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Methods for Studying Cultural Psychology. Psychology 448C 10/6/08. Agenda. Lecture In-class assignment Review of last assignment. Who should we study?. Populations for which you have theoretical reasons to predict the responses vary on a meaningful cultural variable

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  • Lecture
  • In-class assignment
  • Review of last assignment
who should we study
Who should we study?
  • Populations for which you have theoretical reasons to predict the responses
    • vary on a meaningful cultural variable
  • Populations for which a researcher has cultural “expertise”
    • collaboration, education, immersion
methodological equivalence
Methodological Equivalence
  • Problem: methods are often not perceived the same way across cultures
    • Ex: surveys of Zinacantecan girls
  • Answer: comparisons in cultural psychology between “North Americans” and “East Asians”
    • Industrial societies
    • College students
    • Convenient
  • Do the findings from a sample generalize to the entire population?
    • Rarely
  • Are they conservative estimates of how culture may influence behavior?
    • Likely
cross cultural research surveys
Cross-cultural research: Surveys
  • Translation method
    • Meaningful back-translation
  • Deprivation effect
    • “How much do you value pleasure?”
    • Italians vs. East Germans
cross cultural research surveys1
Cross-cultural research: Surveys
  • Response biases
    • Moderacy and extremity bias: tendency to use the middle or extremes of a scale
    • Acquiescence bias: agreement with a large range of statements
    • Reference-group effect: comparisons using different reference groups
example of reference group manipulation
Example of reference-group manipulation
  • Asked Japanese and Canadians to complete a measure of independence/interdependence in comparison to specific others.
  • Both samples were familiar with both Japanese and Canadian cultures.
    • Japanese living in Canada
    • Canadians who had lived in Japan
example of reference group manipulation1
Example of reference-group manipulation
  • Sample Item - Standard Format
    • “I have respect for the authority figures with whom I interact.”
  • Sample Item - Cross-Cultural Format
    • (for Canadians) “Compared to most Japanese I know, I think I have respect for the authority figures with whom I interact.”
cross cultural research surveys2
Cross-cultural research: Surveys
  • Advantages:
    • Cheap (time, expense, convenience)
  • Disadvantages: hard to compare means between two cultural groups
    • Translation method
    • Deprivation effect
    • Response biases
cross cultural research experiments
Cross-cultural research: Experiments
  • Experiments:
    • Changes in DV are due to changes in IV
  • Advantages:
    • Compare means between two conditions within each culture.
    • Various response biases and reference groups are held constant.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Costly
cultural priming
Cultural Priming
  • Priming refers to a technique to make ideas more accessible, by presenting them to participants.
    • Ex: independence and interdependence.
    • Circle “me,” “mine, and “I,” versus

“us,” “ours,” and “we”

    • Think about how you are connected with others vs. being separate from others.
The idea is that when people are exposed to these kinds of primes they should start thinking in ways that are more closely related to independence or interdependence.

Any differences that are found between groups with different primes should parallel those differences that are found between cultures.

case study culture of honor in the us south
Case Study: Culture of Honor in the US South
  • Since 18th century, many observations of greater violence in the US South than the North.
    • Higher frequency of feuds, duels, homicides, lynchings, sniper attacks
    • Greater support for corporal punishment, gun ownership, and war.
why common accounts
Why? Common Accounts

US South had a longer history of slavery.

US South is hotter than the North.

US South is poorer than the North.

Settled by herders (South) vs. farmers (North) (Nisbett & Cohen, 1996)

herders and a culture of honor
Herders and a Culture of Honor

Herders live a precarious existence as their wealth is portable. Others can steal your herds.

Herding is usually done on marginal lands which are sparsely populated, and thus difficult to police.

People will be more likely to protect their herds if they can develop a reputation as someone who would respond to threats with violence.

evidence for culture of honor account
Evidence for Culture of Honor Account
  • Archival Evidence
    • Explore how various kinds of indices of violence vary across regions of the US.

The South doesn’t differ from the North in just any kind of violence. The difference is most pronounced for argument-related murders, where one’s honor is at stake.

The regional differences are more pronounced in less urban areas. In urban areas there is less influence from traditional herding cultures.

This data challenges a temperature account of the regional differences, as both the urban and rural areas should have similar climates.

The murder rate is higher in the areas where herding is more commonly practiced than it is in the areas where farming is practiced.
People in the farming areas make slightly more than those in the herding areas.

This difference in wealth is much smaller than the difference in violence rates between the two areas, so this argues against the poverty account.

If anything, the farming areas are hotter (and considerably more humid) than the herding areas, yet the violence rates are higher in the herding areas.

This goes against the temperature account of these differences.

Slaves had been far more common in farming regions than in herding regions, yet the violence rate is higher in the herding regions.

This goes against the slavery account.

evidence for culture of honor account1
Evidence for Culture of Honor Account

Archival Evidence

Survey Evidence

Participants in various regions of the US were called at home by a survey company and posed questions to them about how they would respond in certain situations.

They ranged in severity from imagining that someone had insulted a man named Fred, to imagining that someone had raped Fred’s daughter.

The Southerners were more likely than Northerners to view violence as an appropriate solution to the threats to Fred’s honor.

Most extreme difference for the scenario where Fred’s daughter was raped. 47% of Southerners but only 28% of Northerners felt that Fred would be extremely justified to shoot the man who had raped his daughter.

evidence for culture of honor account2
Evidence for Culture of Honor Account

Archival Evidence

Survey Evidence

Experimental Evidence

These studies contrasted white male students at the University of Michigan who had either grown up in the North or in the South.

Half of them were assigned to an “insult” condition where a confederate insulted them.

The other half were in the control condition (no insult).

In one study, following the insult, the experimenters assessed changes in the participants’ cortisol and testosterone levels, as these increase when people are feeling aggressive.
Northern subjects showed little physiological arousal to the insult.

Southern subjects showed a strong physiological response. They were quite angry.

playing chicken
Playing “Chicken”
  • In a second study, after participants had been insulted they were instructed to go to another lab room. On the way, they encountered another confederate who was in a direct collision course with them.
  • The dependent measure was the point at which participants yielded to the oncoming confederate.
    • Control = Insult
  • Southerners:
    • Control > Insult
  • Honor was “primed” and influenced interaction with a new person
evidence for culture of honor account3
Evidence for Culture of Honor Account

Archival Evidence

Survey Evidence

Experimental Evidence

Field Study Evidence

Researchers sent letters requesting job applications to large national companies with branches in the US North and South.

The letters mentioned that the applicant was a convicted felon. In a control condition he describes how he had been convicted of stealing a car. In an “honor letter” condition he describes how he had been convicted of manslaughter for killing a man in defense of his honor.

Key dependent measure was the tone of the letter that was received in response from the potential employer.

tone of letter from potential employer
Control letter: No regional differences in response warmth

Honor letter: Southern employers were significantly warmer in their response compared with Northern employers.

Tone of Letter from Potential Employer
sample responses
Sample Responses
  • Northern Employer
      • “We don’t hire felons.”
  • Southern Employer
      • “As for your problem of the past, anyone could probably be in the situation you were in. It was just an unfortunate incident that shouldn’t be held against you. Your honesty shows that you are sincere. I wish you the best of luck for your future. Once you get settled, if you are near here, please stop in and see us.”