Explore BrainMass

Social Attitudes and Diversity

How are social attitudes formed and how do people communicate their values?

How does the growing diversity in society impact human services organizations in terms of how services are provided?

Solution Preview

How are social attitudes formed? (smoking, prejudice, favorite TV shows, etc.) see (

Direct Experience: attitudes formed from own personal experience (explicit)
Mass Media: TV stereotypes men/women/minorities instilling beliefs into viewers
Self-Perception: "I spend little time with a particular group - so I must not be comfortable with
this group.
Mere Exposure: We tend to like neutral stimuli more, with repeated exposure to it.

Learning Theories (attitudes are learned) - Implicit
Classical Conditioning - we like objects associated with pleasant things, and dislike objects
associated with negative things.
Operant Conditioning - We like things that reinforce our behavior, and don't like things that
don't reinforce our behavior.
Observational learning - We learn by watching others (imitation).

How do people communicate their values?

The main way people communicate their values is by how they live. Modeling the behaviors they value, and maintaining consistency in those behaviors. They also verbally communicate their values - by telling others that something is against their values. By going to church. By spending time doing the things they consider valuable - taking care of their children, exercising, etc.

How does the growing diversity in society impact human services organizations in terms of how services are provided? The following information "Community Support" was taken from the website located at:

Community Support

Notes from a Roundtable on Conceptualizing and Measuring Cultural Competence

Appendix C : Linking Values Orientation, Acculturation, and Life Experiences to the Implementation of Services:
Recommendations for Four Constructs to be Measured in an Instrument on Cultural Competency of Mental Health Services Delivery
Daniel A. Santisteban, Ph.D. and Frederick L. Newman, Ph.D.
Center for Family Studies
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Miami
December 1998


The measurement of cultural competence is a complex but critically important endeavor. Without cultural competence, a service delivery system cannot be expected to effectively engage into services, or effectively treat, consumers of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. In developing an instrument that can be used in evaluating a service system's cultural competence, there are a number of domains that should be assessed. First, and at the most basic level, the instrument must assess "overall competence", for example, the extent to which the service system can deliver interventions consistent with a specified treatment model. Second, the instrument must assess the degree to which a system has knowledge of the range of basic values orientations that consumers from diverse cultures may endorse. Third, the instrument must be capable of assessing the service system's knowledge of the life experiences (immigration and acculturation stress, racial prejudice and discrimination, the socio-political standing of the consumer's ethnic group within the host society) that shape the consumer's everyday lives. Finally, the instrument must be capable of measuring the systems ability to engage and treat the consumer with "ease", showing tolerance of and comfort with diversity.
This paper describes our work on these issues and offers specific recommendations for dimensions that should be included in any measure of cultural competence. Although the Round Table Discussion focuses on Adult Mental Health Services, there is much to be learned from taking a family perspective and focusing on the struggles that an adult must go through with spouses, extended family, and with their children, resulting from acculturation and other immigration-related processes. In the special case of ethnic families, where there is an identifiable clash of the family's cultural values with that of the larger community, research findings appear to offer the clearest guides as to how these cultural value dimensions are related to family functioning. Our own work at the University of Miami's Center for Family Studies has been enriched by our efforts to work with families of troubled youth where the cultures and their respective values have been wonderfully diverse (Hispanic, African-American, Caribbean-Non Hispanic, and Caribbean Non-African American). Even within these bold cultural headings, the heading labels do not clearly identify the diversity within each. It is from the experience of confronting this diversity in our treatment and preventive intervention research, that we needed to find a set of guidelines for understanding how cultural values related to family interactions and the family's functioning that would transcend the specific ethnic label, yet inform the intervention approach. Further, in developing new manualized interventions, we were challenged to specify ways in which therapists could be trained to be culturally competent. In the discussion that follows, we describe the dimensions that we use to guide our family intervention services research, along with specific recommendations as to including these in an instrument on a mental health service's cultural competence.

1. Basic competence: Having a solid foundation
One of the most common mistakes in attempting to achieve cultural competence is failing to start from a foundation of technical competence and assuming that a practitioner can be culturally competent while having weak technical skills in the treatment model used. For this reason, it is important to stress that practitioners must be competent in delivering a specified model of treatment before attempting to be culturally competent in extending this model to ethnic individuals or families. The practitioner must know how and when to use certain interventions and when to deviate from the model and add components of other therapeutic approaches. An example of our work with family therapy is that the practitioner must know the destructive nature of runaway negativity in families and therapy sessions (Alexander, Holtzworth?Munroe & Jameson, 1994) and the importance of promoting good conflict resolution (Szapocznik, Rio, Hervis, Mitrani, Kurtines & Faraci,1991). This knowledge and expertise must be attained before attempting to understand the different ways in which this may emerge in ethnic families and how techniques might need take into account special family characteristics of ethnic families such as lower tolerance for negativity and face to face challenges/disputes (Santisteban, Muir-Malcolm, Mitrani & Szapocznik, in press).

Recommended Cultural Competency Construct Regarding Basic Competence in the Treatment Model

Does the service system have the technical expertise to deliver their core treatment model competently? Do they understand the theoretical assumptions on which their models are based?
2. Value Dimensions Directly Relevant to Family Intervention Services
People of different ethnic cultures can diverge markedly in their values, beliefs, and behaviors, and these differences can have a profound effect ...

Solution Summary

Social attitudes and how people communicate them.