How Does Culture Matter in the Face of Globalization?

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017 Sep;12(5):810-823. doi: 10.1177/1745691617700496.


Globalization has made exposure to multiple cultures not only possible, but often necessary and unavoidable. This article focuses on how people react and adapt to increasing globalization and multiculturalism. We posit that reactions to multiculturalism and intercultural contact are not universal and are themselves shaped by cultural experiences. That is, culture provides a frame of reference for reconciling and negotiating the inflow of foreign cultures and peoples. Although exposure to foreign cultures can widen one's worldview, thereby enhancing creativity and reducing prejudice, intercultural contact can also bring about negative exclusionary responses such as aversion, disgust, and defensiveness. We explore how culture and individual differences, such as a belief in racial essentialism, critically shape reactions to intercultural contact. Our discussion sheds light on recent geopolitical and societal shifts that reflect an increased backlash against rising globalization and cultural diversity.

Keywords: cultural priming; essentialist theory of race; globalization; intercultural contact; lay theory of race; multicultural identities; multiculturalism; multiple cultural exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Culture
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Internationality*
  • Prejudice*
  • Race Relations*
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Perception