Credit points


Campus offering

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PSYC100 Foundations of Psychology and PSYC101 Applications of Psychology

Teaching organisation

3 contact hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

Cultural diversity and multiculturalism are becoming increasingly valued in Australian society, and as cross-cultural contact continues to increase, so should our understanding of inter- and intra-cultural psychological processes. An understanding of how cultural factors impact values, beliefs, and behaviours is pertinent for conducting ethically sound research. As enhanced levels of intercultural understanding can be best achieved by studying basic human functioning, and how human behaviour shapes, and is shaped by, cultural environments, the focus of this unit will be exploring which human psychological processes are etic (i.e. universal and shared by all humans) and which are emic (i.e. culturally dependent). The overall aim of this unit is to provide you with the knowledge and skills to critically analyse research and evidence in psychology through a culturally-oriented lens.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - understand the basic concepts and methods of cross-cultural psychology (GA2, GA4);

LO2 - identify cultural influences on affective, behavioural, and cognitive, components of human functioning (GA4); 

LO3 - relate culture influences to identity processes (GA1,GA2, GA6, GA9); 

LO4 - apply this knowledge to psychological research using principles of etic and emic interpretations. (GA2, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA9, GA10). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • Theories of culture and cultural acquisition 
  • Methods of cross-cultural enquiry 
  • Cultural factors influencing affective, behavioural, and cognitive functioning 
  • Enculturation  
  • Values and beliefs across and within cultures 
  • Differences and similarities in roles and expectations across and within cultures 
  • Prejudice and conflict 
  • Acculturation, multiculturalism, cultural change  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit is delivered in face-to-face mode with 3 contact hours per week: each week there will be a 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial. This mode of delivery is designed to enhance discussion and engagement in the content covered in the unit. The lectures are to aid students with the acquisition and understanding of knowledge while the tutorials are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that knowledge. To assist you in your self-directed learning, other learning resources are utilised including: online quizzes and activities; online forums; and lecture recordings.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, you will need to complete and submit all of the assessment tasks listed in the table below. In addition to this, you must obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% to pass the unit.   


In order to best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies are used including: a learning portfolio which is designed to scaffold your understanding and application of the content of the unit; a theoretical paper to demonstrate your ability to discuss and consolidate research literature and to develop research methodologies to test a self-generated hypotheses; and a research presentation and paper to demonstrate your ability to interpret and discuss research findings, and to consolidate and apply the content covered in the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Learning portfolio  

The portfolio contains a variety of multiple choice and short answer questions which allow you to demonstrate the progression of your knowledge across the semester. It has been designed to scaffold your understanding and application of the content of the unit. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA9

Theoretical paper (1000 words)  

You are to review a theoretical cross-cultural psychological dimension, and design a feasible observation-style project that will form the basis of the final assessment. This task enables you to demonstrate your ability to discuss and consolidate research literature and develop research methodologies to test a self-generated hypothesis.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA6, GA7, GA9, GA10

Research paper and presentation (1500  

words plus 5 minutes) 

Based on feedback from the previous assessment task, you are to conduct the proposed project, and report the findings as they pertain to theoretical dimensions of cross-cultural psychology. This task enables you to demonstrate your ability to interpret and discuss researching findings and consolidate and apply the content covered in this unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Matsumoto, D. & Juang, L. (2013). Culture and Psychology (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage.  


Smith, P. B., Fischer, R., Vignoles, V. L., & Bond, M. H. (2011). Understanding Social Psychology across Cultures: Engaging with others in a Changing World (2nd ed.). London: Sage publications.  


Berry, J. W., Poortinga, Y. H., Breugelmans, S.M., Chasiotis, A. & Sam, D.L. (2011). Cross-Cultural Psychology: Research and Applications (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  


Garvey, D.C. (2008). Positioning Psychology and Psychologists. Indigenous Identity in  

Contemporary Psychology: Dilemmas, Developments, Directions. pp. 62-81. Melbourne, VIC: Thompson/Cengage Learning.  


Kitayama, S., & Cohen, D. (2007). Handbook of Cultural Psychology. New York: Guilford Press.  


Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, L., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and systems of thought: Holistic versus analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108, 291-310. 


Purdie, N., Dudgeon, P., & Walker, R. (2010). Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait  

Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.  


Shiraev, E., & Levy, D. (2007). Cross cultural psychology: Critical thinking and Contemporary Culture Application (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 


Vicary, D. A. (2003). Counselling as Yarning: Aboriginal insights into Western therapy. 

Proceedings of the 38th APS Annual Conference, Australia, 242-246. 

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