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Registration for the Fall 2019 semester begins June 25.  Watch your email for more details.

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Cultural Psychology

Course Code: PSYC 3340
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Psychology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course is recommended for students majoring in psychology and for students in professional programs who intend to work in multicultural contexts. Cultural psychology is largely a new discipline which challenges our understanding of human nature. Systematic research continues to show just how deeply cultural influences penetrate our psychology and shape the ways that people think. This course reviews the growing body of cultural research across a wide range of topics including self and personality, motivation, morality, emotions, reasoning, communication, mental health, interpersonal attraction and groups. The research is examined in the context of an analysis of the nature of culture and cultural socialization. Particular attention is paid to the research methods used in this field and to the strength of evidence in support of each claim. Towards the end of the course, students are invited to consider how the research in Cultural Psychology can inform our approach to a variety of practical issues that have emerged in multicultural worlds. Students will be given guidance and detailed feedback on constructing clear essays that evaluate alternative perspectives using carefully reasoned arguments and evidence from high quality research.

Course Content

  1. Culture and Human Nature
    • The nature of culture and cultural learning.
    • Psychological universals and variability.
    • The origin and significance of cultural psychology.
  2. Cultural Evolution
    • The origin of cultural variation.
    • Cultural change.
    • Cultural persistence.
  3. Research Methods in Cultural Psychology
    • Meaningful comparisons and cultural measures.
    • Cross cultural research design.
    • Specific research approaches in cultural psychology.
  4. Development and Socialization
    • The development of culturally variable minds.
    • The cultural variation of childhood experience.
    • Developmental transitions.
    • Socialization through education.
  5. Self and Personality
    • Culture and the self-concept.
    • Gender and culture.
    • Implicit theories of self.
    • Personality and the five factor model.
  6. Motivation
    • Motivations for self-esteem and self-enhancement.
    • Motivations for face.
    • Religion and achievement motivation.
    • Agency and control.
    • Motivations for conformity.
  7. Morality, Religion and Justice
    • Ethnocentrism and cultural variability.
    • Ethics of autonomy, community and divinity.
    • Emotions and moral violations.
    • The morality of thoughts.
    • Culture and distributive justice.
  8. Emotions
    • Theories of emotions.
    • Emotional display and recognition.
    • Emotion and language.
    • Cultural variations in kinds of emotional experience.
    • Cultural variations in well-being and happiness.
  9. Cognition and Perception
    • Analytic and holistic thinking.
    • Attention and attribution.
    • Styles of reasoning.
    • Cognitive dissonance.
    • Language and thought.
  10. Mental and Physical Health
    • Universal mental disorders.
    • Culture-bound mental disorders.
    • Culture, physical health and psychological variables.
    • Cultural attitudes towards health, illness and mental disorder.
  11. Interpersonal Attraction, Close Relationships and Groups
    • Universality and variation in types of relationship.
    • Bases of interpersonal attraction.
    • Friends and enemies.
    • Love.
    • Ingroups, outgroups and workgroups.
    • Bases of group identification.
  12. Living in Multicultural Worlds I
    • Issues in studying acculturation.
    • Moving to a new culture.
    • Multicultural people.
  13. Living in Multicultural Worlds II
    • Special topics.
    • Cultural psychology and contemporary issues in multicultural worlds.

Methods of Instruction

Methods of instruction may include:

  • lecture and seminar
  • small group activities, discussion groups, oral presentations
  • video tapes, guest lectures and supplementary online discussions

Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be in accordance with Douglas College and Psychology Department policies. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

Evaluation of Research Article - 15%

Mid Term Paper - 20%

Seminar Presentation and Response - 10%

Term Paper - 35%

Final exam - 20%

Total - 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this course, the students will be able to:

  1. Describe the nature of culture and its significance for the study of psychological process.
  2. Describe and evaluate the range of research methods used in cultural psychology.
  3. Analyze and evaluate research articles in the fields of cultural and cross-cultural psychology.
  4. Describe and evaluate the impact of cultural variation across a wide range of psychological fields including self and personality, motivation, morality, emotions, reasoning, communication, mental health, interpersonal attraction and groups.
  5. Critically evaluate claims about the universality and cultural variability of psychological processes.
  6. Demonstrate an ability to write a clear and well-reasoned academic paper that draws effectively on research evidence in the field of cultural psychology.
  7. Analyze and evaluate the effect of cultural change and cultural transition on psychological processes.
  8. Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge from cultural psychology to a contemporary topic in multicultural societies.

course prerequisites

PSYC 1100 AND PSYC 1200 


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.