Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #507
Culture Matters: Multicultural Implications for Individual Behavior and Psychological Wellbeing
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W190b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: CSE/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nina Laurenzo (University of North Texas)

Individual behaviors, including problematic behavior, coping skills, and psychological health, develop within a cultural context (Biglan, 1995). Ethnic background and cultural norms are relevant not only to understanding behavior, but also to applied practice with individuals from diverse backgrounds (Hayes, Muto, & Masuda, 2011). This symposium will discuss multicultural issues as relevant to individual behavior and clinical behavior analysis. The first paper will examine preliminary data on psychological flexibility specifically within a Hispanic population, as it relates to psychological health and wellbeing. The second paper will examine the relationships among mindfulness, self-compassion, and the development of ethnic identity from a sample of 479 undergraduate students. Results show a negative relationship between ethnic identity development and both mindfulness and self-compassion, which will be conceptualized according to the different processes of language and cognition involved in each. Finally, the third paper will conceptualize multicultural issues more broadly within the field of behavior analysis. The implications for understanding behavior within a cultural context and the importance of cultural competence among behavior analysts in practice will be discussed throughout.

Keyword(s): Culture, Ethnic Identity, Mindfulness, Psychological Flexibility
Failed American Dream: Psychological Flexibility and Generational Health Decline in the U.S. Hispanic Population
STEPHANIE CALDAS (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Matthieu Villatte (University of Nevada, Reno), David R. Perkins (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: The growth of the Hispanic population accounts for more than half of the growth in the total U.S. population, increasing at a rate four times that of the total population. Yet, the Hispanic population remains the target of discrimination and prejudice (Carlo et al., 2011). In addition, there is a generational trend towards increased risk for mental disorders in the U.S. immigrant Hispanic population. This phenomenon is known as the Hispanic Paradox, because Hispanic immigrants, despite being at a higher risk for the development of mental disorders, fare better than U.S.-born Latinos and even non-Hispanic Whites in many aspects (Alegría et al., 2008). However, this advantage weakens with time spent in the United States. Given this information, there is an opportunity for preventive public health. An account of the components of Hispanic culture, the process of immigration, and acculturation will be given from the perspective of psychological flexibility. Based on preliminary data, this paper offers a functional interpretation of the existing research regarding the Hispanic community and mental health in order to both explain the inherent strengths found in Hispanic culture, and integrate this literature into a functional construct that can be used in therapeutic and community settings.

Me, Myself, and My Ethnicity: Relationships among Mindfulness, Self-compassion, and Ethnic Identity Development

DANIELLE MOYER (University of North Texas), Melissa L. Connally (University of North Texas), Aditi Sinha (University of North Texas), Amy Murrell (University of North Texas)

Ethnic identity refers to the way in which an individual relates to the self and others of the same ethnicity. Ethnic identity development occurs for all individuals, regardless of ethnic background, and has been associated with increased psychological wellbeing (Roberts et al., 1999). Unfortunately, many individuals, especially second and third generation immigrants, have weaker ethnic identities than their first generation counterparts (Ullmann, Goldman, & Massey, 2011). This paper examines the relationships among mindfulness, self-compassion, and ethnic identity development. A sample of 479 undergraduate students completed self-report measures of mindfulness, self-compassion, and ethnic identity. Results suggest that mindfulness and self-compassion are significant negative predictors of ethnic identity, accounting for 16% and 7% of the variance in ethnic identity status scores, respectively (ethnic majority Adj. R2 = .16, F(2, 275) = 26.49, p < .001; ethnic minority Adj. R2 = .07, F(2, 198) = 8.88, p < .001). This relationship will be interpreted in terms of the role of verbal processes in the development of self-identity and perspective taking. Implications for increasing psychological wellbeing in individuals with weak ethnic identity and cultural competency in clinical practice will also be discussed.

Bringing Culture into the Room: Multiculturalism in Research, Practice, and Education in Behavior Analysis
DAVID R. PERKINS (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Stephanie Caldas (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Danielle Moyer (University of North Texas)
Abstract: There is growing awareness of the need for more culturally appropriate mental health care aimed at minorities in the United States (NHHS, 2001; Rogler, Malgady, Costantino, & Blumenthal, 1987; Sue, 2001). The percentage of the population that can be classified as a non-White minority is expected to eventually make up a majority of the United States population (LaVeist, 2013). The literature suggests that because conventional psychotherapy is based firmly on Westernized ideas, it may not be as effective with minority groups (Benish, Quintana, & Wampold, 2011). An understanding of behavior within a cultural context is essential for researchers, practitioners, and educators in behavior analysis. Language differences and cultural belief systems can create barriers for seeking out and completing successful interventions, but they can also create a context for facilitating behavior change and increasing psychological wellbeing. This paper will outline important aspects of multiculturalism that are inherent to cultural competency with a diverse population.



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