Why is Social and Cultural Competency Critical in the Research Process

Definition of Social and Cultural Competency

Social competence denotes the aptitude to engage in meaningful relationships with others. The definition of social competence can be based on three main aspects. One is the aptitude to build healthy and positive interpersonal associations and to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Second is the development of a vibrant self-identity in general and a collective or group identity in particular. Lastly is the alignment to be a responsible citizen in the society that one belongs to and a caring citizen in the globe. The development of supportive and positive relationships with various kinds of people is an essential adaptation skill that adolescents and people must acquire to happily live in a society (Ma, 2012).

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Cultural competence, on the other hand, refers to the individual ability to respect and understand beliefs, attitudes and values, and mores that vary across cultures, and to consider and appropriately respond to these variations in evaluating, implementing, and planning organization operation, evaluation, and promotion programs. Growing cultural competence involves obtaining respect for, knowledge of, and the aptitude to comfortably and effectively interact with different racial or ethnic backgrounds (Han & Kemple, 2006).

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Importance of Social and Cultural Competency Concepts in Terms of Social Psychological Research

In research, cultural competence is the researchers’ ability to offer high-quality research that considers the diversity and culture of a population when generating research ideas, researching, and exploring research findings’ applicability. Cultural competence plays an essential role in research especially in implementation processes and study design, including the research hypotheses and questions development, recruitment and outreach strategies, data collection protocols, consent activities, interpreting and analyzing research findings, presenting the outcomes, and drawing conclusions. The cultural congruence in such research processes assists in guaranteeing that the research is applicable in different populations and can be adapted to address the linguistic, cultural, and social needs of the targeted population. Depending on the research type, cultural competence can be vital to successful retraining and recruiting diverse participants. Cultural competence is also vital for researchers to guarantee effective interaction and communication between study participants and researchers. It also ensures adequate interpretation and analysis of results as they relate to the population impact (Shiu­Thronton, 2003).

Social competence helps in improving interpersonal skills. This means it plays a great role in influencing communication and general interaction between a researcher and the research participants. Social competence guides in setting research questions based on the nature of research and targeted participants to ensure that they are sensitive to different people’s emotions and that they are not provocative or offensive. Social competence also ensures effective social skills in qualitative data collection techniques such as interviews (Han & Kemple, 2006).

Example of a Social Psychological Concept that can be Understood from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

The selected social psychological concept that can be understood from a cross-cultural perspective is social self. Social self refers to aspects of individual self-concept or identity that are influenced by or important to interpersonal relationships and other people’s reactions. Self-views influence how we think about the world our community, lifestyle, health choices, and social relationship. The social self is mostly influenced by culture. According to Smith (1998), culture plays a great role in influencing how we perceive ourselves and the world in general, what we believe in, how we act and handle issues, and what we value. This means a self is defined by his or her culture. A person from one culture is thus expected to act differently or handle things differently from another person from another culture. Different cultures create different kinds of people from a social perspective. Our social behaviors, skills, and level of interaction are mostly influenced by our culture. For instance, people in Asia are more social than Americans. Also, the interaction level of women from the Muslim community is limited by their culture, especially in a presence of men or while in public places.

Why Does Cultural Competency Matter when Researching a Concept of Social Self

Cultural competency matters when researching a concept of the social self. This is because the social self is influenced by individual culture, and people have a diverse culture. This means the researcher must be culturally competent to be able to respect participants based on their cultural beliefs, world perspective, and attitude. A researcher without cultural competency is likely to misjudge people based on their varying perspectives, beliefs, and attitudes (Smith, 1998). One may also be unable to cope or interact with people from other cultural backgrounds effectively. Having cultural competence also helps in shaping the research in a way that it considers the cultural diversity among members.

Problems that Might Occur if Social and Cultural Competency are Neglected in the Research

If cross-cultural perspectives are neglected in the research, the researcher might end up being biased in the development of the research design, research questions, and other research processes. Neglecting cross-cultural perspectives can also result in the biased interpretation of research data and the development of recommendations that cannot be generalized for participants from all cultures. Cross-cultural perspectives consideration in research study makes research more viable to all in a diverse society (Shiu­Thronton, 2003).

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