Ethical issues in cultural research on human development

Namrata Goyal, Matthew Wice, Joan G. Miller

Research output: Book chapterChapterpeer-review


This chapter addresses ethical issues in cultural research on human development. We argue for the importance of attending to culture in all phases of the research process and highlight ways that promoting the ethical sensitivity of cultural research enhances its validity and explanatory force. The first portion of the chapter focuses on early phases of the research process. We underscore the need to operationalize constructs in culturally valid ways and identify challenges that arise when objectively comparable procedures involve culturally variable meanings. The next section focuses on ethical issues in sampling, including the importance of tapping understudied populations and respecting local cultural norms in securing informed consent. We next address ethical aspects of study design and data collection, pointing out ways that harm, coercion and invasion of privacy that may result from inadequate attention to cultural meanings and practices. Lastly, we discuss the impact of drawing unsound or stereotypical conclusions about culture and human development, while discussing the insights cross-cultural research has to offer in terms of broadening psychological constructs, contributing to basic psychological theory, and making the discipline less culturally parochial. We conclude by outlining ways in which culturally sensitive research can enhance both ethics and research quality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789811052514
ISBN (Print)9789811052507
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Attachment
  • Confidentiality
  • Culture
  • Ethics
  • Harm
  • Informed consent
  • Motivation
  • Parenting
  • Privacy


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