Cross Cultural Research and Collaboration Provides Reciprocal Benefits
The cross cultural aspect of our research makes our work innovative. We have identified specific areas of focus for understanding cultural differences. We focus on six dimensions of culture when modifying therapeutic methods for different cultural groups. Analysis of cultural meanings relevant to therapeutic methods include continuums of:
- A Relational sense of Self, or an Individual sense of Self
- Universalism and Rules or Situationalism and Relationships
- High or Low Power Differentials between people
- High or Low Gender Role Differential
- Internal or External Locus of Control
- High or Low levels of Emotional Expressivity
- High or Low levels of Tolerance for Emotional Experience in self and others
- Short Term or Long Term Time Focus
As we explored these dimensions of cultural meaning in our Turkish research we hoped to find more systematic answers to some of the following questions:
- Are there findings we can begin to generalize from our research to populations in other parts of the Middle East? Among other Muslim women? In other parts of the world? Why and why not?
- What does it mean to define oneself in terms of relatedness?
- How does a relational identity shape treatment for relational trauma?
- Are there special skills that are a part of a relational culture?
- How does a high or low level of power distance between people in a society affect the likelihood of traumatic abuse and treatment?
- How does a high or a low level of gender role differentiation affect the likelihood of abuse and the most common types of victims?
- Does a high tolerance for emotional expressivity have implications for trauma treatment methods?
- What cultural changes relevant to this study appear to be associated with urbanization in Turkey?
- What are the power and gender issues involved in intimate partner violence in Turkish society? What implications does that have for our understanding of intimate partner violence in other societies?
- How does the concept of namus or "honor" affect the experience of Turkish sexual abuse survivors?
- How can understanding the psychology of namus or "honor" crimes help communities in the US, Europe and elsewhere to prevent and provide more effective treatment for all families that struggle with violence?
- What does it mean to focus on families in treatment for family violence, and how can we do that and still address individual family members' needs?
Ultimately cross-cultural research and collaboration helps us to gain a larger sense of human wholeness. We may never entirely eliminate sexual and physical abuse. But we can learn to treat abuse more effectively and we can learn to reduce its incidence through prevention. The widely held belief that sexual abuse is inevitable or that abusive behaviors are natural or necessary perpetuates the problem. Treatment gives survivors of abuse hope and a sense that there are alternatives to living with abuse. When abuse is widely viewed as unnecessary and a problem that can be addressed effectively and prevented, everyone in society benefits. Gains made in one society offer guidelines, methods and hope for other societies. Collaborating, sharing knowledge and preventing sexual violence benefits all people, including men and boys!
- Hofstede, G.H. (2003). Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. (2nd Ed.) Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
- Kağitcıbaşı, Ç. (1994). A critical appraisal of individualism and collectivism: Toward a new formulation. In U. Kim, H.C. Triandis, C. Kagitcibasi, S. Choi and G. Yoon (Eds.) Individualism and collectivism: Theory, methods, and applications. Vol. 18 Cross- cultural research and methodology series (pp. 52-66). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
- Tompenaars, F. (1993). Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business. London: The Economist Books.