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Department of Psychology Personality, Mental Health, and Culture


Because psychology is the study of human beings in general, the extent to which our knowledge relies on evidence from western, industrialized nations, a small minority of the world’s population, is problematic. Western bias impoverishes our understanding of the human experience. It also limits the generalizability of our findings, and the applicability of measures, models and treatments to the majority of the world.

Two projects aim to update current models in psychology to be more broadly applicable, and adapt methods for use in diverse contexts. A longitudinal study of emerging adults in Namibia and Kenya will explore personality development during this life stage and may be the first large-scale, ongoing longitudinal exploration of psychology in Africa. The multi-country World Views and Well Being collaboration will refine a global map of psychological variation by assessing (a) the variables that best distinguish between cultures, (b) psychological disorder symptoms, and (c) their interrelations. Our goals is also to help those in the West to better understand ourselves. Which aspects of our experience are fundamental parts of being human, and which are shaped by our cultural context?