Nature and Scope of
Online Readings in Psychology and Culture

Center for Cross-Cultural Research
Western Washington University
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.

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Welcome to a unique free textbook and website! Consisting of short chapters relating to many aspects of the interface between psychology and culture, Online Readings in Psychology and Culture is designed to be used by professors to supplement lectures and textbooks in any psychology course, or as the primary readings for courses in psychology and culture. The project is based on the following assumptions that are combined with much collegial good faith and a generous supply of optimism:
  • Students, professors, and researchers throughout the world will benefit from free and easily accessible readings dealing with the interaction between psychology and culture. If one has access to the internet, then s/he will have free use of the readings.
  • Professors will welcome a free resource for their students, and supplement their psychology courses or psychology and culture courses with the readings.
  • Many psychologists have a strong interest in, as well as much experience in, cross-cultural or cultural psychology. In the spirit of sharing their ideas and collective wisdom, they will unselfishly contribute one or more short chapter(s).
  • We, the editors, would have the time, resources, and open-ended interest to do a respectable organizational and editorial job on this project, with no financial remuneration of any kind for anyone involved.
  • Once Online Readings in Psychology and Culture became known, many others would be excited about using the readings in their courses, profession work, and writing a chapter for it. (See below concerning possible involvement in this project.)

These readings are meant to supplement and not replace, compete with, or diminish the importance of basic texts in the areas of cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, psychological anthropology and related academic areas. There are dozens of published works that cover a broad range of topics in the relevant culture-oriented areas, and instructors (especially) who log onto this website will be familiar with most of the fine texts, handbooks and other resources that are currently available. Indeed, several contributors to this project are authors or co-authors of basic books of the type we have in mind. And unlike conventional and commercial texts, the chapters in Online Readings in Psychology and Culture -- both individually and collectively - are not intended to be fixed and unmodifiable. Each of them can be periodically revised and updated by the author(s), if they prefer to do so. Indeed, our plans include updating the readings on a periodic basis, perhaps annually, after we meet our initial goal of including 100 chapters at this website.

Also, please keep in mind that this is not a book in the classical sense, and it therefore should not be evaluated as such. We like to think of this as a "rolling" book -- a set of essays, reflections, and data-oriented reports -- gathering momentum and enthusiasm as it evolves and thrives on creative input by many scholars. The chapters are generally well written, but the presentations aren't as uniform or "standardized" as they may have been in a more traditional book. In fact, we chose to allow authors the liberty of addressing their topics in the manner they thought most appropriate and interesting.

Copyright and Use of the Chapters

It is important for readers of these chapters to know that all of the contributions to this project, present and future, are or will be copyrighted. The author or authors of each chapter is actually the copyright holder. The present authors have signed an agreement that extends to us a license to use their work in this project; we have merely added each chapter to the collection. Part of the agreement reads as follows:

". . . both the Author and the Center realize that it is possible that individuals with malicious or mercenary intent could create situations where either compensation or unwarranted activity is involved. In the event such cases occur, both the Center and the Author reserve the right to take legal action against any party involved for violation of copyright."

You may view the complete Agreement.

We mainly want to urge everyone to respect and abide by the spirit of academic interest and scholarship that has vitalized this project ("play by the rules") and use this resource in the same spirit that the chapters were written: Unselfish scholarship and a genuine desire to help many others understand the nature of culture's influence on human thought and behavior.

Disclaimer: The Center for Cross-Cultural Research, the Department of Psychology, and Western Washington University are not responsible for the content of any chapter written by any invited participant author. 

How to Use Online Readings in Psychology and Culture

Each chapter in Online Readings in Psychology and Culture has been placed into one the following 16 units (Unit 1 concerns organizational and editorial matters):

Unit Unit Title
1 Foreword and Introduction
2 Conceptual, Methodological, and Ethical Issues in Psychology and Culture
3 Perspectives from Various Ethnic and Cultural Groups
4 Basic Psychological Processes and Culture
5 Conceptualizing and Measuring Intelligence, Abilities, and Creativity across Cultures
6 Measuring Personality and Values Across Cultures
7 Studying Health and Well-Being Across Cultures
8 Acculturation and Adapting to Other Cultures
9 Culture and Mental Illness
10 Counseling Across Cultures
11 Culture and Human Development: Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence
12 Culture and Human Development: Adulthood and Old Age
13 Cultural Perspectives on Families
14 Cultural Perspectives on Death, Dying, and Bereavement
15 Social Psychology and Culture
16 Perspectives on Becoming More Culturally Competent

One may pick and choose among all the readings and use them as needed.

Here are four examples of how they may be used:

  • Supplemental material for one or more regularly published books chosen as the main focus in such courses as Cross-Cultural Psychology, Cultural Psychology, Human Diversity, or any other course that focuses on the interrelationships between psychology and culture.
  • Supplemental readings in one or more courses not explicitly focusing on culture but one in which the instructor wants to infuse the course content with various perspectives concerning culture and human thought and behavior. For instance, courses in human development, social psychology, or personality would be enhanced by a careful selection of the readings.
  • The nucleus of a particular course of study that is being designed at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • Source material for term papers and projects that may be required in parts of one's field of study.

The Giving Away of Psychology

Finally, it is the user of this website who has full permission to use these readings in any way he or she wishes, so long as any effort to do so is consistent with the unselfish spirit of this project and the User Agreement. Years ago, as part of his presidential address to the American Psychological Association, George A. Miller said that psychologists should "give psychology away." By this he meant that psychologists, almost all of whom have much to offer by way of expertise, research findings, and acumen in plumbing the depths of the human mind, should freely and willingly give their discipline away to those who can use it best: the public, inquisitive students, and others who are trying to understand their life and times, often in desperate circumstances. This project is one sure way to "give psychology away" and through that action honor Miller's humanitarian intent. All the contributing authors are aware of this spirit, either explicitly or implicitly. By joining this effort they honor the memory of Miller, a remarkable and influential psychologist who himself had a profound interest in culture.

Your Potential Involvement is Important

The initial launching of this unique and energetic effort is just a start. Those of us at the Center for Cross-Cultural Research who will monitor this project into the indefinite future welcome correspondence regarding the possible addition of new chapters (see below). We believe that all psychologists interested in the interface between psychology and culture have many good ideas, perspectives, and experiences that they would like to share with others. Similarly, we believe that there are thousands of individuals who will appreciate generous contributions such as the current chapters in this project and others that will be added in the near future. Unencumbered by editorial constraints (often stringent demands) of orthodox journal reviewing procedures and typical book chapters, we have found that those who have already contributed chapters appreciate the freedom they had in explaining some of their ideas and past or future research (summarizing previously unpublished data), and creatively suggesting different ways to consider the ways in which psychology and culture define each other. The amazing facility of the internet and the convenience it offers to many throughout the world has made this project possible; such an effort would have been difficult, at best, even ten or twelve years ago when the basic idea of a "modular" or "cafeteria-style" approach was developed by the senior editor of Online Readings in Psychology and Culture.

If you are interested in writing a chapter for this project (or if you know of someone whom you think would write an excellent and useful chapter), please get in touch with us. We welcome the opportunity to discuss possible future contributions. This should not, however, be taken as a blanket invitation to submit material for immediate consideration and swift insertion into the structure. Quality first, quantity second. Your initial inquiries should be addressed to Walt Lonner ( (In turn, he will discuss each inquiry with his three co-editors and possibly others who may serve as consultants.)

Future Projects

Launching a project such as this requires much technical assistance, organization, editing, and close cooperation. While there may be some problems in searching for and retrieving sections of this online text, we expect that most users' problems will be relatively easily resolved. We urge you to let us know if you encounter problems. Please contact Walt Lonner first if you experience problems when using the site. Every effort will be made to resolve the difficulties as soon as possible. Suggestions regarding the presentation and organization of the material are welcomed. Our intent is to make these readings as "user-friendly" as possible.

This project is part of a larger effort that is currently in its infancy. Led by William K. Gabrenya, Jr. of the Florida Institute of Technology, who is also editor of the Cross-Cultural Psychology Bulletin, resources are being harnessed to create a multi-faceted approach to informing an increasing number of people about the important relationships there are between the individual and his or her culture in almost any aspect of his or her life. We urge you to "stay tuned" for future developments and to monitor the home page of both the Center for Cross-Cultural Research and the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology.


The strength and usefulness of this project rests squarely on the shoulders of the many authors who have contributed chapters. We want to acknowledge their important contributions and to thank them for enthusiastically accepting our invitation. It is gratifying that so many people have been willing to devote some of their precious time to this project. We also wish to thank in advance the many scholars who have indicated that they will write a chapter or two in the immediate future. The numerous authors who are involved in this project and we, the editors, hope that the considerable effort that this project has required will be beneficial to all students of culture throughout the world.

Walter J. Lonner
Dale L. Dinnel
Susanna A. Hayes
David N. Sattler

Center for Cross-Cultural Research
Western Washington University

August 16, 2002

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