Wheaton professor writes book on multicultural psychology

The works of Wheaton faculty never fail to impress. Our latest example comes from Professor Peony Fhagen of the psychology research. With the help of a few Wheaton seniors, she is currently writing a book about multicultural psychology.

Professor Fhagen has been teaching multicultural psychology at Wheaton for 11 years. The field is relatively new, only having come out of the woodworks in the 1990s. Research in the field is abundant, but it still lacks a comprehensive textbook for students of the subject. This is the void Professor Fhagen hopes to fill with her work.

For many years prior to the rise of multicultural psychology, the field of psychology undermined the impact of culture on the ways in which people think, feel and behave. People of minority groups were vastly underrepresented in psychological research and even fewer still were conducting said research. Thus, the experiences of the majority were often assumed to be universal and applicable to all people, while the experiences of ethnic minorities often went unheard. Multicultural psychology aims to emphasize the effects culture has on psychology and challenges the assumption that one group’s experience is the experience of all groups.

Fhagen’s interest in the subject stems from her experience as a psychology major herself. She saw for herself that the voices of ethnic minorities were largely absent from the theories and concepts of psychology. In her work, she hopes to help bridge this gap and further the understanding of the impact of culture within psychology and that the human experience is not one size fits all.

Fhagen has recruited three student research assistants, seniors Tyler Hicks, Patricia Vasquez and Maria Rios Brache, to help her to compile information to include in the textbook. As research assistants, they have been assisting Fhagen in exploring the existing body of literature and pulling out the most essential information. This experience allows them to hone their research and critical thinking skills in a way that contributes to a body of work that will have a significant impact on the study of this particular subject. Along the way, they also become more familiar with the already existing work and enhance their understanding of multicultural psychology and how this may come into play in their future careers in psychology.

Once completed, Fhagen’s book will play a major role in the study of multicultural psychology and will bring this more well-rounded approach into the lives of psychology students.