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The terms "multicultural" and "diversity" have been used, some think overused, to promote the incorporation of people of different cultures and backgrounds into the society at large. While the goal is good and honorable, one questions its effect on research in psychology. Recently, an author (2008) published a paper in the American Psychologist outlining why American psychology needs to become less American, that is, more universal in topic, population researched, and authorship. This paper will discuss an author's rationale, the opposing views of many authors (2009), and the merits and limitations of both papers.
If psychology is to advance and become the true study of human behavior, states an author (2008), it must move away from the American population which makes up five per cent of the world and consider the 95% of humanity which makes up the rest of the world. The study showed that 73% of first authors are Americans, 65% are affiliated with American universities. Sample populations are 68% American, 14% from English-speaking countries, 3% European, 3% Asian, % each for Latin America and from Africa and the Middle East. This skews the topics studied and the results, he says. And without taking into account the cultural differences, psychology cannot advance as a science.
An author (2009) agrees with Arnett that issues of context and culture are important foci of study in psychology. However, they consider the advancement of psychology dependant on the study of basic principles and processes, in which all humanity are represented, rather than on Arnett's argument that research should focus on cultural diversity. They criticize Arnett's questioning why psychology continues to focus on basic principles rather than the diversity of humanity across the world. Haeffel et al. answer that that focus is how science advances.
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