Cross-cultural psychology takes into consideration an individual's culture, including values and beliefs, when considering behavior and what is considered normal and abnormal. Cultural considerations should also be taken into consideration when creating standardized assessments and when treating a client.
With a career in cross-cultural psychology, individuals are often involved in research or academic settings. Some research may focus on how people are similar or different in certain areas, such as personality and reasoning, while other research may be focused on determining if disorders are more or less prevalent in some cultures over others.
In some ways, cross-cultural psychology encompasses many other fields of psychology. For instance, it involves cognitive psychology through exploring how reasoning, motivation, language, learning, and choice are different for people in different cultures. Social psychology is included in topics like how people from different cultures behave socially, such as the idea that people in collectivist cultures like South Korea and Japan value family and dependence, while those in individualistic cultures like the United States value independence from the group.
The study of abnormal psychology within cross-cultural psychology is also greatly important in areas of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. For example, many standardized assessments like the Beck Depression Inventory are based off of test results using a sample of the predominant culture. Therefore, the test may not be generalizable to different populations, and people from other cultures may answer in very different ways, which could mask an actual diagnosis of depression or result in a diagnosis of depression when the person doesn't actually have depression. Methods of treatment must also take into consideration the client's culture, because some cultures may be more against drug therapy while others could be more resistant to certain types of psychotherapy.
Therefore, cross-cultural psychology is an extremely important area of study. Culture not only comes into play when considering the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, but also when studying aspects of individual behavior as well.
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