Cultural psychology is the study of cultural traditions and social practices. These psychologists attempt to understand how cultures regulate and transform the human mind. Cultural psychology is similar to cross-cultural psychology, which studies the universality of mental processes and behaviors across distinct cultures. Training in cultural psychology is a strong preparation for careers that require interaction with diverse groups of people.
Universities and private institutions hire cultural psychologists to conduct empirical research. Research assistants or program managers perform research about differences between cultures in development, cognitive processes, perception and interactions with others. In addition to leading a research program, cultural psychologists often work as faculty members to teach cultural psychology courses and advise students.
Many careers in the government and non-profit sectors seek people with a background in cultural psychology to craft policy. As the U.S. becomes more diverse with large groups of immigrants, disparities in health care and education among cultural groups become important. Policy groups seek to create legislation and programs that acknowledge the differences between cultural groups, preserve a group's cultural practices and improve quality of public services.
In addition to positions in the United States, the United Nations, World Health Organization and other trans-national groups seek cultural psychologists to develop programs and work on policy initiatives.
Counseling and Medicine
As the immigrant population in the U.S. rises, a greater understanding of cultural practices and traditions is necessary in health care and counseling. Cultural psychologists who specialize in work with a particular group of people find positions as mental health counselors or cultural consultants in clinics and hospitals. People in these positions help doctors and staff understand the unique cultural issues pertaining to a patient's care and create solutions to improve quality of services.
The business world seeks cultural psychologists to work in foreign countries to understand differences in cultural traditions, practices and business styles. Because cultural psychologists have a strong understanding of different cultures, they make great business consultants in industries with global interests. These professionals help improve communication between different cultural groups and prevent misunderstanding of local traditions and business practices.
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