The two multicultural ethical guidelines from the APA of which I have chosen for this weekâ€™s discussion are Guideline 2 and Guideline 3. I found Guideline 2 to be significantly relevant to the case study. It states that we must â€œaspire to recognize and understand [differences in beliefs which] can influence [our] perceptions of and interactions with othersâ€ (APA, 2002). This seemed particularly applicable as it related to the statistical analysis of why (reasons) mothers create neonaticide and Janeâ€™s potential cultural motivation based on her perception of how her parents would react to her pregnancy. The case study made it fairly clear that the investigation targeted Jane as malicious in intent and the cultural differences were not considered. We learned later in the case study that Jane had legitimate concerns about how her parents would perceive her and the pregnancy which could have added significant stress towards a strained psyche and any potential mental disorder. From a different culture, we (myself included) may not have considered how influential this could be.
Guideline 3 requires that psychologists consider and attempt to understand how language and communication differences can have significant impacts on interactions and we must consider both our own languageâ€™s unique elements and that of the individual(s) we interact with (APA, 2002). This was violated in the case study and something I realized early on before the case study addressed it directly. Janeâ€™s ability to communicate was poor at best and the lack of a translator severely impacted the interviews with her. Speaking from experience, if you are learning or new to a language, you know broad and blunt phrases and words. Common words usually come first, and grammar and the ability to articulate complex thoughts come latter. I have taken Russian and German, my native language is English, and trying to make sense of these other languages is like speaking like a caveman. Not only can languages convey very different meanings for the same idea or multiple meanings for a word, but the lack of ability to speak a common language significantly impacts true communication.
Concerning my own potential bias, I am sure I have limitations, and I will need to focus on the guidelines to facilitate effective interactions, but I think I have some unique experiences that assist me in working across cultures. I have been an active duty Marine for 11-years now, and I have lived in various foreign countries. Between a variety of Marines who come from very different cultural backgrounds, living abroad taught me some very important lessons. Never assume the person you are talking to will understand and relate to you when you first engage them. For example, living in the Netherlands, I experienced highly different work ethics. Maintenance personnel at the U.S. Embassy were very slow to respond to maintenance requests and gave little to no communication about project progress or completion. At least by American standards. I had to learn that the way the Dutch communicate and organize their labor projects was different, and that no disrespect was meant, and that they did not understand the desire for haste we had for certain projects. If something so simple as getting a pipe fixed or the air conditioning fixed can be miscommunicated, imagine trying to do a psychological assessment! I try very hard to approach people with the understanding that they may not know where I am coming from on a topic or I will not understand their view.
American Psychological Association (2002). APA guidelines on multicultural education, training, research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/policy/multic…