Psychologists’ various efforts to explore the intercultural application of psychology have attracted a lot of attention in the recent past. This has led to many theoretical constructs in the field of psychology. However, studies reveal that psychometric assessment of intercultural factors is quite complex due to various factors such as inconsistent methodology and tools, the inability of assessors to conceptualize specific cultural factors, and language limits between the assessors and the indigenous people. Language has been identified as one of the leading factors that hinder the psychometric assessment of indigenous people. In other words, language difference plays a critical role in the success of assessment procedures. Healthcare is another area that is said to be highly affected by intercultural psychology. For instance, mentally ill individuals and those who are under the influence of drugs cannot meet the criteria set by the contemporary definition of healthcare that encompasses physical and mental health.
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The need to support and explore modern psychology has gained root in contemporary society. Social psychology theoretical constructs whose applicability is possible within intercultural groups have been earnestly demonstrated. Many of these constructs were developed at the individual level, and have helped us get useful support for the academic explanation of the relationship between culture and psychology. They range from Big Five personality variables, values, beliefs, self-construal, general self-efficacy, and self-esteem to emerging relationship-focused constructs, like role complexity, authority ranking, mate preferences, and relationship harmony. Although these constructs can be used as building blocks in social psychological theories, psychometric assessment of culturally-bound ethnic groups is quite complicated due to weaknesses in methodology and tools, the inability of assessors to conceptualize specific cultural factors, and language barriers (Lewis et al., 2010).
In their attempt to assess the cognitive factors that can reduce the impact of the above-mentioned factors among the indigenous adolescent population in Australia, Lewis and others found out that the differences between indigenous people from North and Central of Australia have some significant impact on the cognitive performance of these individuals (Lewis et al., 2010). According to the researchers, conceptual and language differences play important roles in the cognitive ability of individuals. Sanson & Dudgeon (2000) have also emphasized the concept of the different orientations of indigenous people in terms of culture and beliefs. Consequently, there is a need to develop cultural awareness among the culturally different communities to make any meaningful integration between them (Sanson & Dudgeon, 2000). They highlighted the approach given by psychologists from the Aboriginal community about the development of mutual understanding and reconciliation between different communities in the Australian society. Following these highlights, Sanson & Dudgeon (2000) concludes that it is important to understand the roles played by the cultural differences that exist between people from various cultural and geographical differences.
In the perspective of healthcare, psychometric assessment is significantly affected by the intercultural differences between indigenous communities around the world. Of more concern is the effect of indigenous psychology and intercultural differences among mentally ill patients from indigenous communities (Thomas, 2004). According to Thomas, the contemporary idea of good health is indeed more than an absence of disease. In other words, health entails both physical and mental stability of the body, i.e. one must meet the criteria of both mental and physical health to be declared healthy. Thomas (2004) identifies various factors that affect the dissemination of health care services to the mentally ill patients from the indigenous communities as follows: “low-level of physical health that may reduce mobility; poor socio-economic conditions that an individual may face; gender differences; occurrence of a major traumatizing event in the recent past; poor English proficiency; cultural distance between the person and mainstream society; loss of a role in the family as well as the wider community; and membership of a poorly resourced community that provides little opportunity for social support” (Thomas, 2004, p.104). In line with this belief is a study conducted by Carstairs, et al. (2006). In their analysis, these researchers revealed that cognitive tests performance has become very critical and predictive in many aspects of the psychological application. It, therefore, means that individuals must take the issue of subgroup differences in the practical application of psychology (Carstairs et al., 2006).
The increased cases of substance abuse among the youth and chronic illness have presented one of the greatest worries for the new generation. According to Dingwall, et al. (2009), substance abuse and chronic illness present some of the biggest impairments to the treatment of the cognitive dysfunction of the indigenous people, as they normally go unnoticed. Such assessments will rely heavily on the English language which is highly restrictive in use by many indigenous people of Australia. Kyle also states that past attempts to assess the cognitive capabilities of the indigenous Australian people have mainly yielded non-verbal assessments (Dingwall, et al., 2009). In effect, Davidson (1995) highlights the fact that considerable frustration is in place, informing the general perception that psychology hasn’t significantly broadened the understanding of the intercultural factors in the assessment of the psychometric cognitive ability of the people.
- Carstairs, J., Jane, R., Brett, S. et al. (2010). Influence of language background on tests of cognitive abilities: Australian data. Australian Psychologist, 41: 1, 48-54.
- Davidson, G. (1995). Cognitive assessment of Indigenous Australians: Towards a Multiaxial model. Australian Psychologist, 30: 1, 30-34.
- Dingwall, K., Lewis, M., Maruff, P., & Cairney, S. (2009). Reliability of repeated cognitive testing in healthy Indigenous Australian adolescents. Australian Psychologist, 44: 4, 224-234.
- Lewis, M., & Dingwall, K., Berkhout, N., et al. (2010). Assessment of cognition in an adolescent Indigenous population. Australian Psychology, 45: 2, 123-131.
- Sanson, A., & Dudgeon, P. (2000). Guest Editorial: Psychology, indigenous issue, and reconciliation. Australian Psychologist, 35: 2, 79-81.
- Thomas, T. (2004). Psychology in a culturally diverse society. Australian Psychologist, 39: 2, 103-106.