Textbook Notes (363,441)
Canada (158,371)
Psychology (9,573)
PSYC14H3 (219)
Sisi Tran (101)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4.docx

14 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto Scarborough
Sisi Tran

Chapter 4- Methods for Studying Culture and Psychology - What do you do if you want to study how cultural influences the way that people think? - Psychologists Patricia Greenfield wanted to study Zinancantecans, an indigenous people living in Mexico. However she found that the surveys used in Western didn’t work well with the Zinacantecans. - A technique used in surveys is to ask participants about the same issue in a number of items that vary slightly. For instance, measuring extraversion typically does not have just one item but a dozen items that all assess the extent to which one acts in extraverted ways. This method of asking people similar questions, reduces concerns of random error and ensures that peoples responses pertain to the underlying construct. Zinacantecans however though that Greenfields survey would follow their conversational norms. Therefore they got angry, because they couldn’t understand how she could be so stupid to keep asking the same questions. - It is extremely challenging to collect sound and compelling evidence for psychological phenomena even with current technology. This is because they are elusive, abstract and invisible and are produced and represented in the brain. - One might think that they are aware of their thoughts and what’s going on in their brain, however most of our psychological experiences goes beyond our awareness. This is why psychologists rarely investigate psychological processes by asking their subjects directly about their experiences. - The problem for cultural psychologists is that these difficulties are multiplied when trying to understand the mind of people from different cultures. The goal of this chapter is to learn how to design studies to study culture and psychology. -The study of culture and psychology touches on two central theme. First, the goal of cultural studies is to either demonstrate similarities or differences across cultures in the ways that people think, thereby reflecting universal psychological tendencies. Second, in cultures in which differences emerge, studies are designed to understand how people’s different experiences result in different ways of thinking Considerations for Conducting Research Across Cultures - Psychological data are often clues, and clues are ambiguous. The problem with cultural psychologists is that not only do they inherit the standard ambiguities of whatever method the adopt from other subfields of psychology (personality psychology, cognitive psychology) but these methods also create further ambiguities when applied to people of a different culture. - In this chapter the author describers various strategies by which reserachers can improve their ability to asses psychological states of people from other cultures. What Cultures Should We Study - It is not recommended to use the “shotgun” method and randomly select cultures which you should study - Although such an approach might reveal some unexpected cultural difference, it can be very difficult to interpret the results if there is no theory guiding the selection of cultures. - Rather you will find meaningful and easy to interpret results if you let your research question guide your choice of your research samples. - One common approach of selecting cultures is to choose samples based on theoretical variable you are investigating. For example if you were interested in how collectivism shapes they way people view their relationships, then you would focus on cultures that clearly differ in terms of collectivism. If you found a difference between cultures then that suggests that there collectivism shapes how people relationships, and if you found no difference then that suggest that collectivism and relationships are unrelated. One good way to choose samples views it to look for cultures that vary on theoretical dimension of interest. - Sometimes people are interested in exploring the degree of universality of a particular psychological finding. A good way of doing this, is comparing two cultures that vary differently on many dimensions, such as language, geography, education, social processes. And if there is similarity in a particular psychological process between the two cultures that are maximally different then their compelling evidence that there is a high degree of universality for that process. One study did this by analyzing how two sets of children did on a measure of “theory of mind” contrasting Western and Baka (people who live in rainforests of southeast Cameroon) children. Despite the difference between cultures, children performed extremely similar to the tasks, suggesting that the development of theory of the mind is highly similar across the world. Making Meaningful Comparisons Across Cultures - What kinds of steps should a researcher take to ensure that the research findings provide a fair contrast of the cultures under study? Develop Some Knowledge About The Cultures Under Study - cultural psychologists often study people from different cultures and it is not always clear how much the researcher’s own experience would generalize to the people he/ she is studying. For example, a team of psychologists from Scandanavia went to India, and wanted to study a family meal. However there is no such thing in India, but being civil and polite they agreed to have the family meal without telling the psychologist that they don’t engage in that behaviour. Then during this “family dinner” people kept getting up from the table and leaving. No one ever explained to the psychologists that that family meansl should not be presumed to be part of some universal grid. The psychologist went back home, coded the materials and made some sort of inference about what was going on, bt they never really knew what was going on. - The moral of the story iss to know something about what you are studying. Had the researchers had more knowledge about the culture they were studying prior to the investigation then they would have been able to conduct their research in a far more productive way. - Thus an initial step when studying people of different cultures is to first leran something about the culture under study. - One can do this by reading existing texts and ethnographies about the culture. - Ethnographies are rich description of people of a particular culture, derived from extensive observation and interaction by an anthropologist. - However, learning culture through books and ethnographies limits you to learning about ideas that the author felt was the most relevant. - Another approach is to find a collaborator who is from the culture that you are studying and who is interested in pursuing the same research with you. Much research are in cultural psychology are done in collaboration between people who are from cultures they are studying. - Another effectives strategy is to immerses yourself in the culture to learn it firsthand. It is an effective way but it is time consuming and costly. - Combination of these strategies is an optimal way of learning about different cultures. Contrasting Highly Different Cultures from Similar Cultures - Although standard methodologies are useful for conducting cross cultural research among industrialized societies who have comparable experiences, but they are not much use when exploring subsistence societies that do not share these kinds of shared experiences. For instance, giving a survey in Canada and USA and then giving the same survey in Zinacantecan. - If we are to make meaningful comparison across cultures, participants must understand the questions or situation in equivalent ways. - Having methods be perceived in identical ways across different cultures is termed methodological equivalence. A variety of statistical techniques are applied to cross- cultural studies of survey data to increase such equivalence. - However when cultures are not comparably familiar with the research setting, ensuring methodological equivalence can be difficult, so researchers have to adapt procedures so that it is understandable in each culture. Often this results in them using slightly different procedures for each culture. - Some experimental control is lost when they do this, however it is unavoidable. - Because of the challenges in creating methodological equivalent across cultures, the vast majority of cross cultural research has been done between industrialized societies. - It is easier to study college students across cultures allows meaningful comparisons because students are more familiar with many kinds of procedures used in psychological studies. - However, a problem with looking at just University students is the generalizability (do the samples generalize with the population) - We are less able to confidently generalize our results if we do not have much evidence from a diverse range of samples (from elementary students, elderly etc). - Second, there is a problem with the power of studies. This refers to the capability for the study to detect an effect (which in cross cultural studies has to do with whether a difference exists) - Power reflects the quality of the design of the study, is the study designed so that it is sensitive enough to identify an anticipate effect? - In cross cultural studies you can look at culture as the independent variable (variable that is varied or manipulated) - There more variance there is in the independent variables the more likely one will detect an effect in the dependent variable (the variable that you measure). - If difference exists with similar samples (such as samples from industrialized cultures) then we can assumed that effects of divergent samples (people from very different culture) would be more pronounced. Conducting Cross Cultural Research with Surveys - One of the most common ways of conducting cross cultural research is to employ surveys. Participants are asked a series of questions and it is usually anonymous. - However there are several unique challenges. - Translation of Questionnaire Items. - Participants and the researchers usually speak different languages - When dealing with topics that are less concrete, such as emotions, values, narratives, or personality traits, there communication difficulties become problematic. - One solution to this, is keeping all the questions in English and only studying those individuals who are bilingual in that culture, speaking both English and their native language. This avoids costs of translating the materials. - However there are still problems with this, first, the individual would have poor English and the data might be meaningless if the participants didn’t have the requisite to understand what was being asked. Second, one has to be concerned whether those who have good English are representative of the culture. Those who can speak English may be more familiar with Western culture and their ideas may be more Westernized that their non English speaking cimpatriots. - Thirdly, the language that we are thinking in can greatly affect the way we’re thinking. Researchers found that bilingual respondents respond differently when tested in their native language and their second language. - Translating materials is not an easy task, many psychological terms do not have equivalents in other languages. For example there is no exact terms for self-esteem in Chinese. - This is why it is crucial to ask questions that are comparable in meaning across cultures. Having an accurate translation of psychological materials is necessary precondition for doing a good cross- cultural research. - How can we ensure we get a good translation? Make sure that one of the primary investigators is fully bilingual in the languages that are being compared. A bilingual investigator will be able to compare translated materials with originals and will be in a good position to asses whether translations are accurate. This is the most commonly used method. - However, in many instances it is impossible for researchers to be fluent in both languages of interest. - In this case, it is necessary to have a translator. However it’s a bit too much of a blind leap of faith to hope whatever translator has been hired to capture all the nuances of the meanings included in the materials. A strategy that can be used to reduce this leap of faith is the back-translation method. - How it works is that you would have the original material in English, and then you will get a translator to translate it in Chinese. Then you would hire another translator to translate the Chinese back to English. This way you have two English versions and you would compare the two. There are likely to be differences between the two English versions, so then the researcher would go back and forth discussing with the two translators to reach a consensus of how to alter the materials so they can be equivalent. - One weakness of back translation, is that it might result in a very unnatural or hard to understand even through the literal meaning is preserved - Reliable and valid cultural differences are more likely to be found with well translated materials. - Reponses Biases - Interpreting and comparing survey responses from different people of different cultures are more challenging than interpreting those from withing culture. - Moderacy and Extremity Biases - Often psychologists present participants with statements and they have to indicate their agreement by choosing a number from a scale 1(strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) - However 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 (choosing close to the midpoint for everything). - This is known as a moderacy bias and the latter as an extremity bias. - African- Americans and Hispanic- Americans tedn to give more extreme responses than do Americans of European descent. Likewise, East Asians show more moderacy biases in their responses than do European- Americans. - Moderacy and extreme biases are response styles, because they affect how an individual responds to an item independent of the content of the item. - Such response styles are problematic for cultural comparisons because cultures vary in how people responds to questions, this will affect conclusions that we can draw when comparing average scores across cultures. - One way of controlling this, is instead of the 7 point scale, you can use Yes/No format. However this might not provide you with enough measure to detect nuanced differences in opinions across cultures. - If you are assessing how people feel across a broad range you might consider “standardization”. This is each participants scores are first averaged, thrn yhr individual items are assess with respect to how much they deviate from the participants own personal average. The standardized score is also knows as the z score and it has to do with how participants respond to each item compared to with their typical way of responding. Participants responses are now expressed in terms of numbers of standard deviations by which they depart from the participants own personal average. This shows which items the person agreed with the most and which items the person disagrees with the most. It allows the comparison of responses across cultures by statistically forcing everyone to a uniform response style, thereby eliminating moderacy and extremity biases. However if we were looking at talkativeness, standardization forces everyone to have identical average levels of talkativeness. So standardization could thus not tell us which culture was more talkative because the cultures would be equated at the same evel of talkativeness. - Standardizing is a powerful tool, but often alters the dataset. It is only usefeul when we are interested in cultural difference in the pattern of responses it is not useful when we want to compare the average level of responses across cultures. - Acquiescence Bias - A tendency to agree with most of the statements is know as acquiescence bias. This bias makes it difficult to compare the individual’s true degree of approval with that of another person who tends to find most statements disagreeable regardless of the content. - The acquiescence bias is a problem fro cross-cultural research because cultures differ in their tendencies to agree with items. - There is a straightforward solution to acquiescence bias that is commonly applied when researchers construct trait measure. Typically half of the items in a measure are designed to be reversed scored, that is, they are written so that agreeing with them indicated an opinion opposite to that measured in the construct. For instance if you were measuring self esteem, half of the items would indicate high self esteem and half of the other items would indicate low self esteem. One’s total self esteem would be reversed scored, so all the 7’s would be changed to 1’s and the 6 to 2’s 5 to 3’s and so on and then summing all of them up with the items in the direction of high self esteem, By ensuring that half the items are reversed score you, any acquiescing would be cancelled out because the individuals would be agreeing with items that both increase their total score and items that decrease their total score. Therefore the data will neutralize acquiescence biases. - Reference Group Effects - For a statement such as I am tall, you will get three different measurements across different countries. If you asked someone in Japan who is 5’8 to rate themselves in Japan in a 1-5 scale they would say 4. If you were to ask someone of the same height in Canada to rate themself, they would probably say 2. The same height would yield different responses to the statement and this is because I am tall does not have the same meaning in all cultures. The reason for this is because people across cultures are using different standards to answer these questions. People tend to evaluate themselves based on others- SIMILAR others. People from different cultures tend to evaluate themselves by comparing themselves to different reference groups and thus to different standards. This is a problem because cross cultural psychologist are interested in assessing cultures in a single standard. This is know as the reference- group effect. - Research has shown that reference-group effects are potentially problematic whenever we are comparing cultures on how much they agree with statements with subjective response formats. - One technique to correct this problem is to avoid subjective measures that might have different standards in groups being compared. Instead one is better off in using concrete measures that will be perceived more similarly across cultures. For example, asking someone If they are helpful, this can be interpreted differently depending on a culture’s standard of what behaviour is perceived as helpful. In contrast to if you ask “if a friend of mine needed help with his studies, I would be willing to cancel my own plans to help him” this is more concrete in describing the situation in terms of what kind of help is needed. - The more concrete the scenario the less likely they are to interpret it differently across cultures. - Some other kinds of measures are well protected from reference group effects. For example, many cross cultural studies have employed behaviour measures that do not rely on people’s understanding of how they compare against others. For example, Levine and Norezayan investigated pace of life of 31 cultures by examining behavioural measures (timing how long it took people to walk on a busy street, and how long it took a postal worker to sell them as stamp etc). - Likewise, physiological measures are especially protected from reference group effect (measuring the nervous system responses). These physiological measure are often difficult and costly to obtain , however they are powerful for cross cultural study because they can occur independently of the various response biases. - Deprivation Effects - Why do Italians rate “pleasur” a 2 (so low) and unimportant as compared to other nationalities, especially when they have developed a lifestyle that emphasize good food, leisurely breaks in cafes, opera, art and long summer vacations? - The disconnect observed between self report measures of values and other indaicator is a challenge for cross cultural investigation. - One way to make sense of this disconnect is to look a what people actually have in contrast to what they would like to have. - For instance examining personal safety; It is when your safety is vulnerable that you are more concered with it, and at other times you might be willing to forget about it. - The problem with this is that we may expect that people who have less personal wo
More Less

Related notes for PSYC14H3

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.