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Cross-Cultural Psychology: Why Culture Matters

reviewed by Mara L. L. Álvarez-Delgado - June 05, 2015

coverTitle: Cross-Cultural Psychology: Why Culture Matters
Author(s): Krum Krumov & Knud S. Larsen
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623963168, Pages: 474, Year: 2013
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As social creatures, people are immersed in a society that is defined by one or many cultures. In the advent of a globalized world as facilitated by technological advances, once distant cultures are now closer than ever. While culture consists of attitudes and values that help societies meet their needs for survival, it must also take into account the interaction between goal-directed human behavior and existing cultural conditions in constant states of change. The field of cultural psychology seeks to understand how individuals within one culture develop. Yet, it is cross-cultural psychology that seeks to understand how individuals develop within a globalized world of diverse norms and values. Krumov and Larsen aim to discuss the ongoing debate between these two fields through an inclusive approach, and they certainly accomplish it in Cross-Cultural Psychology: Why Culture Matters.


This book is divided into twelve chapters, beginning with a thorough introduction to the field of cross-cultural psychology and how it differs from cultural and indigenous psychology. It is followed by a discussion of research approaches in the field that would be extremely useful for any student beginning to conduct research in the field. The chapter on the origin of culture merges sociocultural and socio-biological theories to portray a comprehensive view on the evolution of culture. This topic is further explored in the chapter on human development, where child rearing practices and institutions such as the educational system are the medium through which individuals’ identity, cognition, and morality arise.

The next chapters go in depth on how an individual's language, cognition, and emotion develop. The symbiotic relationship between language and socio-culture shows how their co-evolution has led to language being a tool through which traits are expressed. Language is a reflection of social evolution. Cognition’s evolution has been culturally determined by intricate relationships among biological, environmental, social, and educational factors. The importance of the environment during development is further discussed, especially as it pertains to individuals, communities, and governments—it is key to the development of society as a whole.


The last five chapters focus on the holistic portrayal of the socialized individual within the cultural context. A thorough picture is presented of how personality and selfhood are construed in Eastern, Western, and indigenous societies, and how they are influenced by the merging of universal structures and culture-specific characteristics acquired through socialization. Socialization also creates gender injustice through the perpetuation of culturally salient gender stereotypes, perpetuating sex roles that negatively affect women.

These organizational relationships between countries of differing cultures attain success and progress through indispensable leadership that must be culturally-sensitive. Leadership is further urged, especially in the wake of globalization, to the necessity of culturally aware and sensitive health systems, since the meaning of pain, abnormal behavior, diagnoses, and treatment are culturally bound.

The book finishes with a substantial 75-page reference section, but would have further benefited from a comprehensive index. The summaries provided at the end of each chapter are concise and very useful. The book is written cohesively, allowing the reader to keep up with all the information presented, while retaining active interest.


The authors have effectively presented a comprehensive view of how culture impacts both the fields of cultural and cross-cultural psychology. This book is an indispensable reference tool for students who intend to pursue research, allowing them to appreciate the underlying cultural variables at play. It is also excellent for experts who want a concise, holistic reference. Cross-Cultural Psychology: Why Culture Matters is a stellar book for novices and experts alike, since it presents the multi-faceted, contextual development of the individual.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 05, 2015
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17985, Date Accessed: 1/25/2022 3:24:20 PM

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About the Author
  • Mara L. Álvarez-Delgado
    University of Texas at Arlington
    E-mail Author
    MARA L. ÁLVAREZ-DELGADO is a graduate student at the Mind, Brain and Education program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her expertise as a teacher and educational leader in a diverse urban campus inspires her research interests in cultural schemas in the teacher-student interaction and second-language acquisition.
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