Foundations of Psychology

1. For a number of purposes, students come seeking counseling.They may have issues with sleep or appetite, adapting to a new surroundings, trouble concentrating, or may not know the reason for unrest in their mind and body.They can sometimes encounter changes in mood, anxiety issues, or problems communicating with others properly.The College is a beginning of unprecedented life experience and checking limits; it is also frequently a source of alcohol and substance addiction problems for students (American College Health Association, 2009).The bulk of the consultancy services provided by university students are short-term.A few of the students come and immediately feel better about their problems after communicating with the counsellor. They would therefore be able to return with more than just a fresh sense of strength and commitment to their relationships and coursework.Other students stay attached to counselling services for the management of major mental health conditions (such as anxiety or depression) for a prolonged duration, as they are not able to find solutions to their problems in the short while.Several academic institutions restrict sessions and motivate therapists to notify students to take extended services from an external service provider.

Asians who strictly adhere to their cultural traditions are admired for self-evasion, modesty, independence and humility(Shang, 2016). Asians are discouraged by boasting about their successes and voicing their views and encouraged to be respectful and humble.They cannot feel arrogant or self-centred, as it can also be seen as a negative reflection of the family.In Asian communication and interpersonal behavior the Confucian principle of interpersonal harmony can be of great importance.Asian should strive to be cautious, gentle, well-managed, and cooperative following Confucius' teachings.They may also seek to fit into a group instead of separating themselves through their behaviour (Kim, Atkinson & Umemoto, 2001).

Meilin, an international student belonging to China, was referred to a counsellor through a university doctor, who suspected that she might be suffering from depression.

Understanding the culture, its beliefs and prejudices are important in treatment planning and eliciting the responses from the patient. Thus, while assessing and treatment plan for Meilin, the counsellor should consider the following issues.

Contemporary Asian culture advocates interpersonal conflict abolition and dissuades the full interchange of information, ideas, or feelings(Kim, Atkinson & Umemoto, 2001). Most Asians are also advised to control themselves and to show composure in the event of destructive emotions.

Additionally, it is also important for the counsellor to understand and consider the hesitancy in Meilin to discuss her problems, given the Chinese culture has prejudices linked to mental illness and substance abuse.

It is important for the counsellors to provide culturally responsive evaluations and plan treatment accordingly, and avoid the stereotypical approach or think that “one-size-fits-all” approach would work while treating culturally different people. Being culturally competent entails asking the right questions, being open-minded, selecting appropriate instruments for screening and assessing the patient, and ability to identify the culturally relevant concerns and issues which are relevant in treating the client towards their recovery (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2014).

2. The cultural element theory of Hofstede is a paradigm developed by Geert Hofstede for cross-cultural communication.This reveals the influence of the culture of a society on the values of its members and how these values are related to behaviour, by means of a factor analysis framework. Within its initial theory, there were four components to examine cultural values: individualism-collectivism; avoidance of uncertainty; power distance (force of social hierarchy) and masculinity-femininity (task-orientation versus personal orientation). The work of Hofstede has developed a significant research tradition in cross-cultural psychology and been attracted to many fields of international business and communication by researchers and consultants (Hofstede et al. 2010).

Thus, the impact of the lockdown in numerous countries because of the pandemic of COVID-19 with reference to the Hofstede’s two cultural dimensions: individualism-collectivism and avoidance of uncertainty is stated below. But first, it is important to understand the two concepts:

1. Individualism – Collectivism: Individualism emphasizes the individual objectives and the rights of the individual. People are regarded as independent and autonomous in this type of culture. The behaviors and desires of individuals often rule the social behavior. Collectivism concentrates on the on objectives of a group, the best thing for the group and personal ties(Hofstede et al. 2010).During difficult phases, the people in collectivist cultures are more likely to take help from the families and partners, whereas, people who live in individualist cultures are more likely to stay alone and look for possible solutions themselves.

2. Avoidance of uncertainty: Uncertainty avoidance in inter-cultural psychology is how societies vary in the extent of sensitivity they possess towards the uncertainty in life(Hofstede et al. 2010). People who score high on the uncertainty avoidance, they are less comfortable with the risks in the life and abide by the rules, laws, regulations, legislations, and other behaviour norms to reduce the extent of risk, uncertainty, or ambiguity. Whereas, People with low score on the uncertainty avoidance are eager to know if they take a particular step what is going to be its outcome.

Everyone around the globe is deeply impacted due to COVID-19. Ambiguity, instability, insecurity for the current state of things, and reduced autonomy and self-directedness are common sentiments amongst the population (Torales et al. 2020). The following brief will be based on the case of Italy during the lockdown.

Cultural factors can include emotional and behavioral responses, psychological maladjustment to illness, epidemics, and lockdown. The classification of Hofstede considers Italy to be an individualist countryin the sense that individuals are considered autonomous one from another, while communities connect and collectively connect individualsin collectivist countries (Minkov, 2017). Even though the Italians are considered to be individualist in their cultural beliefs, but they have strong connections and sense of relatedness with their family and friends (Oyserman et al. 2002). Hence, with this lockdown, they also experienced series of maladjustment as it was difficult for them to be away from their family and friends.

Thus, causing psychological maladjustments causing them to worry and get concerned on trivial matters.

On the other hand, the emerging adults, people who are in the last phase of teens and adolescence, demonstrated being ion charge of their own lives. As, they have little social obligations, duties, and commitments towards their work and families. These emerging adults showed riskier behaviour by stepping out of houses amidst the lockdown for non-essential purposes and demonstrated less social-distancing as compared to the adults (Germani et al. 2020). This can prove that the adolescents have low score on the uncertainty avoidance while the mature adults scored high on the uncertainty avoidance.

3. Intercultural communication is the interaction between people of various cultural backgrounds in verbal and nonverbal terms. This is the method of interacting with people who come from a different culture. Intercultural interaction is more than mere words, since a great deal of interaction is nonverbal (Jones & Quach, 2007). However, there are few barriers to effective intercultural communication such as anxiety, assumption of similarities instead of differences, ethnocentrism, stereotypes or prejudices, and misinterpretation of non-verbal communications.

Anxiety is feelings of nervousness and stress, which can affect communication when one focuses more on their own feelings and language shortcomings so much that they do not listen to what other people say. For example, while conversing with a person in the second language, one may feel stressed that he or she may speak very fast and use words which they may not be able to understand, thus causing problems in conversations. Anxiety is also one of the reasons due to which people are not able to communicate their ideas coherently with other people. For Example, while speaking to seniors, the employees may stutter, or make grammatical mistakes in the language which while speaking to their friends and colleagues they generally would not. One of the simpler method of ensuring better communication is speaking slowly and bearing in mind the purpose of the communication. Taking few deep breadths before speaking to someone new in a new language can help ease the nerves.

When a person does not have knowledge regarding a culture, it's normal to presume similarities instead of variations. When a person believes that a culture is similar to his or her culture, essential distinctions may be overlooked. On the other hand, assuming everything is different will make the person ignore the possible similarities in the culture which can help in building comradeships. One of the best ways would be to not assume anything and simply ask about the customers, traditions, and beliefs.

Ethnocentrism is to believe that one’s own culture is superior than the other. The methods, beliefs, traditions, customs are better than the others. It is commonly experienced and judged by the people who are in cultural shocks. However, making it a barrier to effective communication. While studying about a new culture it is logical for the individuals to compare the similarities and differences of the new culture with their own, causing to form cultural and communication barriers. While learning about a new culture, it is better for the individuals to consider it as a new leaning which is different from their own culture instead of forming judgements about right and wrong in the cultures.

Stereotypes and prejudices are positive and negative comments about the cultural habits, they are generally biased and intolerant attitudes or opinions towards different cultures. They are bad because they cause people to believe that the widely held assumptions to be true when they actually are not. Additionally, it also becomes a barrier in communication with people, because they make people believe the false assumptions about individuals or group of people. One of the best of not being a victim of stereotypes and prejudice is to have first-hand communication experience with the people.

Misinterpreting the non-verbal communication is a common thing in the communication channel especially during inter-cultural communications. It has become essentially important to be careful while using the gestures to avoid misinterpretations. One of the easiest ways is to study the basic non-verbal cues before communicating inter-culturally.

4. According to the Shopping Trolley Theory, if a person returns the shopping trolley to its designated place then they are considered as good members of the society and if the person does not return the shopping trolley is regarded as a bad member of the society (Shaw, 2020). According to this Theory, the choice of returning or not returning the trolley may determine whether they are a good person or not. It is objectively correct to say that returning the shopping trolley for the convenience of the other users is a good thing. However, judging a person on the basis of the fact whether he returns the shopping trolley or not is not completely correct. As there might be different reasons because of which the person could not return the shopping trolley, such as the distance between the receptacle and the car parking is huge, the weather is not good, they have to reach home early, they cannot leave a baby unattended, or they may have a disability (Kukar-Kinney&Close Scheinbaum, 2009).

Reasons could be several, however, not taking them into consideration and simply taking whether the trolley was returned to the receptacle for judging the people is wrong. This is problematic in the cross-cultural research because of the various factors associated with the return of the trolley to its designated place. Along with the reasons stated earlier, perceptions of the people when they think that it is the responsibility of somebody else to collect the carts, and that they are leaving the carts for the easily retrieval by the other people.

Reasons for this test not being suitable for the cross-cultural research is because:

1. It does not take into consideration the weight of the products in the trolley. It can be fairly easy for the people who have purchased light weight products to leave the shopping trolley at the receptacle and carry the products themselves to their cars. While, it may not be so for the people who have purchased a lot of products or heavy products. Additionally, the distance of the car to the receptacle would also be a problem for the people with disability to go back and return the shopping trolley.

2. It does not even consider the physical capabilities of the individuals, if a disabled person is carrying the trolley and leaves it in the car parking, it is not because they are bad members of the society, but it is because they do not have capacity of taking the trolley back.

Thus, classifying the people on the basis of the shopping trolley test is not correct, because, it does not take into consideration a lot of factors which are responsible for people being able to return the shopping trolley to its designated place or not being able to return the shopping trolley at the receptacle.

5. The situation in which a minister decides to drive to his native place amidst the lockdown is the talk of the town, with the decision to drive 400km is considered unlawful and unethical. This situation will be described in terms of the Kohlberg’s Theory of Morality, along with comparing and contrasting to the three ethical approaches.

There are three different stages in the Kohlberg’s theory of morality: the pre-conventional stage, conventional stage, and post-conventional stage.

In the pre-conventional stage, the morality of the action is judged by its consequences. In the conventional stage the morality of the action is judged by comparing the actions of the person with the societal views and expectations. And lastly, the post conventional stage states that the one’s own perspective should be viewed before the society’s(van den Enden et al. 2019).

The three broad frameworks useful for making ethical decisions are: the consequentialist framework, the duty framework, and the virtue framework. The consequentialist framework focuses on the results of the actions, considering the people who will be directly and indirectly affected because of those actions. The duty framework focuses on the duties and obligations that people have in the situation which considers the ethical obligations available and things which should never be done. The virtue framework is based on the actions which are considered to be virtuous. This framework is useful in determining the kind of person an individual should be (Kagan, 2018).

In the case, the reason provided by the minister is that, he wanted to ensure that his extended family could take care of his 4-year-old son in case he and his wife fell critically ill. According to the minister, the stage 2 of Kohlberg’s six stages guided him. Stage 2 states that the right behaviour is determined by the self-interest of the minister first, who wanted his son to be in safe hands in-case something happened to them. While the society is judging the minister through the stage 3 of the Kohlberg’s moral theory which states that implication on the society should have been considered. Considering both, the minister and his wife were tested positive for coronavirus, and the entire nation was on lockdown. As the law, states the movement were restricted for the local people and they were stuck wherever they were, even if it meant being away from the family (Bronk&Baumsteiger, 2019). However, the minister was able to travel 400Km to his family in the name of the safety of the child.

According to the ethics, having being tested positive, it was the duty of the minister to stay wherever he is and get himself and his wife treated first before traveling. Travelling in a state when he himself was not well could have jeopardised the whole meaning of being under lockdown. He could have transferred the disease to his family when he visited them, causing the virus to spread. Additionally, according to the minister his first duty was towards his son and ensuring his safety at such a trivial time.

Thus, is essential to note, that the ethical principles of people can vary according to the situation and the people in question. Everybody can have different perceptions towards the moral and ethical values that they follow and perceive in life.

References for Foundations of Psychology

American College Health Association. (2009). American college health association – national college health assessment spring 2008 reference group data report (Abridged). Journal of American College Health, 57(5), 477-488.

Bronk, K. C., &Baumsteiger, R. (2019). Theories of Adolescent Moral Development. The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development, 1-12.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). Improving cultural competence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK248423/.

Germani, A., Buratta, L., Delvecchio, E.&Mazzeschi, C. (2020). Emerging Adults and COVID-19: The Role of Individualism-Collectivism on Perceived Risks and Psychological Maladjustment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10), 3497.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J.&Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. United States: McGraw-Hill.

Jones, A.& Quach, X. (2007). Intercultural communication. The University of Melbourn. Retrieved from https://library.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1924095/Intercultural_Communication2.pdf.

Kagan, S. (2018). Normative ethics. United Kingdom: Routledge.

Kukar-Kinney, M. & Close Scheinbaum, A. (2009). The Determinants of the consumer’s shopping cart abandonment. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38(2), 240-250.

Minkov, M., Dutt, P., Schachner, M., Morales, O., Sanchez, C., Jandosova, J. &Mudd, B. (2017). A revision of Hofstede’s individualism-collectivism dimension. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management24, 386–404.

Oyserman, D., Coon, H. M.&Kemmelmeier, M. (2002). Rethinking individualism and collectivism: evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses. Psychological bulletin, 128(1), 3.

Psychology Today. (2020). Culturally Sensitive Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/culturally-sensitive-therapy.

Shang, M. (2016). The Cultural Adjustment of Chinese-Born Males to the American Masculinity Paradigm: Issues of Identity and Self-Image in First-Generation Chinese-American Male Immigrants (Doctoral dissertation, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology).

Shaw, N. (2020). The shopping trolley problem will tell you if you’re good or bad. Retrieved from https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/shopping-trolley-problem-tell-you-18289313

Torales, J., O’Higgins, M., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M.&Ventriglio, A. (2020). The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 0020764020915212.

van den Enden, T., Boom, J., Brugman, D., &Thoma, S. (2019). Stages of moral judgment development: Applying item response theory to Defining Issues Test data. Journal of Moral Education, 48(4), 423-438.

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