Psychology of Diversity

By: Henry Ford

Assumptions Associated with Western Psychology that Limit its Applicability to African American culture

Western Psychology is based on assumptions that often limit the African American culture. There have been identified serious shortcomings by researchers in the applicability of Western Psychology to the effective treatment African Americans. African American cultures differ in many areas with Western Psychology, but they also share similar features. Hence, comparing and contrasting these features provides an important basis for this study and clinicians. Nonetheless, the Africa American culture and Psychology offers methodology that is underutilized, and which if used could improve the competence of all clinicians culturally. Despite the use of race by social scientists to understand human social conditions, the psychological dispositions of African Americans have been understudied. Essentially, a new perspective has to be employed in order to understand and treat African Americans (Hall, 2005).

1.10A comparison and contrast of Western Psychology with African American Culture

Theories and research shaping the mainstream psychology are under intense criticisms from various angles. The focus of this criticism is on the ethnocentric nature of psychology (Hook, Kiguwa, & Mkhize, 2004, p. 544). Hook et al notes that the developmental psychology is written by researchers who hail from Western societies, with research conducted from and on western populations. The research is Anglo-US typically with the bulk from North America, on white studies (p. 549). Moreover, there has increased concern among African Americans of the influence of this ethnocentric based Psychology in their minds. Mkhize argues that the Western theories are monocultural and they not only marginalize and ignore African Americans, but they also limit evolution of developmental norms universally. Mkhize further disputes that for a richer and more powerful all encompassing psychology there has to be made research into African American processes.
According to Colophon, there are diverse areas of assumptions in western psychology. These encompass assumptions in the nature of the Universe, human nature, function of the universe, relationship between body and mind, emotions, motivation, learning, memory, perception, cognitive processes, nature of human consciousness, altered states of consciousness, death, and assumptions on personality, social relationships, science and civilization (Colophon, 1975). However, they are based on studies and research done in western European theory and although some studies may bear similarities with African American culture, most do not.

1.11Cultural Values of African Americans
African American culture has a rich tradition, roots and heritage. Some of the norms are derived from African philosophy while others date back to slavery. The values include strong kinship bonds, strong religious orientation, the use of informal networks for support such as the church or community, adaptable family roles, a strong sense of pride, respect for the elderly, and a general distrust of the government and social services (Holloway, 2005, p. 233).

1.12Assumptions of Western Culture That Limit African American Culture

Theories and principles of Western psychology are limited in its study of beliefs, attitude, thought, feelings and ways of interaction among African Americans. Instead, its focus is on Western attitudes and beliefs (Belgrade & Allison, 2006, p. 7).
Additionally, Western Psychology emphasizes studies on observable behaviors. Despite Freudís emphasis on the unconscious, the focus is still reliant on the observable characteristics, prediction and behavior control (p. 8). However, African culture and psychology reinforce intuition and knowledge in addition to the observable.
Thirdly, traditional western psychology was based on the assumption that people of African heritage were psychologically inferior to westerners. Although this theory has been updated, it still does not represent African Americans fully, because the research is limited (Colophon, 1975).
Research in Western Psychology involves the study of histories of different culture, but it falls short of effectively applying intergenerational oppressions (Holloway, 2005, p. 114). Hence, it fails in this regard.

1.13Reasons Why Assumptions in Western Psychology May not Apply to African Americans
Some Western Psychologists mistakenly assume Western psychology to be the dominant study of human behavior. In turn, they apply principles and theories of European Western traits to African Americans (Owusu-Bempah & Howitt, 2000, p. 138). Most of these principles are not compatible with the African American culture and fail to address their issue comprehensively. Additionally, the African American culture is heavily influenced by religious factors that western psychology theories do not tackle in depth.

2.0Assumptions Associated with Western Psychology that Limits its Applicability to Asian American Culture

2.10Features of Asian American Culture
Due to the diverse number Asian American communities in the US, there exist differences in their culture. However, there are certain commonalities in their culture. These include family cohesion and responsibility, group orientation or collectivity, emphasis on educational achievement, self-control and personal discipline, reverence for the elderly, respect for authority, the interdependence on families and individuals, and the use of shame for behavioral control. Conversely, Asian Americans have integrated religion deep in their culture and values. Religions range from Theravada Buddhism to Shamanism, to Catholicism among the Indian Americans and Sikhism. Family values are inculcated to young children through religion (Asian-American-Families-Religion and Cultural Values).
Furthermore, Asian Americans stress the lack of individualism and instead approach a more holistic view. Consequently, differences arise with Americans because their values conflict. Practices such as bride kidnapping, polygamy, opium production and wife beating are condemned in some Asian societies, this largely conflict with the American values (Asian-American-Families-Religion and Cultural Values). Additionally, to Asian Americans, work value is stressed and other benefits apart from gains and losses from the work are stressed. If a person cares more about the gains or losses, they are considered selfish (Okazaki & Sue, 2002, p. 277).

2.11Western Psychology, Assumptions, and its Limitations to the Asian American Cultures

Western Psychology is based on is based on assumptions and theories such as self-control, individuation, and self-efficacy. While Asian American values stress achievement, moral development, social responsibilities , hierarchy and a medical system based on principles of harmony and balance, western psychology stresses self- development as its key goal.
The second assumption of western psychology is oneís developmental processes and the importance of time. These are considered infinite and linear, therefore, a break from tradition coupled with innovation are a requisite for growth and effecting change. Asian American traditions on the contrary consider time dynamic, while they consider development as successive reconfigurations that encompass new uses of tradition and reinterpretation of it rather than breaking from it. Conversely, the spiral gauges progress more accurately whether at individual or societal level, rather than the line (Katz, 1982, p. 14).

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