Lene Arnett Jensen, Senior Research Scientist, Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts)

Title of presentation:

Cultural-Developmental Thoery: Self and Social Science in a Global World


One-size-fits-all theories, which were popular in 20th century psychology, are often too rigid and too biased to adequately capture the complexities of individual selves and human relations across diverse and changing cultures. On the other hand, one-for-every-culture does not seem appealing either. It raises the specter of theoretical pandemonium and does not capture the fact that humans everywhere share common psychological characteristics. In this presentation, I will propose that an alternative is to conceptualize theories that are “cultural-developmental” in nature. To describe this new theoretical approach, I will primarily draw on work in the area of moral development as an example. This will include a focus on adolescence. I will also suggest how a cultural-developmental approach may be applied to many other areas of human development.