What is culture bias?
Cultural Bias is interpreting and judging perceived through someone's own culture. In other words, a person may be biased towards someone else because they do not fit into that persons own culture, or they may be different.
Rohner (1984) "...an organised system of meanings which provide a shared way of making sense of different aspects of the world".
Culture bias covers several types of bias in psychology, it can be used to refer to judgements and prejudices about certain cultures or methodological biases which lead to such biased conclusions.
One type of culture bias is ethnocentrism, which is the tendency to use ones one culture as a basis for judgements about others.
Eurocentric, individual-collectivist, emic + etic, and historical bias are all elements of culture bias.
Culture bias and Kholberg
Beta bias is when any theory based upon research has been conducted with one cultral group and is presented as a theory generalising to all human behaviour. E.g. Kholberg's theory of moral development, he believed that individuals can only progress through these stages one at a time; cannot 'jump' stages.
They would not move from orientation of selfishness to the law and order stage without passing the good boy/girl stage. He believed that moral development occurs through social interaction as did Piaget.
Snarley et al (1985) conducted 4 studies which were all different in 26 countries and found that all of them go through the 1-4 stages of moral development about the same ages as Kholbergs did in the USA.
However, it may not apply to higher levels of moral development, stages 5 & 6 asosciated with individualistic, middle class, western cultures; different cultures categorise different levels e.g respecting elders highly moral in indian culture but lower class for Kholberg,
Post conventional understanding prominent in developed industrialised societies; cultral background. Kholberg's theory is beta biased (culture & gender), driven by biological factors and therefore universal (at the same age); regardless of culture.
Most of the world’s psychologists are trained and originate in western cultures, therefore, many theories have western influence. It is culture specific, therefore, reflecting this to other cultures shows cultural bias.
Eurocentrism assumes that it is creating a universal understanding of human behaviour, in reality it is only creating an understanding of western culture assumed universality.
It emphasises individualism, however, it lacks in African cultures. In Malawi individualism is seen as an undesirable trait which threatens the overall well-being of the community.
Collectivism (putting community first) is highly prized in African cultures, but is negative in western cultures, suggesting that the communal welfare is at expense of the individual, and actually inhibits the 'progress' of the development in Malawi.
New Zealand admission rates to mental hospital are 2-3 times higher for Maoris, the indigenous population, than for non-Maoris.
As lock (1993) pointed out there is a clash between Maori culture and white New Zealand cultures, due to different ideas of 'self' to western cultures;
Maori culture is seen as 'abnormal', mentally troubled/deficient because they won’t adapt to western cultural norms.
Traditional psychology has been either culturally blind or where cultural variations have been acknowledges, their influence has been de-emphasised or set aside for later study. In non-western cultures there is a growing development of ‘indigenous psychologists'
Emic and etic approach
Cross cultural research has an important role in psychological research. Emic approach emphasis every cultures uniqueness by focusing on the behaviour to a particular culture. Cross cultural approaches ignore this distinction as they think it is invalid. Emic approaches study behaviour within the culture, only that culture and produce findings within that culture.
Cross cultural psychologists adapt an etic approach, assuming that all behaviour is common but that cultural factors influence the development or display of this behaviour.
Imposed etic approach researchers make assumptions that cultures play little/no role in the development and expression of human behaviour.
They study behaviour from outside a culture, study many cultures and produce findings that are considered to have universal application; the danger of imposed etic’s is that they may not fit what is being studied and therefore distort the reliability and validity of the conclusion.
Example and cultural relativism
Until the 1960 depression was thought to be rare among black Africans, but this was simply because depression manifested itself different among them compared to the ways which white Europeans manifested depression; failed to spot symptoms in black Africans, because they had already decided that depression only expressed itself in ways familiar to them.
Cultural relativism suggests that the unique aspects of culture needs to be considered when identifying and understanding behaviour