Envisioning a culturally imaginative educational psychology

Ronnel Bornasal KING, Dennis Michael MCINERNEY, Riddhi J. PITLIYA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Culture has mostly been neglected in mainstream educational psychology research. In this paper, we argued for the need to cultivate a cultural imagination and provided seven key recommendations for conducting culturally imaginative research. We explained how these recommendations could prove useful in avoiding the two types of errors that trap cross-cultural researchers. The first type is the cultural attribution error which pertains to attributing any observed difference to culture even if culture is not the relevant factor. The second type is the cultural blind spot error which pertains to the failure to see how culture influences psycho-educational processes and outcomes. We proffered seven recommendations to avoid these twin pitfalls. We reviewed the papers published from 2006 to 2016 in four flagship educational psychology journals including the Journal of Educational Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Cognition and Instruction, and British Journal of Educational Psychology. Our review focused on how educational psychologists have studied culture over the past decade and how the published studies aligned with our seven recommendations. The content analysis indicated that only a small percentage of the articles dealt with culture, most of the studies drew on Western samples, and that almost all studies relied on an etic approach with very few studies using an emic bottom-up perspective. We ended with a justification for why a culturally imaginative educational psychology is urgently needed in an increasingly diverse world. Copyright © 2018 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1065
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number3
Early online date28 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


King, R. B., McInerney, D. M., & Pitliya, R. J. (2018). Envisioning a culturally imaginative educational psychology. Educational Psychology Review, 30(3), 1031-1065. doi: 10.1007/s10648-018-9440-z


  • Culture
  • Cross-cultural educational psychology
  • Etic
  • Emic
  • Cultural imagination


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