Origins and development of indigenous psychologies: An international analysis

Carl Martin Allwood, John W. Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (SciVal)


This article examines the origin, development, and characteristics of the indigenous psychologies (IPs) initiated in various regions of the world. These IPs arose as a reaction to the mainstream version of psychology and seek to reflect the social, political, and cultural character of peoples around the world. Fifteen contributions from researchers from different parts of the world are presented, replying to four questions that were posed to them. A number of common themes were identified in the contributions. Post-colonial reactions to mainstream psychology, and the belief that it was not an efficient aid to solving local social problems, were seen as important reasons for developing IPs. IPs were generally seen as attempts to produce a local psychology within a specific cultural context. Different views about what methods are legitimate in IPs were present (from experiments to various more "humanistic'' methods). IPs were commonly seen as being able to open up, invigorate, and improve mainstream psychology. The style of theorizing in the IPs was felt by many to be to build theories from the "bottom up'' on the basis of local phenomena, findings, and experiences. Some contributors saw the IP as a kind of cultural psychology, and a few noted that IP and cross-cultural psychology have an interactive mutually enriching relationship. Nearly half of the contributors emphasized the critical reaction to their work on IP by colleagues working more in the line of mainstream psychology. Many contributors felt that IP could contribute to the development of a more general universal psychology. Different indications of heterogeneity in the IPs were found among the contributors, for example, with respect to the role given to religion in the local IP. Sometimes the presence of different IPs within the same country was reported. This also indicates heterogeneity in the IPs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-268
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology


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