Socioeconomic Factors: Literature Review
The research and application of psychology is influenced by external factors, such as what we discussed in the previous assignment regarding multiculturalism. Other issues that impact psychology are socioeconomic factors including such things as poverty, access to health care, education, and living conditions/quality of life.
In your synopsis, make sure to include:
Socioeconomic status, including poverty, is another aspect of an individual's identity as it relates to the broader definition of multiculturalism.
One of the hallmarks of success is a stable career that provides enough income to meet an individual’s basic needs and life-goals (e.g., own a home). In the US culture, success is often defined by our consumption or, in other words, consumerism. Pope and Arthur (2009) looked at a systems perspective in taking into consideration socioeconomic status in both research and practice within the context of a multicultural framework (i.e., it provided some insight into the needs of low income or impoverished individuals).
Division 9 of the American Psychological Association was created in 1936 to provide a specific focus on socioeconomic issues. The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) "seeks to bring theory and practice into focus on human problems of the group, community and nations as well as the increasingly important problems that have no national boundaries" (2014, para. 1).
The APA (2010) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct state:
. . . psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or any basis proscribed by law. (p. 5)
So, what is social justice?
From a political view, it may be the equality of resources among individuals. From a social work perspective, it could mean equal rights and opportunities. In health care, it may mean equal access to health care services.
Vasquez (2012) stated that psychology (i.e., the APA) has demonstrated a commitment to social justice and related social responsibilities. This comment can be related to ethics, but it also includes understanding the need to improve the "condition of individuals, organizations, and society" (p. 3).
Toporek and Vaughn (2010) felt it necessary for curricula to provide students a solid foundation in ethics and multiculturalism so students could have a better understanding of social justice.
View a Pdf Transcript of References
American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of
conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf
American Psychological Association. (2014). Guidelines on multicultural education, training,
research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. Retrieved from
Comas-Diaz, L. (2012). Humanism and multiculturalism: An evolutionary alliance.
Psychotherapy, 49(4), 437-441. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027126
Fowers, B. J., & Richardson, F. C. (1996). Why is multiculturalism good? American
Psychologist, 51(6), 609-621. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.51.6.609
Goodman, L.A., Liang, B., Helms, J. E. Latta, R.E., Sparks, E., & Weintraub, S.R. (2004).
Training counseling psychologists as social justice agents: Feminist and multicultural
principles in action. The Counseling Psychologist, 32, 793-837.
Korman, M. (1974). National conference on levels and patterns of professional training in
psychology: The major themes. American Psychologist, 29(6), 441-449. Retrieved from
Pedersen, P. B. (1991). Concluding comments to the special issue. Journal of Counseling &
Development, 70(1), 250.
Pope, J. F., & Arthur, N. (2009). Socioeconomic status and class: A challenge for the practice of
psychology in Canada. Canadian Psychology, 50(2), 55-65.
The Society for the Psychological Studies of Social Issues (2014). About SPSSI. Retrieved from
Toporek, R. L., & Vaughn, S. R. (2010). Social justice in the training of professional
psychologists: Moving forward. Training and Education in Professional Psychology,
4(3), 177-182. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019874
Vasquez, M. J. T. (2012). Psychology and social justice: Why we do what we do. American
Psychologist, 67(5), 337-346. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0029232
The APA Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (2014) describes multiculturalism and diversity in somewhat related terms in the context of multiple variables such as race, ethnicity, age, and gender. It also includes sexual orientation, disability, education level, socioeconomic status, religious/spiritual orientation, as well as political affiliation as examples of different characteristics. Overall, multiculturalism encompasses individuals’ unique identities in relation to the environment in which they live.
Fowers and Richardson (1996) describe multiculturalism as a "social-intellectual movement that promotes the value of diversity as a core principle and insists that all cultural groups be treated with respect and as equals" (p. 609). Pedersen (1991), stated that counselors (which we can expand to include any mental health professional) need to understand their own "culturally learned assumptions" (p. 250). Counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals (and we can even expand that to include any person who interacts with others) enter an interaction with their own personal biases, which includes perceptions based on their cultural traditions, ideas, and values.
View a Pdf Transcript of Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism Scenarios Case #1: Marta Marta was awaiting her first session with her assigned psychologist. Upon the initial intake – when information is taken on family history, as well as brief examination of comprehension and competency – it was determined that Marta had little comprehension of English and was unable to read or write. Because she was unable to comprehend the basic of an intellectual examination she was deemed “retarded” and court ordered to be placed in an institution. Case #2: Anna Anna was waiting for her first session with the psychologist. She knew that she was required to be evaluated as an inpatient because of her indiscretion (and subsequent criminal charges) regarding shoplifting. During the initial criminal investigation and arraignment, it was found that Anna may not be competent to stand trial. She was ordered to undergo evaluation and potential competency training. During the initial intake, it was determined that English wasn’t her native language so an interpreter was found to assist her with the intake process. With Anna’s consent, her parents were also present since they would be able to help with interpretation and fill in some of the family history where Anna may not be able to do so. Examination Of the two brief stories, which do you think would be accurate? The first story may have occurred some 65 years ago, during a time when the understanding of another's culture, tradition, and even language was not a priority and could even lead to misinterpretation of a person's abilities. The second case is more typical based on current standards regarding providing appropriate services to individuals within the context of understanding multiculturalism. Multicultural Terms The American Psychological Association's (APA) (2014) Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists provides some basic definitions of terms as they relate to their guidelines. There are several terms used in relation to multiculturalism: race, ethnicity, diversity, culture-centered, and culture are some of the most prominent. The APA (2014) describes culture as the "embodiment of a worldview through learned and transmitted beliefs, values and practices, including religious and spiritual traditions" (para. 2). The term worldview does help in understanding the variations of perceptions that may be present. From a social psychology perspective, for example, cultivation theory provides us with
the understanding that an individual's choice in mass media (e.g., what news channel they watch) may influence their worldview. It may seem that this goes beyond a cultural perspective, but then again it may be the individual's culture that influences their choices in mass media. Furthermore, culture as a set of belief systems are dynamically influenced by the customs and social norms of a particular group in which an individual identifies with. Culture may be tied to one’s ethnicity, but any group with which a person identifies can be considered to impact his or her culture. Race and ethnicity are two terms that seem to have several different contexts, from the social to the demographic and physiological. In essence, the APA (2014) describes race as the physical characteristics of an individual. It alludes to a problem with this description because it is the physical characteristics that are where generalizations are made and stereotypes are inferred. The APA describes ethnicity, like race, as something that is not easily defined. The term ethnicity, in a broad sense, is related to the individual's culture of origin. For example, if a person’s father was from Mexico, then that person may describe his or her ethnicity as Mexican. The cultural traditions and practices (e.g., holiday traditions) may be associated with that ethnicity. However, as explained by the APA, a person may have "multiple ethnic identities" (para. 5) and identify with more than one depending on the circumstance. According to the APA (2014), culture-centered is more an understanding of practice in which "psychologists recognize that all individuals, including themselves, are influenced by different contexts, including historical, ecological, sociopolitical and disciplinary" (para. 7). This definition can be expanded beyond psychological practice to any type of interaction with others. Basically, what this implies is that all of us, because of our personality and our cultural backgrounds, have unique perceptions (i.e., worldviews) and that needs to be taken into consideration. This also implies with psychology that we also have to understand not only cultural traditions and viewpoints, but the stereotypes that may impact a person as well. Let's move on to defining multiculturalism.
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