PSYC 307 (3 cr): Cultural Psychology

PSYC 307

Course Description and Prerequisites

This course investigates the way that cultural experiences shape our psychology, cultural influences on human thought and behaviour; interactions of culture and self; multicultural experiences; intercultural relations; methodological issues.

Prerequisite: Either (a) PSYC 100 or (b) all of PSYC 101, PSYC 102.

Intended Audience

Psychology 307 is a course specifically designed for both students that are not psychology majors and those who are psychology majors in the Bachelor of Arts program. The course, while intellectually challenging, emphasizes fundamentals rather than details. Although the course is designed for students that have a limited knowledge of psychology, a background of experimental psychology and the biological sciences are a definite asset.

Course Overview

This course investigates the way that cultural experiences shape our psychology.  One important point to note is that we all are, to a certain extent, products of our cultural environments.  This is a point worth emphasizing as it is often quite difficult to see our own cultural influences – culture is something we only tend to notice when it’s foreign or exotic.  The assignments and asynchronous chats are designed, in part, to help you to realize your own cultural influences.

There are a total of five modules in the course, each of which covers material in 2-3 chapters of the textbook, an additional reading, and a video (for the first two modules only).

The modules focus on the following material:

Module 1 explores a number of interrelated questions from the first three chapters of the textbook.  The first chapter focuses on the question of how humans became a cultural species, how culture matters for psychology, and how the study of culture in psychology changed over history.  The second chapter is concerned with where our cultures come from – we will discuss how our geographical environments influence cultural patterns, and how cultures change and persist across time.  The third chapter reviews how psychologists use various methods to investigate how culture relates to our psychology.

Module 2 addresses the question of how our cultures come to shape the ways that we think.  Chapter 4 of the textbook describes how people acquire cultural meanings as they develop, and Chapter 5 discusses how culture is implicated in people’s self-concepts.

Module 3 explores how people’s key values, motivations, and feelings are both similar and different across cultures.  Chapter 6 investigates why people are motivated to achieve the things that they are, Chapter 7 considers how our cultures shape our moral values, and Chapter 8 describes the role of culture in people’s emotions around the world.

Module 4 covers material from two distinct topics.  First, Chapter 9 describes how culture shapes the ways that people perceive and understand their worlds.  Chapter 11 investigates how cultural experiences influence the ways that humans form relationships and groups.

Module 5 examines two other sets of questions.  The first set of questions, addressed in Chapter 10, is concerned with how people’s cultural experiences shape both their mental and physical health.  The second set of questions, covered in the last chapter, targets how people navigate between more than one cultural world, particularly with respect to the question of acculturation.


Each module has either an assignment or a chat topic (sometimes both) as well as a short multiple choice quiz.  You will be graded on each of the assignments, chats, and quizzes.  At the end of the term there will be a final exam which will consist of multiple choice and short essay items.  This will be worth half of your course grade.

The mark distribution for Psychology 307 is as follows:

Assignment Marks:
Assignment 1 (Module 1:Culture Change)
Assignment 2 (Module 2: Family Dinner)
Assignment 3 (Module 4: Rod & Frame)
Module 1 4
Module 2 4
Module 3 4
Module 4 4
Module 5 4
Discussion Forum Contributions:
Module 1 0
Module 2 2
Module 3 2
Module 5 2
Final Examination


Heine, Steven J., Cultural Psychology. W.W. Norton, 2008 ISBN: 9780393925739

PSYC307 Textbook Order Form

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