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PSY 4320 W3 Assignment Cross Cultural Differences

PSY 4320 W3 Assignment Cross Cultural Differences

 

In “Cross-cultural Differences in Thinking: Some Thoughts on Psychological Paradigms” (Chapter 4), Ngar Yin Louis Lee considers to what extent human thinking reflects cross-cultural psychological differences. Critics of some psychological studies have pointed out that most research on thinking has been carried out on biased samples: Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) subjects. Accordingly, the universality of these findings should be challenged.

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Lee explores the possibility that the problems are more substantial than mere sample bias: perhaps methodologies in the psychology of thinking are inherently biased toward explaining the behavior of people whose enculturation occurred in a Western society. Taking this yet further, Lee meditates on the possibility that the discipline of psychology itself might be a product of Western culture to such a degree that its ability to uncover universal aspects of human thinking is much constrained.

The literature on cross-cultural differences in conformity has provided a mixed set of results. This is due, in part, to the difficulty in ensuring comparable methods and samples when conducting cross-cultural research, and conformity studies are in any case difficult to carry out because it is so easy to arouse suspicion among participants. Most studies have used the classic conformity paradigms of Asch or Crutchfield and have used mostly perceptual judgment tasks. The major limitation has been the lack of attention to underlying process or theoretical elaboration of relevant features of the situation.

Recent work relating individualism–collectivism to conformity goes some way in redressing this issue and suggests that people in collectivist cultures will conform more. There is also some evidence that conformity in U.S. society has declined since World War II. However, no studies have yet directly assessed how collectivist values relate to conformity. Moreover, the nature of collectivism suggests that the relation of the individual to the group is crucial and that it is not generally true that people in collectivist societies will conform more. In collectivist cultures, individuals will seek to maintain harmony with in-group members but may be less concerned about maintaining harmony with out-group members. Finally, care must be taken in interpreting behavior within its cultural context. Conformity may reflect a different capacity to resist group pressure or a different determination to avoid embarrassment. Similar behavior may take on different meanings and reflect different processes in different cultural contexts.

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