Introduction to Cross-Cultural Psychology Paper

Introduction to Cross-Cultural Psychology Paper


Cultural as well as cross cultural psychology is the field or the branch of psychology that primarily focuses on culture, and the effects that culture has on the mind and behavior. Culture is the symbols, the attitudes, and the behaviors that are shared by a group of people and passed on to the next generation of that group of people. Culture affects how a person thinks and in turn also affects a person’s behavior and how they act. Cultural psychology focuses on how culture affects an individual’s mental processes and behavior within that culture. Within this paper, I am going to explain one of the electronic readings from this week and how it relates to cross cultural psychology.

The electronic reading that I chose to explain would be “Pacific islands families study: The Association of Infant Health Risk Indicators and Acculturation of Pacific Island mothers living in New Zealand.” Which came from The Journal of Cross- Cultural Psychology. This was a study in which nearly 1,400 infants of Pacific Island descent were followed for a period of time after being born in the country of New Zealand. Specific areas that were studied was the process of associating maternal acculturation, as measured by an abbreviated version of the General Ethnicity Questionnaire, and that of a selected infant and maternal health risk indicator. The study findings then revealed that those infants who have a strong identity to the Pacific islands culture actually has noticeably better infant and maternal risk factor outcomes when compared to those have illustrated a weak cultural alignment. Consideration was given to Berry’s Classical Acculturation Model, which showed that separators had the best infant and maternal outcomes, while integrators displayed reasonable infant and maternal outcomes, and assimilators and marginalisors had the poorest infant and maternal outcomes. This case study arrived at the conclusion that individuals who retain strong cultural links to their ethnic identify, in this case the Pacific Islands, are likely to exhibit positive health benefits.

This case study itself serves to define what cultural and cross cultural psychology entails and epitomizes. This branch of psychology is concerned with the establishment of a paradigm whereby inidividuals from one culture can effectively contribute to the community within another culture, while still maintaining his or her own ethnic identity. The study affirms the long held belief that one’s culture and ethnic identity truly define who the person is, regardless of what culture one may temporarily or permanently find themselves residing in. This case study is also indicative of other minority ethnic groups residing outside of their own environment in another locally. In the case of people of Pacific Ethnicity, for example, It has been determined that the individuals themselves are “overrepresented in many adverse social and health statistics. Pacific peoples generally fare worse than the New Zealand population as a whole in a statistics relating to health, unemployment, housing, crime, income, education, and nutrituion (Borrows et al., 2011, p. 701). These areas are also those that are most indicative of a groups long term health, both physically and mentally. Many minority ethnic groups find themselves at the poorer end of society, even in situations where the economy and job prospects are good. As such, in order to compensate, it is beneficial to maintain much of their ethnic identity in order to hold onto those values and mores that their people have grown accustomed to (Bosk,2008). In the case of the Pacific Islands, the entails family being perceived as providing support throughout one’s lifespan, particulalrly in caring for infants.

This studyd also demonstrates the importance of understanding the culture and health are interrelated. It seems that migration itself is not the determining factor in health itself, but rather the ability of the individual to assimilate into a new culture while still being able to related to their own society of origin (Spector, 2002), This is so crucial with the amount of immigration taking place today globally. Perhaps no other point in history has seen the numbers of individuals living outside the country of their birth This struggle between the majority and minority continues to exist and perhaps has only become exacerbated as individuals grapple with how to effectively deal with the diversity that exists in communities across the globe today. Cross cultural psychology aims to take a look at how cultures of various sorts can live in harmony and peace with one another without one particular culture group being forced, or asked , to shed off their own ethnic identity in certainly impact the physical health and emotional well-being of any individual who lives outside of their own culture. In addition, it affects individuals who live in their own culture, but are surrounding by others who do not. Education must be a two way street in terms of working together to provide a more centered and multicultural approach to society in an effort to bridge the gap that currently exists between ethnic groups today.

The methodology most commonly associated with cross- cultural psychology is largely anthropological and observation based. As with this case study, it is important to follow a group of people for a period of time in order to determine certain characteristics that contribute to their health, or detract from it. To do this, researchers will often live amongst a group of people. They will observe their interactions within their own culture or ethnic group, in addition to observe their ability to assimilate with the host culture as well. In observing the process of assimilation, it is important to analyze whether or not individuals fully assimilate, partially assimilate, or refuse to assimilate at all. There are many who argue that full assimilation into the host culture is best, yet this is not supported by empirical evidence. Partial assimilation involves a willingness to embrace the host culture, while still maintaining the root core and value system of the culture of origin. In the long run, this likely contributes more fully to the health and well-being of the individual than any other component of cross cultural living, and this is what cross cultural psychology is largely concerned with studying.

Finally, this case study presents the reality that ethnicity, race, and ones worldview are certainly related, yet separate concepts altogether. Each of these areas must be examined separately in order to gain the complete picture of enculturation. In the case of the Pacific Island infants living in New Zealand, it was important to analyze how the families involved chose to enculturate themselves within the host culture. While it is true that different people will react and respond in different ways when living outside their comfort zone, it certainly appears that a balanced approach to enculturation is the most healthy and beneficial way to go.


Borrows, J., Williams, M., Schluter, P., Paterson, J., and Helu, S. L. (2011). Pacific Islands families

study: The association of infant health risk indicators and acculturation of Pacific Island

living in New Zealand. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 42(5), 699-724.

Boski, P. (2008). Five meanings of integration in acculturation research. International Journal of

Intercultural Relations, 32(2), 142-153.

Spector, R. E. (2002). Cultural diversity in health and illness. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3),