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Title: The role of culture in perceptions of psychological disorder and its treatment
Authors: Barbopoulos, Anastasia
Issue Date: 3-Jan-2001
Abstract: Clinical psychology is changing dramatically due to an increased focus on culture. Cultural differences, which arise in part from differences in ethnic background, influence perceptions of psychological distress and its treatment. One major dimension of culture is individualism-collectivism, which reflects the relative emphasis on the self versus the group for defining oneself and for governing one's actions. This study examined whether residents of and immigrants from Greece, a collectivist culture, have less positive perceptions of psychological distress and its treatment, as compared to non-immigrant Canadians descended from individualist cultures. The OMIS and ATSPPH were used to measure participants' attitudes toward psychological distress and treatment and an Individualism-Collectivism measure was used to assess their orientation towards this cultural dimension. A fourth measure was specifically constructed for this study and used to assess participants' orientation towards the cultural dimension of Uncertainty Avoidance. The results supported the predictions that led to the present study. Non-immigrant Canadians had more positive attitudes toward psychological distress and treatment than did either of the two Greek groups. These differences remained even after adjusting statistically for demographic differences (i.e., age, education, gender) between the groups. Also as predicted, the two Greek groups were more collectivist in their orientation than the non-immigrant Canadians. The central prediction of the thesis, that collectivism would mediate attitudinal differences, was confirmed; entering Collectivism into a repression analysis reduced significantly the differences between groups on measures of attitudes toward psychological disorder and treatment. The addition of Uncertainty Avoidance to the statistical analyses changed the pattern of results only slightly. Collectivism was positively related to authoritarianism and, consistent with previous findings, negatively related to education level. Other issues that were explored included the measurement of Individualism-Collectivism, cross-cultural measurement issues, and which specific attitudes toward psychological distress and treatment are considered desirable. A better understanding of the relationship between the cultural dimension of individualism-collectivism and attitudes toward psychological distress and its treatment will facilitate both the use of psychological services by culturally-diverse populations (e.g., immigrant groups) and the development of culturally-sensitive therapeutic practices.
Appears in Collection(s):FGS - Electronic Theses & Dissertations (Public)

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