by Jhenesy Lopez Fuentes
With one issue, there are hundreds of perspectives. Perspectives are shaped by our life experiences, assumptions, state of mind, and other things we may not be able to identify. Each person looks at problems in a unique manner providing insight others may not be able to provide. A variety of insights is vital in the psychological field as psychology pertains to a diverse array of people from different backgrounds. One factor we can track which affects perspectives is race and cultural background. According to the 2015 US Census Bureau, 86% of US psychologists were white, with only 5% Asain, 5% Hispanic, 4% Black/African American, and 1% multiracial or other ethnic groups. With this lack of diversity within the field, we must ask ourselves would diversity in psychology benefit the greater good?
To begin, what exactly does diversity mean and what would it look like in psychology? I mentioned before specifically race, but in reality, there are various overlapping types of diversity. Aside from race and ethnicity, there is class, gender, socio-economical status, background, age experience, relationship status, and exposure to different environments; to name a few. Diversity does not necessarily mean having people from all different areas of these factors, but to have a variety of people from a variety of different factors. It doesn’t have to be the same amount, but everyone should be able to make the same amount of impact. Without diversity, we risk a system shaped around one way of thought resulting in the ostracization of others. In medical healthcare, minorities are often given lower quality services, are regarded as being able to handle higher levels of pain, and are thus ignored when they present serious physical issues. Who’s to say this isn’t occurring in the psychological field? Time and time again, we realize how important one’s mental health is. Even then, many times the culture of minorities fail to recognize the importance of mental health. Could this be why there is so little representation? In Hispanic culture, from my personal experience and interactions, anxiety, OCD, and gender dysmorphia are not regarded as “serious” issues. This is all incorrect and a result of socially supported ideas throughout generations. In order for us to move towards more representation in psychology, we must first analyze the long-lasting effects of cultural norms on our society and how they can inhibit the progress of groups. Psychology is no exception. Evaluating traditions and norms is something our generation has the responsibility to do. Many times we may feel as though we have little to no power regarding the “real world”, but in reality, the least we can do is support each other and regard psychological illnesses as real, serious, and manageable issues. We must nurture an adequate environment in order to excel and overcome these old issues.
Going back to diversity, we should focus on what diversity would bring to psychology. I mentioned it bringing new perspectives, but what other roles does it play? Within psychology, new perspectives in studies bring about different factors we are looking at. Take Dr. Eva Telzer as an example. She is studying the role of race and ethnicity, acculturation, and cultural values in shaping neural responses and psychological adjustment across development. Her new insight brought about a new perspective. I feel though as now and days, it may seem kind of offensive when a white person chooses to study a racial issue as they may not know what route to take. Thus, they may take a route stemmed from bias and not experience. Thus, with a new perspective, we have a more accurate and adequate way to evaluate the role of race in psychology. Another example is Dr. Kamillah Legette who investigates the ways schools and homes contribute to adolescents’ schooling experiences and development. She is interested in ways that school disparities and parents’ socialization are associated with students’ self-perceptions, development, and educational outcomes. Without these important perspectives, we would be unaware of or less likely to discover the truth within our minorities all around the world. Although we might like to think psychological methods and practices can be applied to everyone in the world, this is simply not true. So, we must put our efforts into uncovering the minority perspective and the everyday struggles they endure. By doing so, we will become a more understanding society and learn to overcome our roadblocks to progress as a whole.
Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/monitor/2018/02/datapoint#:~:text=In%202015%2C%2086%20percent%20of,from%20other%20racial%2Fethnic%20groups.
Hewer, Mariko. “Why Should Psychological Science Care About Diversity?” Association for Psychological Science – APS, 30 July 2015, www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/why-should-psychological-science-care-about-diversity.
Green, Amy. “Psychology’s Diversity Problem.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 Jan. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psy-curious/201601/psychologys-diversity-problem.
“We Need More Diversity in Psychology.” Bring Change to Mind, 29 May 2019, bringchange2mind.org/2019/05/22/diversity-in-psychology.