Psychology is the methodical study of peoples’ manners, influence and perception. This means that psychologists are interested in reasons behind certain behaviours patterns and individuals’ feelings. Additionally, they are interested in factors that influence these human processes. Consequently, multicultural psychology refers to analysis of the effects that culture has on individuals’ actions, thoughts and feelings. It is the systematic analysis of actions, cognition and change in situations where individuals of different cultural backgrounds interact (Hall, 2009). New trends in multicultural psychology have developed. Some of the latest trends include theoretical perspectives used and applications of multicultural psychology as a discipline.
New trends in multicultural psychology have developed in the approaches used in studies. The use of emic and etic approaches has dominated multicultural psychology. These two form the basis of trait approach. However, recent trends have developed. The different approaches include cognitive-constructivist and dynamic constructivist approaches.
Cognitive psychology forms the basis of cognitive-constructivist approach. It focuses on knowledge structures that direct individuals’ judgement, decisions and behaviours. According to this approach, knowledge structures are embedded in some cultural context. Emic and etic promote better understanding of the roles of knowledge structures. Differences in culture rise from differences in underlying theories and mental models and other knowledge theories (Mio, Barker-Hackett & Tumambing, 2012). This enables individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds to know each other better. This is because context guides actions.
The dynamic constructivist system includes emic and etic methods plus public and private understandings to culture. Culture is a loose network of sphere-specific knowledge structures. Secondly, people can take over one cultural meaning structure. However, only a single meaning structure guides cognitive at a given time (Berry, 2011). Cultural symbols trigger matching cultural meaning structures. Socially shared self-evident assumptions explain cultural differences according to this theory. Thus, through this approach, links between cultural theoretical perspectives and ecocultural are established. Hence, historical and cultural backgrounds provide an explanation for individual competence. The ability of culture to impact on cognition of a specific social circumstance depends on availability, accessibility and applicability of relevant shared assumptions in the situation. Through this approach, symbols enable better understanding of interactions in the society. These new approaches provide a complete understanding of interactions in the society than the previous approaches.
The other new direction that has developed in multicultural psychology is in its application. The number of fields in which it is applicable has increased significantly. It is appropriate in various fields such as in the selection of workers and training. Moreover, it is helpful in motivation of workers and resolution of organizational conflicts. Globalization and information technology has resulted to the promotion of culturally diverse job teams. This has forced organizations to use multicultural psychology in selecting workers (Hall, 2005). Employees’ previous actions, performance and achievements usually guide decisions when choosing employees for assignments overseas. The management assume that a competent employee at home is likely to be suitable abroad too. This has also been of immense interest to researchers in recent years. In the selection of workers, intercultural competencies are also taken in to consideration. Intercultural training and support are essential for expatriates.
Furthermore, multicultural psychology forms the basis of performance management in some organizations. Organizational cultures can be either individualist or collectivist in nature. These guide other activities in organizations such as promotions, loyalty and feedback methods. Training and support of expatriates have the ability to enhance the relationship between workers of diverse cultural backgrounds. The workers will have a better understanding of the actions of each other.
Berry, J. W. (2011). Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hall, G. C. N. (2009). Multicultural psychology. Boston: Prentice Hall.
Hall, L. E. (2005). Dictionary of multicultural psychology: Issues, terms, and concepts. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Mio, S. Barker-Hackett, L. & Tumambing, J. (2012). Multicultural psychology: Understanding our diverse communities. New York: Oxford University Press.