The study of culture, ethnicity, and race in American Psychology

American Psychologist (Impact Factor: 6.87). 05/1993; 48(6):629-637. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.48.6.629


The study of culture and related concerns, such as ethnicity and race, in American psychology are examined. First, the conceptual confusion and ways in which culture, ethnicity, and race are used as explanatory factors for intergroup differences in psychological phenomena are discussed. Second, ways in which to study culture in mainstream psychology and to enhance hypothesis testing and theory in cross-cultural psychology are illustrated. Finally, the importance of examining sociocultural variables and considering theory in ethnic minority research is addressed. In general, it is proposed that by including theory, conceptualizing, and measuring cultural and related variables, mainstream, cross-cultural, and ethnic research can advance the understanding of culture in psychology as well as the generality of principles and the cultural sensitivity of applications. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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Available from: Hector Betancourt, Jan 24, 2014
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    • "(Betancourt & Lopez, 1993, p. 629)To resolve this problem, they proposed that both mainstream and cross-cultural investigators identify and measure directly the cultural element in a particular group of interest that is hypothesized to influence behavior. They noted that when culture (or race and ethnicity) is defined in terms of these psychologically relevant elements (e.g., values, beliefs, and acculturation), it becomes more amenable to measurement and " the relationship between these cultural elements to psychological phenomena can [therefore] be directly assessed " (Betancourt & Lopez, 1993, p. 630). Finally Leong and Kalibatseva (2013) referred to a debate regarding research on diversity and leadership published in the American Psychologist where Klein and Wang (2010) questioned the value of the review articles in terms of their primary focus on race and ethnicity as " surface-level diversity " as opposed to the " deep-level diversity " approach advancing in organizational psychology . "
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    ABSTRACT: In response to Kashima’s article, this commentary uses the levels of analysis (LOAs) perspective to discuss how we may map cross-cultural psychology models and methods onto societal challenges. In our own LOA within psychology, it is pointed out that we have our own deficiencies such as the problem of WEIRD science where much of our so-called universal laws of human behavior have been built on a restricted sample from Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democracies. Besides the caveats regarding the challenges of using multiple levels of analyses, it is also argued that we should use the individual of analysis as our primary focus given our training as psychologists. This means focusing on psychological mechanisms to link them to societal problems. Several models for doing this mapping are presented such as Triandis’ recent work on self-deception as psychological mechanisms underlying extremism. Other examples include Leong and Kalibatseva’s disentangling approach, which seeks to resolve the “Black box problem” when we conflate demography with psychology. Demography is a poor proxy for psychology. Finally, it was proposed that we attend to the new emerging science of complexity, which focuses on large adaptive systems such as star systems, organizations, or even economies. However, we should apply this complexity model at the individual level and examine each person as a unique complex adaptive system (with the universal, the group, and the individual components).
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
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    • "This paper explains the cultural theoretical framework behind the study and explores the cultural aspects of one Pakistani family business. Okazaki and Sue (1995) suggest there is no single, universally accepted definition of ethnicity , race or culture, and that these terms are often used interchangeably (Betancourt and Lopez, 1993). Eaton (1980:160) defines ethnic status as an easily identifiable characteristic that implies a common cultural history with others possessing the same characteristic . "

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    • "One weakness of these studies is that they were basing their comparisons on prescribed cultural groups (demographic designation). Observed cultural differences were often interpreted as a result of distal and broad social, cultural, or contextual factors without these factors being directly examined [15]. Hence, conclusions and implications of many previous studies could only be regarded as heuristic, inspiring new hypotheses being hypothetical and tentative. "
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    ABSTRACT: The experience of social anxiety has largely been investigated among Western populations; much less is known about social anxiety in other cultures. Unlike the Western culture, the Chinese emphasize interdependence and harmony with social others. In addition, it is unclear if Western constructed instruments adequately capture culturally conditioned conceptualizations and manifestations of social anxiety that might be specific to the Chinese. The present study employed a sequence of qualitative and quantitative approaches to examine the assessment of social anxiety among the Chinese people. Interviews and focus group discussions with Chinese participants revealed that some items containing the experience of social anxiety among the Chinese are not present in existing Western measures. Factor analysis was employed to examine the factor structure of the more comprehensive scale. This approach revealed an “other concerned anxiety” factor that appears to be specific to the Chinese. Subsequent analysis found that the new factor—other concerned anxiety—functioned the same as other social anxiety factors in their association with risk factors of social anxiety, such as attachment, parenting, behavioral inhibition/activation, and attitude toward group. The implications of these findings for a more culturally sensitive assessment tool of social anxiety among the Chinese were discussed.
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