Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Methodological Issues by John R. Nesselroade

By John R. Nesselroade

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Nevertheless, in contrast to experimental psychology, the independent variable in cross-cultural psychology is an "assigned" variable (Kerlinger, 1964) that can, only with great difficulty if at all, be manipulated arbitrarily by the experimenter. But in most cases, the uncovering of "if-then relations" is possible only on an a posteriori basis, because the interaction between the individual and his specific cultural environment has occurred before psychological research is undertaken. In light of the above restriction, a provisional definition of cross-cultural research might then read: Cross-cultural research (as a strategy), is the explicit, systematic comparison of psychological measures obtained under different cultural conditions, in which cultural conditions—the operationalized culture concept of cultural anthropology—serve as the independent variables.

It is never a state in which animals are deprived as completely as possible and are permitted to experience only the few variables which are introduced experimentally. Figure 1 depicts one of the experimental methods for studying the imprinting process in the natural setting. Sounds that are made within the nest box in which the female is incubating eggs are picked up by means of a concealed microphone. A speaker placed underneath the eggs permits taped sounds to be presented to the female. A thermister probe permits the continuous recording of the nest box temperature at the level of the eggs.

This means that the "control" in imprinting research is the actual imprinting experience between the female and 42 Eckhard H. Hess and Slobodan B. Petrovich young in the feral setting. That is, the actual imprinting experience must not only be studied but also must serve as the yardstick for measuring the effects of any experimental manipulation. These experiments serve to show how actual events in their natural settings not only can be studied in themselves though sophisticated techniques, but also to investigate the questions that have been raised by earlier published results from laboratory experimentation.

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