Varieties of Interdependence and the Emergence of the Modern West: Toward the Globalizing of Psychology

Shinobu Kitayama, Cristina E. Salvador, Kevin Nanakdewa, Amelie Rossmaier, Alvaro San Martin, Krishna Savani

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Cultural psychology—the research field focusing on the mutual constitution of culture and the mind—has made great strides by documenting robust cultural variations in how people think, feel, and act. The cumulative evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that Westerners are independent, whereas those in the rest of the world are interdependent. Although this research traditionally examined North Americans and East Asians, recent research has extended this literature to other non-Western regions. We review this emerging research and describe four distinct forms of interdependence in four non-Western cultural zones. Specifically, interdependence is promoted through (a) conflict avoidance (dominant in much of East Asia), (b) selfassertion for ingroup protection (dominant in Arab regions), (c) expression of emotions that promote interpersonal resonance (dominant in Latin America), and (d) argumentation for conflict resolution (dominant in South Asia). Furthermore, we propose that the Modern West adopted the existing signature features of interdependence in the neighboring cultural zones (notably, self-assertion, emotional expression, and argumentation) and redefined the psychological function and social meaning of these features; instead of promoting interdependence, they became means to achieve independence. This theoretical integration suggests that cultural variation in basic psychological processes emerged over the last several 1,000 years under the influence of ecology, migration, and intergroup relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1006
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Cultural evolution
  • Culture and self
  • Globalizing psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Varieties of Interdependence and the Emergence of the Modern West: Toward the Globalizing of Psychology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this