The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
International Collaborations in Behavioral and Social Sciences: Report of a Workshop
points to other team members. In the process, however, they discovered that these points were not so obvious after all. Team members gained a greater awareness of their underlying assumptions and the need to clarify their conceptualizations, ultimately leading to better research products and greater theoretical clarity. Miller thus urged researchers to get out of their deep and comfortable wells and enlarge their views by means of international collaborations.
Jacqueline Goodnow (Macquarie University) explored the conceptual gains of international collaborations in her introductory remarks to the workshop (see Appendix C). Beyond the basic advantage of checking the universality or generality of one’s hypotheses and questions, working elsewhere with others often presents the opportunity to observe a “natural experiment,” which Goodnow described as “variation in conditions that we cannot alter or that we would seldom think of altering.” These situations invite attention to the nature of those conditions, whether a certain behavior depends on those conditions, the diffusion of behaviors and practices across different conditions, barriers to such diffusion, or the interaction of various elements. Such research, in Goodnow’s view, often yields surprises that have the power to shake assumptions about what is apparently well established or seen as normal when a single culture is the context. She encourages researchers to anticipate and cultivate such surprises by being alert to “tremors,” or signs that some assumptions might be shaky.
The experience of collaborating across boundaries also generates questions about the nature of collaboration itself and the challenges of translating not merely vocabulary and specific survey questions but also the constructs and concepts being examined. Goodnow noted, for example, that “it is out of the difficulty with measures and procedures that we begin to look seriously at issues of ‘translatability’ and at the assumptions that lie beneath the kinds of measures that we use and beneath others’ responses to them.”
Marc Bornstein (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) elaborated on several conceptual gains of collaborating across international and other boundaries in conducting research. Bornstein’s straightforward rationale for this work was “description.” Three different cultural limitations constrain understanding of contemporary developmental science: (1) a narrow participant database, (2) a biased sampling of world cultures in its authorship, and (3) a corresponding bias in the audience to which the literature is addressed. Bornstein noted that cross-cultural developmental descriptions encompass the widest spectrum of human variation; thus, they are the most comprehensive in social science. Such collaborations