This paper aims to advance the scientific understanding of the role of culture, particularly cultural orientation, in development and psychopathology. We advance a theoretical framework that conceptualizes cultural orientation as a developmental construct represented by multiple psychological dimensions and social identities, and influenced by the contexts in which individuals are embedded. This perspective suggests that cultural orientation changes within individuals over time as a function of their experiences with and memberships in multiple groups, including the mainstream and ethnic culture groups, as well as a function of their normative developmental changes (i.e., the development of cognitive, social, and emotional capabilities). In addition, this framework places the development of an ethnic culture social identity (e.g., an ethnic identity) and a mainstream culture social identity in broader developmental perspectives that recognize these as two of the many social identities that are simultaneously embedded within the individual's self-concept and that simultaneously influence one's cultural orientation. To support the successful integration of culture into the study of development and psychopathology, we describe how highly reliable and valid measures of cultural orientation, indexed by individuals’ social identities, are essential for generating a scientifically credible understanding of the role of cultural orientation in development and psychopathology. Further, we detail some best research practices associated with our developmental and contextual framework, and note some important considerations for researchers interested in studying cultural orientation, development, and psychopathology.