Culture, Development, and Methodology in Psychology: Beyond Alienation through Data



Culture is one of the broadest concepts used in many sciences. In several cases this concept is considered an evaluation. Culture is a community of people, united by same language, customs, territory of dwelling, etc. But this wide usage of this concept brings several important problems into the research, psychological research included. In psychology culture is presented by several aspects that influence the way of conducting research and understanding the concept as well. Cross-cultural psychology as a part of differential psychology considers culture as a parameter causing the differences between groups of people that belong to certain cultures. The central result of cross-cultural research is fixation of dependence between psychological characteristics of people from different cultures and the characteristics of these cultures. The conclusions, drawn by cross-cultural psychology, have to do with description and explanation of the particular features of people, belonging to certain culture. The explanation of the phenomena of differences in behavior and in mental processes does not step out the frames of being caused by belonging to certain culture, as presented by cross-cultural psychology. The cultural psychology, being part of general psychology, is based upon the genetic point of view. Contrary to the axiom of identity (cross-cultural psychology), cultural psychology is based upon the postulate of becoming, that has two forms, describing the processes of becoming and preservation (that provide relative stability and change in the case of development). Cultural psychology studies the human being (person) as a holistic system in interaction with its environment, individual-in-social-context. The author rises the question of the method of cultural psychology. The method must allow to track the processes, leading to certain results, that is, to investigate the processes of becoming, processes of development. The usage of minimized introspection (rating scales) is therefore substantiated.

General Information

Keywords: culture, development, subject matter of psychology, methodology, cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Valsiner J. Culture, Development, and Methodology in Psychology: Beyond Alienation through Data. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2005. Vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 37–50. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

Information About the Authors

Jaan Valsiner, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, Clark University, Member of the editorial board of the journal “Cultural-Historical Psychology”, Worcester, USA, e-mail:



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