Most recent syllabus:

Cross-Cultural Psychology – PSYC 384

Longwood University – Spring 2014

Chris Bjornsen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

Office: Ruffner 305; 395-2736,

Office Hours: MW 3-4, TR 1-2, and any time I’m there.

Class meets MW 4-5:15 in Ruffner 315

Course description

An in-depth investigation of the relationships between cultural and human development, and the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of individuals in different cultures. Focuses on human traits, development, and interactions from a multicultural and multiethnic perspective.  3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC101 with a grade of C- or better.

Required Reading

Culture & Psychology (5th Ed.) by David Matsumoto and Linda Juang, (2013)

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, by Ethan Watters (2010).

Course objectives

1. Understand the ways in which humans and culture influence each other.

2. Understand the similarities and differences that exist among people of different cultures around the world.

3. Understand that, while genetic similarities among people throughout the world produce similarities in human traits and abilities, the differences in thoughts, emotions, and behavior found in people in different cultures are primarily shaped by individual and group adaptation to the ecological (nature), political (government), historical (societal structure and change), and social (interpersonal, gender roles, family structure, etc.) characteristics in which individuals and groups grow and develop.

4. Understand the mutual relevance of psychology and other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, sociology, psychiatry) to studying human behavior in a broad intercultural perspective.

5. Improve one’s understanding of variations in human behavior, thus making cross-cultural interactions more productive and enjoyable. An educated person should be able to understand and appreciate world events and everyday behavior of people from other cultures at a fairly sophisticated level.

6. Gain a better understanding of one’s own behavior, attitudes, and values as a result of gaining an understanding of how culture influences the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of all individuals.

7. Demonstrate one’s ability to understand and explain one aspect of cross-cultural psychology through the completion of an interdisciplinary project.

Course requirements

3 Tests (Culture & Psychology & class info) 100 points each
Completion of Dr. Bjornsen’s online questionnaire 10% extra credit on Test 1
Paper 100 points
Final Exam (solely on the book Crazy Like Us) 100 points
Total 500 points
EMS/Sona Systems Extra credit: 0% – 4% added to Final Grade
Completion of cell phone study Extra credit: 3% added to Final Grade


No tests are cumulative. Tests will be administered in class in paper format (not online). No books or notes may be used during tests. Students will need pencils and their student ID for the tests. Tests will contain multiple-choice and essay questions.  No test scores will be dropped.

Completion of Dr. Bjornsen’s online questionnaire.

Dr. Bjornsen is continuing data collection on a study begun last semester. Students who are willing to participate can go to the following Survey Monkey page ( ) and complete the questionnaire. It will take students approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. The topic of the study is normal, healthy changes in family relationships and maturation in college-age students and does not include any questions about disorders or psychological problems. Participation in the study is confidential. (No one but Dr. Bjornsen will see individual results.) Students who complete the questionnaire will receive 10% extra credit on the first test.


Students will write a 5+ page paper, due no later than April 2 at the beginning of class, turned in as a hard copy. The focus of the paper will be to describe how a (selected) psychological disorder exists, is diagnosed, is or is not treated in the United States AND another culture (outside the U.S.), and the outcome of treatment. Students may write about one of the disorders discussed in the book Crazy Like Us but may NOT use the book as a reference for the paper; other sources must be used.

The following excuse for failing to turn in the proposal or paper will not be accepted: “I can’t find any/enough articles or books on my topic.” If you choose a topic and cannot find sufficient sources, you need to choose a different topic in time to turn in the proposal as described below.

Students must take the first four weeks of the semester to find the sources they will use for the paper. On or before Feb 5, students will turn in, at the beginning of class, a one-page proposal for the paper that includes: student name, paper title, description of the focus on the paper, and a minimum of 10 references, formatted in APA style, that will be used in the paper. Students who do not turn in this proposal as described above will receive a grade of zero (0) for the paper. Students are strongly encouraged to see Dr. Bjornsen within the first three weeks of the semester for an in-person consultation to discuss the sources selected for the paper.  No consultations will be scheduled for Feb 4th and 5th. All of the sources contained in the proposal must be used as sources in the final paper. All sources must be journal articles or books.

The 5+ page length does not include the cover page and References page. No abstract is needed for the paper. There must be a cover page that lists student name, paper title, the name of this course, and the date. Following the title page, the text of the paper will begin with an introductory paragraph starting one inch from the top of the next page (one-inch margins).

In order to help you avoid getting a zero (0) on the paper, here is a checklist you should use before you turn in your paper.  Unless you can check “Yes” for all of the following, the paper will receive a grade of zero (0).

Was the proposal completed as described above and turned in on time?                                ___  Yes

Is the paper an original paper written by you for this class?                                                      ___  Yes

Are there at least 10 sources listed as references?                                                                       ___  Yes

Are all of the references in the proposal used in the paper?                                                      ___  Yes

Is the paper at least 5+ pages long, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point font?                ___  Yes

Are all sources used either journal articles or books?                                                                  ___  Yes

Are all references listed at the end of the paper in APA format?                                                            ___  Yes

Are all references listed actually cited in the paper?                                                                    ___  Yes

If all of the above are satisfied, the paper will then be graded on the following qualities:

A. The quality of the syntax and grammar of the paper. You need to write in clear, complete sentences and correct any errors in syntax, grammar, spelling, and punctuation before turning in the paper.

B. The degree to which current sources are used as references. More recently published articles and books provide up-to-date information.

C. The quality of the sources used. You should use PSYCInfo and search for only “peer reviewed” journals.

D. The quality of the overall structure of the paper. You need to have an introductory paragraph, and a conclusion. The introductory paragraph tells the reader in very general terms what the paper is about. The conclusion is a wrap-up and provides the “take home message” for the paper. Do NOT include any new information in the conclusion. That is not the place to introduce any new information. All other separate paragraphs of the paper should communicate ONE general idea, rather than multiple, different ideas. If there will be major separate sections of the paper, students are encouraged to use section headings.

E. Finally, the quality of the explanation and interpretation of the sources (referenced material) and the topic. How well did the student explain the information from each source used? How well did the student explain why each source was important to include in the paper? How well did the student tie together all of the different sources of information into a coherent, meaningful, and interesting paper?

Final Exam

The final exam will test students’ understanding of the book Crazy Like Us and will be given during the final exam period. Students should read Crazy Like Us throughout the semester and make an outline of each chapter as it is read. The outline will help students understand and learn the contents of the book and will help students review the facts before the final exam. The professor will not lecture on the contents of this book during the semester, although students are encouraged to discuss the book with the professor outside of class any time during the semester. The final exam will consist of all multiple-choice questions.

EMS/Sona Systems

This optional assignment is worth up to 4% extra credit toward your final grade. You can earn between 1% and 4% toward your final grade, depending on your efforts. The assignment is completed by participating in research projects within the department of psychology or completing the paper assignments described below.

One research credit will be equivalent to 30 minutes of research participation – some research sessions may be worth more than one credit depending on the amount of time that is required of you (e.g., an hour long session is worth two credits). The amount of time for each session and the associated number of credits will be posted on Sona Systems when you sign up to participate.

To sign up for the research projects, go to the following web site and click on New Participant: the EMS (Sona-Systems) website, students will create an account that they will use to sign up for research sessions as they become available. Once sessions are available they will be listed on the website. Students will select sessions to participate in, write down when and where the studies will take place, and be sure to attend the sessions. Students only receive credit for completed sessions.

Alternatively, if you are opposed to participating in research or have scheduling conflicts, you can read and summarize research project papers by past senior psychology students for credits (one credit per summary). These papers can be requested from Dr. Bjornsen. You can complete any combination of research sessions and paper summaries in order to earn the 4% points.

The above must be completed no later than April 18.

Completion of cell phone study

 Dr. Bjornsen is continuing a study that began last semester on the effects of the use of cell phones in class. (See handout given in class.) In short, students are allowed to use cell phones in class only in their lap, not on the desk. Cell phones must not be on the desk during class, and must be set to “silent.” Students may NOT leave the room during class, as noted below, and that includes leaving class in order to answer or make a call on one’s cell phone. Important: Dr. Bjornsen is not encouraging students to use cell phones in class, and is not suggesting it is a good idea or a bad idea. After the end of the semester, cell phone use data will be analyzed in comparison to course grades and overall GPA to investigate the question: Does cell phone use in the classroom have an effect on achievement in college.

Data will be collected at the end of each lecture class using the form given out in class. In addition to answering questions about cell phone use in this class on that day, students are also given the opportunity to write questions or comments about class. Dr. Bjornsen will read the comments each day and send an email to the class with the answers. Last semester, this form proved to be a highly valuable tool to solicit student comments and questions that we couldn’t get to in class or students did not want to share verbally during class.

In order to receive the extra credit for this assignment, students must attend class and complete the questionnaire a minimum of 20 of the lecture class periods.

Extensions, Make-up Policies.

Extensions on assignments, make-up tests, etc. may be given, at the discretion of the professor, only for the following reasons: (1) Prior to the exam date or assignment due date, the student has requested an extension because the assignment/exam conflicts with a college-sponsored activity (such as a class field trip or LU sport team event). (2) The student has requested an extension, prior to the exam/assignment due date, due to a serious illness or family emergency. (3) The student was hospitalized and could not request an extension prior to the exam date or due date of the assignment. No other reasons for missing an exam or assignment will be considered. Students will be given a grade of zero for assignments/quizzes/tests missed.  The final exam will be given on the date and time assigned by the University, as printed in the official exam schedule.  If a student has more than two final  exams on one day, he or she may request that he/she be given the exam on a day that is agreeable to the professor and student.

Grading policy:

 Final course grades will be calculated as a percentage of total points earned for tests and final exam, and will be converted to letter grades as follows:

100% –  93% = A                  79% – 77% = C+

92% –  90% = A-                 76% – 73% = C

89% – 87% = B+                72% – 70% = C-

86% – 83% = B                   69% – 67% = D+

82% – 80% = B-                 66% – 63% = D

62% – 60% = D-

59% –    0% = F


Final grades will be rounded up from .50, and down from .49. For example, an 89.50 final grade will be rounded up to a 90, and an 89.49 final grade will NOT be rounded up to a 90, but will be rounded down to an 89. Final grades will not be available until the grades are posted on the University web site.


The professor will take attendance at the beginning of each class, although attendance per se will not count toward the final grade. Students are required to be in class when class is scheduled to begin, and to remain focused on class activities until the professor has indicated class is completed. If a student misses a class, the student is responsible for what was discussed or taught in class that day. The professor will not provide students with handouts or notes or lend students videotapes shown in class, unless a student missed a class for a documented emergency or University-sponsored event. It is always best to ask the professor beforehand if your reason for missing class would be excused or not. Information presented via Power Point in class will not be available in Blackboard or on the internet after class. Students therefore should be prepared to take notes each class, or get notes from a classmate. Notes missed due to a University-sponsored event (e.g., athletic team travel) must be obtained from another student. Videos or handouts missed due to a University-sponsored event (e.g., athletic team travel) may be provided by the professor, with approval given prior to the missed class.

Honor Code and Student Responsibilities for Classroom Engagement

Students are expected to assume full responsibility for their actions, and refrain from lying, cheating, stealing, and plagiarism. University penalties for infraction of the Honor Code are detailed in the Student Handbook, which students can find on-line within the Longwood University web pages, and are responsible for understanding and following. If the professor believes a student has violated the Honor Code, the student will receive an “F” for the course. The professor may also file Honor Code charges against the student.

During class students are expected to be “on task” and paying attention at all times. Students should be aware that the Student Handbook states that interfering with the duties of a student, faculty, or staff member is a Judicial Code offense, and can result in academic probation. It is the responsibility of your professor to protect and promote a classroom environment that meets high educational standards. The professor will enforce the following policies for classroom conduct. The professor will determine the degree to which such disruptions will affect the student’s assigned work and grades, and possibly result in the filing of Judicial Code charges.

The following are not allowed and will result in reductions in the student’s final grade:

  • Using a laptop in class.
  • Arriving late
  • Leaving class before Dr. Bjornsen has ended class
  • Packing up one’s belongings before Dr. Bjornsen has ended class
  • Private conversations between students during class
  • Falling asleep in class, or putting one’s head down on the desk as if asleep
  • Reading or doing work during class that is not for this class and the topic of that day’s class
  • Eating food or snacks or candy in the classroom
  • Audiotaping a lecture without permission of the professor

Other violations of proper student conduct may arise during the semester, and the professor will discuss these with students at appropriate times.









Course Schedule 

The last day to add/drop is Jan 21 at 5:00 p.m. and the last day to withdraw is Mar 10 at 5 p.m.

Monday Wednesday
Jan 13 Introduction, photos Jan 15 Chapter 1 Introduction
Jan 20 Chapter 2 Research Methods Jan 22 Chapter 2 Research Methods
Jan 27 Chapter 3 Enculturation Jan 29 Chapter 3 Enculturation
Feb 3 Chapter 4 Developmental Processes Feb 5 Chapter 4 Developmental Processes. Paper proposal due.
Feb 10 Chapter 5 Culture and Cognition Feb 12 Test 1
Feb 17 Chapter 6 Culture and Gender Feb 19 Chapter 6 Culture and Gender
Feb 24 Chapter 7 Culture and Health Feb 26 Chapter 7 Culture and Health
Mar 3 Spring Break Mar 5 Spring Break
Mar 10 Chapter 8 Culture and Emotion Mar 12 Chapter 9 Culture, Language, Communication
Mar 17 Chapter 10 Culture and Personality Mar 19 Test 2
Mar 24 Chapter 11 Culture and Disorders Mar 26 Chapter 11 Culture and Disorders
Mar 31 Chapter 12 Culture and Psychotherapy Apr 2 Chapter 12 Culture and Psychotherapy. Paper due.
Apr 7 Chapter 13 Culture, Self, and Identity Apr 9 Chapter 13 Culture, Self, and Identity
Apr 14 Chapter 14 Culture and Social Behavior Apr 16 Chapter 14 Culture and Social Behavior
Apr 21 Chapter 15 Culture and Organizations Apr 23 Test 3
Final Exam – Thu May 1 3:00-5:30

The professor reserves the right to make changes to the above syllabus during the semester if necessary, with proper notification provided to students either in class or via email.

If you have a disability and require accommodations, please meet with me early in the semester to discuss your learning needs. If you wish to request reasonable accommodations (note taking support, extended time for tests, etc.), you will need to register with the Office of Disability Resources (Graham Hall, 395-2391). The office will require appropriate documentation of disability. All information is kept confidential.