Handbook of Racial-Cultural Psychology and Counseling, Theory and Research / Edition 1

Handbook of Racial-Cultural Psychology and Counseling, Theory and Research / Edition 1

by Robert T. Carter
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Handbook of Racial-Cultural Psychology and Counseling, Theory and Research / Edition 1

This two-volume handbook offers a thorough treatment of the concepts and theoretical developments concerning how to apply cultural knowledge in theory and practice to various racial and cultural groups.

Volume One focuses on theory and research, and covers:

  • acculturation
  • language and culture
  • social class
  • ethical research
  • emerging areas of inquiry

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780471386285
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 11/04/2004
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.48(d)

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Handbook of Racial-Cultural Psychology and Counseling, Volume One, Theory and Research

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-38628-6

Chapter One

The Importance of Cultural Psychology Theory for Multicultural Counselors

Paul Pedersen

The psychological study of culture has conventionally assumed that there was a fixed state of mind whose observation was obscured by cultural distortions. The underlying assumption is that there is a single universal definition of normal behavior from the psychological perspective. A contrasting anthropological position assumed that cultural differences were clues to divergent attitudes, values, or perspectives that were different across cultures, based on culturally specific perspectives. The anthropological perspective assumed that different groups or individuals had somewhat different definitions of normal behavior resulting from their unique cultural context. Anthropologists have tended to take a relativist position when classifying and interpreting behavior across cultures. Psychologists, by contrast, have linked social characteristics and psychological phenomena with minimum attention to the different cultural viewpoints. When counseling psychologists have applied the same interpretation to the same behavior regardless of the cultural context, cultural bias has resulted (Pedersen, 1997, 2000a).

Try to imagine a dimension with conventional psychology anchoring the extreme end of the scale on one end and conventional anthropology anchoring the extreme other end. The area between these two extremes is occupied by a variety of theoretical positions that tend to favor one or the other perspective in part but not completely. While there is a great deal of controversy about the exact placement of these theoretical positions, there is a tendency to place cross-cultural psychology toward the side of conventional psychology and social constructivism toward the side of conventional anthropology. Cultural psychology is generally perceived to be approximately in the middle, acknowledging its debt to both anthropology and psychology. This chapter examines the features of cultural psychology relative to the other alternatives.

Counseling and therapy have a history of protecting the status quo against change, as perceived by minority cultures (i.e., racial minorities, women, and those who perceive themselves as disempowered by the majority). These attitudes are documented in scientific racism and Euro-American ethnocentrism (D. W. Sue & Sue, 1999). Cultural differences were explained by some through a "genetic deficiency" model that promoted the superiority of dominant cultures. This was matched to a "cultural deficit" model that described minorities as deprived or disadvantaged by their culture. Minorities in the United States were underrepresented among professional counselors and therapists, the topic of culture was trivialized at professional meetings, minority views were underrepresented in the research literature, and, consequently, the counseling profession was discredited among minority populations because they viewed counseling as a tool to maintain the differences between those who had power and access to resources and those who did not.


Adamopoulos and Lonner (2001) trace the connection between culture and psychology as a professional field back to Wilhelm Wundt's writing on Volkerpsychologie. Since that time, a stream of psychological research has focused mostly on the psychologized "first world" of Western-based psychology (Moghaddam, 1987), with less attention to the psychology of the rest of the world. Psychological research in other countries served merely to extend the variation and generalizability of these original psychological perspectives as the function of cross-cultural psychology (Berry, Poortinga, Segall, & Dasen, 1992). This involved (1) selecting a psychological principle, test, or model; (2) testing it to see if the pattern could be generalized; and (3) discovering factors unique to the new cultural context. Other cultures are treated as independent variables, assuming that cultures cannot be manipulated. The central task of cross-cultural psychology was the search for psychological universals. While cross-cultural psychology has focused on the objective study of non- Western "others" and cultural anthropology has moved away from any objective definition of culture, the field of cultural psychology has emerged as a combination of these other two extremes. Jahoda and Krewer (1997) provide the best comprehensive overview of historical background in the study of culture and psychology as an emerging field. As the field of psychology has spread around the world, this diversification has continued to increase and develop.

This chapter focuses primarily on cultural psychology charting the most promising future direction in the study of culture and psychology. J. G. Miller (1997) provides the best single source for an overview of cultural psychology as an emerging field in psychology by contrasting it to cross-cultural psychology. Cultural psychology may focus on many different cultures and may even depend on empirical methods but still be in the tradition of cultural psychology. On the other hand, other psychological research may focus on one culture, using ethnographic techniques, but be in the tradition of cross-cultural psychology:

The dominant stance within cultural psychology is to view culture and psychology as mutually constitutive phenomena, i.e., as phenomena which make up each other or are integral to each other. In such a view, it is assumed that culture and individual behavior cannot be understood in isolation yet are also not reducible to each other. Such a stance contrasts with the tendency, particularly in early work in cross-cultural psychology, for culture and psychology to be understood as discrete phenomena, with culture contextualized as an independent variable that impacts on the dependent variable of individual behavior. (p. 88)

Harry Triandis is probably the foremost spokesperson for cross-cultural psychology and Richard A. Shweder is probably the foremost spokesperson for cultural psychology.

Cultural psychology, by contrast, has no clear organizational or methodological structure, making it difficult to tell where cross-cultural psychology ends and cultural psychology begins. Cultural psychology is less goal-directed in its identity and more broadly ecumenical in conceptualizing or conducting research. J. G. Miller (1997) describes the core perspective of cultural psychology as the belief that culture and individual behavior are inseparable components. Cross-cultural psychology by contrast understands culture and psychology as clearly separate, where culture is the independent variable that changes the dependent variable of individual behavior. Shweder (1990) goes so far as to describe traditional cross-cultural theory as just another branch of mainstream, logico-empirical psychology.

Social constructionism shares many aspects with cultural psychology. This perspective treats psychological processes exclusively as cultural phenomena. Features common to social constructionism and cultural psychology are a focus on the importance of cultural meanings in psychology, the role of cultural communication in the origin of ideas, the need for relativistic views, and a focus on psychological diversity. "The argument is made that cultural meanings, as expressed in cultural symbols and as embodied in cultural practices, form an essential source of patterning of human psychology" (J. G. Miller, 1997, p. 94). A core assumption of social constructionism is that psychology exists as a product of culturally based discourse rather than as the study of internal processes of the individual. All knowledge can be understood only through cultural meanings and practices, rejecting the need for a concept of an independent "self." To this extent, social constructionism is more radical toward anthropology than other versions of cultural psychology.

Psychological anthropology provides still another theoretical basis through anthropological investigations that use psychological concepts and methods. This perspective recognizes the mutual relevance of anthropology and psychology both from a methodological perspective and a conceptual perspective (Campbell & Naroll, 1972). Psychological anthropology has sponsored research on culture and dreams, culture and mental illness, cognitive anthropology, development of children, innovations in field research, and many other culture-centered orientations (Adamopoulos & Lonner, 2001).


Another orientation closely related to cultural psychology has evolved into the field of indigenous psychologies, or the indigenization of psychology. While they do not seek to abandon scientific objectivity, the experimental method, and the search for universals, adherents to this orientation contend that a truly rigorous science needs to be grounded in the indigenous human perspective of each cultural context, a perspective shared by cultural psychology. Culture is seen not as an independent variable but as the property of individuals interacting with their indigenous environment (Kim & Berry, 1993). For example, Yang (1995) conceptualizes the Chinese social orientation in two ways, first as a system of social-psychological interactions and second as a pattern of inclinations or "natural" tendencies based on past experience. This interaction between the person and the environment is demonstrated in the tension between autonomous and homonomous tendencies, each of which may be strong or weak. Four psychological perspectives emerge from the interaction of autonomous and honomomous trends: (1) strong conflict when the two perspectives clash, (2) social orientation when the homonomous trend dominates, (3) individual orientation when the autonomous trend dominates, and (4) weak conflict when neither trend dominates.

Family orientation, rather than the individual, constitutes the core of Chinese society, in contrast to Western cultures:

The Chinese people simply generalize or extend their familistic experiences and habits acquired in the family to other groups so that the latter may be regarded as quasi familial organizations. Chinese familism (or familistic collectivism), as generalized to other social organizations, may be named generalized familism or pan familism. (Yang, 1995, p. 23)

This family perspective is significantly different from Western psychology's focus on the scientific study of individual behavior.

Yang (1999) had the dream of turning Western psychology, inappropriate to Chinese society, into a genuinely indigenous Chinese psychology. Yang describes the consequences of imposing Western psychology on non-Western cultures:

What has been created via this highly Westernized research activity is a highly Westernized social science that is incompatible with the native cultures, peoples and phenomena studied in non-Western societies. The detrimental over-dominance of Western social sciences in the development of corresponding sciences in non-Western societies is the outcome of a worldwide academic hegemony of Western learning in at least the last hundred years. (p. 182)

Liu and Liu (1999) point out that the Eastern focus on interconnectedness is a more difficult concept to pin down than the Western search for truth because it involves synthesizing opposites, contradictions, paradox, and complex patterns that resembles the dynamic self-regulating process of complexity theory: "In Eastern traditions of scholarship, what is valued most is not truth. In broad outline, the pursuit of objective knowledge is subordinate to the quest for spiritual interconnectedness" (p. 10).

Yang (1997) describes his thinking as it evolves toward understanding North American psychology as its own kind of indigenous psychology, developing out of European intellectual traditions but much influenced by American society. Yang has developed a list of "seven nos" that a Chinese psychologist should avoid so that her or his research can become indigenous:

1. Do not habitually or uncritically adopt Western psychological concepts, theories, and methods.

2. Do not overlook Western psychologists' important experiences in developing their concepts, theories, and methods.

3. Do not reject useful indigenous concepts, theories, and methods developed by other Chinese psychologists.

4. Do not adopt any cross-cultural research strategy with a Western-dominant imposed etic or pseudo-etic approach.

5. Do not use concepts, variables, or units of analysis that are too broad or abstract.

6. Do not think through research problems in terms of English or any other foreign language.

7. Do not conceptualize academic research in political terms, that is, do not politicize research.

Along with the "seven nos," Yang also suggests 10 "yes" assertions to guide psychologists in a more positive direction:

1. Tolerate vague or ambiguous conditions and suspend decisions as long as possible in dealing with conceptual, theoretical, and methodological problems until something indigenous emerges in one's phenomenological field.

2. Be a typical Chinese when functioning as a researcher, letting Chinese ideas be reflected in the research.

3. Take into careful consideration the psychological or behavioral phenomenon to be studied and its concrete specific setting.

4. Consider the details of a behavior and its context before applying a Western conceptual theory, method, or tool.

5. Give priority to the study of culturally unique psychological and behavioral phenomena when studying Chinese people.

6. Make it a rule to begin any research with a thorough immersion into the natural setting.

7. Investigate, if possible, both the specific content (or structure) and the involved process (or mechanism).

8. Let research be based on the Chinese intellectual tradition rather than Western intellectual traditions.

9. Study not only the traditional aspects or elements but also modern applications.

10. Study not only the psychological functioning of ancient Chinese and relationships but contemporary Chinese people as well.

Chinese indigenous psychologists have worked to adapt Americanized individualism to make it applicable in both the Western individualistic and the Asian collectivist context. David Ho (1999) uses the term "relational counseling" to describe the uniquely Asian indigenous perspective based on a relational self in the Confucian tradition:

This relational conception takes full recognition of the individual's embeddedness in the social network. The social arena is alive with many actors interacting directly or indirectly with one another in a multiplicity of relationships.


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Table of Contents


Uprooting Inequity and Disparities in Counseling and Psychology: An Introduction (Robert T. Carter).

PART I: Core Racial-Cultural Concepts, Ideas, and Theories.

1. The Importance of Cultural Psychology Theory for Multicultural Counselors (Paul Pedersen).

2. Culture, Context, and Counseling (Sam D. Johnson Jr.).

3. Ethnicity: The Term and Its Meaning (Heather L . Juby and William R. Concepción).

4. Race: A Social and Psychological Analysis of the Term and Its Meaning (Robert T. Carter and Alex L . Pieterse).

5. The Role of Racial and Cultural Constructs in the History of the Multicultural Counseling Movement (Madonna G. Constantine and Leo Wilton).

6. The Socialization of Self: Understanding Shifting and Multiple Selves across Cultures (Christine J. Yeh and Carla D. Hunter).

7. The Inf luence of Cross’s Initial Black Racial Identity Theory on Other Cultural Identity Conceptualizations (Madonna G. Constantine, Sherry K. Watt, Kathy A. Gainor, and Anika K. Warren).

8. Racial Salience: Conceptual Dimension and Implications for Racial and Ethnic Identity Development (Kwong-Liem Karl Kwan).

9. The Integration of Spiritual and Religious Issues in Racial-Cultural Psychology and Counseling (Timothy B. Smith and P. Scott Richards).

PART II: Critical Issues in Racial-Cultural Research, Measurement, and Ethics.

10. Cultural Psychology: Its Early Roots and Present Status (Juris G. Draguns).

11. The Role of Socialization in Cultural Learning: What Does the Research Say? (Benjamin P. Bowser).

12. Acculturation: Current and Future Directions (Eric L . Kohatsu).

13. Work: Cultural Perspectives on Career Choices and Decision Making (Nadya A. Fouad and Angela M. Byars-Winston).

14. Psychotherapy Process and Outcome from a Racial-Ethnic Perspective (Jairo N. Fuertes, Catarina I. Costa, Lisa N. Mueller, and Mindy Hersh).

15. Race and Research Evidence (Chalmer E. Thompson, Caroline E. Shin, and Joy Stephens).

16. Psychological Functioning and Identity Development of Biracial People: A Review of Current Theory and Research (Marie L. Miville).

17. An Inquiry into the Measurement of Ethnic and Racial Identity (Joseph E. Trimble).

18. Challenging Some Misuses of Reliability as Ref lected in Evaluations of the White Racial Identity Attitude Scale (WRIAS) (Janet E. Helms).

19. Racial-Cultural Ethical Issues in Research (Farah A. Ibrahim and Susan Chavez Cameron).

20. The Decline of White Racial-Cultural Dominance in Counseling and Psychology: A Summary and Reflections on the Impact of Multiple Perspectives (Robert T. Carter, Alex L . Pieterse, and Bryant Williams).

Author Index.

Subject Index.

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