Introduction to Cross - Cultural Psychology
Cross - cultural psychology is a subfield in psychology where similarities and differences between cultures are studied. Researchers use many of the same methods as other researchers when performing studies. Cultural psychology is the extensive study of one culture. These extensive studies help cross – cultural psychologists begin to understand the phenomenon associated with several cultures. Critical thinking is important in cross – cultural psychology. Critical thinking helps a researcher in drawing conclusions free of bias.
Defining Cross - Cultural Psychology
Cross – cultural psychology is “the critical and comparative study of cultural effects on human psychology” (Shiraev & Levy, 2010, p 2). Cross – cultural psychology draws conclusions from two or more different cultures. Cross – cultural psychologists study the diversity of cultures and the reasons for the diversity. In using the comparative approach, psychologists study “the links between cultural norms and behaviors” (Shiraev & Levy, 2010, p 2). The results of cross – cultural studies are used to explain phenomenon common in cultures. Cross – cultural psychologists study the similarities and differences across the various cultures. Studies are used to discover relationships between the individual and the culture. While conceptual clarification and theoretical integrations have been developed, the field of cross – cultural psychology still lacks a conceptual framework (Kagitcibasi & Berry, 1989).
The Relationship between Cultural and Cross - Cultural Psychology
Cross – cultural psychology compares two or more cultures. Cultural psychology studies one culture extensively. Cultural psychologists focus on the actions in culture; whereas, cross – cultural psychologists focus on the attributes of individuals (Triandis, 2000). Cultural psychology attempts to discover the links between culture and the psychology of those within the culture. Cultural psychology contains the belief that mental processes are caused by the relationship between the individual and culture. The differences between cultural and cross – cultural psychology are apparent. Cultural psychologists typically study cultures different from their own. Cross – cultural psychologists study cultures not too different and often study cultures where the difference is small (Triandis, 2000). Cultural psychology is the ideal approach to use when a large cultural difference exist between the researcher and participants. Alternatively, cross – cultural psychology is ideal when a smaller cultural difference exist. Cultural psychology is best used when the researcher knows little about the culture. Cross – cultural psychology identifies patterns and similarities across multiple cultures. The reliability and validity of data can be problematic in cultural psychology. The data collected may help a researcher understand but is not useful in prediction. Cross – cultural psychology may have problems in relation to the ethical acceptability of methods. Not all methods may be accepted in all cultures. The measures in cross – cultural psychology can be used various tests to test reliability and validity. Measures in cross –cultural psychology may also be used to predict criterion (Triandis, 2000). Cultural psychology is the basis of which cross –cultural psychology studies may be begun.
Critical Thinking in Cross - Cultural Psychology
Thinking is one of the most essential processes in humans (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Thinking is vital in learning. Thought principles, or metathoughts, are cognitive tools used for inquiry and problem solving. These principles are used to counteract thinking that may be biased, simple, rigid, lazy or sloppy (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Researchers typically use language associated with his or her own personal values. Barnum statements and assimilation bias are examples of obstacles in critical thinking. Barnum statements have a “one size fits all” characteristic and therefore offer little value to research. Assimilation bias allows information to be subjected to distortion. Many people identify phenomenon to his or her own mental representations. Critical thinking helps a researcher eliminate the biases presented in humans. In order to obtain a clear understanding of culture, one must cast aside his or her own prejudices and use critical thinking skills to reach a clear, unbiased conclusion.
Methodology in Cross - Cultural Psychology
Cross – cultural research has four basic goals. These goals include description, interpretation, prediction, and management (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). First, a researcher identifies these goals. Second, an appropriate methodological approach is determined. Research methodology is divided into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research involves the measurement of certain aspects; whereas, qualitative research is used when measuring variables is difficult. Examples of these difficulties include subjects not being able to read or use the answer scales, no measurement instrument available, variables not conceptually defined or when experiences of researcher may influence the research (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). The two most important statistical methods are correlation and t – test. Qualitative research is conducted in the natural setting. Comparativist strategy focuses on similarities and differences in measures in cultures. There are several strategies used in choosing a sample for study. These depend on the type of study being performed. The first strategy is availability or convenience sampling where what is available is used. The second strategy is systematic sampling. In this strategy, a sample is chosen based on a theory. The third strategy is random sampling where a large sample of cultures is chosen at random. Cross – cultural psychologists use the typical methods of investigation, including observation, survey, experiment, content – analysis, psychobiography, meta – analysis, and focus – group methods (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). There are two approaches to analyzing data: absolutist and relativist. Absolutists believe a phenomenon is the same in most cultures; however, certain behaviors may vary. Relativists believe behavior may only be understood within its given culture.
The similarities and differences across cultures are being studied and understood in cross – cultural psychology. Using critical thinking and research methods, psychologists are learning how behaviors vary across cultures. Cross – cultural psychology compares and contrasts two or more cultures in an attempt to understand behavior in relation to culture. Psychologists use the data collected in cultural psychology studies to aid in the study of cross – cultural psychology. Through these studies, cultures may be better understood by those different than the culture.
Kagitcibasi, C., & Berry, J. W. (1989). CROSS - CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY: Current research and trends. Annual Review of Psychology, 40(1), 493-531.
Shiraev, E. B., & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross - Cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.
Triandis, H. C. (2000). Dialects between culture and cross - cultural psychology. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3(3), 185-195.
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