Unit 2 - Theoretical and Methodological Issues
This unit concerns two pillars of cross-cultural psychology: the theoretical issues on the one hand and the methodological issues on the other. Understanding of the notion of culture and research methods have been two important contributions of cross-cultural psychology to general psychology.
That culture has important implications for human psychology makes intuitive appeals, perhaps to some students of psychology more than others. In subunit 2.1 (Conceptual Issues in Psychology and Culture) we present some personal reflections of prominent cross-cultural psychologists (Harry Triandis, Gustav Jahoda, Rogelio Diza-Guerrero, and David Matsumoto) regarding how they came to be in contact with the concept of culture – how the concept of culture fascinates them but has also become an important issue in their explorations of psychology.
Contributors to subunit 2.1 also address the question of “How to conceptualize culture?” directly, taking some different approaches – for example through a functionalist view on cultural differences (Stefan Strohschneider), a comparison of theoretical approaches to morality (Diane Sunar), an analysis of cultural dimensions (Geert Hofstede), and through a comparison of cross-cultural psychology and cultural psychology (e.g., Jaan Valsiner, Carl Ratner, Douglass Price-Williams).
Given certain conceptualizations of culture, how do we proceed with our empirical investigation of culture, and how do we deal with the psychological data that we garner? Thus, in subunit 2.2 (Methodological Issues in Psychology), there are some different methodological approaches or emphases within cross-cultural psychology itself and Fons van de Vijver compares these approaches. Harry Triandis discusses his approach to analysing culture which he referred to as the Subjective Culture approach in 1972.
It is the fact of life that cross-cultural data involve both within-group and between-group variability. Peter Smith grapples with the important issue concerning the relationship between individual-level and group/collective-level analysis. Sometimes cross-cultural investigations encounter an intra-cultural variation larger than a “cross-cultural” variation, due to regional and religious differences, for example. This issue is addressed by Anu Realo and Jüri Allik. Dianne van Hemert introduces readers to two types of cross-cultural meta-analytic integration of data. Cheryl Foxcroft discusses ethical issues in cross-cultural research and testing.