Back to Back Issues Page
Why Diversity Matters in Psychology & Research: ED 141
January 21, 2020

Why Diversity Matters in Psychology & Research

Two fascinating articles consider the importance of diversity in psychology and in other research studies. When research subjects--or researchers themselves-- all belong to one group, the study results won't reflect the whole range of human thinking styles. The theories based on those studies will be less valid as well.

The BBC has a long article on how "history, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways..." It adds "Our thinking may have even been shaped by the kinds of crops our ancestors used to farm, and a single river may mark the boundaries between two different cognitive styles."

The article starts by discussing the settlement of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It looks at how Hokkaido's frontier history has led to some interesting psychological similarities Between its inhabitants and Americans, as compared to Japanese living on other islands.

The author talks about other differences, especially between 'East' and 'West,' including unexpected variations in visual perception. He goes on to discuss recent research testing theories for how these differences originated.

The Gender & Culture of Researchers Affects Their Findings

The second, shorter article, from Scientific American , also points out the biases introduced into scientific research when it's all done by people of one group. It points out that the gender and culture of the researchers influences "what we choose to study, our perspectives when we approach scientific phenomena and our strategies for studying them."

It uses the example of the study of primates and more generally evolutionary biology, long dominated by western-educated men. Women and Japanese researchers have brought new perspectives and discovered behaviors the western men had completely missed.

Both articles raise questions for new research to consider, with the hope of getting a more balanced, complete picture of human thinking and of other subjects of scientific study.


A few explanations in case they help. (You probably already understood these from the context of the articles.)

Diversity is having a variety of different (diverse) types of people, species, viewpoints, etc. It often refers to including people of different races or nationalities in an organization like a business or school.

Holistic is an adjective that describes a tendency to consider the whole of something rather than mainly focusing on parts of it.

Individualism vs. collectivism: Individualism is a philosophy or way of living that emphasizes individual choice and action. Collectivism emphasizes working together and thinking more about the needs of the group.

A region is a large area of a country or continent.

To tend to has 2 common meanings. Tend can mean to care for: “He loves to tend to his garden.” In these articles it means to usually do something a particular way or to be a certain way. “Mary tends to worry a lot.” Using the noun form: “Johnny has a tendency to talk too much when he gets excited.”

I hope you're enjoying the new year and finding lots of opportunities to practice English!

Catherine Simonton,

P.S. If you don’t like to open links in emails, you can go to the EnglishHints Back Issues page and open them there. It’s (Again, the gift won't be mentioned there-- but you can use the contact form on any page to ask about it.)

A note if you get gmail: Have you missed any issues of English Detective? if you find English Detective in your Promotions box, you can move it to your Primary box (if you want) by clicking on it and dragging it there, then clicking Yes when asked if you want to always get it in the Primary box.

If you are not already getting English Detective, you can subscribe by completing the form here. (It's free!)

Also, you can reach me by mail at 1752 Driftwood Drive, El Centro, CA 92243, USA.
Back to Back Issues Page