The Emic and Etic Approaches
Researchers who are unfamiliar with the cultural and ethnic groups they are studying must take extra precautions to shed any biases they bring with them from their own culture. For example, they must make sure they construct measures that are meaningful for each of the cultural or ethnic minority groups being studied.
In conducting research on cultural and ethnic minority issues, investigators distinguish between the emic approach and the etic approach. In the emic approach, the goal is to describe behavior in one culture or ethnic group in terms that are meaningful and important to the people in that culture or ethnic group, without regard to other cultures or ethnic groups. In the eric approach, the goal is to describe behavior so that generalizations can be made across cultures. If researchers construct a questionnaire in an emic fashion, their concern is only that
the questions are meaningful to the particular culture or ethnic group being studied. If, however, the researchers construct a questionnaire in an etic fashion, they want to include questions that reflect concepts familiar to all cultures involved.
How might the emic and etic approaches be reflected in the study of family processes? In the emic approach, the researchers might choose to focus only on middle-class White families, without regard to whether the information obtained in the study can be generalized or is appropriate for ethnic minority groups. In a subsequent study, the researchers may decide to adopt an eric approach by studying not only middle-class White families, but also lower-income White families, Black American families, Spanish American families, and Asian American families. In studying ethnic minority families, the researchers would likely discover that
the extended family is more frequently a support system in ethnic minority families than in White American families. If so, the emic approach would reveal a more different pattern of family interaction than would the etic approach, documenting that research with middle class White families cannot always be generalized to all
According to the first paragraph, researchers unfamiliar with the target cultures are inclined to__________