Multicultural Psychology Multicultural Psychology Multicultural psychology is the study of human behavior and mental processes through multiple cultures. The focus of this field of psychology incorporates theories on culture-specific issues and behaviors. Study models can be used as comparisons in understanding ethnic identity in viewing similarities and differences of the structure of the culture. In recent years, the original concept of one size fits all psychology has changed to include multicultural psychology that focuses on specific cultures and uniqueness within the culture.
The study focuses on how a culture varies from other cultures to how they are similar. “It is apparent that the “old rules” in psychology have moved away from monoculture to a multicultural premise and that these “new rules” recognize both an appreciation of differences as well as an understanding of the inherent ambiguity and complexity in psychological practice” ( Pack-Brown & Williams, 2003). Defining Multicultural Psychology Multicultural psychology can be defined as “the systematic study of behavior, cognition, and affect in settings where people of different backgrounds interact” (McGraw-Hill, 2009).
The focus on multiculturalism started in the 1960s as minority issues became more prevalent in society, especially in the Anglo dominated countries such as North America. Multicultural was primarily defined in association to race or ethnicity. The focus has broadened to include age, gender, religion, sexual preferences, and social class. Much of the focus on multicultural issues was directed toward issues in society regarding equality; many were caused and generated by political biases, programs, and policies.
Nagayama Hall (2010) stated, “Multicultural psychology is the study of the influences of multiple cultures in a single social context on human behavior” (p. 8). Brief History of Multicultural Psychology The study on human behavior labeled as psychology, has been traced back as far as the Greeks and into the medieval period of history, studing language, human behavior, and various human traits. In the early 1800s Darwin’s theory focused on an explanation of the evolution of humans and focused on the transformation of mankind.
Throughout time numerous psychologists such as Freud, Kant, Mach, Hegel and Galton, to name a few, focused their studies on human behavior. The focus of these early psychologists’ studies relied primarily on a monoculture focus of human behavior. Cultural diversity has been overlooked for centuries and only in the past two decades has a stronger focus begun on how cultures vary from each other in their influences on human behavior currently are incorporating cultural trends. “During the 1980s, the percentage rate of articles in psychology on people of color remained at 3%.
There was a percentage increase in the 1990s but the percentage rate has remained at about 4. 5% throughout the 2000s” (Nagayama-Hall, 2010). Opinions on the reason for such low percentages primarily focus on the lack of cultural (diverse) backgrounds of the psychologists. In 2002, the American Psychological Association Council approved and released a document of guidelines titled “Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists” (APA, 2002, p. 1).
This document has provided a guideline for psychologists to refer to as the concepts of multicultural psychology continues to evolve and emerge into a specialized area of study in psychology. With APA guidelines in place more focus on the variety of cultures and the similarities and differences within cultural groups will create awareness of cultural diversity and increase educational efforts targeted toward a greater understanding of various ethnic groups. Rationale for the Establishment of a Subspecialty for Multicultural Psychology
Although ethnic diversity is growing in North America and in many other countries there is also needs to have a growth in psychologists trained on multicultural issues to expand the focus to a broader spectrum of study. The need to encourage and recruit individuals with diverse ethnic backgrounds into the field of psychology has become crucial and providing educational opportunities to support the development of the field of multicultural psychology needs to continue to support the future of psychology.
Many business organizations are expanding their focus to international levels that will increase a new level of human resources issues that will need to be considered and developed. With the development of international business along with cultural influences continuing to grow in the United States more multicultural research studies will be needed and the results recorded and published to maintain successful on various levels. Greater understandings of the variance in cultures need to be created and known by business professionals expanding their businesses abroad.
The needs for multicultural professionals are growing and psychological research will be vital on many levels. For example, many businesses are required through the guidelines instituted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to recruit a specific percentage of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. The EEOC has placed guidelines when hiring and firing individuals and serves as a protection agency for possible issues and concerns of discrimination because of diversity or ethnic differences. “The U. S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information” (2010, EEOC). Through an improved focus on multicultural psychology, stronger guidelines can be set in place for education, the workforce, institutions . and society all that involve the interaction of a multitude of multicultural environmental backgrounds.
Nagayama Hall (2010) stated “Rather than ignoring, neglecting, or reacting to cultural diversity, as has been the tradition of mainstream psychology, multicultural psychology is proactive and is helping to shape the discourse on race, ethnicity, and culture” (p. 19). Now is the time to grow diversity and eliminate the “cookie cutter” approach to the field of psychology. With the growing number of ethnic groups from so many countries, the make-up of society is constantly changing. Schools, businesses and entire neighborhoods are continuously changing as more ethnic groups integrate into these areas.
The guidelines set forth by the APA provide psychologists strategies to work with society to educate and remove barriers that can come from the unfamiliar and lack of understanding of those individuals from different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. The concept of monoculture in psychology must be eliminated and replaced with an active focus on multicultural issues in psychology to continue to evolve within society on a personal and professional level. References About the EEOC: Overview. (2010). U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved on April 2010, from http://www. eeoc. gov/eeoc/index. fm Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. American Psychological Association. (2002) Retrieved on April 14, 2010 from http://www. apapracticecentral. org/ce/guidelines/multicultural. pdf Nagayama Hall, G. C. (2010). Multicultural Psychology (2nd ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pack-Brown, S. & Williams, C. Ethics is a multicultural context. (2003). Psych Board. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications What Is Multicultural Psychology? (2009) Retrieved April 14, 2010, from http://highered. mcgraw-hill. com/sites/dl/free/007338271x/591940/Chapter1. pdf