Reflexivity through Dialogue in Psychological Research
It is argued that when a psychologist works with participants from a different gender, culture, ethnic, etc. background, she may unwittingly misunderstand and problematize the participants. While researchers call for the practice of reflexivity to overcome this implicit ethnocentrism, they face difficulty resolving the paradox that reflexivity requires one to negate or transcend her taken-for-granted cultural experience. Based on Kögler’s theorization of identifying one’s epistemological limits through perspective-taking in a cross-cultural dialogue, I develop a dialogical approach to reflexivity in psychological research. This approach consists of three phases of reflexivity – descriptive, analytic and ethical – that aim respectively to reduce misunderstanding, pathologizing and paternalizing the research participants. These phases can be accomplished by applying “conflictual dialogue”, “fore-conception of strangeness”, “dialogical genealogy”, “alternative questions/answers”, and a tripartite framework for ethical evaluation. This approach has the potential to make the practice of reflexivity more effective, thereby making psychological research more sensitive to the issues of culture and power.