Western domination of social psychology

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Essay question:
To what extent is social psychology theory and research
dominated by Western perspectives
- and what can be done about it?

Nuvola apps ksig.png This page is being developed as an accompanying resource for a Social psychology essay topic.

Some initial thoughts[edit]


  • Define (limit) "Western"
  • Limit to scholarly pursuit (scientific study)?
  • Ethnocentrism


  • Origins
  • Conformity/obedience
  • Concepts of the self
  • Perception & attitudes
  • Social identity theory
  • Non-western theory development
  • Metatheory


  • Research methods
  • Self-enhancement bias
  • Self-regard
  • Self-serving bias
  • Personality factors
  • Conformity

What can be done?[edit]

Assume global relevance?

Cross-cultural approach

Incorporate culture in theory
Include cultural variables in research

Indigenisation from without

"Glocalization" = "phenotypic variations of global genotype" (Chui, 2007)- global relevance?

Indigenisation from within

Culture as a source
Relevant applied research


  • Western construct
  • Language
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Politics
  • Ideologies
  • Ego

Some other possible considerations[edit]

Some thoughts which may be useful / may already be covered:

  • What is non-Western? (e.g., does non-Western = Eastern?; perhaps also an alternative dimension is collectivist compared to individualistic cultures)
  • Body-mind issues; e.g., have Western perspectives in psychology pushed a dualistic separation of body-mind?
  • Individualistic perspectives (e.g., to the detriment of social perspectives?)
  • Bias towards significant findings and publication? (e.g., publication bias; file drawer effect)
  • Bias towards North American perspectives, studies, etc.
  • Overuse of university students as samples (see Further Reading)
  • Political/government funding of particular lines of research and employment (e.g., anti-illegal drug research, as opposed to "objective research")

Final product[edit]

Refined question[edit]

It was agreed that the second part of the question should be removed. The final question became:

To what extent is social psychology theory and research dominated by Western perspectives?

Yellow shading: The Western World according to the UN


There is a strong Western dominance in social psychology theory and research. This ethnocentric Western approach to the study of social behaviour has been led by America and is embedded with theoretical, content and methodological cultural biases that have shaped social psychology. This article explores the integral theoretical concepts of the self and the distinction between individualism and collectivism in social psychology. Constructs such as cognitive dissonance, social loafing, and conformity are used to illustrate theoretical and research biases. The limitations of Western research methods, such as the publication bias, overuse of students as research participants, and the narrow scope of research design, are considered; as are construct, method and item biases affecting the reliability and validity of Western cross-cultural tests. These biases indicate there is little regard for other cultural perspectives in Western social psychology.


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