Emic-etic ISA and psychometrics


The integration of emic world-views and etic parameters of identity is readily achieved within the ISA conceptualisation by way of internal standardisation procedures that are based in the specific world-view of the individual. These standardisation procedures enable etic comparability of identity parameters that conform to well-defined ratio scales. For example, an Afro-Caribbean girl may share a moderate set of Afro-Caribbean interests and characteristics with her mother, such that these emic aspects are explicitly recognised as elements of her moderate empathetic identification with her mother, where the parameter 'empathetic identification with another is etically scaled in magnitude from 0.00 to 1.00. Another girl, this time Japanese, thinking and feeling Japanese thoughts and emotions, may share a moderate set of these characteristics with her mother. The emic qualities with which the Japanese girl is attuned are very different from those to which the Afro-Caribbean adheres, yet both girls empathetically identify with their respective mothers to a similar moderate degree on a scale that is etic. Within ISA the uniqueness of elements of identification is paramount - the quality of uniqueness is the foundation of the emic in all ISA assessments. The etic parameters devolve on the emic characteristics of each person, wherein the standardisation procedures are specific to each person.

Whereas in ISA, the rogue characterisation, the unique interpretation and the idiosyncratic evaluation are premium elements of assessment, traditional psychometric procedures deliberately eliminate such elements. This is because psychometric procedures are designed to generate scales that are normative to a culture, where for a specific psychometric construct there is normative agreement of the meanings of items that constitute a psychometric scale. Psychometric procedures use large random samples of respondents who rate items purporting to tap into the issue under investigation. Inter-item and item-scale correlations that are poor result in the elimination of the items in question, so that the items that remain can be guaranteed to be reliable indicators of the psychometric construct being assessed by the scale. The procedures are therefore such as to maximise on the social norms within a culture and to eliminate items for which idiosyncratic variability in response puts them outside the social norm for the sample of respondents. Such eliminated items would often be the very items that would allow differing cultural orientations (e.g., Afro-Caribbean or Japanese, etc) to be made overt, hence regarded with especial significance with the ISA conceptual framework. ISA puts a premium of discourses or items that express difference. It is also sensitive to social norms when these dominate, as when they readily emerge in empirical studies through collating the results of ISA assessments for individuals within cultural and subcultural groups (See Chapter 3 of Analysing Identity for a cross-cultural study that demonstrates the significance of differing social norms across cultures and subcultures.)

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