The role of context and culture in psychological processes is a major research theme of the Department of Psychology. Context and culture as a theme provides a broader conceptual framework to incorporate the department’s standing commitment to diversity as an area of research and aspect of practice, while also encompassing work related to the dual degree with Women’s Studies and much of ongoing work on affect and emotion. This theme is not simply providing a broader conceptual umbrella. It highlights the potential theoretical and methodological links across these and other areas. Culture and context also cuts across all five of our program areas, from workforce diversity in industrial-organizational psychology to cultural variation in language acquisition in cognitive.
Examples of the contextual and cultural influences explored in research in the Psychology Department include cultural variations in emotional development, cultural influences on mental health, the influence of neighborhood context on family functioning and adolescent outcomes, effects of culture on justice perception and workplace outcomes, and the relations among language, brain, and culture.
Much of the Department’s research and teaching related to context and culture focuses on social inequality. Penn State’s psychology department recognizes the importance of using psychological approaches to better understand why social inequalities exist and to provide interventions rooted in psychological theory to reduce these disparities wherever possible. This work is described in more detail on our Social Inequality page.