Ethnographer Bias in Cross-Cultural Research: An Empirical Study

Ronald P. Rohner, Billie R. Dewalt, Robert C Ness

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Abstract

We direct attention in this paper to the problem of ethnographer bias (i.e. systematic errors occurring in the ethnographic reporting process) in cross-cultural research, and therefore in ethnographic fieldwork itself. Using multiple regression and other multivariate statistics, we assess the influence of ethnographer bias on the correlation between traits in the cross-cultural survey component of Rohner's Rejection-Acceptance Project (RAP). These procedures suggest a systematic ethnographer error, “the bias of romanticism,” in anthropological research. Overall, however, the relationships among substantive variables in this research cannot be ex plained by this bias or by other forms of systematic error plaguing cross-cultural research. Thus in the absence of a successful competing theory, we conclude that all but one of the universal causal-functional relation ships postulated in Rohner's theory are validated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-308
Number of pages34
JournalCross-Cultural Research
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1973

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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