; Triandis & Brislin, 1984), the focus of cross-cultural psychology is more typically the subjective aspects of culture—human elements like social, religious, economic, and political institutions and practices (Triandis, 1994). Thus, the beliefs, values, ideas, and behaviors—the psychological attributes of people in a culture—are integral to an understanding of culture. And the functional nature of these attributes allows us to infer, but not to see, the construct of culture (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004), just as we infer other psychological constructs (e.g., intelligence) from their observable behaviors or attributes. Further, cultural psychology encompasses the reciprocal relationship between culture and these other constructs (cognition, development, emotion, motivation, and others; Kral, Burkhardt, & Kidd, 2002).

Finally, we must conclude by noting that, despite common misunderstanding to the contrary, culture is not race or nationality; one need look only as far as the United States to see that a single nation may contain many cultural and subcultural groups, and that multiple racial groups may be members of a single culture. In addition, genetic research has shown little but superficial biological difference among racial groups, leaving race, too, as a psychosocial construction (Mio, Barker-Hackett, & Tumambing, 2006).

Cultural Similarities and Differences

Many cross-cultural studies describe psychological differences between or among peoples without making an effort to explain possible cultural bases of the differences (Ratner & Hui, 2003). Nevertheless, even absent such explanation, these psychological differences may become the basis for theoretical explanations of perceived cultural difference, leading to potentially erroneous conclusions about cultural differences. Critical examination of findings of psychological difference between cultures becomes especially important in light of Matsumoto, Grissom, and Dinnel’s (2001) demonstration that statistically significant differences between cultures may not be practically significant, and that calculation of effect sizes (as opposed to simple reporting of p values) can lead to quite different conclusions concerning cultural differences. Matsumoto et al. argued, in fact, that small but statistically significant differences between cultural groups might say little about differences at the level of the individual, and could contribute to inaccurate stereotypes about cultures.

Despite many reports of cultural difference on a myriad of psychological variables, the facts remain that (a) there are many methodological challenges associated with demonstrating differences between cultures (Malpass, 1977; Triandis & Brislin, 1984); (b) diverse cultures have in common the need to solve the same human problems (e.g., reproduction, health, safety; Matsumoto, 2006); and (c) as cultures become more dynamic, globalized, and intermingled, our understanding of cultural similarity and difference may change in fundamental ways (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). All of these points argue in favor of increased understanding of ways to bridge the gap between local psychologies (which are likely to focus on differences between cultures) and a true cross-cultural (global) psychology (Poortinga, 2005). At the least, the field appears to be moving beyond what Malpass (1977) called “static group comparisons” (pp. 1070-1071).

Viewing Cultures from the Perspective of Our Own

According to an Asian proverb, the frog that lives at the bottom of a well is quite happy. The bit of sky he can see from the well is very nice, and his is a perfectly good well. He has no need for, nor interest in, any other place. The mythical frog’s worldview is not so different from the human tendency to elevate our own locale or culture to the level of a standard against which others are judged, and to see it as superior to others. Researchers call this tendency ethnocentrism (Berry et al., 2002), a phenomenon that is probably universal among humans (LeVine & Campbell, 1972) and that has been in the literature for about a century (Sumner, 1906).

Ethnocentrism creates perceptions of dissimilarity between cultures, and contributes to negative stereotypes and conflict (Triandis, 1994). The term ethnocentrism, interpreted literally, means judgments and feelings centered (“centrism”) in one’s own cultural or ethnic (“ethno”) context or group (Brislin, 2000). It is related to sociocultural factors and to personal values, self-views, and emotions (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004), and often involves viewing those from other groups with suspicion (Price & Crapo, 2002). Thus, ethnocentrism leads individuals to see behaviors, values, and norms of their own culture as correct and those of other groups as incorrect; to view their own customs as universal; and to consider it natural to be cooperative with their own group and to distrust others (Triandis, 1994). Ethnocentric individuals see the world, and particularly others who may be different, from their own viewpoint (Thomas, 2005), prompting Matsumoto and Juang (2004) to use the metaphor of a filter or lens, “… distorting, rotating, and coloring” (p. 65) our image of the world, resulting in differing cultural perspectives that each seem equally valid to the individuals experiencing them, often without awareness of the limiting nature of their cultural filters.

Children are enculturated into the society into which they are born, learning its rules, practices, and expectations, and observing and interpreting the behavior of others. Individuals thus come to notice and to judge the behavior of others who may violate the accepted conventions of the group (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004), and it is only natural that people see differences between the in-group (one’s own group) and an out-group (the other) as deficiencies in the out-group (Berry et al., 2002). Because members of the same culture see the world through the same lens, they may learn a limited worldview with little or no awareness of the process by which they are shaped, especially if they have no significant experience with people of other cultures. Like the frog in the well, they may have no basis for recognizing the limitations of their own view.

Despite the fact that ethnocentrism may be inevitable, individuals can learn to be flexible in their ethnocentrism (Matsumoto & Juang, 2004). Some components of an effort to overcome ethnocentrism include increased mutual knowledge across cultures, extensive cultural contact, critical thought, control of personal emotions, and effective communication; in particular, cultural experience can help to illuminate cultural unknowns, and extensive interaction with people of other cultures can challenge ethnocentric views and expand cultural thought (Brislin, 2000). However, experience emphasizing difference may not be of much help; it is personal contact between groups with relatively equal status and common goals that is more likely to reduce ethnocentrism (Berry et al., 2002).

Three points seem critical to our understanding of ethnocentrism: (a) Everyone views the world through the cultural lens of ethnocentrism; (b) It is possible to become ethnocentric without awareness or intention to do so, through the normal learning processes associated with our own cultural context; and (c) The capacity to understand and appreciate cultural differences is achievable for individuals open to experiences facilitating appropriate cultural knowledge and skills.

Cultural Dimensions

Researchers investigating cross-cultural psychological similarities and differences have found it useful to conceptualize cultures in terms of several core dimensions. Among these are power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity-feminism, and individualism-collectivism (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). Hofstede (1980) proposed these dimensions, and Matsumoto and Juang (2004) summarized them as follows:

  1. Individualism-collectivism (IC), perhaps the most frequently used and described of these dimensions, indicates the degree to which a culture supports or encourages individual goals or needs, as opposed to those of a group.
  2. Power distance (PD) refers to the power differential between a less powerful person and a more powerful one within a culture.
  3. Uncertainty avoidance (UA) is the extent to which a culture creates processes to reduce or cope with ambiguity and uncertainty.
  4. Masculinity-femininity (MA) refers to the extent to which a culture maintains traditional gender roles and distinctions.

Students of culture have also identified cultures as high or low context (Berry et al., 2002; Hall, 1966)—a dimension indicating whether individuals in communication share much information (high context) or whether much information must be included in the message itself (low context). And research has suggested that “tightness” (homogeneity or conformity) is a dimension helpful to understanding social aspects of culture.

Although investigators have studied all these dimensions, by far the most frequently discussed is the IC continuum. Following Hofstede’s (1980) early work, a large number of cross-cultural studies appeared, many comparing American (the most extreme individualist culture, according to Hofstede) to other cultures on IC (Bond, 2002). Matsumoto and Juang (2004) described a number of these studies, and discussed the efforts of researchers to develop instruments to measure IC. Triandis, Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, and Lucca (1988) suggested that, in the interest of clarity, understanding of cultural differences at the individual psychological level would improve if we designate persons with individualist characteristics as idiocentric, and those with collectivist tendencies as allocentric. This distinction, Triandis et al. argued, would facilitate understanding of the differential ways that individuals (idiocentric or allocentric) might relate to groups in different types of cultures (individualist or collectivist). These researchers anticipated one of the major criticisms of the use of IC as a general classifier of cultures: that allocentric people can be found in individualist cultures, and idiocentric people can be found in collectivist cultures.

Nevertheless, some characteristic differences exist between individualist and collectivist cultures. Triandis et al. (1988) described some of these:

  • Individualist cultures have more in-groups.
  • Collectivist cultures foster more stable relationships with in-groups; individualists may leave an in-group that makes extensive demands.
  • In collectivist cultures, levels of cooperation are high within in-groups but lower within out-groups.
  • Individualist cultures provide numerous rights and fewer obligations in in-groups, but in-groups offer less support and security.
  • Members of individualist cultures may find it easier to make friends, but these may be simply acquaintances; in a collectivist culture, individuals may have less skill in making friends, but friendship is likely to be lifelong and intimate.
  • Significant relationships in individualist cultures are horizontal (between friends or spouses); in collectivist cultures, significant relationships tend to be vertical (employer-employee, parent-child).

Although cultural dimensions have no doubt served a useful role in conceptualization of many aspects of cross-cultural psychology, they have also contributed to some inappropriate and stereotyped views of cultures. For example, although many writers have contrasted Japan and the United States as exemplary collectivist and individualist nations, Matsumoto (2002) reported that, subsequent to Hofstede’s (1980) original work, 17 separate studies failed to support the presumed collectivism-individualism divide between these two countries. Some investigators have argued, in fact, that Japanese people may frequently be more (not less) individualistic than Americans (Bond, 2002), and researchers have found ways to study allocentric individuals within individualist cultures and idiocentric people within collectivistic cultures (Triandis et al., 1988). The message here is that cross-cultural comparisons should not be based on stereotypes or outdated assumptions, but that researchers should measure aspects of the cultural dimensions (e.g., IC, PD, UA, MA) under study in the individual participants in their studies; researchers have developed procedures for this purpose (Matsumoto, Weissman, Preston, Brown, & Kupperbusch, 1997). These psychological dimensions may not be the same at the level of individuals as at the level of nations (Bond, 2002).

Cultural Universals

Inevitably, when groups of people with similar biological characteristics face parallel kinds of problems and challenges in their environments, both similarities and differences arise in the activities that make up their culture. Drawing upon the work of Pike (1967), the field has developed language-based terms to designate these universal and culture-specific characteristics of cultures. Based upon the notion that phonetics are present in all languages, the term “etic” designates cultural universals; because phonemics are sounds distinguishing particular languages, “emic” indicates a culture-specific or culture-bound factor (Triandis, 1994).

There may be, for example, etic characteristics associated with the concept of intelligence (perhaps the ability to solve problems), but different cultures may emphasize different (emic) aspects of intelligence (e.g., speed of problem solving; Keith, 1996). Thus, researchers must not only devise tests to capture the skills valued in a particular culture but also attempt to measure some of the same abilities across cultures (Cianciolo & Sternberg, 2004). One of the challenges facing cross-cultural psychology, then, is determining the relation between universal and culturally specific aspects of human activity (Shiraev & Levy, 2007). Some writers (Berry, 1969; Berry et al., 2002) have distinguished between emic and etic “approaches,” with the emic approach involving the study of a single culture from within, viewing it from the perspective of the context of natives; an etic approach, on the other hand, involves study of multiple cultures, from the outside, and perhaps imposing a structure on the observations. In other words, an emic perspective seeks to find meaningful concepts within a culture, whereas an etic perspective aims to understand behavior by finding common characteristics across cultures (Mio et al., 2006). Although there are certainly commonalities across cultures, even such basic universals as emotional expressions are colored by culture-specific display rules, and researchers must use care, in the search for etic characteristics, to avoid imposition of an ethnocentric structure or worldview on the cultures they study (Mio et al., 2006).

Cross-Cultural Psychology Research

Cross-cultural research presents some special conceptual and methodological challenges beyond those investigators typically encounter in mainstream behavioral science, as well as special advantages (Triandis & Brislin, 1984).


Brislin (2000) noted three major advantages of cross-cultural research:

  1. Study across cultures may increase the range of variables available for analysis. That is, a more heterogeneous range of values of any particular variable may be available when we extend research to multiple cultures.
  2. Cross-cultural work may allow the unconfounding (separation) of variables. Some variables (e.g., diet and biological heritage) may be inseparable in some cultures, but might be unconfounded in studies going beyond cultural boundaries.
  3. Cross-cultural research may enhance attention and sensitivity to context as a behavioral influence—at least in part because researchers who always work in the same cultural context (and thus experience little cultural variability) may lose sight of the role of context as a possible determinant of behavior.

Beyond these advantages, investigators have identified many methodological problems that cross-cultural researchers must face. The following is not an exhaustive discussion, but simply an identification of some common concerns that researchers frequently encounter.

Methodological Issues

Various researchers have organized discussion of methodological issues in various ways. For purposes of this discussion, we will identify some of the commonly encountered cross-cultural methodological issues as the problems of meaning, demographic equivalence, psychometric considerations, interpretation of differences, and researcher bias.


Researchers must exercise care in making cross-cultural comparisons lest they find themselves comparing proverbial apples and oranges. The literal translation of words, for example, is often not the same as communication of the true meaning of a word or phrase. Researchers may agonize over the possible ways a conceptual connotation might be achieved in a second language, even if a literal translation is relatively straightforward. One language may lack adequate terms to capture a concept from another, or the original might contain emic characteristics not readily accessible to the second culture (Brislin, 1993). If the translation does not “mean” the same thing as the original, any effort to compare data from the two versions is of course meaningless. An example of differing conceptual meanings across cultures might be the discrepant construals of self that Markus and Kitayama (1991) described across cultures.

A common solution to this problem is the technique of back translation: A bilingual translator translates a research instrument from one language to another; an independent bilingual person translates the instrument back to the original language; the original and the back-translated version are compared, sometimes in a counterbalanced empirical test (Keith, 1996). If the two versions are not equivalent, the procedure is repeated until the original and the back-translated versions are equivalent (Matsumoto, 2003).

Researchers have used other techniques, such as translations negotiated by a team of translators. Matsumoto (2003) warns, however, that researchers must always realize that there may not be a truly equivalent translation—researchers must sometimes choose between an awkward linguistic equivalent and a nonliteral translation that may come closer to capturing the cultural nuance of a concept. A final key point here is the recognition that simply administering a questionnaire in the researcher’s language (e.g., English) to research participants who may speak that language as a second language may produce quite different meanings and outcomes than would be achieved if participants recorded their responses via an instrument meaningfully constructed in their own language.

Demographic Equivalence

A few years ago, my colleagues and I (Keith, Yamamoto, Okita, & Schalock, 1995) studied quality of life of Japanese and American college students. In each country, we collected data from students of two-year and four-year institutions via convenience samples at the various institutions. As a result, our research participants represented institutions of different sizes (large or small), different character (private or public), and different settings (small town or large city). This study exemplifies some key demographic limitations of many cross-cultural studies. If we find differences, are they attributable to culture, to institutional differences, to rural-urban contrasts, or to any of the other confounders that often plague cross-cultural research conducted with intact groups?

Matsumoto (2003) has termed this problem “noncultural demographic equivalence” (p. 196), and counsels researchers to attempt to control for such confounders via selection or through statistical controls (if sufficient data are available to allow such control). He also points out that some noncultural demographic confounders (like religion) are often so entwined with culture that separating them is impossible.

Psychometric Issues

Cross-cultural research often involves measurement in the form of questionnaires, surveys, or tests of various sorts. Too often, researchers have simply administered instruments validated in one culture to respondents in another culture, perhaps following translation (or not). This raises not only the question of the psychometric adequacy of the instrument for use in the second culture, but also the larger issue of cross-cultural equivalence of the construct under study (Matsumoto, 2003). The effort to achieve equivalent definitions of phenomena across cultures may lead to oversimplified operational definitions of constructs or to artificial constraints on measurement of the constructs (Ratner & Hui, 2003). The result can be standardized measures that reduce important individual and cultural variables to precision at the expense of meaning (Keith, 2001; Taylor, 1994).

Myers (1992) reported that 90 percent of college professors and business managers rate their own performance as superior, 86 percent of Australians rate themselves above average, and a majority of American high school students consider themselves in the top 10 percent in ability to get along with others. Similar biases have been found around the world, in Holland, Japan, India, China, France, Australia, and the United States, among others. Unfortunately, however, for researchers who might wish to compare data across cultures, these biases in self-perception are not the same in all cultures. Likewise, when using psychometric measures, investigators must accept the possibility that members of different cultures may be socialized quite differently in the ways they may respond. For example, individualists may be comfortable using the full range of a scale, whereas people from a more homogeneous culture might be more likely to use moderate values and avoid using extreme ratings (Matsumoto, 1994). If these two groups produce different scores, the researcher then faces a dilemma: Are the differences truly due to culture per se, or simply due to the differential response sets? Possible response set problems include acquiescence (tendency to agree with statements), social desirability (favorable or normative responses), and extremity (using extremes of scales), among others (Berry et al., 2002). All these possibilities pose potential confounding difficulties for researchers.

Interpretation of Differences

As in any other field of research, cross-cultural investigators must strive to control effects of extraneous variables as they design and interpret studies and analyze their results. Cross-cultural work, however, presents some special challenges. Perhaps most obviously, cross-cultural comparisons are often done between static groups—groups are not randomly assigned to treatment conditions (i.e., members of one culture cannot be randomly assigned to another cultural group), and often the treatment variable may not be clear (Malpass, 1977). An investigator, then, cannot simply conclude that any differences between groups are cultural in nature. The groups may differ along some (or many) other dimensions, and alternative plausible hypotheses may well exist. Malpass (1977) and Matsumoto (1994) have suggested some possible ways of dealing with these problems.

Researchers are often tempted to conclude, when they have demonstrated apparent differences between groups, that the differences are “caused” by cultural variables, having treated culture as a de facto independent variable. Despite the existence of groups that differ on IV levels, however, we must keep in mind that cross-cultural designs are virtually always quasi-experimental in nature, and that conclusions and inferences possible from such designs are essentially correlational (Matsumoto, 2003). In other words, we may be able to show that a particular characteristic is associated with a particular culture, but that is a different thing from showing that culture causes an outcome.

Finally, as I noted earlier, researchers must exercise some care in interpreting statistically significant differences between cultures. As Matsumoto et al. (2001) showed, statistically significant differences may be of little practical importance, and in fact may invite stereotyped perceptions of cultures. The fact that one group has an average score higher than that of another group does not change the fact that, for many characteristics, the within-group variation may be much greater than the mean difference between groups, or that many individuals in the lower-scoring group will have higher scores than many individuals in the higher-scoring group. These concerns make it important that researchers adopt measures allowing more precise estimates of effect size, or as Matsumoto et al. (2001) argued, techniques that allow us to assess “… performance of the average member of a culture relative to proportions of members of another culture” (p. 481).

Researcher Bias

Ethnocentrism seems to be pervasive, and often occurs without conscious awareness. There is no reason to assume that researchers are immune to ethnocentrism, although we might hope they would be more aware of its dangers than most. Thus, it is important to recognize the possibility that an investigator’s efforts to design, implement, and analyze research might well be colored by the lens through which he or she views the world. Matsumoto (1994) suggested that, for example, if a group of Chinese participants scored lower than a group of Americans on a particular scale, it might be appropriate to simply report that the Americans’ mean was higher. However, he pointed out, many Americans might be tempted to suggest that the Chinese had suppressed their scores. This is a subtle, but real, insertion of one’s personal cultural view into the research process. How do we know, Matsumoto asked, that the Americans did not exaggerate their scores, or that both groups did not inflate their ratings over some other unstated standard?

Researchers also bring another cultural backdrop to their work: their own socialization into a particular way of doing science. As Ratner and Hui (2003) pointed out, the positivist methodological approach to research may produce instruments, operational definitions, and testing conditions that are ecologically invalid in some cultural contexts. In other words, scientists bring their own research culture into a setting in which their methods may be unfamiliar and artificial to the culture under study. The reality of everyday life, Ratner and Hui argued, often contradicts the conclusions of such biased approaches.


Outsiders often experience difficulty in understanding and relating to the underlying values of a culture (Gannon, 2001). Cross-cultural psychology holds the promise of improving that understanding, and of illuminating the commonalities linking humans across cultural boundaries. Clearly, the world needs more cross-cultural understanding, and that understanding should be based on good information and on methods that can help us minimize inaccurate stereotypes and oversimplified attributions of cause and motivation.

Our perceptions of culture have come a long way since the work of Sumner (1906), or even since I first used the Morgan and King (1966) introductory psychology textbook. Cross-cultural psychology is an accepted field of endeavor, increasingly acknowledged in the teaching and practice of mainstream psychology. It needs to maintain the rigor of mainstream psychological science while extending that science, in culturally relevant ways, to new settings. That, as we have seen, is where many of the challenges lie for cross-cultural psychology, as researchers continue to devise methods that meet the standards of good science and at the same time have credibility in the ecological context of varied cultures.

The world has too much misunderstanding, anger, and violence. Matsumoto and Juang (2004) consider negative emotions a major impediment to improved intercultural sensitivity, and suggest that overcoming them will require recognition of culture as a psychological construct; recognition of individual differences; understanding of our own ethnocentrism; awareness that conflicts may be cultural; recognition that cultural differences are legitimate; tolerance and patience; and understanding of cultural influences on behavior. In short, we must adopt new ways of thinking about ourselves and others. Cross-cultural psychology is a field that can help us do that. As William H. Eddy (2001) observed,

We often hear teachers advise the young to think clearly in order to reach a solution to a problem. Sometimes this is an encouragement to think only in habitual patterns whose results are desirable because they are both familiar and predictable. The great revolutions in human thought, however, the ones that have shaped our history, have not come about so much by thinking clearly as by thinking differently. (pp. 87-88)