Cross-Cultural Resources for Teaching & Research

HRAF is pleased to announce the release of our two latest resources for teaching and research. The first, Explaining Human Culture (just launched in a beta version at, is a publicly accessible database containing information on over 800 cross-cultural studies spanning more than 100 years. The second, Introducing Cross-Cultural Research (, is a visual online course on the fundamentals of cross-cultural research.

In Explaining Human Culture, we provide a searchable way for researchers to find out what we have learned from previous cross-cultural research about cultural universals and differences. We do this by summarizing the purpose of each study, the hypotheses tested, whether the hypotheses are supported, the variables, and the subject-categories in eHRAF World Cultures that may apply to these variables. We also include a few topical summaries of what we have learned from cross-cultural research, or more precisely, what we think we know, and to point out some of the things we do not yet know. These summaries are only a starting point and we will be adding new ones in the future.

Introducing Cross-Cultural Research overviews the logic of cross-cultural research, framing a research question, deriving hypotheses from theory, design of measures, coding procedures, sampling, reliability, and the use of statistics to analyze results. HRAFs more text-based Basic Guide to Cross-Cultural Research remains on our home page. It also provides an overview of cross-cultural methods, but it is geared explicitly toward working with the HRAF Collection of Ethnography in paper, fiche, and online (eHRAF World Cultures).

Each of these resources is freely available to the public. However, HRAF member institutions benefit from being able to use them in conjunction with HRAF’s other products – the eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology databases – and alongside the sample syllabi provided in Teaching eHRAF when designing coursework and instructing students on all aspects of cross-cultural research. You can find more information about all of our databases and resources on our Products page.

Explaining Human Culture and Introducing Cross-Cultural Research are the result of many years of work by the HRAF President, Carol Ember, with the assistance of our HRAF interns. We hope that these resources will stimulate new research on what we do not yet know about cultural variation and commonality.