Comparative Culturology and Cross-Cultural Psychology: How Comparing Societal Cultures Differs From Comparing Individuals’ Minds Across Cultures

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  • Michael Minkov
  • Vivian L. Vignoles
  • Christian Welzel
  • Plamen Akaliyski
  • Michael Harris Bond
  • Anneli Kaasa
  • Peter B. Smith

Cross-cultural research in social and behavioral sciences has expanded hugely over the past 50 years, but progress is currently hampered by a lack of appreciation of the profoundly differing principles and goals of two distinct traditions. The first is the main variant of cross-cultural psychology (CCP), focusing on how culture shapes individual psychological functioning. The second was pioneered by Hofstede. It studies societal differences, and we name it “comparative culturology” (CC). We explain how these two paradigms differ. CCP is grounded in psychology and typically looks for unobservable individual-level constructs, which supposedly exist independently of their measurement, to provide understanding of individual differences as affected by culture. CC is an interdisciplinary field whose roots and impact span sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, management studies, psychology, and beyond. CC measures cultural dimensions as group-level constructs created by researchers, which are best understood as ecological manifolds: conglomerates of conceptually and statistically associated variables (not necessarily held together by a single underlying factor) that collectively explain national (and other group) differences. Given these paradigmatic distinctions, the two fields need not, and cannot, use the same validation methods. They should co-exist and collaborate based on mutual appreciation of their differences, without attempts by either field to impose its idiosyncrasies on the other.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)164-188
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 03.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The work of the first author was supported by the Basic Research Program of the Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation. The other authors received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

    Research areas

  • comparative culturology, cross-cultural psychology, culture, latent factors, manifold construct, reflective versus formative construct
  • Politics