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Indigenous psychology is defined by Kim and Berry, 1993, as “the scientific study of human behavior or mind that is native, that is not transported from other regions, and that is designed for its people.” It advocates examining knowledge, skills and beliefs people have about themselves and studying them in their natural contexts. Theories, concepts and methods are developed to correspond with psychological phenomena. It advocates explicitly incorporating the content and context of research. Indigenous psychology is necessary since existing psychological theories are not universal but represent the psychology and cultural traditions of Europe and North America. The goal of indigenous psychology is to create a more rigorous, systematic and universal science that can be theoretically and empirically verified.
Kim, Yang and Hwang, 2006, identified ten characteristics of indigenous psychology.
- It emphasizes examining psychological phenomena in ecological, historical and cultural context.
- Indigenous psychology needs to be developed for all cultural, native and ethnic groups.
- It advocates use of multiple methods.
- It advocates the integration of “insiders,” “outsiders” and multiple perspectives to obtain comprehensive and integrated understanding.
- It acknowledges that people have a complex and sophisticated understanding of themselves and it is necessary to translate their practical and episodic understanding into analytical knowledge.
- It is part of a scientific tradition that advocates multiple perspectives, but not multiple psychologies or absolute relativism.
- Although descriptive analysis is the starting point of research, its final goal is to discover psychological universals that can be theoretically and empirically verified.
- It is a part of the cultural sciences tradition in which human agency, meaning and context are incorporated into the research design.
- It advocates a linkage of humanities (which focus on human experience and creativity) with social sciences (which focus empirical analysis and verification).
- Two starting points of research in indigenous psychology can be identified: indigenization from without and indigenization from within.
List of indigenous psychologies
- Kim, U., Y Kim, U., & Berry, J. W. (1993). Indigenous Psychologies: Experience and Research in Cultural Context. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
- Kim, U. Yang, K. S., & Hwang, K. K. (2006). Indigenous and cultural psychology: Understanding people in context. New York: Springer.
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