The cultural lens approach to evaluating cultural validity of psychological theory

Erin E. Hardin, Christine Robitschek, Lisa Y. Flores, Rachel L. Navarro, Matthew W. Ashton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In this article, we introduce the cultural lens approach (CLA), a novel approach to evaluating the extent to which a psychological theory applies across cultural groups. The CLA requires scholars to apply their accumulated knowledge about cultural influences and differences (e.g., independent and interdependent self-construals; Markus & Kitayama, 1991) to the ways in which theoretical propositions are interpreted and operationalized. First we highlight three limitations in existing approaches to cultural validity and the ways in which the CLA addresses these limitations. Next, we articulate the five steps involved in the CLA and apply it to three different theories from social, vocational, and positive psychology to demonstrate its broad utility. In all cases, we highlight how applying the CLA can generate multiple novel testable hypotheses to stimulate future research and to advance knowledge that is culturally sensitive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-668
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2014


  • Cultural lens approach
  • Cultural validity
  • Emic
  • Etic


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