Indigenous Psychology in Brief

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Indigenous psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental process that is indigenous, not transported from other areas, and is designed for its’ own people (Kim & Berry, 1993). The approach supports the discourse of understanding knowledge, skills, and beliefs of a certain people from an existing contextual frame. Theories, concepts, and methods of Indigenous Psychology were developed by adapting context into psychological phenomenon. The main objective of indigenous psychology approach is to create a science of psychology that is systematic, rigorous, universal in theories and is empirically proven (Kim et. Al., 2006).

The emergence of indigenous psychology emerged from the hesitance of Asian scientists who studied psychology in the West. They discovered that coming back to their homelands from abroad, they encounter difficulties in applying their obtained knowledge. From here, they began to question the validity, universality and applicability of existing psychological theories (Kim, 2000). The scientists came to a conclusion that to understand the behavior and mental process of a certain culture, they must be understood in its own reference frame, including contexts of ecology, history, philosophy, and religion (Kim et. Al., 2006).

Indigenous psychology questions the concept of universality of the existing psychological theories and attempts to find a psychology that is universal in social, cultural, and ecological contexts (Kim & Berry, 1993; Yang, 2000). The statement is supported by explanations from Enriquez (1993), Kim & Berry (1993), Koch & Leary (1985), Shweder (1991) (see Kim, et al, 2006) all in which states that psychological theories are in fact culture-bound, value-laden and have limited validity. Indigenous psychology presents an approach which contents (meaning, values and beliefs) are contextual (family, social, cultural, and ecological) and is incorporated in research design (Kim et. Al., 2006).


Kim, U. & Berry, J.W. (1993). Indigenous Psychologies: Experience and Research in Cultural Context. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publication.

Kim, U. (2000). Indigenous, Cultural, and Cross Cultural Psychology: A Theoretical, Conceptual, and Epistimological Analysis. Asian Journal of Social Psychology 3: 265-287.

Kim, U., Yang, K., Hwang, K. (2006). Contributions to Indigenous and Cultural Psychology: Understanding People in Context. Dalam Kim, U., Yang, K., Hwang, K., (eds). Indigenous and Cultural Psychology: Understanding People in Context. New York: Springer.

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