Lecture 3 (Jan 19).docx

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19 Mar 2012

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Lecture 3 (January 19th)
Suicide in Sri Lanka
1995: Sri Lanka world record for suicide deaths; no psychologists, no support for behavioural
research, no systematic studies of this epidemic
Envy (Sinhala: irishiyava) & Shame (Sinhala: lajja)
Method lessons learned
o “Empty your head”
o “Empty your briefcase” use the methodological tools (within the cultural context)
o Question the ethics process
o Methods: anthropology & qualitative psychology: interviews & “deep hanging out”
Emerge yourself in a different culture i.e. learning the language
Who should we Study?
Populations for which you have theoretical reasons to predict certain responses
If 2 or more populations of interest, they should vary on a meaningful cultural variable
Issues with Comparing Cultures
Must understand the cultural norms and practices of the culture(s) being studied, especially in
relation to the psychological phenomenon in question
o If not, researchers risk drawing conclusions based on faulty information and assumptions
Such understanding is accomplished through use of ethnographies, foreign collaborators and
immersion culture of interest
o Combination of these methods is ideal
o One way to immerse yourself into another culture is to read a lot of fiction that is written by
authors of that particular group/culture novelists bring things “to life”
Need for methodological equivalence methods for researching needs to be the same from culture
to culture; standardized
o Ensure methods are understood in identical ways across cultures
o Some cultures may not understand process of completing psychological surveys
May require researchers to use slightly different methods with different cultures (especially
drastically different cultures)
Most cross-cultural studies have contrasted convenience samples: university students living in
industrialized countries (WEIRD)
o Do these results generalize to other samples on those same countries? i.e. do results from
Taiwan generalize to Taiwanese students in Canada?
o Such studies are assumed to represent conservative tests of cultural differences
o If samples which share many features i.e. university students, differ in their psychology, it is
expected that samples with fewer shared experiences would differ even more
Issues with Comparing Cultures using Surveys
Cultural appropriateness
o Is the variable under study an etic (universal) or emic (culture-specific) construct
o Is the variable too sensitive for study? (Abortion, homosexuality, rape, torture...)
o Attitudes towards rape victims
it would do so some good to be raped”
Many women who report rape are lying because they are angry or want revenge on
the accused
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