Interpretation Bias

One problem with cross-cultural studies is that they are vulnerable to ethnocentric bias. This means that the researcher who designs the study might be influenced by personal biases that could affect research outcomes, without even being aware of it. For example, a study on happiness across cultures might investigate the ways that personal freedom is associated with feeling a sense of purpose in life. The researcher might assume that when people are free to choose their own work and leisure, they are more likely to pick options they care deeply about. Unfortunately, this researcher might overlook the fact that in much of the world it is considered important to sacrifice some personal freedom in order to fulfill one’s duty to the group (Triandis, 1995). Because of the danger of this type of bias, cultural psychologists must continue to improve their methodology.

Another problem with cross-cultural studies is that they are susceptible to cultural attribution fallacy. This happens when the researcher concludes that there are real cultural differences between groups without any actual support for this conclusion. Yoo (2013) explains that, if a researcher concludes that two countries are different based on a psychological construct because one country is an individualistic (I) culture and the other is a collectivistic (C) culture, without connecting differences to IC, then the researcher has made a cultural attribution fallacy.


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Culture and Psychology Copyright © 2020 by L D Worthy; T Lavigne; and F Romero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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