Issues of cultural bias

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  • Created by: gracepxx
  • Created on: 30-05-16 13:09

P1 - Intro

Happens when people of one culture make assumptions about the behaviour of people from another culture based on their own norms

Most research reflects norms of European and American societies however they then are used to represent a universal description of human behaviour 

There are two strands to controversy - examples of cultural bias in research and ways it is overcome 

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P2 - Alpha/Beta

Hare-Mustin & Marack (1988) - proposed there are two different ways theories may be biased

Alpha bias - theories that assume there are real and enduring differences between cultural groups.... Beta bias - ignore or minimise cultural differences by assuming all people are the same so theories can be applied equally to all 

Example of alpa - comes from individualist and collectivist cultures such as the US and Japan - we'd expect members of individualist cultures to be less conformist - to assesses validity of this Takano and Osaka (1999) looked at 15 studies comparing US and Japan in terms of individualism/collectivism - found 14 of 15 studies didn't support view and suggests there 

Example of beta - psychologists comparing intelligence using IQ tests derived by Western psychologists who assume their view of intelligence applies to all cultures equally - leads to people form non-Western cultures appearing less intelligent 

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P3 - Ethnocentrism

Refers to use of own culture as a basis for judgements of other groups, leading to bias

Common tendency to view the customs and beliefs of our own group as "normal" and those of other groups deviant 

Eurocentrism is a form of cultural bias where more emphasis is put on European ideas, at the expense of other cultures

Nobles (1976) argues this has presented a view of humankind that is not representative of all people

Opposite to ethnocentrism is cultural relativism - holds belief that all cultures are equal and that when studying another culture we need to try and understand way that particular culture sees world

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P4 - Bias in studies

Most research is carried out on Americans, by American's 

64% of words researchers in psychology are American, suggesting their research is based on their norms

Sears (1986) reported 82% of research uses undergraduates as their participants and 51% were psychology students

Suggests considerable amount of research is based on middle-class, academic, young adults who are often male

Psychology studies therefore unrepresentative within Western culture as well as on global scale

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P5 - Indigenous psychology

Different ways we try to deal with cultural bias - psychology originally assumed that knowledge gained in West can be applied to whole of human kind but as psychology began being practiced in other parts of world, created need for alternative view

Alternative view based on indigenous (native) cultures - most of this type of research done in Asia

Yamagishi (2002) - there were more social psychologists in Asia than in Europe but it is almost absent in Africa. South Africa has largely Western individualist conception of psychology and

so fails to recognise and reflect the country's more collectivist culture - could be unsuprising in country where 90% of psychologists are white despite only 13% of total population being white

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P6 - Afrocentrism

Afrocentrism is a movement whose central propsition is that all blacks have their roots in Aftrca and so theories must be African-centred and must express African values

Afrocentrism disputes view that European values are able to be applied equally to Europeans and non-Europeans alike

Suggests values and culture of Europeans at worst devalue non-European people and at best are irrelevant to the life of Africans

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P7 - Emic/Etic

Terms emic/etic were originally used to distinguish between sounds whose meaning was unique to a particular language and those that were more universally used in human language. In psychology, used to indicate the different set of assumptions that may underlie cross-culture research

Emic approach - uniqueness of every culture by focusing on culturally specific things - cross cultural comparisons that ignore these are viewed as invalid - emic approaches ususally involve indigenous researchers studying own cultures so findingd are usually specific to understanding behaviour in the culture

Etic approach - assumes human behaviour is universal - usually studies behaviour from outside a culture and produces findings that are considered to have universal application - does acknowledge role of cultural factors and notices human behaviour differs from one culture to another and so use of same method from one culture to another is inappropriate ... Example etic - using Asch's technique to study conformity as it may not produce meaningful results outside of that specific culture

Other extreme - imposed etic - cultural influences are ignored - assessments made using standard Wesern instruments and interpretations made at face value 

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