The cultural (mis)attribution bias in developmental psychology in the United States

Jose Causadias, Joseph A. Vitriol, Annabelle L. Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In this article, we provide evidence for the cultural (mis)attribution bias in developmental psychology in the United States: the tendency to see minorities as members of a group whose development is shaped primarily by culture, and to perceive Whites as independent individuals whose development is largely influenced by psychological processes. In two studies, we investigated this bias with a decade of peer reviewed developmental research conducted in the US (N = 640 articles), and an experiment and a survey with developmental psychologists in the US (N = 432 participants). In both studies we found that developmental psychologists in the US favor cultural over psychological explanations when considering the development of minorities, while the opposite pattern emerged in reference to Whites. This bias is exacerbated by the endorsement of the idea that minorities are more collectivistic and Whites more individualistic. We discuss the implications of this bias for diversity and inclusion initiatives in applied developmental sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Bias
  • Cultural (mis)attribution bias
  • Culture
  • Developmental psychology
  • Diversity
  • Inclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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