What is International Psychology?

International Psychology is a discipline that has emerged from the economics-based term globalization, encompassing the same benefits and, unfortunately, the same pitfalls. The technology that makes it possible for people to dial and speak to people across the world, “eavesdrop” on their television and radio content, and participate in live Internet forums makes globalization inevitable. The speed with which technology is evolving makes it vital that globalization includes not only economic factors, but cultural and educational factors. There must be a common ground on which to meet; that is why worldwide psychology was developed.


Wikipedia offers this definition of International Psychology, also called Global Psychology: it is an “emerging branch of psychology focusing on the worldwide enterprise of psychology in terms of communication an networking, cross-cultural comparison, scholarship, practice an pedagogy.” In common language, it is an effort on the part of psychologists to understand language context and nuance, cultural differences, learning and teaching, so that we can find a common language and cultural vehicle through which we can exchange ideas and newly-discovered concepts, and apply them on a global basis.

History and Importance of the Theory

This lofty principle was first discussed in 1997 as Division 52 of the American Psychological Association, according to an article on the APA website. The concept was initially aimed at advancing international relationships between psychologists so that they could exchange research and theories to expand the theory and practice of psychology throughout the globe. The principle encouraged psychologists to visit across cultural boundaries and to engage in international research. This is important to the advancement of global society because, although some issues, like women’s rights, are common to all cultures, they take on a different meaning and importance when viewed through the lens of cultural context and history.

Today’s Approach

Today, in addition to the general precepts of Division 52, there are five other divisions of global psychology:
• IAAP: This is an international association of applied psychology. In other words, the focus is on the practical use of psychology in individual and organizational issues of global society.
• ICP : The International Council of Psychologists spans the differences in language and culture to provide a professional organization for all psychologists worldwide.
• IACCP: This division of psychology attempts to understand cultures and their implications, or contexts, to facilitate cooperation between pro: This is a Union of 66 nations formed to address psychological issues. There are no individual members.
• IPSO: This is an organization founded to deal with concerns of psychology students worldwide.

Merits and Issues

Dealing with psychology across language and cultural barriers is somewhat like dealing with the issues faced by machine language translators. Although they can translate form language to language using a dictionary, they have no concept of the differences nuances and voice inflexions make in meaning. Cultural differences and traditions decide which issues take predominance in study and which are viewed as less important. Looking at the discussions from an international perspective helps resolve some of those problems. International organizations and unions are subject to the same problems any human group has; the louder, more affluent member tends to garner more attention. This can lead to discouraging independent thought in people from less influential nations. It can, if not controlled, also lead to psychology assuming a “homogenous” stance, one that assumes the remedy for some is the remedy for all.

Although there are problems, the “shrinking world” demands we put aside differences and find a common ground. International Psychology is a science, still in its infancy, that attempts to do just that.

See also: 50 Most Innovative University Psychology Departments