Although once considered to be at the margins of psychological science, the study of culture has blossomed into one of the most important areas of research today. Studies involving cultural variables appear more frequently than ever before in mainstream journals in developmental, clinical, personality, and social psychology, as well as in specialty journals such as the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Culture and Psychology, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, and the Journal of Cross Cultural Management (van de Vijver, 2006). Theorists are also increasingly incorporating culture as an important variable into their theories and models of psychological processes.
The methodological backbone spurring the blossoming of cultural science in psychology is cross-cultural research, in which two or more cultural groups are compared on psychological variables of interest. This is true regardless of the theoretical approach or perspective one adopts in understanding cultural influences on mind and behavior. For instance, methodological differences used to exist between those who called themselves cross-cultural psychologists versus those who called themselves cultural psychologists, with the former basing most of their work on cross-cultural comparison and the latter arguing that such comparisons were unwarranted, unjustified, and unnecessary (Greenfield, 1997; Shweder, 1999). Today, however, even those who call themselves cultural psychologists clearly use cross-cultural research methods as the method of choice in conducting research (e.g., Heine et al., 2001; Kitayama, Mesquita, & Karasawa, 2006; Markus, Uchida, Omoregie, Townsend, & Kitayama, 2006).