Cultural diversity has been identified by many researchers as playing an important role in influencing the outcomes of any investigation, particularly by psychological researchers. Diverse cultural practices, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions significantly influence the interactions among human beings (Hall, 2010).
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Several factors shape how psychological researchers perceive themselves as well as others, for instance, ethnic and racial orientation, socioeconomic practices, gender socialization, and other defining characteristics that lead to biases and stereotyping tendencies.
The research paper discusses some of the biases, perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs that I hold about groups of people of different cultures and how they have shaped my interaction with these people. It explains the extent of my knowledge about cultural values, practices, and experiences of culturally different people. The paper also points out the strengths and weaknesses that I have in interacting with culturally different people and how the shortcomings can be addressed.
According to research by Neuliep (2006), virtually all human interactions are greatly shaped by cross-cultural differences. Peoples’ worldviews and experiences in life are significantly culturally dependent. Culture is defined as a well organized society with shared system of beliefs, attitudes, and worldviews that are used in developing shared meanings (Armstrong & Kim, 2003). When reading psychological books, I usually search for those authored by American psychologists. It is my belief that psychological researchers from other cultures are not as good as the Americans.
Again, since America is made up of people initially from different countries, I have significantly varying perceptions towards each group. I believe that whites are superior to people of color, such as the black and Indians. From my observation, people who I interact with never think or behave in the same manner. In the school context, there are students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Through what I have learnt over time, I usually consider myself superior to them. When it comes to group work, I usually have a tendency to associate myself with those I consider to fall within my race since I feel comfortable working with them. Another major challenge is in communication. In the process of interacting with people from different cultures, I realize that they take some aspects of the communication I use to be offensive. This experience results in misunderstandings and renders the communication process ineffective. This has influenced my attitude towards culturally different individuals.
The difficulties that may arise due to cultural differences are mainly due to diversity in behavior orientation, assumptions, perceptions, as well as core life values between Americans and those from different cultures. My knowledge of other people’s cultural beliefs is significantly deep.
The world today and particularly the United States is becoming more multicultural and intercultural competence is paramount for all people in order to facilitate mutual relationships (Armstrong & Kim, 2003). Educational institutions, business relationships, and social and psychological research are some of the fields which have been significantly influenced by cultural diversity. Researchers are supposed to be sensitive to the participants and understand them in their respective cultural contexts if they are to draw meaningful and reliable conclusions.
Teachers, on the other hand, must be aware of the ethnic/racial differences of the students in order to facilitate meaningful learning. Business managers engage people from different parts of the world as well as those with varying attitudes, belief systems, and assumptions. As the world moves rapidly to a global age, all business personnel, especially managers must be culturally competent (Neuliep, 2006). I have come to appreciate the fact that any biases and negative intercultural relationships can have grave consequences in the day to day human interactions.
The greatest positive step in dealing with cultural biases, attitudes, assumptions, stereotype, and belief systems is to be able to identify them. I had difficulties in overcoming my biases towards the people from other cultural backgrounds. This was because I could always strive to justify what I believed in. These beliefs, however, did not make my relationships with others any better. My concerted efforts to appreciate cultural diversity were the beginning of enhancing my relationship with people from different cultures.
My major strength has been to strive to understand everyone I interact with taking into consideration the cultural background. One can fully understand another if the exact meaning is obtained which is mainly dictated by ones culture. I have also made efforts to understand my own biases so that they do not influence me negatively especially in cross-cultural communication.
Moreover, I have come to realize that if I understand the motive behind what someone says or does to me, the intercultural interaction is improved. Making quick assumptions can be very destructive since one may end up drawing wrong conclusions about another’s intentions.
In order to make myself as clear as possible, I have always made it my priority to communicate my intentions in good time to avoid any misunderstanding. Failing to communicate clearly, according to recent research, has resulted in many cross-cultural problems (Hall, 2010).
Human beings have a tendency of interpreting other people from their own biases, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions. Cross-cultural interaction, therefore, requires sensitivity since cultural contexts shape any meaningful communication process. There are a number of cultural biases that need to be addressed. Generalization of perceptions and interpretations can be detrimental in intercultural contexts and efforts to enhance cross-cultural understanding should be made.
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Armstrong, D. J. & Kim, Y. (2003). Multicultural competence: communication theory and intercultural adaptation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Hall, G. C. N. (2010). Multicultural psychology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall
Neuliep, J. W. (2006). Cross-cultural communication: a contextual consideration (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage