The discipline and practice of psychology have long histories in only a few countries of the world. Initially developed in Europe, then further in the United States, it has close ties to the cultural traditions of those particular societies. The discipline has remained culture-blind, largely ignoring the influence of the role of culture in shaping the development and display of human behaviour. As a result of these limitations, missing from the international scene are the insights, and the knowledge of psychology from the largest, most complex, and in many ways, the earliest developed societies of the world. In particular, the psychological contributions from China, India, and the Arab world are largely unknown to Western psychology.
This article draws on concepts and strategies in psychology (particularly cross-cultural and intercultural psychology) to propose some remedies to these problems. The author presents some criticisms of the dominant Western psychology (WASP), and suggests that the achievement of a more global psychology may be within reach if we use some concepts and methods now available in psychology from both the dominant Western sources and from those working in the rest of the world.
The study of psychology has been largely developed in Europe and the United States. It thus has close ties to the cultural traditions of those particular societies. As a result, the discipline and practice of psychology are largely culture-bound, limited in its origins, concepts, and empirical findings to only this small portion of the world. The discipline is also culture-blind, largely ignoring the influence of the role of culture in shaping the development and display of human behaviour. The result has been the dominating position of a Western Academic Scientific Psychology in relation to other cultural perspectives. Challenges to, and some possible solutions for, these problems have come from some recent regional and national conferences. In particular, the Nassau Declaration from the Caribbean Regional Conference of Psychology in 2011 and the Capetown Declaration from the International Congress of Psychology in 2012 have highlighted widespread concern for this continuing imbalance in international psychology. This article draws on concepts and strategies in psychology (particularly cross-cultural and intercultural psychology) to propose some remedies to these problems. It is based on a universalist vision for the discipline; this view asserts that basic psychological processes are common to our human species, while their development and expression are culturally shaped. The eventual goal is to achieve a global psychology that incorporates concepts and findings from societies and cultures from all parts of the world.
State of the Science Editorial: John W Berr
South African Journal of Psychology December 2013 43: 391-401, first published on October 4, 2013 doi:10.1177/0081246313504517