The Polyphonic Self: Interactivism and the Examination of Culture in Clinical Sport Psychology

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Donald R. Marks Kean University

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Despite valuable research regarding multicultural encounters in sport psychology settings, the mechanisms by which culture operates, including the ways that it is transmitted and learned, and the specific processes though which it exerts influence upon behavior, remain poorly understood. Research also has not addressed how a dimension of experience that is so fundamental could remain so transparent and reside so consistently outside the awareness of researchers, clinicians, and clients. Recent contributions to cultural psychology using an interactivist model provide a theoretical perspective through which clinical sport psychologists could conceptualize these challenging issues and address the complex behaviors observed in cross-cultural contexts. Interactivism offers a framework for investigating the internally inconsistent “polyphonic,” or multivoiced, nature of the self. In doing so, it highlights the need for investigative methods that can account for frequent discrepancies between implicit attitudes and observed behaviors, on one hand, and explicit attitudes and behaviors as endorsed on self-report measures, on the other.

The author is with the Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology at Kean University, Union, NJ.

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