Culturally Wise Interventions and Their Effects on Social, Psychological, and Economic Well-Being

Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)

Catherine Thomas

University of Michigan

People are enculturated actors, shaped by their sociocultural and socioecological contexts. A vast empirical literature has documented that, in Global North contexts that afford greater choice and material abundance, selves are more independent–prioritizing personal interests and autonomy in their preferences and behavior. However, the social psychological literature suffers from glaring gaps in low resource Global South contexts where selves are likely higher in interdependence–prioritizing relationships, roles and obligations in their preferences and behavior (Thomas & Markus, 2023). An agenda on ‘culturally wise’ interventions seeks to fill this gap by experimentally comparing different culturally grounded approaches across diverse sociocultural contexts. Building on theoretical principles of wise interventions (Walton & Wilson, 2018) and culture match (Stephens et al., 2012), culturally wise interventions are attuned to how culturally specific models of self, motivation, and relationality can exert powerful effects on meaning making and behavior. Through experimental evaluations of such intervention approaches in understudied contexts, this research agenda seeks to advance a more comprehensive account of human behavior as well as strategies for promoting psychosocial and economic well-being around the globe. This talk will focus on how culturally wise approaches in sub-Saharan Africa can be leveraged to mitigate poverty and inequality.

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