Analysis Of The Study On Relational Spirituality, Differentiation Of Self, And Virtue As Predictors Of Intercultural Development

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The journal by Sandage and Harden (2011) seeks to find the significant details on the relationships between spirituality, differentiation of self (DoS), virtue in terms of forgiveness and gratitude, and intercultural development among graduate learners in the helping profession. To do so, the author used a rational model of spiritual longing and seeking, and the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity to conceptualize the research. The study also aimed at integrating the emerging streams of experimental research of multiculturalism and the positive psychology of spirituality, virtue, and religion. The question of the study is relevant in tackling the spiritual and religious challenges as part of multiculturalism training in various spheres including in clinical and counseling programs. The context of the study involves graduates in marriage and therapy, counseling psychology, ministry professions, and theology. The setting allowed the authors to conduct the study within a single setting because their university of choice could provide all the participants they needed for the study. Moreover, the setting was perfect for the authors to study the religious and spiritual traditions from a diverse perspective. The authors used four variables in the study, which includes:

Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

The theoretical model describes the way people develop intercultural competence and to conceptualize the connection between intercultural development and personal differences in spiritual and religious matters. Sandage and Harden used Bennett’s concept of the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity to handle the research question. In Bennet’s view of ethnocentrism, individuals’ experience differences are based on three different worldviews; defense, denial, and minimization. Defense is when a person reacts because they feel threatened by diverse cultural practices. On the other side, denial is when people consider their own orientation as the sole reality of what is normal and true and fail to experience cultural diversity. Finally, minimization is when an individual’s experience of diversity sets a cultural worldview from a general experience.

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Relational Spirituality and Intercultural Development

The study defined spirituality and religion as a way of relating to the sacred; a description it borrowed from the works of Hill and Pargament (2003), who described the spirituality and religion as originating from “search for the sacred.” The study at the Evangelical-affiliated University operationalized relational spirituality using the concepts of spiritual grandiosity, quest religiosity, and intrinsic religiosity. Differentiation and Intercultural Development DoS is a progressive concept with interpersonal dimensions, which involves the ability to reduce one’s emotional reactivity, hence relating pro-socially and intentionally to others. The interpersonal dimensions include the ability to maintain a different sense of self while connecting with different cultures, pledge, and to establish clear personal boundaries within relationships.

Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Intercultural Development

Gratitude is the general tendency to recognize and respond with grateful emotion to the role of other peoples’ kindness in optimistic experiences and results that a person obtains.

Design of the study

Both the rational model of spiritual dwelling and seeking, and the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity were perfect for the study. The rational model of spiritually dwelling and seeking perfectly describe the relationship between the sacred, community and the traditions. On the other hand, developmental model of cultural sensitivity provides a theoretical definition of the way people develop intercultural competencies. The worldviews of individual s experience differences that Bennet provides offers a ground for the authors to study the intercultural sensitivity. The authors provided readers with a comprehensive study of the relationship between spirituality, religious factors, and multicultural competencies among helping professionals. This led them to choose a rational model of spiritual dwelling and developments model of intercultural sensitivity to complete the study. The design of the research used different techniques to analyze different variables. However, questionnaires were largely used to measure the disposition to forgive, gratitude, and the differentiation of self. Each variable required distinct questions to effectively evaluate.

Validity, Reliability, and Norming Issues in the Study

Reliability refers to the ability that an assessment instrument will give the same results every time it is used in the same context. Sandage and Harder’s study on rational spirituality, DoS, and virtues as predictors of cultural development can be said to be reliable because it uses scientific techniques to examine the variables. As Sullivan (2011) defines it, validity refers to how accurate a study answers the research question or the strength of the study’s conclusion. After much evaluation, the study reported that quest religiosity, differentiation of self, and gratitude would be positively connected to intercultural development while spiritual grandiosity would be negatively connected with multicultural development. However, the study involved mostly European- American graduates within a Christian setting, therefore, creating a need for further research within other religious groups.

Effect of the Study on Family Therapy Practices

The findings of the study are relevant to family therapy practices in various ways. One, the study will help the counselors to identify the factors that can lead to a positive or negative association to intercultural development. Although the study did not cover vast religions, the current findings are beneficial to both counselors and groups that attend family therapies. Future researchers might study the role of bicultural identity in relation to spiritual and cultural variables.


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