Culture Blindness and Academic Capitalism


Summary. The advancement of a genuinely global science beyond Euro-American mainstream, the reduction of international research inequalities, and the mitigation of adverse effects of academic capitalism are important to make progress in understanding and helping humanity worldwide. 

Culture Blindness

Culture influences how values, socialization processes, and behavior significantly vary across the human species [1]. American psychology tended to consider cultural context merely as a variable that ideally needs to be controlled for [2]. An overemphasis on comparative studies comparing different cultural contexts to the Euro-American standard of mainstream (developmental) psychology would leave science blind to cultural specifics [1]. Globalization should be rather a global inclusion of diversity than the enrollment of dominant cultures across the globe.

Euro-American Mainstream Psychology and Cultural Diversity

The majority of people worldwide live in hugely different contexts than Americans. The samples of the research published in APA journals was assessed to be predominantly representative only for rich urban Euro-American populations and did not cover more than 12% of the human population at maximum across all the articles from 2003 – 2007 [2]. However, cultural studies have started to increase, especially psychological topics such as human development and acculturation are, potentially because of globalization, on the rise. Culturally diverse demographics are not yet well represented by the dominance of Anglo-American researchers [3]. Culture as a conceptually relevant factor is required to better understand also the cultural diversity within a population like the U.S. with its Latino, African, and Asian immigrants [4].

Almost Non-existent Integration of Knowledge About the Developing Majority World

Research from socio-economically less powerful nations can’t afford the promotion of the same global visibility. Also, educational policy research in most countries is focusing on country-level and does rarely address the fostering of understanding international inequalities [5]. UN organizations like the UNICEF’s global data sets are essential for increasing cross-cultural knowledge and addressing the needs of the children in the developing Majority world [1]. As for developmental psychology research, it is vital to consider entire lifespans as children are more adaptable and better suited to test universalities, while adults provide for a clearer insight into cultural diversity [6].

Academic Capitalism

Academia is not immune to the pressure to publish more frequently with more visibility, following the capitalist principle of competition for growth [7]. As over the last 300 years the number of scientists and publications had been increasing exponentially, one can easier find supporting evidence to cite, regardless of the source’s quality [8]. More than one third of researchers in psychology were estimated to have falsified data in their research, a practice that can never be justified [9]. In conclusion, the advancement of a genuinely global science beyond Euro-American mainstream, the reduction of international research inequalities, and the mitigation of adverse effects of academic capitalism are important to make progress in understanding and helping humanity worldwide.

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[1] Marfo, K. (2016). CONTEXT AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF A GLOBAL SCIENCE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: A COMMENTARY. Monographs Of The Society For Research In Child Development, 81(1), 172-182. doi:10.1111/mono.12232

[2] Arnett, J. J. (2008). The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist, 63, 602– 614.

[3] Best, D. L., & Everett, B. S. (2010). The most recent years: The Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2004-2009. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41, 329-335.

[4] Raffaelli, M., Carlo, G., Carranza, M. A., & Gonzales-Kruger, G. E. (2005). Understanding Latino children and adolescents in the mainstream: Placing culture at the center of developmental models. In  L.  A. Jensen & R. W. Larson (Eds.), New horizons in developmental theory and research (pp. 23–32). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

[5] Peter, T., Edgerton, J. D., & Roberts, L. W. (2010). Welfare Regimes and Educational Inequality: A Cross-National Exploration. International Studies In Sociology Of Education, 20(3), 241-264.

[6] Jensen, L. (2012). Bridging Universal and Cultural Perspectives: A Vision for Developmental Psychology in a Global World. Child Development Perspectives, 6(1), 98-104.

[7] Holtz, P., Deutschmann, E., & Dobewall, H. (2017). Cross-Cultural Psychology and the Rise of Academic Capitalism: Linguistic Changes in CCR and JCCP Articles, 1970-2014. Journal Of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48(9), 1410-1431.

[8] Sarewitz, D. (2016). The pressure to publish pushes down quality. Nature, 533(7602), 147.

[9] John, L. K., Loewenstein, G., & Prelec, D. (2012). Measuring the prevalence of questionable research prac- tices with incentives for truth telling. Psychological Science, 23, 524-532. doi:10.1177/0022022117724902


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About mathias sager

PSYCHOLOGIST and Independent Researcher I'm born in Zurich and grew up in Switzerland. For many years I lived in Tokyo, and also in Pune/India. I'm passionate about developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all my work that is based on research and supported by intuition and art. Through teaching, counseling, and leading indivuals and teams around the world my goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for individual well-being and the common good alike. Happy if you reach me on, connect on social media, or email directly to Developing human potential is my passion! - Independent Awareness Intelligence Research (mathias sager - Psychology, global) - MSc in Psychology (University of Liverpool) - Postgraduate in Conflict Management, Leadership and Crisis Communication (University of Applied Sciences Winterthur, Switzerland) - Executive Master in Business Administration (EMBA, iimt Fribourg, Switzerland) - Bachelor in Education Sciences (Switzerland)