Cross-cultural research in social and behavioral sciences has expanded hugely over the past 50 years, but progress is currently hampered by a lack of appreciation of the profoundly differing principles and goals of two distinct traditions. The first is the main variant of cross-cultural psychology (CCP), focusing on how culture shapes individual psychological functioning. The second was pioneered by Hofstede. It studies societal differences, and we name it “comparative culturology” (CC). We explain how these two paradigms differ. CCP is grounded in psychology and typically looks for unobservable individual-level constructs, which supposedly exist independently of their measurement, to provide understanding of individual differences as affected by culture. CC is an interdisciplinary field whose roots and impact span sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, management studies, psychology, and beyond. CC measures cultural dimensions as group-level constructs created by researchers, which are best understood as ecological manifolds: conglomerates of conceptually and statistically associated variables (not necessarily held together by a single underlying factor) that collectively explain national (and other group) differences. Given these paradigmatic distinctions, the two fields need not, and cannot, use the same validation methods. They should co-exist and collaborate based on mutual appreciation of their differences, without attempts by either field to impose its idiosyncrasies on the other.
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- comparative culturology
- cross-cultural psychology
- latent factors
- manifold construct
- reflective versus formative construct