PSY4 cultural bias essay

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Nikita Chudasama
Describe what is meant by the term cultural bias in Psychology (3).
Cultural bias refers to the means of ignoring the differences between cultures and imposing
understanding based on the study of one culture to other cultures. The term cultural bias also seems
to consist of four broad categories: ethnocentrism /eurocentrism, collectivist/ individualistic
societies, emic/etic distinction and finally, historical bias.
Using psychological knowledge and research evidence, discuss the issue of culture bias in psychology
As culture has many definitions, the main belief that it holds is that, a culture holds and shares the
same beliefs and attitudes of that certain group. Also, culture is not fixed it changes and develops
over time. Hofstede, 1980 defined culture as: `culture refers to the collective programming of the
mind which distinguishes members of one group from another.' Whereas Rohner, 1984 defined
culture as: ` orgainised system of meanings which provides a shared way of making sense of
different aspects of the world.'
Cultural bias refers to the means of ignoring the differences between cultures and imposing
understanding based on the study of one culture to other cultures. Cultural bias can be referred to as
an issue as it can affect psychological theories and studies in a similar way as gender bias. Some
psychologists suggest that the alpha and beta biases associated with gender bias can also apply to
cultural bias.
Alpha bias assumes that people are different, and tends to exaggerate this, e.g. by overvaluing or
devaluing a particular gender. Another example of this is through androcentrism. Freud's theory of
psychoanalysis took male behaviour as the standard for all human behaviour and viewed female
behaviour as a deviation from that standard. This is particularly apparent when considering Freud's
explanation of the genital stage of development and the ensuing Oedipus complex or in his ideas
about mortality. This is an issue as certain concepts bias towards a particular gender, and tends to
ignore the opposite sex. Furthermore, there
are individual and collectivist cultures. Individualist cultures are those where an individual's identity is
more defined by personal achievement and independence. Whereas, collectivist cultures are more
concerned with collective achievement and interdependence. Collectivism tends to relate to rural,
non-industrial societies however it can also be politically enforced e.g. communism- China. However,
it may be suggested that these differences are not real and as clear as assumed as; it may be due to
the certain type of culture, for example, the western culture may be far more individualistic than an
eastern culture such as India, which would be regarded as a collectivist society/culture. Alpha bias can
also be explained in terms of the emic approach. The Emic approach is concerned with the varied
ways in which activities and development are observed in any specific cultural setting. The emic
approach involves the observer attempting to understand a culture by learning the rules, beliefs etc
from within that cultures own logic system.
Beta bias within culture suggests that, any theory based upon research that has been conducted with
one cultural group and is then presented as a theory of all human behaviour. A theory by Kohlberg of
Moral development suggests that the developmental stages are driven by biological factors and are
thus universal. Regardless of culture people would experience the same developmental process at
about the same age. However, Snarey and Keljo (1991) found that post-conventional understanding
occurs mainly in more developed, industrialised societies and is less common in rural communities.
That is not to say that those communities are morally inferior but that their cultural background

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Nikita Chudasama
requires a different sort of mortality. Beta bias also gathers a etic approach. IAs it suggests that
mental illness is diagnosed using DSM or ICD. Both are used with individuals regardless of their
cultural background and assuming that the dominant white culture from which they originate is the
standard by which others should be judged. For example, hearing voices is regarded as a symptom of
Schizophrenia but in some cultures it is regarded as perfectly normal.…read more


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