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Cultural bias in psychology - There is a tendency for psychology to be culturally biased. This means ignoring the differences between cultures and imposing understanding based on the study of one culture to other cultures.

There are several types of bias:

Ethnocentrism- the belief that ones own cultural group is superior. That one’s own cultural beliefs e.t.c is normal and others are abnormal.

Eurocentrism- emphasises European theories and ideas- Western research is then applied to other cultures to create a supposedly universal view of human behaviour.

Research studies can be culturally biased in several ways:

  • The questions that they ask - may only concern issues that are relevant to one culture

  • The participants that they use - May use an unrepresentative sample in terms of cultural groups and sub-cultural groups

  • The tasks that they use - May be unfamiliar to certain cultural groups

  • The culture of the investigator - If an investigator from one cultural group studies another cultural group they may misinterpret their behaviour and answers.

  • The environment that they carry out the research in -Laboratory studies are biased towards western participants as participants from other cultural groups will not be familiar with this kind of environment.

  • The way the findings are used - As psychology is considered a science, findings and conclusions can be thought of as facts and used to hide prejudice and bias.



Overcoming bias

The best way to overcome bias in psychology is to carry out cross cultural research. However cross cultural research is not carried out regularly because:

  • Difficulties in language - instruction e.t.c. must be translated and this can sometimes lead to original meaning being lost.

  • Definitions of variables - defining what is meant by ‘aggressiveness’, for example might vary between cultures.

  • Research tradition - the fact that research is often not carried out in certain cultural groups may mean they distrust the research process and make it difficult to recruit participants.

Culturally Biased activity
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