Cultural Bias

WJEC PY4 key notes on cultural bias in psychology

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  • Created by: Flo
  • Created on: 17-06-12 11:01

Explaining Cultural Bias

  • Cultural bias occurs when people from one culture make assumptions about the behaviour of people from another culture based on their own cultural norms and practices.
  • The behaviour of the white, middle-class western male has become accepted as ‘normal’ behaviour.
  • the standard against which the behaviour of all others has been measured
  • Knowledge gained from western research may therefore be culture specific, and applying this knowledge to members of other cultures reflects a cultural bias.
  • Eurocentrism often assumes it is creating a universal understanding of human behaviour.
  • in reality it is creating only an understanding of western culture
  • This type of bias is also called assumed universality.
  • example of Eurocentrism – the African approach to individualism (Malawi)
  • example of Eurocentrism – the treatment of the Maori people in New Zealand
  • the call of indigenous psychologies - where culture is given primacy (first place)
  • in understanding behaviour
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Cross-cultural research: two approaches

  • Cross-cultural research has an important role in psychology research.
  • The emic approach – which is similar if not identical to the indigenous approach – emphasizes every culture’s uniqueness.
  • Emic approaches (a) study behaviour from within the culture, (b) study only that culture, and (c) produce findings significant only within that culture.
  • Most cross-cultural psychologists adopt an etic approach.
  • The etic approach assumes that most human behaviour is common to humans but that cultural factors influence the development or display of this behaviour.
  • The imposed etic approach, researchers make assumptions that culture plays little or no role in the development and expression of human behaviour.
  • Etic approaches (a) study behaviour from outside a culture, (b) study many cultures, and (c) produce findings considered to have universal application.
  • Danger of imposed etics is that they are likely to impose the researchers’ own cultural biases.
  • May not fit what is being studied, and therefore distort the reliability and validity of the conclusions.
  • Failure to understand depression among black Africans – importance of recognising cultural relevatism.
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