The reader will have realized that this book offers a selective presentation of a diverse field. Necessarily many important points of view, empirical research studies and programs of application have not been mentioned, never mind given substantive treatment. Our attention, however, has not been random, but was guided by major themes and debates on the relationship between behavior and culture.
We have also taken the position that psychological processes are shared, species-wide characteristics. These common psychological qualities are nurtured, and shaped by enculturation and socialization, sometimes further affected by acculturation, and ultimately expressed as overt human behaviors. While set on course by these transmission processes relatively early in life, behaviors continue to be guided in later life by direct influence from ecological, cultural and sociopolitical factors. In short, we have considered culture, in its broadest sense, to be a major source of human behavioral diversity producing variations on underlying themes. It is the common qualities that make comparisons possible, and the variations that make comparisons interesting.
Our enterprise has some clearly articulated goals, and it is reasonable to ask whether the field of cross-cultural psychology generally, and this book in particular, has met them. In our view, one of the goals, as expressed in Chapter 1, has not been achieved: we are nowhere close to producing a universal psychology through the comprehensive integration of results of comparative psychological studies.