Correlates of internal reactions: Counseling students' personality, ethnic identity, and multicultural contact in an immersion intervention context

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Dennis D. Gilbride


Multiple regression, Internal reactions, Counseling students, Personality, Ethnic identity, Immersion intervention

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Counseling Psychology | Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


The counseling professions have been committed to providing effective counseling services to diverse clients. In improving the quality of counseling services for diverse clients, training programs can play a vital role by implementing effective trainings that facilitate the development of future counselors' multicultural counseling competencies. In order to develop effective training methods, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of how specific training methods affect students' competency development and what factors may enhance or hinder their growth while going through the training. Founded upon the contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954), it has been proposed that cultural immersion can raise cultural awareness by affecting a wide range of trainee internal processes (Pope-Davis, Breaux, & Liu, 1997; Ridley, Mendoza, & Kanitz, 1994). However, there is a paucity of data on the expected outcomes of this particular intervention and what student variables may influence their reactions to the intervention. Thus, this study examined student factors that may influence their outcomes of a cultural immersion intervention. Based on the existing literature as well as the results of the pilot study, the present study identified cognitive complexity, cultural empathy, and cultural bias as the outcome variables of a cultural immersion intervention. In order to measure these outcome variables, the present study used journals as a means to evaluate student learning outcomes and developed a journal rating protocol to measure cognitive complexity, cultural empathy, and cultural bias as expressed in the journals. Then, it examined the extent to which student variables (i.e. demographic variables, ethnic identity, previous multicultural contact, and openness) have effects on the three outcome variables. The results of three-step, hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that the overall model consisting of religious/spiritual affiliation, past multicultural counseling training (MCT), ethnic identity, prior multicultural contact, and openness accounted for 70% (adjusted = 61%, p < .05) of the variance in cognitive complexity, 26% (adjusted = 2%, p > .05) of the variance in empathy, and 44% (adjusted = 27%, p > .05) of the variance in cultural bias. Contrary to the study hypothesis, past multicultural contact did not moderate the relationship between ethnic identity and each outcome variable. Implications for future MCT research and training are discussed.


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