A group of researchers are interested in studying the individual differences in emotional response and expression. To do this, they fabricate a video of animal abuse (no animals are actually harmed) that is intended to induce extreme sadness or distress. Their goal is to measure behavioral and cognitive reactions to the video.
To increase variability in response, they recruit participants from around the world and include both men and women in their experiment. The experiment involves several components. The participants view the video, write a brief response, and complete a series of questionnaires as well as an interview. While participants watch the film, their initial reactions are observed through a two-way mirror.
Overall results indicate that the video reliably induced sadness in the majority of participants. Data from questionnaires specifically found that 84, percent of the sample reported that they were “upset,” “distressed,” or “downhearted” after watching the video. Of that group, 90, percent showed facial expressions indicative of sadness, and 40, percent began crying while viewing the video.
The creators of the study are criticized because their analyses failed to examine the cultural differences between participants. Why, in this case, is it especially important to study cultural differences?
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