Anthropological and cross-cultural psychology study the expressions of culture, the outer layer of the Onion model of culture, the tip of the iceberg. The study of Interculturality dives deeper into the various layers of culture, into what the values and basic assumptions are.
Intercultural research is a very young niche in the scientific world. It has developed into a branch of science and on its own merit, coming of age and finding its own direction in the 21 century. Although it is thankful to its parents, cross-cultural psychology and cultural anthropology, it has carved a distinctive path for itself.
The birth of a new science: Interculturality
Humans are unique and complex and yet it’s human nature to try and understand the world we live in. Therefore, ever since humans discovered that there are cultural differences, they have tried to make cultural differences transparent and understandable by simplifying those differences in models.
Since the 21th century, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists have developed different models in their quest to understand culture and depict the differences between cultural groups.
The most famous researcher into cultural differences is the Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede. He developed his theory on cultural differences based on scientific data collection and analysis and with that put intercultural research as a science on the map. He wasn’t the first, however, and other researchers have also made extremely valuable contributions to better understand how cultures form and develop, and where groups are more similar and where they differ.
In the globalized world of the last 21th and 22nd century, the needs of professionals who work with people from other cultures are more practical. From the professional world, there was a call for insights and advice that can be applied tomorrow and improve the day-to-day intercultural communications many of us have.
A response to that market demand were anecdotal models which, while lacking in academic rigor, provide practical advice for what to actually do in an intercultural interaction.