About Multicultural Psychology

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I interviewed Dr. Paul Pedersen, Dr. Mamie Clark, and Dr. Carol Gilligan to learn more about multi-cultural psychology. According to my prior research, multicultural psychology is a discipline of psychology that analyzes human behavior when they encounter others from many cultural groups in the same situation. It is concerned with how people from different cultures interact and how that relationship impacts their cognition and conduct (Hall, 2005). Cultural settings, according to multicultural psychology, can influence an individual's mindset. It has the potential to alter their thinking and their perception of their surroundings. Contribution to the field of multicultural psychology

The first question to the three interviewees was on what they thought was the most important theory or research that they contributed to the field of multicultural psychology. Dr. Paul Pedersen was the first respondent to the question. In my research prior to the interview, I was aware that he won an APA award in the year 2010 for his contribution to the International Advancement of Psychology (Psychological Association, 2010). In the award, he was acknowledged for the role he has played in his career as a counselor in multicultural psychology and intercultural issues. Dr. Paul Pedersen started by explaining that he had broad knowledge in a number of fields that included philosophy, counseling psychology, Asian Studies, theology and comparative religion. He trained on intercultural issues and carried out a lot of research, besides being a consultant in multicultural psychology.

Dr. Paul enlightened me that his broad knowledge on cultures could be attributed to his experiences. He was a head in many universities, carried out his research in different countries and in all these instances; he interacted with people from different cultures. According to him, his major contribution to multicultural psychology was his work in writing. He authored and edited approximately forty five books, a total of eighty two chapters, a hundred articles and twenty two monographs. All these works were about multicultural or cross cultural counseling. He believed that if people read his work, they would learn and get a lot of information concerning the branch of study in psychology. They would understand how the behavior of people and their lifestyle is influenced by multi-cultural interaction.

Dr. Paul noted that he felt that the consultation services he offered on multicultural psychology were an adequate contribution to the branch of study because through them, he could pass the knowledge he had gained during his career and his research with other people. He held approximately ten or more seminars every year to train people on matters concerning mental health and cognition, as well as multi-cultural communication which are important in understanding multicultural psychology.

Dr. Mamie Clark was the second to answer the question on what she had contributed to multicultural psychology. She dealt with child psychology between the different races in the United States of America and also served as an administrator and community activist (Psychological Association, 2012). She felt that her major contribution to multicultural psychology was an organization that she founded with her husband to monitor the development of children. The organization was known as the North side Center for Child Development. She started it with the aim of offering an all-inclusive psychological guidance and service to children from the minority racial groups.

In her answer, Dr. Mamie elaborated that the cultures of individuals from different racial groups differed. The groups were also treated differently; making the citizens from the minority groups to feel discriminated against. This had a psychological effect on them, particularly the children whose attitude and behavior was greatly affected. As part of her psychological career, Dr. Mamie used her knowledge to help children from the minority racial group to manage the effects of discrimination and racism in their environment. According to the doctor, the problems faced by the children were psychosocial and they affected their development, especially their mental development. She also carried out extensive research on racial identity. The work was a major contribution to scholars studying multicultural psychology even in the present. Her work also contributed to the attempt of doing away with racism in the United States of America.

Dr. Carol Gilligan responded that her greatest contribution to multicultural psychology was her book In a Different Voice which was published in the year 1982. In her book, Dr. Carol argued that psychology ignored the experiences and voices of almost half of the human beings unknowingly (Green, 2012). She noted that there was a difference between the qualities possessed by men and those possessed by women, but no value of judgment was supposed to be placed upon the qualities. Currently, people refer to the work of Dr. Carol as difference feminism and it is used in the study of multicultural psychology. She also challenged the theory of morality by Kohlberg.

Influence on the field of psychology

The second question that I posed to the respondents was how they felt that their work influenced the psychology field in general. Dr. Paul responded that a statement he made during his career that multiculturalism would be a fourth force in counseling was coming true in psychology because it is currently included in almost every feature of psychological theory involving multiculturalism. The research he carried out as well as his practices is used by counselors even in the modern-day society. Dr. Paul explained that he brought a variation of cultural perspectives in the field of psychology, especially counseling by disrupting the dyadic model and using his triad model in training. The doctor argues that traditional methods of psychotherapy and counseling were forms of cultural oppression (Jackson, 2006). Scholars in the field of psychology have attempted to find alternative forms of counseling and therapy through research and testing. This has contributed to developments in the fields. A model which was pioneered by Dr. Paul used creative techniques for training. The techniques are still used in the field of psychology.

Dr. Mamie responded that her study on the dynamics of racial attitudes and identity in black children is used by counselors in the field of psychology when they are faced with cases involving clients whose attitudes and behavior are as a result of racial identity. Her study that involved a dolls test where children were supposed to choose from dolls with different colors yielded results that are important in psychology. The involvement of Dr. Mamie in court trials involving segregation made the field of psychology known and relevant (Mio, Barker & Domenech, 2016). She gave testimonies in trials alongside her husband Kenneth and in a case titled Brown v. Board, her research in psychology was used to make a decision in the Supreme Court. This contributed to a broad recognition of the field.

Dr. Carol answered that her findings in her research on female moral development and their decision making is still relevant in the field of psychology. She worked with female participants in her study and discovered that they used a different style of reasoning morally. This can be used by psychologists who deal with female clients in understanding their way of thinking and their attitudes on issues.

On the question of which work the respondents felt they had left undone, Dr. Paul answered that multi-cultural psychology and psychology in general are very broad fields of studies that cannot be exhausted. He felt that scholars should carry out more research to give remedies to dealing with cases where multiple or different cultures affect the thinking of a person. Dr. Mamie responded that she did not feel like she had done enough research on child psychology because hers was mainly specific to cases involving racial identity. She did not major on other sensitive areas that could affect child development. Dr. Carol said that she had not come up with a solution to the issue of how the difference in qualities between the male and female gender in different cultural settings would be managed to improve their moral reasoning and psychological development.

Recommendations for future directions for theory or research I asked the respondents what recommendations they would give to scholars who decided to pursue their theories and research. Dr. Paul answered that he would commend the use of visual models in the field of psychology; especially with the improvement of technology to enhance the understanding of people on multi-cultural psychology. Dr. Mamie said that she would encourage more people to study child psychology and discover other causes that affected child development apart from racial identity. Dr. Carol answered that she left a large gap in her research on the feminism perspective psychology that she would want researchers in the field to study. She recommended the use of varied respondents in their study, from different cultural groups to get valid results and solutions.

Challenges faced in psychological career

My last question to the respondents was on the challenges they encountered in their psychological careers. Dr. Mamie explained that being an African American psychologist and a female was challenging for her because she belonged to two groups that were looked down upon. She was from a minority racial group and in those days, most careers were taken up by men. It was her determination and the support from her husband that enabled her to excel in the field of psychology. Dr. Carol agreed with the response of Dr. Mamie that female counselors were not taken seriously during their time. They were faced with criticism from other people in the field as well as others from the outside when they carried out their studies. For Dr. Paul, his main challenge was that he was frequently required to travel and he had to multitask between many activities at the same time which was quite demanding. His schedule was always very tight.


Green, B. (2012). Applying Feminist Ethics of Care to Nursing Practice. Journal of Nursing and Care.

Hall, L. E. (2005). Dictionary of multicultural psychology: Issues, terms, and concepts. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.

Jackson, Y. (2006). Encyclopedia of multicultural psychology. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.

Mio, J. S., Barker, L. A., & Domenech, R. M. M. (2016). Multicultural psychology: Understanding our diverse communities.

Psychological Association (2010). Paul B. Pedersen: 2010 Recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Award. American Psychological Association.

Psychological Association (2012). Mamie Phipps Clark, PhD, and Kenneth Clark, PhD. American Psychological Association.

April 26, 2023

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