Integrating Two Epistemological Goals: Why Shouldn’t We Give It Another Chance?
Version of Record online: 8 JUN 2012
Copyright © 2012 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Topics in Cognitive Science
Volume 4, Issue 3, pages 420–428, July 2012
How to Cite
Kitayama, S. (2012), Integrating Two Epistemological Goals: Why Shouldn’t We Give It Another Chance?. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4: 420–428. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01201.x
- Issue online: 11 JUL 2012
- Version of Record online: 8 JUN 2012
- Received 15 August 2011; received in revised form 18 January 2012; accepted 19 January 2012
- Epistemological goals
As Beller, Bender, and Medin (in press) pointed out in their target article, in the contemporary study of culture in psychology, anthropology is virtually invisible. In this commentary, I traced this invisibility to a root conflict in epistemological goals of the two disciplines: Whereas anthropologists value rich description of specific cultures, psychologists aspire to achieve theoretical simplicity. To anthropologists, then, to understand culture is to articulate symbolic systems that are at work in a given location at a given time. In contrast, to psychologists, to understand culture amounts to identifying socio-cultural variables that moderate psychological effects. These divergent epistemological goals dictate both theoretical perspectives and empirical approaches in both disciplines. Yet, the two goals are both valid and in fact complementary. A renewed effort toward integration of the two goals may enrich both disciplines.