Exploring the Association Between Social Desirability and Multicultural Competence in School Psychology



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The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes cultural competence as a defining feature of psychological practice, education, training and research (Sue, Bingham, Porche-Burke, & Vasquez., 1999). Multicultural counseling competencies are based on a tripartite model of attitudes/beliefs, knowledge and skills (Sue, Bernier, Durran, Feinberg, Pedersen, Smith, & Vasquez-Nuttali, 1982), and have been the basis for the development of many cultural competency scales in the field of psychology (Malone, 2010).

The purpose of this study was to investigate the self-appraised cultural competence of school psychology practitioners using the Multicultural School Psychology Counseling Competency Scale (MSPCCS; Rogers & Ponterotto, 1997) as a self-report measure. The study involved the investigation of the convergent validity of the scale with the Cross Cultural Counseling Inventory-Revised (CCCI-R; LaFromboise, Coleman, & Hernandez, 1991), another established cultural competency scale based on the same tripartite model. The study also sought to determine the possible association of social desirability with self-reported cultural competence using the Marlowe-Crown-Social Desirability Scale (MC-SDS; Crowne & Marlowe, 1960). The study was proposed to further the knowledge regarding cultural competence and to inform the field of school psychology in ways that would promote further empirical investigation of cultural competence.

A total of 160 participants were part of the sample that was recruited from 11 state professional school psychology associations across the United States. The results revealed that the MSPCCS demonstrates convergent validity with the CCCI-R. Analysis of Covariance revealed that after adjusting for the covariate of social desirability, there were no significant group differences between ethnic groups or groups with different educational levels and years of experience on the MSPCCS. On the CCCI-R, there were also no significant differences between groups based on ethnicity or education level, but there were significant differences between groups with different levels of experience. Using hierarchical multiple regression while controlling for social desirability, four predictors were found to contribute to the outcome variable of cultural competence. These variables were membership in the Hispanic ethnic group, the African American ethnic group, doctoral level education and years of practice, which accounted for 12.5% of the variance in the MSPCCS scores. The final model was statistically significant, while membership in the African American group remained the only unique predictor.

The present study also demonstrates that social desirability may not always present as a confounding variable when persons rate their own level of cultural competency. Although a positive correlation between social desirability and self-reported cultural competence has been demonstrated in the literature, results with the present sample did not reveal a statistically significant correlation. Future studies could investigate additional factors that influence self-reported cultural competence and explore ways to enhance training programs and professional skill development for school psychology practitioners throughout the course of their careers.



School psychology, Multicultural Competence, Social desirability