Lecture 2: Research Methods in Cross-Cultural Psychology
Phases of Cross-cultural Research (methods used in the field)
- 4 phases
- Phase I: Cross-cultural comparisons
Research that compares groups on a psychological variable.
Serve as the cornerstone of cross-cultural research – key concepts that are
similar or different for various groups.
Rivers (1905): Compared individuals from England, rural India, and
New Guinea on responses on horizontal-vertical illusions tasks.
RESULTS: Individuals from India and New Guinea were more
fooled by the illusions than individuals from England.
REASON: Because of less buildings in their environment,
individuals from India and New Guinea judge long-distance areas
by using and relying more on depth cues.
Problem: If groups do differ, are we justified to conclude that it is culture
that really made the difference? No, we can only say that there is a non-zero
difference between the two cultures.
But what is culture? What defines it?
- Phase II: Ecological-level Studies
Research that utilizes countries and cultures as the unit of study.
By doing so, researchers are able to make conclusions about the culture as a
Hofstede (1980; 1984; 2001): Factor analyses of 72 countries on values
regarding work and business.
Identified 5 dimensions of culture:
a) Individualism vs. collectivism (most popular)
b) Power distance
c) Uncertainty avoidance
e) Long-term vs. short-term orientation
Because the main unit of analysis is culture, it is not certain how
applicable the findings are on the individual level.
Problem: How do these dimensions play out in the individual level?
- Phase III: Cultural studies
Research that utilizes complex theories of culture and self. The end products
are in-depth descriptions of cultural practices and mechanisms underlying
cultural differences. Goes beyond mean differences (of cross-cultural comparisons) because it
involves comparing how certain variables are related across cultures.
Mesquita (2001): Looked at how emotions differ in individualistic and
Individualistic cultures encourage independent senses of self that focus
on personal concerns and deem emotions to signal subjective feelings.
Collectivistic cultures encourage interdependent senses of self that
focus on social (e.g., in-group) worth and deem emotions to reflect
Interviewed a native Dutch group (to represent individualist cultures)
and African Surnamese and Turkish groups (to represent collectivist
cultures) in the Netherlands.
Respondents asked to describe an example of a particular situation
(e.g., offense by an intimate other) then respond to questions
pertaining to that situation (e.g., “In a scale of 1(no) to 3 (yes), will
another person find this situation as unpleasant as you did?”
RESULTS: Emotions differed greatly for both cultures – collectivist
emotions were defined and perceived as indicative of interpersonal
relations, whereas individualist emotions focused less on social
Rather than categorizing emotions as being self- and other-focused,
one can start talking about emotions being instantiated in self- or
other-focused ways (aka emotion as a concrete representation of
either a self or other-focused way).
Problem: How accurate are these models to the real world? How do these
concepts link to observed differences?
- Phase IV: Linkage Studies
Research that involves quantifying an aspect of culture that produces
differences and determining how it LINKS