Religion, regardless of one’s personal religious or spiritual beliefs, matters. The chances of being part of a diverse religious affiliation increase as our global community expands. McFaul (2006) points out that while two out of every three people in the world belong to one of the three major religions of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, there are hundreds of religions in the world today. McFaul contends that “religion is one of the major driving forces of the future” (p. 31). Christopher Hitchens and others in the atheist world might like to rail about god’s lack of existence and the damage that people who hold beliefs in god do, but the reality is that whether or not god or gods exist, people use religion (or lack thereof) to create systems of meaning.
Gardiner and Kosmitzki (2008) acknowledge their use of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model as the basis for the coverage of human development from a cultural perspective. It is the first theory that I will elaborate on. It seems readily apparent, at least to me, that the relationship between an individual and his or her environment is dynamic and reciprocal in nature. A person reacts to his or her environment and in doing so alters the environment. Bronfenbrenner’s theory, according to Gardiner and Kosmitzki, is at its essence this simple a proposition. Bronfenbrenner expounds this theory further and posits specific levels of the environment such as the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem (Gardiner & Kosmitzki).
I think that there is an innate (somewhat mindblind) tendency to assume that other people think, feel, react the same way we do. Americans are often egocentric. We think that our way is the best way and assume that everyone wants to be like us. While it can be quite arrogant, when we are at our idealistic best, it is perhaps somewhat a quaint utopian dream.
Matsumoto and Juang (2008) note that the research done in psychology is “limited to the research that generated them” and the cross-cultural psychology goes beyond typical psychological research in that it compares the variables across more than one culture (p. 29). Most psychological research done in the United States by its nature is culture-specific in that the participants tend to be American . I would offer that a psychologist in the United States conducting a research study will consider it a job well done if the sample is ethnically or racially diverse or approximates the population distribution.