Emic and etic are terms used by anthropologists and by others in the social and behavioral sciences to refer to two different kinds of data concerning human behavior. In particular, they are used in cultural anthropology to refer to kinds of fieldwork done and viewpoints obtained. Emic knowledge and interpretations are those existing within a culture, that are ‘determined by local custom, meaning, and belief’ (Ager and Loughry, 2004: n.p.) and best described by a ‘native’ of the culture. Etic knowledge refers to generalizations about human behavior that are considered universally true, and commonly links cultural practices to factors of interest to the researcher, such as economic or ecological conditions, that cultural insiders may not consider very relevant (Morris et al., 1999).” Emic and Etic approaches of understanding behavior and personality fall under the study of cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology states that people are shaped by their cultures and their subcultures, and we must account for this in the study of personality. One way is looking at things through an emic approach. This approach “is culture specific because it focuses on a single culture and it is understood on its own terms.” As explained below, the term “emic” originated from the specific linguistic term “phonemic”, from phoneme, which is a language-specific way of abstracting speech sounds. •
An 'emic' account is a description of behavior or a belief in terms meaningful (consciously or unconsciously) to the actor; that is, an emic account comes from a person within the culture. Almost anything from within a culture can provide an emic account. •
An 'etic' account is a description of a behavior or belief by a social analyst or scientific observer (a student or scholar of anthropology or sociology, for example), in terms that can be applied across cultures; that is, an etic account attempts to be 'culturally neutral', limiting any ethnocentric, political, and/or...
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