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  1. Cross-Cultural PsychologyQualitative Research Approaches James M. Nelson Department of Psychology Valparaiso University

  2. Presentation Overview • Scientific epistemological cycle • Qualitative methodology: General introduction • Culture and psychology • Models of inquiry: cross-cultural and cultural • Quantitative approaches in culture research • Qualitative methodology: Specific approaches and their application to culture research

  3. Scientific Epistemological Cycle

  4. Scientific epistemological cycle • Data • -->induction to • Theory and Model • -->specification to • Hypotheses • -->deductive testing with • Data

  5. Scientific Cycle (cont.) • Important issues: empiricism • Science is empirical so we ultimately base our conclusions about the world on data • All parts of the cycle are important, but the process of an inductive openness to the data in the creation of our theories is weak in psychology • If theory is narrow, our hypotheses and findings will be similarly limited

  6. Scientific Cycle (cont.) • Important issues: quantification • Since Galileo, science has sought mathematical models to help understand the world, in part because these models best facilitate the goals of prediction and control • A mathematically based process of inquiry is naturally more open to quantitative methods of research • However, some parts of the research process (e.g. induction from data) may require non-mathematical approaches for their full treatment • Mathematical models have other limitations, e.g. don’t address issues of meaning, context

  7. Qualitative Methodology General Introduction

  8. Qualitative methodology and the cycle • Definition • Primary principles • Data collection vs. analysis: you can have different combinations of • qualitative or quantitative data • qualitative or quantitative analysis • although most methodologists focus on qualitative data analyzed qualitatively

  9. Definition (Mason) • Grounded in an ‘interpretive’ philosophical position that sees elements of study existing in a complex social world • Uses data generation methods that are sensitive to the social context and flexible, “rather than rigidly standardized or structures, or entirely abstracted from ‘real life’ contexts.” • Uses analytic methods which are holistic, sensitive to context and detail; quantification may be used but statistical analysis is “not central.”

  10. Qualitative methods (cont.) • Primary principles • Humility: there is an assumption the people you talk to know more about the topic than you do or have a unique knowledge set as valuable as your own • Flexibility • Standardization is suspect, and can’t really be achieved anyway • people interpret the same question in different ways • need to ask different people different questions to access their knowledge of a topic

  11. Qualitative Methods (cont.) • Triangulation--combining methods • Reflexivity: The person doing the interpreting (researcher or participant!) affects the interpretation • Listening and voice • Understanding is more important than prediction and control • Validity is more important that reliability • Sampling is selective rather than random: use of informants

  12. Qualitative methods (cont.) • Purposes: This method especially useful where: • You don’t know much about an area and need to do inductive work and theory/model building • Context is important • Understanding is more important that prediction and control • Quantifiability is difficult • Data can’t be obtained by other methods (e.g. in participant observation)

  13. Qualitative methods (cont.) • Specific approaches • Grounded theory: development of knowledge that is “grounded” in data • Ethnography: cultural description; interviewing and participant observation • Analysis of visual and material culture • Phenomenological analysis: description and analysis of individual experience • Hermeneutic analysis: interpretation of discourse and textual materials; narrative analysis and life history

  14. Qualitative methods (cont.) • Characteristics of specific approaches • Often more a philosophy or attitude rather than a specific technical methodology • While specific approaches have developed separately in terms of theory and application, in practice there is considerable overlap between the methods • Often have more problematic ethical issues in terms of the collection and use of data; usefulness of the results to the people participating in the study is key

  15. Qualitative Methods (cont.) • Since knowledge is contextual, a primary goal is to provide relevant information about the context of the phenomenon being studied • Most methods make use of individual or group interviews of various levels of structure and pre-planning • Data recording and organization is a major task; software is available to assist • relational databases • qualitative/anthropological software with multimedia capabilities (see

  16. Qualitative Methods (cont.) • The process of writeup and making arguments from your data and analysis are more open, and thus involve greater choices • Since procedures and choices are more open, you must keep methodological records and be prepared to defend your choices • As in quantitative research, your questions should be clearly formulated, although clarification is a normal outcome of the research process

  17. Culture and Psychology

  18. Culture and psychology: Section Overview • Definitions; cross cultural and cultural psychology models • Quantitative approaches: Practical issues • Types of studies • Objects of study • Methodological problems • Interpretive problems • Quantitative approaches: Theoretical critique

  19. Definitions • Culture is a matrix of behaviors, beliefs, practices and values that typifies a particular group of people • deals with a variety of things that influence all aspects of behavior • emphasis on group influence rather than individual variability • essential part of the meaning-formation process

  20. Definitions (cont.) • Cross-Cultural Psychology is about the explanation of differences--and sometimes similarities--in the behavior of people belonging to different cultures using the scientific method as practiced in psychology • focus on the individual in group context • different methodology from sociology, anthropology

  21. Definitions (cont.) • Cultural psychology • “…the study of the way cultural traditions and social practices regulate, express, and transform the human psyche, resulting less in psychic unity for humankind than in ethnic divergences in mind, self, and emotion.” (Shweder, 1991, p. 73) • Impossible to separate sociocultural environment and the individual’s process of deriving meaning

  22. Definitions (cont.) • Models are detailed statements of the relationship between variables that assist in the prediction of important phenomena • independent variables are factors that affect other variables • dependent variables are factors that are influenced by independent variables • models can specify direction of influence

  23. Quantitative Approaches:Types of Studies • Descriptive vs. inferential • Descriptive studies focus on describing phenomena in a specific sample of people, or describing differences between two or more specific samples of people • Inferential studies study specific samples of people in order to understand how phenomena operate in large groups of individuals

  24. Types of Studies (cont.) • In cross-cultural research, descriptive studies are generally not too interesting because you find many differences. So what? What does it mean? You need inferential studies and models to answer these more important or challenging questions.

  25. Types of Studies (cont.) • Emic vs. etic • Cross-cultural models tend to have one of two emphases • Emic models view behavior as culture-specific; behavior must be understood in the context of a particular culture • Etic models view behavior as universal; behavior must be understood in comparison to behavior in other cultures

  26. Types of Studies (cont.) • Thus, three approaches (or combinations thereof) are possible • Subjective single-culture • Objective single-culture • Objective cross-cultural

  27. Quantitative Approaches:Objects of Study • Construct (hypothetical): a phenomenon that is important for the understanding of human behavior which cannot be directly observed. • Universe--set of conditions for observation or items of measurement, usually indicated by the hypothetical construct • Populations--larger groups of people that are the ultimate object of interest

  28. Quantitative Approaches:Scope of Study • Limited: Cross-cultural research should be limited to verifying the validity of standard or indigenous psychological constructs • Broad: Cross-cultural research should view culture itself as a relevant psychological construct and attempt to build models that use it as a variable

  29. Quantitative Approaches:Methodological Problems • Bias--when a study because of design, measurement or sampling problems, is destined to find differences when none occur (or to find no differences when differences actually exist).

  30. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Types of bias: • Stimulus--study does not collect a representative sample of behaviors from the universe, e.g. using a measure of intelligence that only uses timed tasks • Methodological--the process of study and measurement has a differential effect between groups, e.g. interviewer-subject interaction • Universe--different groups have different behavioral universe, e.g. what may be adaptive life skills in two different cultures

  31. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Effects of bias • Incorrect interpretations of results • Adverse effects upon individuals

  32. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Problems with Universes • Design or measurement bias can be caused if the universe(s) in the study are not properly defined • appropriate behaviors that are related to the construct of interest must be selected

  33. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Three types of universe problems: • Group Equivalence: Are they the same (identical vs. nonidentical universes)? • Sampling: How are they sampled (representative vs. selected)? • Variables selection and measurement: What will be measured: attributes (internal, hypothetical constructs) vs repertoire (external) • Most common and difficult situation: nonidentical universes sampled with selective measures of attributes

  34. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Design and control problems • Definitions • Experimental design: The conceptualization and layout of the experiment, its groups and variables • Experimental control: Procedures in an experiment to exclude the effects of variables that are not being studied

  35. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Types of design and control problems • Subject: Exchangeability--equivalent subject groups? • Treatments: experimental vs. quasi-experimental designs • Confounds: changing one independent variable actually changes more than on independent variable, either of which can have an effect on the dependent variable, e.g. culture and SES

  36. Methodological Problems (cont.) • Measurement Equivalence • Definition: An instrument that obtains equal values on a variable in two groups when the behavior being measured is equivalent are said to have measurement equivalence • Levels of measurement equivalence • functional: behaviors have same purpose • conceptual: behaviors have the same purpose and relationship to other variables, e.g. structural equivalence of instruments • metric: values and magnitude are equivalent

  37. Quantitative Approaches:Interpretive Problems • Classical model • similar instruments used in each culture • assumes no bias • differences between groups mean construct differences in each culture • e.g. give identical tests in each culture, differences in test scores indicate differences between the cultures on the construct

  38. Interpretive Problems (cont.) • Contemporary model • like the classical model, except try to verify if no bias • difficult, as it involves multiple "pilot" studies • more defensible than traditional model • but what happens if you find bias?--the method does not provide a way of dealing with situations with bias/universe problems

  39. Interpretive Problems (cont.) • Emic model • use different instruments for each culture, see if they measure same thing • advantage: measures a wider range of behaviors that are perhaps more appropriate for each culture • disadvantage: harder to find bias, measurement equivalence uncertain

  40. Interpretive Problems (cont.) • Adjusted model • similar instruments used for each culture • assume no bias in etic elements, bias in emic elements • advantage: accounts for bias problems while reducing measurement equivalence problems • disadvantage: doesn't detect or correct unexpected sources of bias

  41. Interpretive Problems (cont.) • Other general problems • Ambient (other) differences must be excluded to support focal antecedent-focal consequent theory • There can be a priori causes of differences which must be excluded • Moderator-mediator effects

  42. Quantitative Methods:Theoretical Critique • Carl Ratner (1997). Cultural psychology and cultural methodology (see also Geertz) • General concerns • In studying psychological phenomenon, need to find a balance between objectivism and subjectivism • Objectivism not enough: cultural processes aren’t completely observable from “social facts” • Subjectivism not enough: subjective accounts may not be aware of cultural factors • Can’t just combine, need to objectively analyze subjective phenomena • Best done with qualitative methods

  43. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • Problem of Methodological Positivism • History: positivism came in when Feigel a member of the Vienna circle visited Bridgman, Boring and Boring’s students Skinner and S. S. Stevens in 1930; also began in the 1920’s. • Positivism is largely seen as discredited in 20th century philosophy of science debates, but persists in psychology

  44. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • Bases of Methodological positivism • 1. Atomism: “the belief that psychological phenomena exist as separate, independent variables, and that variables consist of smaller, discrete elements.” • phenomena are distinct from each other, have simple uniform character—a minimally cultural point of view • sub-variables/parts of the phenomena are thought to be invariant; phenomenal structure is culturally invariant • assume independence of variables, which promotes fragmentation of variables and elements (values)

  45. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • 2. Quantification: “psychological phenomena can be expressed as numbers that represent their strength or degree” and that “mathematical operations on these data reveal some psychological significance” • quantification ignores the psychological significance • qualitatively distinct psychological phenomena are collapsed into homogeneous quantitative dimensions • problem of frequency counts: are they the same quality or intensity? • statistical significance is equated with psychological importance

  46. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • 3. Operationalism: psychological phenomena can be defined as simple, overt behaviors • it is an ontological assumption that phenomena can be defined by a response measure • “Operational definitions overlook the fact that the relationship between psychological activity and behavior is variable. Hitting does not always express aggression and aggression is not always expressed by hitting.” p. 40 • questionnaires suffer from same problem as behavioral measures

  47. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • Nature of Psychological Phenomena; Alternative ontological principles--psychological phenomena are: • complex configurations of multiple components • expressed through extended responses • primarily mental and have no fixed behavioral expression

  48. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • Methodological principles: Alternative epistemological principles following from ontology: • 1. Interpret behavior • Verstehen: understanding the psychological activity expressed in behavior; this must be reconstructed rather than perceived in expressions; can be in relation to biography, culture • Person is not necessarily aware of everything • primary principle of hermeneutics: “the psychological significance of any behavioral expression can only be discerned by relating that response to other responses” ; (hermeneutic circle); principle also used by Vygotsky

  49. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • 2. Interpret verbal statements • comparing statements and behavior: triangulation • use phenomenological methods of text analysis • 3. Identify situations in which phenomena do and do not occur • 4. Ascertain quality of phenomena through relationships with other phenomena • 5. Employ all qualitative research principles in concert (triangulation) • 6. Subordinate positivistic to qualitative methods

  50. Theoretical Critique (cont.) • Cultural character of psychology • “People collectively construct concepts that objectify their understanding of things (objects, animals, and humans). These cultural concepts enable people to communicate about things. Cultural concepts also organize the manner in which people perceive, imagine, think about, remember, and feel about things. In other words, collectively constructed concepts compose culture, and cultural symbols organize psychological phenomena.” p. 93