Sociocultural Psychology (A complete review)

This article will give a brief idea of “Sociocultural Psychology”, History, Approaches in Psychology, Key principles, key differences of Piaget and Vygotsky and Practical applications of Vygotsky’s Theory.


Sociocultural Perspective is used to describe awareness of the circumstances surrounding individuals and how the behaviors are affected by the surroundings- social and cultural factors.

“A perspective describing people’s behavior and mental processes as shaped in part by their social and/or cultural contact, including race, gender, and nationality, is known as Sociocultural Perspective”- Catherine A.

Sanderson (2010). How do we communicate, understand, relate and cope with one another is what based on this theory.

This is not just one field of psychology, but there are many. For example, Health psychology or Clinical Psychology.


Psychologist Lev Vygotsky believed that parents, caregivers, peers, and culture were responsible for developing higher-order functions.

According to him, people learn with experiences and interacting with other people, once it ha happened then the people will learn the information on the individual level.

He was a contemporary of other great thinkers like Freud, Skinner, and Piaget and his work became widely published and his ideas grown in the areas including child development, cognitive psychology, and education.

This theory widely focused on how cultural beliefs and attitudes impact how learning takes place.

According to Vygotsky, children are born with basic ideologies and biological constraints on their minds, each culture plays an important role as tools that helps the individual in adapting intellectual insights.

These tools allow children to use basic mental abilities to adapt to the culture in which they live. They learn throughout their lifetime.

You should also read the book Give and Take By Adam Grant to understand the connection between the society, individuals and psychology.


  1. Cognitive Approach
  2. Behavioral Approach
  3. Biological Approach
  4. Humanistic Approach
  5. Psychodynamic Approach
  6. Sociocultural approach

Sociocultural Approach:

Well, psychology is a broad area of study with several theories and schools of thought, some psychologists choose to work deeply on the abnormal psychology and others try and make an attempt in understanding why we think and do the way we do.

There are some psychologists who try to make an attempt in making us distinguish humans from animals.

Vygotsky is known as the father of the sociocultural approach, he became interested in developmental psychology and helped to change the face of the field.

He believed that interactions made by children can influence both the way in which they perceive the world and their cognitive processes. Culture plays an important role in the development of an individual.

According to Vygotsky, there are three methods that are used to teach children skills. These tools are imitative learning, instructed learning, and collaborative learning.

People use ways like Foot in the door technique to get their demands fulfilled. This is also an example of sociocultural psychology or social psychology.


  • First, the learning is adapted by parents or primary caregivers, a child is developed with the learnings of what his parents’ ideals are, what their culture is. Learning is a crucial part of passing down cultural ideas from parents to children. This also results in the child acquiring cognitive skills that are specific to his culture.
  • Second is language, as language is the mode of learning and mental development. Animals have their language which mostly consists of basic signals, linguistic abilities that differentiates them from other animals. This is also known as the Bifold model. Therefore, the child’s development is considered with the child’s upbringing and social context.


  • According to Vygotsky, in the development of a child, social factors play a very important role in that. He focused on social interactions and stressed that it is an essential role in cognitive development. While according to Piaget, a child’s interactions and explorations influence development.
  • Another difference is that Piaget believed that the development of a being is largely universal, while Vygotsky believed that cognitive development can differ between cultures. The development in western culture is different from Eastern culture and that is what Vygotsky wanted to prove, culture matters in the development. Piaget also proposed the idea of centration.


Sociocultural theories have gained popularity in educational settings in recent years and here are some practical applications of the same:

  • In the Classroom:

In the classroom setting, teachers can learn to first assess students to determine their skills, then the educators can try and stretch out the limits of the child’s capabilities.

In the starting, the student may need assistance from an adult but then eventually their zone of proximal development will expand.

Teachers can try and plan their instruction and lessons.

  • The Zone of Proximal Development:

The Zone of Proximal Development is a way to expand and improve a child’s ability to learn and grow.

Vygotsky believed that the ZPD was a far better way to work on a child’s intelligence than from the other ways like working on academic testing, which often fails in terms of learning. 

  • Scaffolding:

Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) expanded on Vygotsky’s theory, adding the concept of scaffolding.

This term refers to the environment that more knowledgeable people may provide to someone younger, in order to assist their cognitive abilities.

Such people may include parents, caregivers, teachers, and older siblings or peers.


This blog has given a brief idea of “Sociocultural Psychology”, History, Approaches in Psychology, Key principles, key differences of Piaget and Vygotsky and Practical applications of Vygotsky’s Theory.

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