Spring 2020 - PSYC 391 D200

Selected Topics in Psychology (3)

Cultural Psychology

Class Number: 7643

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    SWH 10041, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 19, 2020
    3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
    EDB 7618, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PSYC 201. Other prerequisites vary by topic offering.



Course can be repeated for credit. Students may not take this course for further credit if similar topics are covered. See Psychology department website for course description.


How do culture and mind “make each other up”? This course will introduce you to the emerging interdisciplinary field of Cultural Psychology. We will address fundamental questions about human thought, behavior, and society, including: What is human nature? What is human culture? How are humans similar to, or different from, other species? How are people from different cultures similar to, or different from, each other? How does culture influence neural, psychological, and social processes, including perception, cognition, emotion, and social relationships? And how do psychological processes influence persistence and change in culture and society? We will discuss cutting-edge research showing that all psychological processes may be subject to cultural influence. We will utilize the comparative method, across species and across cultures, as this illuminates the interplay of biology and culture in human development. We will also discuss synergies among qualitative and quantitative methods, and among natural and social sciences, in studying culture and psychology. A central goal of the course is to stimulate critical thinking about research in psychology, highlighting the need for greater inclusion of underrepresented populations—as scientists, and as research participants—in the production of psychological knowledge.


• Describe the history and goals of Cultural Psychology, including its relationship to other sub-fields of Psychology and to other disciplines in the Social and Natural Sciences.
• Identify some methodological best-practices and pitfalls in the study of human psychology related to sampling, reliability, validity, and generalization.
• Avoid the naturalistic fallacy by distinguishing between descriptive claims (what “is”) and normative claims (what “ought to be”) in discussions of human behavior.
• Characterize the role of culture in human evolution.
• Describe some of the major dimensions of variation in ecology, demography, norms, beliefs, practices, and psychological processes that can be used to compare and contrast human populations.
• Identify several possible explanations for observed population similarities and/or differences in appearances, beliefs, or behavior.
• Describe the kinds of studies and evidence that might distinguish between possible explanations of observed population similarities and/or differences.
• Be a more critical consumer of scientific claims, and of popular media depictions, of supposed human universals and/or cultural differences.
• Be more reflexive and aware of the culture-boundedness of your own beliefs and values.


  • Exam 1: 22%
  • Exam 2: 22%
  • Exam 3: 22%
  • In-class Activities: 34%


Cultural psychology; culture & human nature; gene-culture co-evolution; human development; research methods & ethics; self & personality; multiculturalism; cognition, perception, & language; motivation; emotions & social relationships; morality, religion, and justice; well-being and health.



Heine, S. J. (2015). Cultural Psychology (3rd Edition). New York: W. W. Norton.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html