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Coding Open-Ended Survey Responses from 12 Cultures: The Development of Cross-Culturally Valid Measures of Parental Behaviors that Make Adolescents Feel Loved

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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There is considerable debate among social scientists about the validity of cross-cultural measures of parenting. The essence of the controversy is whether there are fundamental similarities in human functioning that transcend culture or whether the meaning and experience of human functioning can only be understood within the context of one's own culture. We conducted a study using survey data from adolescents in 12 national or ethnic groups in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Balkans, Europe, and the Middle East to determine whether adolescents validated the substantive content of existing survey measures of supportive parental behaviors. In the survey, adolescents were asked to report, in their own words, what their parents did that made them feel loved. This case study examines the particular challenges of coding brief, open-ended responses to survey questions from different cultural groups. I describe how we developed and implemented a coding scheme that, ideally, allowed for culturally unique parenting behaviors to be measured but also was applicable across cultures. This strategy will have utility for other researchers working with textual data in multiple languages from multiple cultures.

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