Conducting Psychological Research and Multicultural Challenges

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Culture, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion are all examples of multicultural concerns. Multiculturalism, on the other hand, acknowledges the wide variety of magnitudes of ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, gender, disability, and other cultural aspects. Although it is difficult, psychologists are supposed to be aware of cultural factors when doing study.

To a large part, culture defines who we are, our conduct, and our view of our surroundings. To comprehend someone's conduct, you must first grasp cultural norms, behaviors, and values. While Western cultures are thought to be more sovereign, self-centered, and independent, Eastern cultures are said to be more dependant on others and more concerned with maintaining peace. Therefore, social sciences researchers and those from related disciplines should acknowledge the cultural differences when outlining and implementing research strategies. It is daunting to conduct a research with different consumer groups and hence, it is important to answer some questions which will assist in ensuring there is cultural sensitivity. Some of those questions include;What type of research design will be used?

Are you familiar with their culture?

Do you speak their language?

Which ethical considerations will you apply?

Is race or ethnicity a barrier to you?


Research design: which gives the best results?

Culture: What are they comfortable with? Respect their cultural beliefs and values.

Language: A translator is required.

Ethical considerations: Consent is a must.

Race or Ethnicity: Respect people from all races.

Research design

It is challenging for psychological researchers to find a study design that suits the needs of people who share different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, it is important to write down the research questions and the aim of the study to avoid additions by the participants. Some nations prefer data collection to be carried out face-to-face, while others prefer writing. Notably, it is important for researchers to be aware of the mode of preference for a certain group to avoid conflicts. In some cases, participants in a research may desire to fill a questionnaire. It may be allowed but the problem arises when the participants have low literacy levels. In such situations, a face-to-face conversation is essential. Additionally, the researcher must be prepared with a translator where a one on one conversation is needed and there happens to be a language barrier. Moreover, it is best for researchers to apply a participatory, community-based research design since it ensures the prevalence of an equitable relationship between the different parties (Leong & Lyons, 2010).


Cultural competence is required when conducting a research. Researchers should take into account the cultural diversity of a population when conducting a research. Cultural competence also plays a vital role in choosing the study design and in developing research questions and hypotheses. A research should meet the social, linguistic and cultural needs of the target population. Sadly, most researchers do not understand or include minority population's perspective in their work; they assume the majority's cultural perspective (Catalyst, 2010).

Cultural practices differ hence; researchers should consider the beliefs and norms of the population, be it minor or major. For instance, many cultures find some U.S practices and attitudes offensive. People from the Middle East have a different opinion from those from U.S in regard to issues such as abortion, female genital mutilation, and premarital sex. Therefore, it may be difficult to study such issues since they may be a taboo in some countries. Consequently, psychological researchers should have an idea on what the group to be studied is comfortable with. If some topics are a taboo to them, it is good to respect their cultural beliefs and avoid pushing them hard for information that they are not willing to relay (Catalyst, 2010).


Language is vital to communication and hence it is important to any society's culture. Language influences how people understand the world around them. Therefore it is important to consider the language that a particular group understands before conducting a research on them. In addition, language and communication stand as the foundation of any quality research. Therefore, when engaging in cross-cultural research, communication becomes more complex hence, the need for translators. Further, it is important to achieve similarity in cultural meaning and the correct translation. Having a number of individuals conversant with the languages to be used is necessary; it will ease the translation and ensure there is accuracy (Matsumoto & Jones, 2009).

Ethical considerations

Ethical considerations are very critical in research. Ethics aid in determining a researcher's acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Ethical considerations are essential because, the validity, integrity, and reliability of the research rely greatly on the observance of ethical principles. The readers as well as the public need surety that appropriate guidelines were followed regarding issues such as safety, human rights, health standards, animal welfare and many others. For instance, in quantitative research, it is ethical to give accurate information instead of falsifying data. Furthermore, most institutions have an Institutional Review Board (IRB) which ensures that human subjects involved in a research are safe. The IRB also protects the researcher and the institution from potential legal implications (Matsumoto & Jones, 2009).

Ethical issues include informed consent and voluntary participation. Some countries do not obtain consent from the participants. However, the ethical thing to do is to obtain consent from the individuals participating in the research. The researchers should be truthful and give an honest description of what the research will entail as well as the risks and benefits. In instances where a written consent is present, the forms should be in a language that is understood. Researchers should have translators where translation is required; this ensures that people agree to something that they understand (Matsumoto & Jones, 2009).

Race or ethnicity

Like all people, psychologists are influenced and shaped by many factors. These factors include their cultural heritage, socioeconomic experiences, and gender socialization, ethnic and racial identity. Psychologists are encouraged to learn and appreciate the differences in cultures in regard to basic premises. For example, U.S culture prefers independent and focused individuals whose goal is to succeed while Asian culture prefers conforming to social norms and interdependence with others. Sometimes, people categorize others and may react to them differently due to their race and ethnicity. Researchers must address the participants having in mind that they come from different racial and ethnic background. Researchers should be ready to encounter racists and others who look down on people due to their different color, age or sex. Therefore, a psychological researcher should view all people as equals and be the wise one when faced with racial confrontation (Leong & Lyons, 2010).

In summary, psychological researchers encounter various challenges regarding multicultural issues when conducting a research. They are faced with racial and ethnicity issues, language barrier, difficulties in choosing appropriate research design cultural diversity and ethical issues. It is difficult to deal with all the above issues but psychological researchers are encouraged to be skilled on how to deal with them.


Matsumoto, D., & Jones, C. A. L. (2009). Ethical issues in cross-cultural psychology. Handbook of social science research ethics, 323-336.

Catalyst, H. (2010). Cultural competence in research.

Leong, F & Lyons, B. (2010). Ethical Challenges for Cross-Cultural Research Conducted by Psychologists From the United States. Ethics & Behavior. 20. 250-264.

April 26, 2023




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