Large-scale cross-cultural studies of cognitive and noncognitive constructs

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Although cross-cultural studies that employ survey methodology in a small number of countries are likely to continue, either as a pilot or as an in-depth analysis of phenomena that may be limited to a few countries or world regions, much of the future empirical work and theorizing will be based on large-scale studies that involve many countries. This trend is being encouraged by the emerging political and economic regional alliances and globalization processes. From among the different applied sub-disciplines of psychology, two have been particularly responsive to these developments. Educational psychology has been focused on comparing countries on measures of achievement in areas such as mathematics, language, science, civics and other subjects taught in schools. These, along with various measures of abilities, belong to a class of cognitive processes. Industrial/Organizational psychology, on the other hand, has focussed on what can be broadly defined as the study of cross-cultural differences in values, including personality and social attitudes and norms in order to gain an improved understanding of processes that affect communication among people from different world regions. These can be labelled as noncognitive processes. This special issue provides a snapshot of some recent large-scale cross-cultural work on cognitive and non-cognitive constructs. As it turns out, however, of the five studies included in this selection three have crossed the boundaries and contain information on both sets of constructs. These three studies examine the link between non-cognitive and cognitive processes using individual and country-level data. In this introduction I shall summarize the main findings of each study. In the last part I shall comment on some of the issues that arise from this line of research.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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