Cross-cultural perspectives on the common cold: Data from five populations

Roberta D. Baer, Susan C. Weller, Lee Pachter, Robert Trotter, Javier Garcia De Alba Garcia, Mark Glazer, Robert Klein, Lynn Deitrick, David F. Baker, Lynlee Brown, Karuna Khan-Gordon, Susan R. Martin, Janice Nichols, Jennifer Ruggiero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on conceptualizations of the common cold among Latin Americans, as compared with middle-class Americans. Four geographically dispersed groups of Latin Americans were chosen for study: Guatemalans in Guatemala; Mexicans in Guadalajara, Mexico; persons of Mexican descent in Edinburg, Texas (on the Texas-Mexican border); and Puerto Ricans in Hartford, Connecticut. In addition, a comparison group of middle-income Americans living in Tampa, Florida, was also studied to see the extent to which folk concepts were seen in what is considered to be a 'mainstream' population. The data suggest a great deal of both intra- and intercultural agreement as to causes, symptoms, and treatments of the common cold. The cold seems to be viewed as very much in the realm of a biomedical illness, with the exception of ascribing the hot/cold system of causality to the common cold, among all five populations. Finally, the cold is clearly differentiated from 'the flu,' which seems to exist as an illness only among English-speaking populations in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Latinos
  • Middle-income Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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