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Culture and the Individual


Culture and the Individual Kimberly Porter Martin – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Culture and the Individual

and the Individual
  • Kimberly Porter Martin

  • Scientific Paradigm
  • Research Design
  • Populations Sampling
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis Interpretation
  • Validity
  • Reliability
  • Inferences from Data

Scientific Paradigms
  • Modern/Positivism there is a reality and
    through science we can discover what that one,
    true reality is by PROVING what is real.
  • Post positivism there is a reality out there,
    but it can only be imperfectly understood through
    FALSIFYING hypothesis scientifically.
  • Post Modern/Constructivist there is no one
    reality, only perspectives that are socially
    constructed. So-called scientific results are
    socially constructed as well, and are therefore
    just another perspective among many.

Aspects of Research Design
  • Is the goal nomothetic or idiographic?
  • Does data need to be collected cross-sectionally
    or longitudinally?
  • Should quantitative or qualitative data be
  • Should emic or etic data be collected?
  • Should data be collected in an experimental or a
    natural setting?

Nomothetic and Idiographic
  • Nomothetic refers to studies that produce
    generalizations about a concept or population.
  • Idiographic refers to studies that give detailed,
    descriptive information about individuals or

Time Frames
  • Cross-sectional research collects data during a
    single time.
  • Longitudinal research collects data at two more
    different time periods to show how how something
    has changed over time.

Quantitative vs Qualitative Data
  • Quantitative data is collected in the form of
    numbers or of categories that can be labeled with
    numbers. Quantitative data is analyzed using
    descriptive and inferential statistics.
  • Qualitative data is collected in the form of
    descriptions or narratives that are reported in
    essay form with selected quotes or examples.

Emic vs Etic Data
  • Emic data presents an insiders view that may not
    be comparable to the views of outsiders.
    Subjective data.
  • Etic data presents an outsiders view that allows
    for easy comparison, but may not truly reflect
    the different perspectives of the groups being
    compared. Objective data.

Experimental vs Natural Settings
  • Experimental settings remove people from their
    daily contexts in order to try to control
    variables that might confuse the results of the
  • Natural settings allow data to be gathered in the
    context in which people actually live insuring
    that results reflect how people actually behave
    in the real world.

  • The group to which findings will be
    generalized. For cross cultural
    studies this means what cultures will be
  • Selected on the basis of similarities (to control
    for confounding variables).
  • Selected on the basis of differences (where the
    differences are the independent (causal)
  • Culturally defined level depends on the amount of
    diversity within the society national, regional,
    local, ethnic, language group, organizational
    membership, etc.

  • The set of individuals or objects from which
    data will actually be collected. This means
    which groups within the society and which
    individuals within the groups should participate
    in the research. The best type of sample is
  • Cross-cultural studies rarely use randomized
  • Biased samples produce biased data.
  • Galtons problem says that neighboring societies
    may have superficially similar characteristics
    because of diffusion.

Data Collection Methods
  • Experiments
  • Observation
  • Participant Observation
  • Interviewing
  • Psychological Testing
  • Text Analysis

  • Identify the independent variable (the variable
    that will make a change) and the dependent
    variable (the variable that will be changed).
  • Select participants and randomly divide them into
    two groups an experimental group that will be
    exposed to the independent variable, and a
    control group that will NOT be exposed to the
    independent variable.
  • Place both groups in an experimental setting away
    from normal daily activities.
  • Pretest both groups on the dependent variable.
  • Expose the experimental group to the independent
  • Post test both groups.
  • Compare the post test scores of the two groups.
    If there is a significant difference, then it can
    be attributed to the independent variable as the

Experiments The Pros
  • Many confounding variables are eliminated by the
    experimental setting.
  • The randomly selected control group provides a
    baseline comparison against which change in the
    dependent variable can be measured.
  • The researcher controls the exposure to the
    independent variable for the experimental group,
    making sure that it comes BEFORE the post test.
  • Cause and effect can be directly inferred from a
    significant change in the dependent variable in
    the experimental groups post test scores.

Experiments the Cons
  • Removing people from their normal daily context
    may change their behavior/performance.
  • Many variables of interest cannot be controlled
    by the researcher.
  • In many cases one cannot use randomization in the
    selection of participants at all.
  • It is sometimes not possible to pretest
    individuals before they are exposed to the
    independent variable.
  • Experiments can only provide results at a single
    point in time and cannot be used to document
    processes of change.
  • Experimental results are usually quantified and
    cannot be used for idiographic research purposes.
  • Can only be used to collect etic data.

Observation Participant Observation
  • Spot Observation the observer records activity
    as soon as he/she first enters the context.
  • Pre-coded Observation observers agree ahead of
    time on a set of targeted behaviors that will be
    counted and/or described.
  • Time Sampling activities are recorded at set
    time intervals (every five minutes for one hour
    12 observations)
  • Event sampling Observing on a given number of
    occasions for an established period of time.

Observation Participant Observation Pros
  • Takes place during the normal daily activities of
    participants, and is therefore a more valid
    measure of what people actually do.
  • Has the potential to produce either emic or etic
    data depending on the type of observation that is
  • May be the only way to gather valid data on
    behaviors, as individuals frequently dont or
    cant answer questions about their behaviors
  • Both quantitative and qualitative data can be

Observation Participant Observation Cons
  • The presence of the researcher may change the
    behaviors of participants, who will not behave
    normally in the presence of an outsider.
  • Needs to be focused by a research question can
    be unfocused and invalid if goals are not
  • Observer bias can be a problem the investigator
    may see what he/she wants to see, and ignore
    unwanted data.
  • There may be contexts in which the observer is
    not welcome and so the sample of behavior will
    not be representative.
  • Unusual behaviors will be difficult to document.

  • Unstructured Interviews interviews in which
    questions are not developed before the interview
    and the interviewees lead is followed by the
  • Structured interviews questions are developed
    before the interview and are asked in the same
    way and in the same order for each participant.

Interviewing Pros
  • The best way to get emic data about meanings and
    cultural explanations.
  • Both emic and etic data may be obtained this way.
  • Can collect both quantitative and qualitative
  • May get kinds of information of which the
    researcher was completely unaware and would not
    have asked about.

Interviewing Cons
  • Participants will frequently say what they think
    the interviewer wants them to say.
  • People may not be consciously aware of their
    behaviors or attitudes and may not be able to
    report what they are.
  • Structured interviews may ask questions that are
    not relevant in the culture of the participant.
  • Unstructured interviews depend on the discretion
    of the interviewer, and the data collected may
    not be reliable.

Psychological Testing
  • Optical Illusions
  • Rorschach Tests
  • TAT Tests
  • MMPI
  • State/Trait Anger Inventory

Projective Tests
Rorschach Tests
Optical Illusions
Psychological Testing Pros
  • Used to test the validity of established modern
    western theories about personality and about
    universal human traits.

Psychological Testing Cons
  • It is ethnocentric to believe that modern western
    theories will fit all humans.
  • The format of test items reflects modern western
    traditions and practices.
  • The content of test items sometimes reflects
    modern western practices and traditions.
  • Testing individuals does not work in many
    traditional societies, where all tasks are done
    in groups.

Content (Text) Analysis
  • Extrapolating cultural meanings, values and
    personality traits from documents, art or other
    material cultural products.

Content (Text) Analysis Pros
  • People may unconsciously structure things that
    they write or design in ways that they cannot
  • Widely used material products may unconsciously
    influence peoples values, behaviors and beliefs.

Art and Design Example
Navaho Textile Design Egalitarian Society,
dispersed population, autonomy and self-reliance
Art and Design Example Contrast
Indian Textile Patterns Highly Stratified Society
with clear social classes/casts that cannot be
escaped during a lifetime.
Content (Text) Analysis Cons
  • A single type of product may only be
    representative of a small portion of a population
    causing overgeneralization.
  • Selection of a type of product requires the
    researcher to choose a representative type of
    product, from which the researcher will then
    extrapolate cultural patterns this can cause a
    self-fulfilling prophecy.

Aspects of Cultural Bias
  • Differences in the way a concept is measured -
    eg. How big a person is measured in one culture
    by weight, in another by height, and in another
    by spiritual criteria.
  • Differences in physical testing/data collection
  • Differences in the relevance of the concept to
    the groups.
  • Differences in familiarity with testing
  • Differences in observer ratings for behaviors.
  • Problems in communication between researcher and
    participant due to language, role or gender.
  • Differences in social consequences of
    participation in the study.
  • In the way questions are worded and/or translated
    from one language to another Back Translation
    different individuals translate first from
    language A into B, and then from language B back
    into language A and the two As are compared.
  • In the way data is interpreted eg. If a child is
    classified in his society as big, will the
    researcher interpret that as meaning the child is
    tall or heavy or both?

Addressing Reliability
  • When repeated trials of the same research
    procedure yield the same results.
  • Reliability is more of a problem with
  • qualitative data and methods.
  • Controls in experimental and quantitative
  • methods make reliability easier to
  • achieve.

Addressing Validity
  • when you measure what you say you are
  • 1. Interpretive validity
  • 2. Ecological validity
  • 3. Theoretical validity

Interpretive Validity
  • Understanding the participants and their
    culture and context well enough that you can
    design an appropriate and meaningful research

Ecological Validity
  • The data to be collected and the methods of
    data collection are relevant to participants and
    to the participants daily lives and contexts.

  • Theoretical Validity

Is the data that you are collecting an accurate
measure of what you are studying?
Making Inferences from Data
  • Low Level Inferences can be made when the
    concept is well understood and measured using
    instruments that address all aspects of the
  • Medium Level Inferences are made when certain
    behaviors are assumed to reflect abstract
    characteristics (eg. Personality traits).
  • High Level Inferences are made when concepts
    are not amenable to measurement (eg.