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November 2021

Helfrich's 'principle of triarchic resonance': A commentary on yet another perspective on the ongoing and tenacious etic-emic debate

Journal/Book: Cult Psychol. 1999; 5: 6 Bonhill Street, London EC2a 4Pu, England. Sage Publications Ltd. 173-181.

Abstract: The so-called etic-emic 'dilemma' has been pervasive, tenacious and constantly debatable in cross-cultural psychology ever since the terms were borrowed from the field of psycholinguistics and introduced to culture-comparative research in the 1960s. However, neither then nor now has there been a clear and completely useful differentiation between 'etic' and 'emic' perspectives. Furthermore, the etic-emic distinction, seemingly omnipresent in theoretical discussions, often failed to inform methodology and research practices. These difficulties have persisted in current cross-cultural research and theorizing, and the central question of how generalizable psychological findings are continues to challenge scientific psychology. It is argued that similar concepts have appeared in various theoretical guises over the years, and that one must be mindful of the importance of the basic ideas behind these terms. From this historical perspective, Helfrich's (1999) discussion of the etic-emic dilemma and her 'principle of triarchic resonance' are useful, but partially redundant, contributions to the literature.

Note: Article Lonner WJ, Western Washington Univ, Dept Psychol, Ctr Cross Cultural Res, Bellingham,WA 98225 USA

Keyword(s): cross-cultural psychology; etic vs emic approaches; generalizability of psychological findings

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