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Why developmental psychology is incomplete without comparative and cross-cultural perspectives

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Nielsen, M., & Haun, D. (2016). Why developmental psychology is incomplete without comparative and cross-cultural perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1686): 20150071. doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0071.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-571F-7
As a discipline, developmental psychology has a long history of relying on animal models and data collected among distinct cultural groups to enrich and inform theories of the ways social and cognitive processes unfold through the lifespan. However, approaches that draw together developmental, cross-cultural and comparative perspectives remain rare. The need for such an approach is reflected in the papers by Heyes (2015 Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371, 20150069. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0069)), Schmelz amp; Call (2015 Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371, 20150067. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0067)) and Keller (2015 Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371, 20150070. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0070)) in this theme issue. Here, we incorporate these papers into a review of recent research endeavours covering a range of core aspects of social cognition, including social learning, cooperation and collaboration, prosociality, and theory of mind. In so doing, we aim to highlight how input from comparative and cross-cultural empiricism has altered our perspectives of human development and, in particular, led to a deeper understanding of the evolution of the human cultural mind.