Resolution on Culture and Gender Awareness in International Psychology

Adopted by the Council of Representatives July 28, 2004

Whereas an estimated 60 percent (or more) of the world's psychologists now live outside the US (Hogan, 1995);

Whereas psychologists outside of the US have generated perspectives, methods and practices that correspond to the needs of the people in their societies and data that are relevant to the development of a more complete psychology of people (Bhopal, 2001; Espin & Gaweleck, 1992; Martin-Baro, 1994; Weiss, Whelan & Gupta, 2000; Winslow, Honein, & Elzubeir, 2002);

Whereas US leadership in world psychology is sometimes perceived as disproportionably influential, partly because of access to research funds, an abundance of U.S. publication outlets and the wide acceptance of the English language (Kagitcibasi in Sunar, 1996; Sloan 2000);

Whereas U.S. psychology needs to more fully consider the ramifications of national and cultural perspectives and indigenous psychologies (Castillo, 2001; Frank & Frank, 1991; Sue & Zane 1987) in its research, practice and educational efforts (Best & Williams, 1997; Draguns, 2001; Segall, Lonner, & Berry, 1998);

Whereas U.S. grounded, normed, and structured measures dominate US empirical psychology, while internationally based, qualitative methods such as community action research are less known or valued in the US (Denzin & Lincoln, 2001; Murray & Chamberlain, 1999; Robson, 1993);

Whereas U.S. assessment procedures, tests and normative data have been used extensively in other countries, some times without consideration of cultural differences that affect reliability and validity (Dana, 2000);

Whereas people of other cultures have adopted U.S. methods of clinical diagnosis and intervention and US psychology has also exported these methods based on US norms and values to other cultures (Foa, Keane, & Friedman, 2000; Mezzich, 2002; Nakane and Nakane, 2002; Thorne & Lambers, 1998];

Whereas there is a need to develop and disseminate materials that will facilitate the training of psychologists to conduct culturally-appropriate research and practice around the world as well as within the culturally diverse United States (diMauro, Gilbert, & Parker, 2003; Friedman, 1997; Hays, 2001);

Whereas universities and colleges have called upon faculty and departments to internationalize their courses and curriculum, given the increasing number of international students at North American institutions (Marsella & Pedersen, 2002; Woolf, Hulsizer, & McCarthy, 2002);

Whereas most individuals from the United States, including psychologists, do not speak a second language or read journals or books in another language other than English, and therefore are unlikely to be familiar with firsthand sources of international research in other countries other than English speaking countries;

Whereas research focused on immigration and discrimination against immigrants and undocumented immigrants is sparse (Esses, Dovidio, Jackson & Armstrong, 2001; Evans, 2002; Martin, 1994);

Whereas decades of psychological studies have demonstrated that scientifically sound practice requires taking into account issues of gender and culture at all stages of the research process (Bem, 1993; Brodsky & Hare-Mustin; 1980; Harding, 1987; Schmitz, Stakeman & Sisneros, 1996; Sherif, 1979; Spence, 1987; White; Russo & Travis, 2001);

Whereas psychologists have demonstrated how privilege and oppression affect the lives of women and men across sexual orientations, disabilities, social class, age, ethnic and religious memberships (APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults, 2003; Banks, 2003; Eberhardt & Fiske, 1998; Gershick, 2000; Sidanius, Levin, Federico & Pratto, 2001; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999;

Whereas women world wide experience discrimination in terms of resources and access to food, health care, inheritance, credit, education, vocational training, hiring, fair compensation for paid work, family and public rights, individual mobility and travel and religious education and participation, and they also may face legal, societal, cultural and religious practices which justify and endorse this discrimination (Bianchi, Casper & Peltola, 1999; Goode, 1993; Hauchler & Kennedy, 1994; Smeeding & Ross, 1999; United Nations, 2000; United Nations Population Fund, 2000), and psychology could address these global problems internationally (United Nations, 2000; United Nations Population Fund, 2000);

Whereas, as a result of gender discrimination, women internationally constitute a majority of the poor, and female headed families are the lowest income groups in many countries around the world (Blossfield, 1995; Duncan & Edwards, 1997; Goldberg & Kremen, 1990; McLanahan & Kelly, 1998); moreover, educational achievements and opportunities and literacy rates for women are significantly less than for men (United Nations Department of Public Information, 1995; UNESCO, 2002);

Whereas, as a result of gender discrimination, women experience violations of their body integrity, interpersonal violence and physical abuse (Center for Policy Alternatives, 1998; European Women's Lobby, 2000; Nylen & Heimer, 2000); and under repressive systems, in wars, and in postwar conditions, women are targeted for violence (Comas-Diaz & Jansen, 1995);

Whereas, as a result of gender discrimination individuals with differently gendered identity and gender expression experience violence and discrimination within many societies from both the populace and from those in authority (Dworkin, & Yi, 2003);

Whereas psychologists strive to promote international peace and understanding and to decrease ethnic and gender violence;

Whereas, in contrast to the United States where professional practices and policies generally are in concert with and support governmental structures, in many other countries, psychologists must advocate for social justice and oppose unjust governmental structures and policies (Fox & Prilleltensky, 2001; Martin-Baro, 1994; Moane, 1999; Moler & Catley, 2000; Nandy, 1987);

Whereas knowledge management, production and dissemination of information are also affected by global politics and economics in ways that maintain social inequality (Capra, 1996; Fox & Prilleltensky, 2001; Giddens, 2000; Harding, 1993; Wallerstein, 1992);

Whereas the field of psychology could benefit significantly from the expansion of its knowledge base through international perspectives, conclusions and practices (Bronstein & Quina, 1988; Gielen & Pagan, 1993; Marsella, 1998); Nandy 1983, Pareek 1990;

Whereas the opportunity for mutual benefit and greater effectiveness in solving global problems is at hand in research partnerships across nations and cultures if psychologists proceed with critical awareness and a commitment to gender, cultural, social, economic and religious justice (Sloan, 1996);

Whereas psychologists have a responsibility to better understand the values, mores, history and social policies of other nations and cultures that affect generalizations and recommendations about best practices (Schmitz, Stakeman & Sisneros, 1996);

Whereas psychologists are committed to culture fair and gender fair competent unbiased practice (APA Guidelines on Cross Cultural Education and Training, Research, Organizational Change and Practice for Psychologists, 2002; APA Guidelines for Practice with Girls and Women (Draft), 2002; APA Guidelines for Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients, 2000; American Psychological Association, A New Model of Disability, 2003);

Whereas psychologists are ethically guided to "recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology" and to "respect the rights, dignity, and worth of all people" (American Psychological Association, Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, 2002);

Whereas the International Committee for Women Task Force of Division 52, International Psychology, has developed an important position paper on “Cultural And Gender Awareness in International Psychology” that identifies critical areas of consideration for psychologists to consider in cross-cultural research (Rice and Ballou, 2002);

Therefore let it be resolved that the American Psychological Association will:

  1. advocate for more research on the role that cultural ideologies have in the experience of women and men across and within countries on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity, social class, age, disabilities, and religion.

  2. advocate for more collaborative research partnerships with colleagues from diverse cultures and countries leading to mutually beneficial dialogues and learning opportunities.

  3. advocate for critical research that analyzes how cultural, economic, and geopolitical perspectives may be embedded within US psychological research and practice.

  4. encourage more attention to a critical examination of international cultural, gender, gender identity, age, and disability perspectives in psychological theory, practice, and research at all levels of psychological education and training curricula.

  5. encourage psychologists to gain an understanding of the experiences of individuals in diverse cultures, and their points of view and to value pluralistic world views, ways of knowing, organizing, functioning, and standpoints.

  6. encourage psychologists to become aware of and understand how systems of power hierarchies may influence the privileges, advantages, and rewards that usually accrue by virtue of placement and power.

  7. encourage psychologists to understand how power hierarchies may influence the production and dissemination of knowledge in psychology internationally and to alter their practices according to the ethical insights that emerge from this understanding.

  8. encourage psychologists to appreciate the multiple dilemmas and contradictions inherent in valuing culture and actual cultural practices when they are oppressive to women, but congruent with the practices of diverse ethnic groups.

  9. advocate for cross national research that analyzes and supports the elimination of cultural, gender, gender identity, age, and disability discrimination in all arenas—economic, social, educational, and political.

  10. support public policy that supports global change toward egalitarian relationships and the elimination of practices and conditions oppressive to women.

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association (1) recommend that Boards and Committees consider the impact of the globalization of psychology and the incorporation of international perspectives into their activities, and (2) charge the Committee on International Relations in Psychology, in collaboration appropriate APA Boards and Committees, to implement any directives from the Council of Representatives that result from the adoption of the resolution.


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