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Lecture 2

PSY321H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Tape Measure, Binoculars, Ethnography


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY321H1
Professor
Simone Walker
Lecture
2

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Lecture 2
Psychologist patricia greenfield was interested in examining diff personality traits across cultures
Decided to contrast north American undergrads with Zinacantencans (mexico)
She interview them using samples that have been validated in north American samples -> surveys were
developed using north American students
The items in the surveys are independent don’t constitute a convo
Good surveys don’t ask only one question regarding specific question; ie extraversion; will ask the
questions in slightly diff ways -> reduces measurement error
Greenfield used inventory to asses extraversion in zinatsc.
Z were angry at the end of the interview bc they had diff expectations about how the interview would
proceed -> thought that the interview would proceed like convo but when they answered questions she
proceeded with interview asking another question
Example illustrates the challenge of conducting research across cultures -> just bc one measure is
validated in one culture it doesn’t mean that it will be interpreted in the same way in the other culture
The extent to which cultural psy are interested in questions that cut across an array of subfields in psy
they use the methods that are associated with that subfield -> ie will use surveys to measure
extraversion across cultures
Every method is associated with limitations
If use surveys will inherit socially desirable responding we have a tendency to present ourselves in
more positive light
Cultural psy inherits the problems associated with the methods but also new problems arise bc
comparing across cultures
How conversational norms can influence interaction btw participant and experimenter, their
understanding how the survey works- how you have to respond, will influence how participants
respond in those situations and the types of data that you get
First question that have to ask is what you will study; many of the topics for research come from our
own experiences
Cultural psy are not interested in just concepts like self esteem they are also interested in the
relationships btw concepts as well -> ie relationship btw self esteem and academic performance -> does
that relationship differ across cultures?
Cultural psy are also interested in whether or not we are thinking about individual functioning the
extend to which individuals in diff cultures behave in certain ways
Psy also do cultural level studies the extent to which cultures are the units of analysis; cultures are
compared, ie whether or not the average level of self esteem differs across cultures
Most of the time theory guides what you study
Cultural psy are also interested in what cultures we study; don’t randomly select the cultures that want
to compare ->can yield cultural diff but how do you interpret those diff?
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The theory will guide what cultures you choose to compare bc can use the theory to interpret those
results
Moved away from just being interested in finding cultural diff; now interested in trying to explain why
we see those diff
It is important to have a theory to guide which cultures you want to compare
Ie; looking at how collectivism shapes how people view relationships; theories about what collectivism is
and how collectivism can influence how we view relationships can be used to guide which cultures
you choose; might select cultures that differ in terms of their collectivism; ie north American sample vc
east Asian sample
But how do you know that the two cultures differ in terms of collectivism
Cultural psy are also interested in developing measures that we can use to measure these types of
cultural values; ie: triandasis measure of collectivism and individualism ->called individual level
measures of culture
There is another way to decide which cultures you will select
Ie might be interested in not the diff btw cultures but at whether a particular phenomena is universal
To see if something is universal should choose cultures that are maximally diff from each other (ie;
religion, geography, education etc)
If the two cultures are diff in many aspects but still find the same thing in these cultures -> good
evidence of universalism
Ie; is theory of mind universal? is it something about western cultures that give rise to this
understanding or is it universal?
Ie avis and haris study compared American kids vs baka culture (people who live in rainforest in Africa;
they are hunter gathers and are nonliberate people; had very little exposure to western traditions) ->
american and baka are maximally diff cultures
Used smarties task to assess the theory of mind in baka kids
Found that baka kids performed on the task in a very similar way to American kids -> evidence that
theory of mind constitutes a universal (accessibility universal seen in the two cultures in the same way
and to the same extent)
How do you make meaningful comparisons btw cultures?
Bias diff that don’t have the same meaning within cultures or across cultures
Conceptual bias the extent to which a concept doesn’t mean the same thing in diff cultures
Equivalence the state or condition of similarity in conceptual meaning and empirical method between
cultures-> what you need to make meaningful cross cultural comparisons
In order to compare the two cultures on intelligence, the two cultures have to have the same
understanding about what intelligence is
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