Intra- and intercultural variation in the definition of five illnesses: AIDS, diabetes, the common cold, empacho, and mal de ojo

Susan C. Weller, Roberta D. Baer

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31 Scopus citations


This article assesses the amount of sharing in cultural beliefs. Interviews were conducted with more than 800 informants about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for AIDS, diabetes, the common cold, empacho, and mal de ojo. Interviews were conducted with Puerto Ricans in Connecticut; Mexican Americans in South Texas; Mexicans in Guadalarjara, Mexico; and Guatemalans in rural Guatemala. A strong majority response (> 66%) in each sample for each illness was used to estimate group beliefs about the presence / absence of features that best described each illness. Those high concordance features were then compared across samples to see if illness descriptions tend to be shared across samples or if they tend to be distinctive or unique across geographical regions and ethnic groups. Results indicate a high degree of sharing across the populations with little unique variation due to regional or ethnic variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-226
Number of pages26
JournalCross-Cultural Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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