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Applied Cross-Cultural Psychology Stream Materials

1st IACCP PhD Regional Summer School: Applied Psychology Stream

As we move into the 21st century, the interdependencies between people and cultures increase. We need a better understanding of cultural differences and similarities and how we can help people and communities to grow in line with their cultural values and norms. There are five problems listed above. These problems were selected and adapted from the Proceedings of the Harvard University Symposium on 'Hard Problems in Social Sciences' and The National Science Foundation Directorate of Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences. These problems were identified as significant challenges to humanity that need to be addressed. All these problems require insights from cultural and cross-cultural perspectives.

Orientation to the assignments
You should organize yourself into groups of four or five individuals and develop ideas or a research project within one problem area with the goal of contributing towards either a) a better understanding of the problem or b) developing an intervention that can improve the life of people or communities. You should bring your insights from your own research and study to bear on your selected problem. Creative solutions require multiple perspectives. In the process, you may also gain some insights that will be beneficial for your own research topic.

You are the future research leaders in this field. Addressing the problems identified by the Harvard University Symposium and the NSF (including the five problems listed below) will be a major challenge for social scientists in the years to come. Cultural perspectives and international collaboration are urgently needed. One of the key outcomes of this workshop is helping you to develop international comparative networks with fellow students. You may want to engage with your fellow workshop participants in future projects on these issues.

The aim of the workshop is to develop a research proposal that is feasible, useful and promising. These problems are framed at a larger social scale. You need to think of ways how psychology can contribute to these issues with an empirical and research driven voice. You should have a more specific problem definition (in psychological terms), relevant literature or theories, hypotheses and an outline of the methods. Some of these problems may have side-effects or sub-problems that may need investigation first or may need to be put aside for later investigation. It is alright to focus on one specific issue or detail and develop a specific research proposal consisting of a single or a few studies that contribute a psychological perspective in our understanding.

In our experience, those projects that are most specific and concrete (e.g., specifying a specific ethnic or cultural group in their relevant context and clearly identifying a narrow set of specific variables studied or interventions to be conducted or a clearly specified set of macro variables and their implications for psychological processes) are most valuable.

At the end of the group work, one or two people in each group will present for the rest of the class who you have dealt with the "problem", and this will be followed up with a discussion.

Below I have provided some basic readings and a brief description of each of the broad 'problems'. I expect you to have done some initial reading and, if possible, some discussion prior to the workshop in Turkey. I would encourage you to go beyond these readings and find additional material that is relevant in addressing the five problems.
Please make sure that you have read the introductory readings, as well as the example readings for at least two of the research problems. I encourage you to conduct a literature search on existing studies addressing these problems and theoretical frameworks that may help in developing a good research proposal. You may also start to brainstorm ideas with other students in this stream before coming to the Summer School.

We will start off the workshop with some lectures and seminar style sessions. Then you will break into your groups and develop your proposal to be presented on June 30. You are advised to keep the whole afternoon and evening of June 29 free for working on your proposals in your groups. At the end of the group work, one or two people in each group will present for the rest of the class how you have dealt with the 'problem', and this will be followed by a discussion.

Readings on basic frameworks and methods in cross-cultural research are listed below. These readings summarize some major frameworks and research paradigms in cross-cultural research.

Matsumoto, D. & Yoo, S. H. (2006). Toward a new generation of cross-cultural research. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 1, 234-250.
Nisbett, R.E. & Miyamoto, Y. (2006). The influence of culture: Holistic vs. analytic perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9 467-473.
Schwartz, S. H. (2011). Values: Cultural and individual. In S. M. Breugelmans, A. Chasiotis, & F. J. R. van de Vijver (Eds.), Fundamental questions in cross-cultural psychology, (pp. 463-493). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Problem 1:
What can cultural or cross-cultural psychology contribute to development of society? How can societies build (or re-create) effective, powerful and resilient institutions (e.g., government, police or army, non-governmental institutions) that allow individuals and groups to participate fully and equally in the process and do not marginalize ethnic or cultural groups? How can democracy and economic development be implemented in a cultural sensitive way that benefits both individuals and groups?

Karlan, D. et al. (2011). Microcredit in theory and practice: Using randomized credit scoring for impact evaluation. Science, 332, 1278-1286.
O'Connor, S. & Fischer, R. (2011). Predicting corruption across time: Values, wealth or institutions? Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Problem 2:
How can we reduce the skill gap between minority and majority workers in advanced industrial societies? In Western societies, individuals with higher skills have better life outcomes (higher wages, less unemployment, lower incarceration rates, better health), regardless of race, ethnicity or culture. How do we get adolescents to achieve at the same high level, regardless of their background? Similarly, how can we use psychological theories to reduce skill gaps between individuals in the developing and developed world?

Haak, D. C. et al. (2011). Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology. Science, 332, 1213-1217.
Walton, G. M. et al. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331, 1447-1452.

Problem 3:
How can we induce people to make behaviour changes that have large and positive health benefits? How can we use cultural and cross-cultural psychology to make culturally appropriate changes that benefit both individuals and communities?

Kagitcibasi, C., Sunar, D., & Bekman, S. (2001). Long-term effects of early intervention: Turkish low-income mothers and children. Applied Developmental Psychology, 22, 333-361.
Khaled, R., Barr, P., Biddle, R., Noble, J., and Fischer, R. (2009). Game Design Strategies for Collectivist Persuasion, In the Proceedings of the 36th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, SIGGRAPH 2009,

Problem 4:
How can we understand and reduce intergroup conflict, violence and war? How can intergroup tensions be managed and resolved? Conflicts may be apparent at various levels and intensities (e.g., conflicts within work teams to civil strife between ethnic or cultural groups within societies). What can cultural or cross-cultural psychology contribute to a better understanding of these conflicts and how can we use theory and research to manage conflict levels within societies? The focus here is more on macro-level processes (specific interventions at the individual level may be discussed in the acculturation stream).

Fischer, R. & Hanke, K. (2009). Are societal values linked to global peace and conflict? Peace & Conflict, 15, 227 — 248.
Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 751–783.

Problem 5:
How do individuals create and change culture through their interactions and behaviours? This is the classic problem of emergent properties: How do low-level events produce emergent properties? How do low-level events change existing collective structures? The applications of this problem are widespread and diverse. Specific questions include: How do individual people interact and create culture? How do cultural norms and systems change through interactions of individuals? How, when and why do cultural norms (for example about parenting, environmentalism or work attitudes) emerge, persist over time or change?

Cohen, D. (2001). Cultural variation: Considerations and implications. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 451-471.
Morgeson, F. P., & Hofmann, D. A. (1999). The structure and function of collective constructs: Implications for multilevel research and theory development. Academy of Management Review, 24, 249-265. 

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