Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cultural Biases May Influence Parenting Studies, Scientist Finds

Date:
April 3, 2008
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
When scientists set out to learn about the differences in Chinese and American parenting behaviors at mealtime, they learned something important about the reliability of cross-cultural research.

When two University of Illinois scientists set out to learn about the differences in Chinese and American parenting behaviors at mealtime, they learned something important about the reliability of cross-cultural research.

In the study, 22 first-generation Chinese immigrant families with at least one 2-1/2 to 5-1/2-year-old child were videotaped during a shared meal. Two female Chinese research assistants and two female European-American research assistants then analyzed 755 minutes of video to get a large sample of a wide variety of behaviors.

Analysis was done by research assistants who were trained to categorize certain behaviors as either sensitive, intrusive, detached, having negative affect (do family members appear angry or hostile?), having positive affect (do family members seem to enjoy each other?), and the degree of parents' confidence.

When their work was complete, the research assistants were asked to give detailed reasons for their ratings. Their reasons highlighted their different cultural perspectives about parent-child relationships.

"Although you can train a Chinese research assistant to say that it's intrusive for a parent to put a bite of food in a four-year-old's mouth, you can't actually get him or her to believe it. Their cultural bias causes them to see this behavior as sensitive and loving," said Angela Wiley, a U of I associate professor of human and community development.

"That's important because those biases influence their coding in subtle ways, calling into question the validity of much of our past research that compares parenting behaviors across cultures," she said.

Even when cross-cultural research assistants evaluate behavior as U.S. researchers train them to, the parenting behaviors of other cultures often suffer in comparison, she said.

"If an American research assistant notes behaviors such as the Chinese parent feeding the four-year-old, the researcher will conclude that Chinese parents are suppressing the independence of their children. There's an inevitable bias toward our own cultural interpretations," she said.

For example, in European-American cultures, parents stress the development of independence in their children. Chinese immigrant culture, on the other hand, values mutual obligation, including strong parental responsibilities and children's obedience.

European-American cultures value parents' consistency, whereas Chinese culture values flexibility and reacting in a context-sensitive way.

Chinese culture deems verbally and emotionally expressive persons as socially immature and lacking in self-control. In contrast, expressiveness, including direct verbal communication, is a major behavioral component by the individualism valued by Western cultures.

The influence of these perceptions on cross-cultural studies can be difficult to eliminate, Wiley said.

"Even so, it's clearly important to continue and expand observational cultural research in an era of increasing contact with other cultures," she said.

In the study, published in the January issue of Social Development, Wiley and her colleagues recommend using a combination of research assistants from both cultures for all data to minimize the researcher's tendency to interpret behaviors using their own cultural framework. This collaborative approach maximizes cultural understanding in addition to improving the quality of comparative research, she said.

Yan Z. Wang of the University of New England and Xiaobin Zhou of the U of I were co-authors of the article. Funding for the study was provided by the Pampered Chefฎ Family Resiliency Center and the United States Department of Agriculture.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Cultural Biases May Influence Parenting Studies, Scientist Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403104346.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2008, April 3). Cultural Biases May Influence Parenting Studies, Scientist Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403104346.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Cultural Biases May Influence Parenting Studies, Scientist Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403104346.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) — Research from Washington University suggest people with conscientious spouses have greater career success. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) — Researchers say certain markers in the blood can predict risk of psychosis later in the life. The test can aid in early treatment for the condition. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

AP (Sep. 25, 2014) — Teri Tacheny, a harpist, has a loyal following of fans who appreciate her soothing music. Every month, gorillas, orangutans and monkeys amble down to hear her play at the Como Park Zoo in Minnesota. (Sept. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins