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Cross-cultural psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes, including both their variability and invariance, under diverse cultural conditions. Through expanding research methodologies to recognize cultural variance in behavior, language, and meaning it seeks to extend and develop psychology. While cross-cultural psychology represented only a minor area of psychology prior to WWII, it began to grow in importance during the 1960s. Cross-cultural psychology is differentiated from cultural psychology, which refers to the branch of psychology that holds that human behavior is strongly influenced by cultural differences, meaning that psychological phenomena can only be compared with each other across cultures to a limited extent.

In contrast, cross-cultural psychology includes a search for possible universals in behavior and mental processes. Two definitions of the field include: “the scientific study of human behavior and its transmission, taking into account the ways in which behaviors are shaped and influenced by social and cultural forces” and “the empirical study of members of various cultural groups who have had different experiences that lead to predictable and significant differences in behavior”. Early work in cross-cultural psychology was suggested in Lazarus and Steinthal’s journal Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft , which began to be published in 1860. More empirically oriented research was subsequently conducted by Williams H. Torres Straits area, located between Australia and New Guinea.

The Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede revolutionized the field doing worldwide research on values for IBM in the 1970s. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory is not only the springboard for one of the most active research traditions in cross-cultural psychology, but is also cited extensively in the management literature. Hofstede, proposing alternative measures to assess individualism and collectivism. Can the traits defined by American psychologists be generalized across people from different countries? In response to this questions, cross-cultural psychologists have often questioned how to compare traits across cultures. To examine this question, lexical studies measuring personality factors using trait adjectives from various languages have been conducted. Researchers have often wondered whether people across various cultures interpret emotions in similar ways.

In the field of cross-cultural psychology, Paul Ekman has conducted research examining judgments in facial expression cross-culturally. While there are said to be universally recognized facial expressions, Yueqin Huang and his colleagues performed research that looked at how a culture may apply different labels to certain expressions of emotions. Chinese versus American perceptions of facial emotion expressions. Specifically, the paper examines aging-related differences in wise reasoning among the American and Japanese cultures. Differences in conflict resolution across cultures can also be seen with the inclusion of a third party. These differences can be found when a third party becomes involved and provides a solution to the conflict.

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