Social and Cultural Competency in the Research Process

First, the definition of social competency according to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health is the condition of having the emotional and intellectual skills and behaviors that will be needed to succeed in social life (Social Competence, n.d.). Then, the definition of cultural competency is the ability to work in different cultural situations based on those skills and behaviors from the social competency of that person (Gilovich, Keltner, Chen, & Nisbett, 2015). The two terms go hand in hand in the research process because one needs to have a sense of social competency to be able to understand and use the skills for cross cultural situations.

These two terms are crucial in the research process because an individual’s social competency might be different or similar to another in another country. This then opens the doorway to many different theories about cultural competency and then that opens the doorway to research being made. An example of a social psychological concept that can be understood from a cross-cultural perspective is the fundamental attribution error.

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The fundamental attribution error is defined by the textbook Social Psychology as the tendency to overemphasize internal factors and dispositions rather than external factors on the individual (Gilovich, Keltner, Chen, & Nisbett, 2015).

An example of this could be that if a student in school did very well on a test. The student would probably be very happy and may think that that they got a good grade because they are naturally smart and didn’t even need to study.

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The student is overemphasizing their ability to do well on a test because the reality could have been that the student did well on the test only because the teacher graded all the tests on a curve because all the class, including the student, did terrible on the test. The student did not consider the external factors that went into them getting a good grade on the test. This can then be researched and analyzed in other countries to see how other countries have the attribution error and how it relates to testing in a school environment. Cultural competency matters when researching a topic such as the fundamental attribution error because other cultures will have variations to how they behave and address it (Gilovich, Keltner, Chen, & Nisbett, 2015).

Considering that America puts such an emphasis on being the “best country in the world” we would have a large fundamental attribution error. However, other countries might have a smaller fundamental attribution error due to their history and the acknowledgment of the external factors around them. While Americans think their country is the best other countries like Canada can think their country is the best while also considering the outside factors. Canada has universal free healthcare and some of the lowest crime rates in the world while America has no universal healthcare and some of the highest crime rates in the world (US vs Canadian Healthcare, 2018)

However, this cross-cultural examination wouldn’t happen without the use of the scientific inquiry and its research. Some potential problems that could come if cross cultural perspectives are neglected could be that then the research done could be faulty and inaccurate. What may be true and concluded from research for one person might be vastly different for another person in another culture. This can lead to an underrepresented population in research which could then potentially lead to more problems. Also the data research would not be complete and therefore have skewed results because not every perspective has been analyzed and taken into account. An example of this could be that if a study was founded in America saying that America had the highest rate of suicide in the world and needs immediate attention to fix it. That would be untrue if not considered cross culturally because Lithuania has the highest suicide rate (Daileda, 2013). It was also found that majority of those in Lithuania were aged 15-19 while Americans suicide rate was made up of more middle-aged people (WASSERMAN, CHENG, & JIANG, 2005). Then there could be a theory on why Lithuania has such a high suicide rate compared to America and that could be researched further. This would not be found without some research done and then more research could be done on why that is.

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Social and Cultural Competency in the Research Process. (2021, Sep 22). Retrieved from

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