“CULTURE” IN INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY TEXTS: THE GERMAN EXAMPLE
When modern social scientific research began in the 18th and 19th centuries, investigations of the role culture plays for individuals and societies were considered essential. Contributions to the field by Germans and German-speaking authors are well-known, manifold, and linked to the seminal work of Herder, Humboldt, Wundt, Freud, Boas, and many others. However, although German psychologists (e.g., Wundt, in his Vцlkerpsychologie) initially paid great attention to the relationship between cultural phenomena, human development, and societal functioning, that quickly changed. Soon, their attention shifted to the American version of behaviourism and cognitivism and what today is called “mainstream psychology.” It is thus one of history’s many ironies that German psychologists’ newly awakened interest in cultural research was re-introduced to them by “American” disciplines like psychological anthropology or cross-cultural psychology. – Against this background and within the framework of the Introductory Psychology Text (IPT) project, this paper will investigate the following questions: a) What effect has this development had on the selection of introductory psychology textbooks being used at German universities today? b) What proportion of culturally-informed psychology textbooks currently used in psychology departments in Germany were written by German and what proportion by North American authors? c) Are there differences in the ways the topic of culture is discussed in the German and North American authored textbooks used in psychology departments in Germany? In answering these questions, data from an ongoing survey of psychology departments in Germany will be used. Similar data are being collected in psychology departments in India in order to make comparisons and theorize about cultural specificities in the selection and content of textbooks used to teach psychology.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev