Multicultural Training and Interdependent and Independent Self-Construal as Predictors of Universal-Diverse Orientation among School Counselors. (Research)

By Yeh, Christine J.; Arora, Agnes K. | Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Multicultural Training and Interdependent and Independent Self-Construal as Predictors of Universal-Diverse Orientation among School Counselors. (Research)


Yeh, Christine J., Arora, Agnes K., Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD


By the year 2050, almost 60% of all school-age children in the United States will be from ethnic minority groups. In many large urban environments, White European American students are no longer in the majority. For example, in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, the percentages of White students in the public school districts were 16%, 10%, and 11%, respectively (Orfield & Yun, 1999). However, despite these increasing numbers of students of color, public school counselors are still predominantly White European American.

Dramatic demographic changes have contributed to the significant increase of students of color in our nation's educational institutions. As a response to the growing numbers of culturally diverse students, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) developed a position statement on cross-cultural and multicultural counseling (ASCA, 1999), which urges that "School counselors take action to ensure students of culturally diverse background have access to appropriate services and opportunities promoting the individual's maximum development" (p. 1). Relatedly, the current research study strives to examine the relationship between school counselors' interdependent and independent construal of self, previous multicultural training, and awareness and acceptance of similarities and differences in others.

Western and non-Western cultures have often been differentiated on the basis of the notions of interdependent and independent self-construal (Markus & Kitayama, 1991, 1994, 1998; Singelis, 1994; Yeh & Hwang, 2000). The type of cultural orientation (independent versus interdependent) in which individuals are socialized has a strong impact on their behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and motivations (see Gudykunst et al., 1996; Rosaldo, 1984). It follows that an individual's self-construal may serve as a mediating variable between culture and the observable behaviors and emotions that result (see Markus & Kitayama, 1991, 1994, 1998; Markus, Mullally, & Kitayama, 1997).

People with interdependent self-construal are connected, attentive, and responsive to others (Kondo, 1990). Those with interdependent ways of being find a way to fit in with others who are close to them, to fulfill role obligations, and to become inextricably linked to various interpersonal relationships (Miller, 1988; Shweder & Bourne, 1984; Yeh & Hwang, 2000). The ability to control behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and motivations to accommodate others is an important contribution to the self-esteem of interdependent selves because self-restraint is required to put others' needs and desires first (Markus & Kitayama, 1991).

In contrast, a person with an independent self-construal is typically characterized as having a separate, unique, and decontextualized sense of self (Geertz, 1975; Sampson, 1989). Those with independent self-construals participate in the world by expressing their own thoughts, feelings, and actions to others. Moreover, the self is perceived as an active agent of one's behaviors and interactions (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1996). Hence, individuals with independent selves are esteemed and enhanced when they are assertive, direct, and unique (Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Markus et al., 1997).

An interdependent or independent self-construal shapes and informs social and cultural norms for interacting in relationships (Markus et al., 1997). For example, Cross, Bacon, and Morris (2000) contended that individuals with interdependent self-construal are more likely to consider the consequences of their decisions for others and to take into account others' opinions and needs. In addition, those with interdependent self-construal foster new relationships by being more self-disclosing and sensitive to the needs of their social partners, even when these social partners are mere strangers. As a result, interdependent ways of being may be viewed as being more responsive and caring. …

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