Cultural Psychology

We are interested in questions about culture and human nature in psychology. What psychological processes are universal to all, and what processes are largely limited to certain cultural groups? Knowing the answer to these questions greatly informs our understanding of the nature and function of these processes.

Much of our research has focused on investigations of Japanese and North Americans, the two cultures with which I have the most experience. For example, we have explored how, in contrast to North American self-enhancing motivations, where individuals focus on how good they are, Japanese seem better characterized as demonstrating self-improving motivations and focus on how they are not doing good enough. Self-enhancing motivations serve the maintenance of self-esteem, whereas self-improving motivations serve face-maintenance.

We are currently investigating a variety of other topics in cultural psychology, such as whether there are sensitive windows in people’s development in which they are most receptive to learning cultural meaning systems.