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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

12 - Methodology and theory

from Part II - Relationships between behavior, culture and biology


As noted in Chapter 1, there is much more to a cross-cultural study than collecting data in two countries and comparing the results. Long ago Campbell (1970) warned that two-group comparisons usually are not interpretable: there are too many factors to which an observed difference can be attributed, including a lack of equivalence (cultural bias). In various chapters in Part I we have seen examples of competing interpretations of differences in behaviors across cultures. In the present chapter the scope for interpretation of cross-cultural data will be explored further. Both “culture” and “behavior” are somewhat abstract and diffuse concepts that are not accessible to scientific analysis without further specification. The process of specification is guided by the methods and research questions that are selected by researchers as well as by their theoretical and metatheoretical orientations. Usually method and theory are linked and this is the reason why we have combined them in the present chapter.

The first three sections refer back to the three themes and associated theoretical positions that we outlined in Chapter 1. In the first section we elaborate on the distinction between culture as external context and culture as internal to the person (internal context).

Further reading
Berry, J. W., Poortinga, Y. H., Pandey, J., Dasen, P. R., Saraswathi, T. S., Segall, M. H., Ka˘gitçibas¸i, C. (eds.) (1997). Handbook of cross-cultural psychology (2nd edn., Vols. I–III). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
This three-volume handbook gives a wide-ranging overview of the state of the art in cross-cultural psychology in the 1990s. The full text is freely available on the Internet (see Further reading, Chapter 1).
Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap.
A book-length discussion of cultural psychology, especially Cole's own sociocultural tradition.
Kitayama, S., and Cohen, D. (eds.) (2007). Handbook of cultural psychology. New York: Guildford Press.
We mentioned this text already in Further reading, Chapter 1, as a source for research in the tradition of cultural psychology.
Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., and Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
This is not a cross-cultural text, but recommended reading for anyone seeking an understanding of the pitfalls in psychological research.
Vijver, F. J. R., and Leung, K. (1997). Methods and data analysis for cross-cultural research. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage.
This book gives a fairly complete account of the essentials of methodology and analysis in culture-comparative research.