Cultural Bias in Psychological Research

Cultural Bias in research, including Milgram, Ainsworth and Bell, and Cole et al intellegence study

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  • Created on: 13-06-09 14:24
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Cultural bias occurs in Psychological Research when a researchers own norms and beliefs, derived
from their own culture, clouds the objectivity of their research.
Pike (1954) explained that when looking at cultural bias in... We need to be aware of
the emic and etic approach.
The Emic approach emphasises each cultures uniqueness by focusing on culturally
specific phenomena. Cross cultural comparisons ignoring these are seen as invalid. Emic
1) ¤Study behaviour from within a culture
2) ¤Study only one culture
3) ¤Produce findings relevant to only that culture.
The Etic approach
is the approach taken by most psychologists. There are two variations: The
derived Etic approach and the Imposed Etic approach.
The derived etic approach is the assumption that most human behaviours are common to all humans,
but that cultural factors can affect the developmental or display of these behaviours.
The imposed etic approach is the assumption that culture plays little or no role in the development
and expression of human behaviours. The etic approach:
1) ¤Studies behaviour from outside a culture
2) ¤Studies many cultures
3) ¤ Produces findings that are considered to have universal application.
Assessments are made using standard- usually Western- instruments, and interpretations are made
at face value.
One example of cultural bias from psychological research comes from Milgram's 1963 study of
obedience to authority. Original aim test hypothesis `Germans are different'. He intended to conduct
study in USA and Germany, compare the results. Other psychologists predicted less than 1% go
to450V. When 65% went to 450V Milgram concluded obedience to authority must be a universal
behaviour, and so his results seen to have universal application.
Many researchers have since replicated Milgram's study in countries such as Germany, Australia,
and Jordan. The results have ranged from 85%-16%, suggesting that there is considerable cultural
bias when attempting to generalise Milgram's findings of 65% to other cultures, as it appears there
are considerable cultural differences in people susceptibility to obedience.
That said, unless we can rule out differences in how these studies have been carried out, we
cannot be sure that these results tell us much about the members of these cultures.
In Milgram's study the `victims' were all men, whereas Kilham & Mann (1974), who carried their study
in Australia, asked females to give shocks to other females. However, it should be taken into

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Century. The low obedience rate found in this study (16%)
could be explained by the fact that the feminist movement was particularly popular in
Australia, and the women who took part in the experiment may have wanted to rebel
against society. This could account for the low obedience rate.
With the exception of the Jordanese study, all the replications took place in advanced industrialised
countries, so may not indicate a universal form of behaviour.
Another example of cultural bias in research comes from...…read more

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& Bondbelieved that there are many potential flaws that can occur
when studying a number of cultures.
1st) Translation:
As spoken word constitutes as the majority of findings the translation of participant's answers must
be done as accurately as possible for a true comparison.
2nd) Backgrounds:
It must be remembered that whilst participants may come from similar social groups they may still
have very different social backgrounds and experiences.…read more



Colourful and detailed. Picture of a pike is a good idea! 

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