Ecocultural Psychology



This paper reviews the early and recent theoretical and empirical work in ecocultural psychology. It addresses the question of the origins of similarities and differences in human behavior across cultures and of the relationships between culture and behavior, using the ecocultural framework as a guide. I argue that we are able to provide an interpretation of these relationships if we adopt an ecocultural perspective, in which we assume that basic psychological processes are “universal” in the human species, and that behaviors are “adaptive” to contexts, both ecological and sociopolitical. Within such a framework, we conceptualize cultural and individual behavior as separate phenomena: culture exists apart from particular individuals, but becomes incorporated into all individuals through two main transmission processes (enculturation and acculturation). Hence culture is both an independent and an organismic variable in such a framework. Given this conception, it is possible to carry out empirical work at the two levels. Analyses can then be conducted within levels (the classical ethnographic and individual difference studies) and comparisons be made between levels. The major advantage exists when cultural-level data are used to predict individual and group similarities and differences in behavior. No longer do we need to rely on post hoc interpretations of behavioral similarities and differences across cultures. The ecocultural strategy is both “cultural” and “comparative,” allowing for the “cross-cultural” understanding of human diversity.

General Information

Keywords: ecocultural approach, cross-cultural psychology, cognitive style, social conformity, acculturation

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology


For citation: Berry J.W. Ecocultural Psychology. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2019. Vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 4–16. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2019150401. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

John W. Berry, PhD in Psychology, rofessor Emeritus, Queen’s University, Research Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Kingston, Canada, ORCID:, e-mail:



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