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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

8-7-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Kenneth Critchfield

Craig Shealy

Renee Staton

Abstract

Human beings have a set of core needs and inalienable rights. Implicit to such needs and rights are concepts of potential – to become what we are able to become – and dignity – to be regarded and treated as equal. Clearly, these aspirational tenets are still not realizable for many of our fellow beings, both locally and globally. For example, from the standpoint of this dissertation, racial injustice (e.g., racism, hate crimes, discriminatory laws and policies, genocide) has – historically and currently – led to transgenerational trauma and otherizing within communities that are marginalized at multiple levels of analysis. As will be well documented, evidence from the Beliefs, Events, and Values Inventory (BEVI) – a comprehensive and mixed methods measure in development since the early 1990s – empirically and theoretically illuminates the importance of understanding the etiology of one’s beliefs and values as well as why we humans advance actions, policies, and practices that are demonstrably derogating, or facilitating, of our needs and rights. Focusing more closely, Sociocultural Openness, a scale on the BEVI, allows us to understand processes and variables that are associated with, and predictive of, openness to and curiosity about cultures and practices that are different form our own. As such, we consider global data from this scale demonstrating how, why, under what circumstances, and for whom concepts of race / ethnicity (e.g., skin color, hair texture, language, practiced religion and traditions) influence how human identity and self-structures become organized as they are. As we will document, race / ethnicity are potently predictive variables overall. However, individuals who are structured at a “high optimal” level (i.e., more open, accessible, emotionally attuned, critically minded) tend to be much more similar than different across various markers of identity, which suggests that the issue here may not only be categorial variables like race or ethnicity, but deeper aspects of how and why human selves are structured as they are, which also is differentially predictive of a greater inclination and capacity to acknowledge and facilitate needs and rights in self and others. By extension, such findings suggest a need to “reimagine racism,” since these matters are demonstrably and empirically more than black and white. Implications and applications of such findings are discussed in the context of future directions.

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