Gender and culture in psychology: Cultural bias

  • Gender and culture in psychology: Cultural bias
  • AO1:
  • Cultural bias
  • Psychologists seek universality but bias may be inevitable. Many critics argue that although psychology may claim to have unearthed truths about people all over the world (universality), in reality findings from studies only apply to the particular groups of pwople who were studied (i.e. show cultural bias). 
  • Universality assumed for results of Western research. Researchers have wrongly assumed that findings from studies in Western cultures can be applied all over the world. For example, studies of conformity (asch) and obediance (Milgram) revealed very different results when they were replicated in parts of the world outside the US. If the norm or standard for a particular behaviour if judged only from the standpoint of one particular culture, then any cultural differences in behaviour will inevitably be seen as 'abnormal', 'inferior' or 'unusual' (cultural bias). 
  • Ethnocentricism results in a view that other behaviours are deficient. Ethnocentrcism is the belief in the superiority of one's own cultural group. In psychological research this may be communicated through a vierw that any behaviour that doesn't conform to the (usually Western) model is somehow deficient or underdeveloped. 
  • One notable example of ethnocenttric research is the Strange Situation, Ainsworth has been criticesed as reflecting only the norms and values of American culture in attachment research. She identified the key defining variable of attachment type as the chil's experience of anxiety on separation. She suggested the ideal (or secure) attachment was the infant showing moderate distress when left alone by the mother figure. This led to misinterpretation of child-rearing practices in other countries deviated from the American norm. For example, German mothers were seen as cold and rejecting rather than encouraging independence in their children. Thusthe strange situation was revealed an in inappropriate measure of attachment type for non-US children. 

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