“Cross-cultural psychology is the study: of similarities and differences in individual psychological functioning in various cultural and ethnocultural groups; of ongoing changes in variables reflecting such functioning; and of the relationships of psychological variables with sociocultural, ecological and biological variables” (Berry et al, 2012).
Defining Cross-Cultural Psychology
Berry et al (2012) define their topic using the English language, which of itself contains culturally-bound concepts. Apart from this, their definition is both general and specific enough to define a study, especially when that study is part of Western academia. However, by defining the cultural phenomena that may lead to ‘ongoing changes’ as variables, Berry et al (2012) are using the language of Western science. Psychology is only a fledgling ‘science’; previously it was more the field of philosophy and religion, seeking to define existential phenomena that are, by their very nature, undefinable. It is both understandable and disappointing to have to reduce phenomena of the human existence to the language of current science. Understandable because the trend in Western academia is for the scientifically ‘provable’; and because a study needs-must contain itself within the language of the institution: here by compound sentences and prepositional phrases. If one were to actively use that same grammar of the definition, and remove all the prepositional phrases (beginning in, of, with, etc), the definition becomes something like this: “…the study …reflecting such functioning…and…”
Therein lies the disappointment: A definition that has no action, and no direct object for the action. However, to define the pursuit of cross-cultural psychology with something like this: ‘Cross-cultural psychology explores global human-ness’ is neither specific nor comprehensive, and while is commits grammatical sins it also perhaps goes further toward explaining the elusiveness of such a pursuit....
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