Developmental Participation: The Necessity of Cultural Perspectives in Developmental Psychology

Keywords: developmental psychology, cultural psychology, embodiment, guided participation


This main aim of this paper is to present some theoretical considerations about the need for a cultural approach in modern developmental psychology. Starting with a critique of the over-universalisation of developmental research in American psychology, the authors present a paradigm of a relational-developmental system, using the concept of embodiment and a cultural approach in psychological research, in which the principal object of analysis is person-in-action as a culturally inclusive alternative for developmental psychology. This approach will be exemplified by research on development through guided participation and the role of shame in moral and social development in Confucian culture.


Arnett, J. J. (2008). The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist, 63(7), 602–614.

Benedict, R. (1946). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. New American Library.

Berry, J. W. (1980). Introduction to methodology. In H. C. Triandis & J. W. Berry (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 1–28). Allyn and Bacon.

Cole, M. (1998). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Harvard University Press.

Damon, W. (2015). Foreword to the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th ed.). In W. F. Overton & P. Molenaar (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (Vol. 1, pp. VII–XIII). John Wiley & Sons.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. Macmillan.

Fung, H. (1999). Becoming a moral child: The socialization of shame among young Chinese children. Ethos, 27(2), 180–209.

Fung, H. (2006). Affect and early moral socialization: Some insights and contributions from indigenous psychological studies in Taiwan. In U. Kim, K.-S. Yang, & K.-K. Hwang (Eds.), Indigenous and Cultural Psychology. Understanding People in Context (pp. 175–196). Springer.

Fung, H. (2011). Cultural psychological perspective on social development in childhood. In P. K. Smith & C. K. Hart (Eds.), The Wiley–Blackwell handbook of childhood social development (pp. 100–118). Blackwell Publishing.

Greenfield, P. M. (2000). Three approaches to the psychology of culture: Where do they come from? Where can they go? Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3(3), 223–240.

Haun, D. B., Call, J., Janzen, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2006). Evolutionary psychology of spatial representations in the hominidae. Current Biology, 16(17), 1736–1740.

Henrich, J. (2008). A cultural species. In M. Brown (Ed.), Explaining culture scientifically (pp. 184–210). University of Washington Press.

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and brain sciences, 33(2–3), 61–83.

Keller, H., & Greenfield, P. M. (2000). History and future of development in cross-cultural psychology. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31(1), 52–62.

Keller, H. (2007). Cultures of infancy. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kashima, Y., & Gelfand, M. J. (2012). A history of culture in psychology. In A. W. Kruglanski & W. Stroebe (Eds.), Handbook of the history of social psychology. Psychology Press.

Kim, U. (2001). Culture, science and indigenous psychologies: An integrated analysis. In D. Matsumoto (Ed.), Handbook of culture and psychology (pp. 51–76). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lakatos, I. (1978). The methodology of scientific research programmes: Philosophical papers (Vol. 1). Cambridge University Press.

Lerner, R. M. (2012). Essay review: Developmental science: Past, present, and future. International Journal of Developmental Science, 6, 29–36.

Lerner, R. M., & Benson, J. B. (2013). Embodiment and epigenesis: Theoretical and methodological issues in understanding the role of biology within the relational developmental: Part A, philosophical, theoretical, and biological dimensions. Academic Press.

Marshall, P. J. (2009). Neuroscience, embodiment, and development. In W. F. Overton, P. C. M. Molenaar, & R. M., Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (Vol. 1, pp. 244–283). Wiley.

Mistry, J., Contreras, M., & Dutta, R. (2012). Culture and child development. In R. M. Lerner, M. A. Easterbrooks, & J. Mistry (Eds.), Developmental psychology. Comprehensive handbook of psychology (Vol. 6, pp. 265–285). Wiley.

Mistry, J., & Dutta, R. (2015). Human development and culture. In W. F. Overton & P. Molenaar (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (Vol. 1, pp. 369–406). John Wiley & Sons.

Nelson, E. A. S., Yu, L. M., Wong, D., Wong, H. Y. E., & Yim, L. (2004). Rolling over in infants: age, ethnicity, and cultural differences. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 46(10), 706–709.

Nielsen, M., Haun, D., Kärtner, J., & Legare, C. H. (2017). The persistent sampling bias in developmental psychology: A call to action. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 162, 31–38.

Overton, W. F. (2006). Developmental psychology: Philosophy, concepts, methodology. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Theoretical models of human development. Handbook of child psychology (6th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 18–88). Wiley.

Overton, W. F. (2008). Embodiment from a relational perspective. In W. F. Overton, U. Mueller, & J. Newman (Eds.), Developmental perspectives on embodiment and consciousness (pp. 1–18). Erlbaum.

Overton, W. F. (2010). Life-span development: Concepts and issues. In W. F. Overton (Ed.), Cognition, biology, and methods across the lifespan. The handbook of life-span development (Vol. 1, pp. 1–29). Wiley.

Overton, W. F. (2013). Relationism and relational developmental systems: a paradigm for developmental science in the post-Cartesian era. Advances in child development and behavior, 44, 21–64.

Overton, W. F. (2015). Processes, relations, and relational-developmental-system. In W. F. Overton & P. Molenaar (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (Vol. 1, pp. 9–63). John Wiley & Sons.

Overton, W. F., Lerner, R. M., & Molenaar, P. (2015). Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: Vol. 1. Theory and Method. John Wiley & Sons.

Pagel, M. (2012). Wired for culture: origins of the human social mind. WW Norton & Company.

Prosch, H. (1964). The genesis of twentieth century philosophy. Doubleday.

Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeships in thinking. Cognitive development in social context. Oxford University Press.

Rogoff, B. (1993). Children’s guided participation and participatory appropriation in sociocultural activity. In R. Wozniak & K. Fischer (Eds.), Development in context: Acting and thinking in specific environments (pp. 121–153). Psychology Press.

Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. Oxford University Press.

Rogoff, B. (2008). Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: Participatory appropriation, guided participation, and apprenticeship. Pedagogy and practice: Culture and identities, 58–74.

Rogoff, B., & Gardner, W. (1984). Adult guidance of cognitive development. In B. Rogoff & J. Lave (Eds.), Everyday cognition: Its development in social context (pp. 95–116). Harvard University Press.

Rogoff, B., Mistry, J., Göncü, A., Mosier, C., Chavajay, P., & Heath, S. (1993). Guided participation in cultural activity by toddlers and caregivers. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58(8), 1–179.

Rogoff, B., Topping, K., Baker‐Sennett, J., & Lacasa, P. (2002). Mutual contributions of individuals, partners, and institutions: Planning to remember in Girl Scout cookie sales. Social Development, 11(2), 266–289.

Rogoff, B., Dahl, A., & Callanan, M. (2018). The importance of understanding children’s lived experience. Developmental Review, 50, 5–15.

Shweder, R. A., Goodnow, J., Hatano, G., LeVine, R. A., Markus, H., & Miller, P. (2006). The cultural psychology of development: One mind many mentalities. In M. R. Lerner, & W. Damon (Eds.), Theoretical models of human development. Handbook of child psychology (6th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 716–792). John Wiley & Sons.

Stewart, J., Gapenne, O., & Di Paolo, E. (2010). Enaction: Towards a new paradigm for cognitive science. MIT Press.

Super, C. M., & Harkness, S. (2002). Culture structures the environment for development. Human development, 45(4), 270–274.

Super, C. M. (1976). Environmental effects on motor development: The case of ‘African infant precocity’. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 18(5), 561–567.

Taylor, C. (1995). Philosophical arguments. Harvard University Press.

Tomasello, M. (2009). The cultural origins of human cognition. Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental process. Harvard University Press.

Wong, Y., & Tsai, J. (2007). Cultural models of shame and guilt. In J. L. Tracy, R. W. Robins, & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research (pp. 209–223). Guilford Press.

Wiesner, T. S. (1998). Human development, child well-being, and the cultural project of development. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 80, 69–85.