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Chapter 3

Chapter3 Textbook notes

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC14H3
Professor
Sisi Tran

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Chapter 3: Methods for Studying Culture and
Psychology
Considerations for Conducting Research across Cultures
What Cultures should we Study?
One common approach for selecting cultures is to choose samples based on a theoretical variable that you
are investigating
oFor ex. If you are interested in exploring how collectivism shapes the ways people view their
relationships, then your research would fare well by selecting cultures that clearly differ in terms of
their collectivisms
If you contrast how people view their relationships b/w two cultures that vary in their
degree of collectivism, and you find a significant cultural difference, then you would have
some preliminary evidence to suggest that collectivism shapes how people view their
relationships
oUsually smart to choose two cultures that are distinct in terms of language, geography, level of
education and social practice- and based on similarity or difference a relationship can be
determined
Making meaningful comparisons across Cultures
Select a culture to study-> design a study-> results interpreted
Develop some knowledge about the cultures under study
Some people can learn about different cultures by reading texts and ethnographies, which consist of
description of the different cultures
Researchers should collaborate across cultures to get the most accurate information
Another effective strategy is to immerse yourself in another culture to learn it first hand
oCan be time consuming and costly
Contrasting Highly Different Cultures vs. Similar Cultures
Although the standard survey methodologies are useful for conducting cross-cultural research among
people of industrialized societies who have comparable experiences, they are not of much use when
exploring subsistence societies that dont share these kinds of research experiences
Having ones method perceived in identical ways across different cultures is termed methodological
equivalence
www.notesolution.com
Majority of cross cultural research has been conducted between industrialized societies: the most common
comparisons are between North Americans and East Asians
Problems which results if psychologists overemphasize a particular sample:
oGeneralizability - do the finding generalize to populations other than the samples that were
studied?
We are less able to confidently generalize our results if we do not have much evidence
from a diverse range of samples
oPower refers to the capability of your study to detect an effect (which is usually a cross-cultural
difference in studies of culture) to the extent that such an affect really exists
oCulture is an independent variable (the variable that is varied or manipulated), and if researchers
contrast two similar cultures, they would not have as much variance in their independent variable
than if they had compared two very dissimilar cultures. The more variance there is in the
independent variable, the more likely one should be to detect an effect in the dependent variable
(the variable that you measure)
Conducting Cross-cultural Research with Surveys
-> Challenges to conducting survey research across cultures
Translation of Questionnaire Items
Most favoured approach is to sure that at least one of the primary investigators on a project is fully bilingual
in the languages that are being compared. This person is then in a very good position to assess whether the
materials are capturing the subtle nuances of the intentions of the research questions. Psychological
meanings are complex and many of the nuances can easily be lost in translation unless a translator has a
rick understanding of what the questions are asking. A bilingual investigator will be able to compare the
translated materials with the originals and will be in a good position to assess whether the translations are
accurate
oThere will always be a # of problematic phrases or words that require discussion between the
translators and the investigators to ensure that the literal meaning is captured and that the
translations do not sound awkward or unnatural
Back translation – A method used to compare ex. English to Tamil- all the phrases are developed in
English and then it is translated into Tamil. Hire one translator to translate into Tamil, and another translator
to go back from Tamil to English. You would have two different translation of the English phrases – they
would discuss the difference and then reach a consensus and this will go back and forth until it matches up
oOne weakness with this method is that it might result in a very unnatural or hard to understand
translation, even though the literal meaning is preserved
Response Bias
Interpreting and comparing survey response from people of different cultures is far more challenging than
www.notesolution.com
interpreting those from within a single culture
Challenges and Potential Solutions:
Often psychological materials present participants with statements and the participants indicate their
agreement by choosing a number from a scale- for ex. A scale that runs from 1 to 7
There is a tendency for people from different cultures to vary in terms of how likely they are to express their
agreement in a moderate fashion:
oModeracy bias - by choosing an item close to the midpoint of the scale ( choosing 5 )
oExtremity bias -choosing an item close to the end of the scale (7 of a 7 scale)
Moderacy and extremity biases are response styles as they affect how an individual
response to an item independent of the content of the item
Standardizing is a powerful, statistical tool, but it does alter our dataset, and sometimes in problematic
ways, depending on the comparisons we are trying to make, it is only appropriate when we are interested in
cultural differences in the pattern of responses and is not appropriate when we want to compare average
level of response across cultures in a single measure
oEx. Comparing the talkative among different cultures (pg 107)
Acquiescence Bias
People also different in the extent to which they tend to agree with statements they encounter. Some people
might be more prone to agree with any item they read, whereas others might be prone to disagree with
them. A tendency to agree with most statement is known as an acquiescence bias and its an issue for
cross-cultural comparisons
If people in some cultures have a predisposition to see the truth in more statements than those in another
culture, this will lead to cultural differences in response, independent from the content of the items. This is
known as an acquiescence bias. It is the tendency to agree or to acquiesce to a relatively large range of
statement
oCan neutralize the acquiescence bias by standardizing the results, adding up the total low self-
esteem and then the total high self-esteem and see where it falls- this method as some problems to
it as described above
Reference-Group Effects
The point is critical for cross-cultural research because people from different cultures tend to evaluate
themselves by comparing themselves to different reference groups, and thus to different standards and this
is known as reference-group effect
oEx. The height example, in some culture the men might think they are tall even though in another
culture that would be considered small, the answers all depend on the standard of their own culture
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Chapter 3: Methods for Studying Culture and Psychology Considerations for Conducting Research across Cultures What Cultures should we Study? One common approach for selecting cultures is to choose samples based on a theoretical variable that you are investigating o For ex. If you are interested in exploring how collectivism shapes the ways people view their relationships, then your research would fare well by selecting cultures that clearly differ in terms of their collectivisms If you contrast how people view their relationships bw two cultures that vary in their degree of collectivism, and you find a significant cultural difference, then you would have some preliminary evidence to suggest that collectivism shapes how people view their relationships o Usually smart to choose two cultures that are distinct in terms of language, geography, level of education and social practice- and based on similarity or difference a relationship can be determined Making meaningful comparisons across Cultures Select a culture to study-> design a study-> results interpreted Develop some knowledge about the cultures under study Some people can learn about different cultures by reading texts and ethnographies, which consist of description of the different cultures Researchers should collaborate across cultures to get the most accurate information Another effective strategy is to immerse yourself in another culture to learn it first hand o Can be time consuming and costly Contrasting Highly Different Cultures vs. Similar Cultures Although the standard survey methodologies are useful for conducting cross-cultural research among people of industrialized societies who have comparable experiences, they are not of much use when exploring subsistence societies that dont share these kinds of research experiences Having ones method perceived in identical ways across different cultures is termed methodological equivalence www.notesolution.com Majority of cross cultural research has been conducted between industrialized societies: the most common comparisons are between North Americans and East Asians Problems which results if psychologists overemphasize a particular sample: o Generalizability- do the finding generalize to populations other than the samples that were studied? We are less able to confidently generalize our results if we do not have much evidence from a diverse range of samples o Power refers to the capability of your study to detect an effect (which is usually a cross-cultural difference in studies of culture) to the extent that such an affect really exists o Culture is an independent variable(the variable that is varied or manipulated), and if researchers contrast two similar cultures, they would not have as much variance in their independent variable than if they had compared two very dissimilar cultures. The more variance there is in the independent variable, the more likely one should be to detect an effect in the dependent variable (the variable that you measure) Conducting Cross-cultural Research with Surveys -> Challenges to conducting survey research across cultures Translation of Questionnaire Items Most favoured approach is to sure that at least one of the primary investigators on a project is fully bilingual in the languages that are being compared. This person is then in a very good position to assess whether the materials are capturing the subtle nuances of the intentions of the research questions. Psychological meanings are complex and many of the nuances can easily be lost in translation unless a translator has a rick understanding of what the questions are asking. A bilingual investigator will be able to compare the translated materials with the originals and will be in a good position to assess whether the translations are accurate o There will always be a # of problematic phrases or words that require discussion between the translators and the investigators to ensure that the literal meaning is captured and that the translations do not sound awkward or unnatural Back translation A method used to compare ex. English to Tamil- all the phrases are developed in English and then it is translated into Tamil. Hire one translator to translate into Tamil, and another translator to go back from Tamil to English. You would have two different translation of the English phrases they would discuss the difference and then reach a consensus and this will go back and forth until it matches up o One weakness with this method is that it might result in a very unnatural or hard to understand translation, even though the literal meaning is preserved Response Bias Interpreting and comparing survey response from people of different cultures is far more challenging than www.notesolution.com
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