Sample Psychology Case Study on Cultural Dimensions

Cultural Dimensions

In the chosen case, Maria, an old Hispanic woman, lived with her daughter and a grand-daughter. Angel, the daughter, was concerned about the recent changes in the behaviors of her mother who had felled several times. Maria was also unable to find her way to her home. Angel planned to take the mother to the hospital without the consent of Maria who did not accept the decision of her daughter lightly. The mother was displeased by the turn of events at the hospital because she did not consider it was necessary to seek medical attention. At the health care facility another problem appeared. The patient and doctor were not able to communicate effectively because they spoke different languages; the health care practitioner used English, while Maria spoke Spanish. This case is just one of the evidences that cultural dimensions often turn out to be a challenge in handling health problems.

It is no doubt that culture forms an individual’s behavior and attitude.  It influences people politically and socially, and makes them behave in a particular manner. Each individual is involved in a certain factor classification that plays a critical role in their behaviors and attitudes. , The case of Maria clearly demonstrates that her residence, ethnicity, nationality, and age have affected her life and even career. These social and cultural factors are likely to influence the future of her daughter and son-in-law, too.

Cultural Issue

The cultural issues come with biases that directly influence the behavior and actions of individuals. In the given case study, Maria, who is 70 years old, does not expect her young daughter to make decisions about her life without asking for her opinion. She was perturbed that Angel made all the arrangements for visiting the doctor without her knowledge, as if she was not in a position to make reasonable decisions about her life. Although Angel did the right thing, especially towards her aged mother, Maria expected that her daughter could at least ask for her permission. In fact, Maria did not consider that such a condition would need medical attention.  She believed that the subsequent bed rest was a diagnostic therapy.

Maria’s nationality also plays a role in her interaction with the doctor. The fact that she speaks Spanish but the health practitioner understands only English creates a barrier to their communication. Similarly, Maria in her old age has acquired hearing disability and this contributed to their hearing impairment compelling the doctor to shout in order to communicate. Maria’s ethnicity broke the rapport that would help in building a bridge for a successful treatment process. At her age, she did not expect to be shouted at by the doctor due to the fact that her upbringing involved respect for the elderly.

Theoretical Explanation

There are different theories that explain issues related to culture specifically in this given setting case example. The theory of ageism is a discriminatory or stereotyping mechanism against the old people. The theory proposes that ageism allows the young people to see the elderly as different and distinct from them and thus they subtly cease from recognizing them as human beings. The phenomena on ageism include a wide range of phenomena on both institutions and persons with stereotypes, outright disdain, myths, dislikes, discriminatory practices and contact avoidance towards the old people.

Ageism functions as a stereotype. The age also functions as old individual’s invisibility, social exclusion and marginalization. This is because the other ages are considered a social norm and the old age considered abnormality and disability.

According to Cooper & Levin (2011), the theory of cultural relativism comes into play with the insistence that all truth is local. The theory proposes that there is no culture that is better than the other and that they only vary from one to another in an ethical system. There is no single standard is evil and or good and every single resultant judgment is the product of the society. Therefore, any decisive moral opinion on morality is the subject of a person’s cultural perspective.

Cultural relativism is a widely endowed position in many societies in the modern world. It includes the use of terms like acceptance, pluralism and tolerance. Although there is a loose way in which the prevailing cultures have defines these issues making it difficult to have standards on the grounds of relativism, it still plays a major role in respect for other people’s culture. Therefore, a tolerant mindset is necessary even in this case setting under study for proper working and amicable understanding.

According to Hays (2016), the cultural factors move the reader from a single-dimensional identity conceptualization to a comprehensive understanding of the overlapping and complex cultures and the associated influences among individuals. Hays uses the ‘ADDRESSING’ framework that helps therapists to recognize and understand the diversities in intellectual awareness. The acronym stands for Age, Development, Disabilities, Religion, Ethnicity, Socioeconomic conditions, Sexual orientation, Indigenous heritage, Nationality, and Gender. Unlike the other authors that specifically focus on a single particular ethnic extraction, this author presents a framework usable by persons of varied cultural identity. As identified and demystified above, the factors in play in this case study include Maria’s age, ethnicity, nationality, and indigenous heritage.

Professional Behaviors

The culture of a person is a humongous contributor to their individual behavior and professional manner. A range of cultural aspects may affect the way one interacts and works with other people. These factors may include national culture, corporate culture, gender culture, and different communication styles. According to the scenario presented in the case, Maria’s age influenced her interaction with the doctor and her daughter. Additionally, her age does not allow her to do a job at any workplace. Because of her age and indigenous heritage, Maria least expected such treatment and shouting from the doctor towards her. Worse, she could not communicate with the health provider because both of them speak different languages. In some instances, the loud voice is associated with unprofessionalism and discourages a patient-doctor relationship which is extremely necessary for effective diagnosis and medication. The fact that the doctor speaks only English and is unable to communicate freely with the patient directly affects the professional standards of the health practitioner. The different communication styles of the doctor and patient turn out to be a great challenge for handling the health issue of Maria. Furthermore, this situation does not allow the health practitioner to work with confidence and maintain good relationships with the patient.

Proposed Cultural Guidelines and Competencies

In such a diverse society, professionals should create cultural awareness and belief systems. Providers should be sensitive to the personal biases and values of their clients and be aware of how they influence their perceptions of problems and relationships. If there is an absence of understanding the cultural diversities, there is a possibility of misunderstanding an individual, as it is witnessed in the case study.

I believe in the mutual existence of different cultures. The principle of multiple social context and their subsequent cohesive existence is critical to any society and or profession. The multiple social context is related to the different social psychological concepts and suggests incorporation of culture diversities in professionals and societies. Therefore, the different institutions including the hospital should create a social-cultural diverse rich environment for cohesive working among the different groups (Cooper & Levin, 2011).

Consequently, interpersonal relationships are necessary both a personal conviction, but most important as a standard procedure in institutional management. Good interpersonal relationships necessitate breakage of barriers that come with cultural differences. The deliberate formation and steering of interpersonal relationships both in communication and working limits cultural barriers since mutual understanding develops that rises above social differences.

Understanding of the cultural identity of a person helps providers to work with greater confidence, communicate with their customers or patients more fluently and meet their specific needs and requirements much more effectively. Communication may be affected by various factors. If they are not handled carefully, they may foster misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts. One of the barriers to effective communication between people is their cultural diversity regarding language, behavior, actions, perceptions and emotions. The difference in intellectual awareness also affects the way one performs their professional duties and responsibilities. Unless specialists have an appropriate understanding of the cultural diversity issues they might be hampered in their occupation to complete their tasks professionally (Cooper & Levin, 2011). In this regard, providers should receive suitable training and education to build cultural competencies in order to be useful enough in their professions.

The tendency to judge other’s behavior according to one’s cultural norms only leads to potential conflicts, misunderstandings, and miscommunication. One should be aware that different values lead to different intellectual awareness that one may not fully understand. In order to work and interact efficiently with individuals from other ethnic groups, one should try to learn and appreciate these differences.


My culture, ethnicity and diversity can actually affect my profession. There are certain norms in my society that are acceptable and celebrated, but this might not be same thing in a different setting, especially in a professional working environment. There are also other things that are generally prohibited and my culture considers them unethical and yet might be celebrated elsewhere. These factors cumulatively, since I am not particularly used to them, can adversely hamper my performance in any given professional setting. Also, I might not delivery fully where I am discriminated because my ethnical and racial extraction. For instance, where there is a predominant attitude that certain racial groups are associated with unproductivity, this would definitely affect people’s perception upon the person and also at the same time lower the individual’s morale to perform.

Therefore, in this regard to build my cultural competencies, I will first learn about myself and capabilities. I will then learn and recognize other people’s cultures to build the necessary diversity. I will then deliberate interact with the diverse cultural groups and also attend conferences focused on building cohesive and diverse societies. I will then lobby my workmates towards the same goal of building and establishing a culture where diversity is not vilified, but celebrated.




Cooper, J. E., He, Y., & Levin, B. B. (2011). Developing critical cultural competence: A guide for 21st-century educators. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.

Hays, P. A. (2016). Becoming a culturally responsive therapist. In addressing cultural complexities in practice: Assessment, diagnosis, and therapy (3rd. Ed.). American Psychological Association.

Lenart, J. (2009). ADDRESSING framework – Understanding the social construct of power [Blog post]. Retrieved from • addressing-understanding-the social-construct-of-power

Tseng, W.-S., & Streltzer, J. (2004). Cultural competence in clinical psychiatry. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Pub.