Conceptualizing Multicultural Perspective Taking Skills



Research Requirement:

Increasingly, the United States Army operates in multinational, and therefore, multicultural, environments. Teamwork within such settings requires the ability to see events as members of other cultures see them. The goal of the research was to define a set of multicultural perspective taking skills that will enable Army leaders to function effectively in multinational alliances.



Researchers reviewed literature from the disciplines of cultural anthropology, social anthropology, cognitive anthropology, counseling psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, organizational behavior, international business, and adult education and development. Conceptualizations of culture and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) contributing to multicultural perspective taking were extracted. The literature reviewed was drawn primarily from the academic domain and included such topics as cross-cultural counseling psychology, person perception, cross-cultural person perception, cultural intelligence, police interrogation (tactical questioning), global and international business, intercultural conflict management, intercultural competence, intercultural training, intercultural communication, diversity and cultural awareness training.



Two major categories containing six sets of multicultural perspective taking competencies were identified. Fundamental competencies are self-awareness, personal and interpersonal skills, and regional expertise. Advanced competencies are extraction skills, interpretation skills, and the development of cultural schema. Each set of competencies contains many specific KSAs. The compentency framework is presented to highlight the relationships among the compentencies. Understanding these relationships will aid in determining training sequencing.


Utilization and Dissemination of Findings:

These findings can inform training development and guide further research on the skills needed to function effectively in multicultural environments. Traditional cultural awareness training typically focuses on understanding members of another culture from an American’s perspective. However, augmenting this training by addressing multicultural perspective taking competencies will afford Army leaders broader cross-cultural capability. In developing such training, training principles from industrial/organizational psychology and the organizational training literature should be applied. In addition, best practices for adult learning should be incorporated.