Psychology for Social Workers: Black Perspectives on Human Development and Behaviour

By Lena Robinson | Go to book overview

1
The black perspective in
psychology

In this chapter I will review the origin and development of a black perspective in psychology, with a discussion of why this perspective is necessary, and its implications for social work training. I will argue that traditional psychological theories have not had sufficient explanatory power to account for the behaviour of black people.

This chapter draws upon the valuable discussions of various black authors: Jackson (1979), White (1972, 1984, 2004), Baldwin (1976, 1980) Kambon (2004), none of which are readily available in traditional psychology. It will also highlight recent developments. In recent years black psychology has become part of a larger movement in psychology – cross-cultural psychology (Belgrave and Allison, 2005; Jones, 2004).


Inadequacies of Western psychology

Psychology is regarded as ‘the science of human behaviour’. This definition implies that ‘human behaviour in all parts of the world must be investigated, not just those aspects of behaviour conveniently available to investigators in highly industrialized nations with a history of scientific endeavor’ (Triandis and Brislin, 1984: 1006). The exclusive limitation of psychology’s databases to research in Western populations is responsible for certain inadequacies in current psychological theories and literature. For example, Curran pointed out that developmental psychology texts are generally ‘based on the behaviour of Western children in very contrived situations which bear little relation to those children’s familiar environments’ (Curran, 1984: 2).

White psychologists have maintained that they were objective scientists whose research findings were politically neutral. Yet, they have embraced a number of racist themes in describing, explaining, and modifying black behaviour. These themes can be seen in conceptions

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Psychology for Social Workers: Black Perspectives on Human Development and Behaviour
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Psychology for Social Workers i
  • Title Page ii
  • Contents iv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Black Perspective in Psychology 7
  • 2 - Forming Impressions of People- A Black Perspective 31
  • 3 - The Emergence of a Black Perspective in Group Work 51
  • 4 - The Black Family 70
  • 5 - Black Identity Development 101
  • 6 - Educational Achievement and the Black Child 135
  • 7 - Black People and Mental Health Issues 162
  • 8 - Conclusion 193
  • Bibliography 196
  • Subject Index 238
  • Author Index 243
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