On the study of culture in developmental science

F.J.R. van de Vijver, Y.H. Poortinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-cultural developmental research faces the daunting task of studying the relationship of development and cultural context. The main argument of this article is that a variety of approaches is needed rather than one single perspective to make progress with this task. We illustrate how qualitative and quantitative research can be seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive. We present four models, following Cole, that range from simple main effects to dynamic interaction models and argue that the debate about superiority of any one model is counterproductive; when applicable a more simple model is to be preferred. Thereafter a taxonomy of psychological domains is proposed (physiological, perceptual, cognitive, personality, and social aspects) that has a bearing on the choice of model. The final section describes some issues (and pseudoissues) of cross-cultural developmental science, such as the dichotomy between molar and molecular approaches, and the presumed need to maximize the understanding of cultural context in all research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-256
JournalHuman Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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