Judith Meyers, Psy.D.

Private Practice, San Diego, California

Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of San Diego

Judith Meyers was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received a B.S. in Education from Temple University in 1968. She received an M.Ed. in Psychology of Reading from Temple in 1972, and a Psy.D in Clinical Psychology from Hahnemann Medical School and University in 1978.

Major Influences

My development of the CCAI grew primarily out of my love of other cultures rather than from my desire to author a test. As a graduate student, I studied at Anna Freud's Hampstead Clinic in London, England, and the international experience had a great impact on me. I continued to travel and make friends in other cultures and had a burning desire to live and work abroad. However, certain realities held me back. For one, I was not bilingual. While I had a wonderful ability to absorb a culture through food, dress, and lifestyle, I was woefully lacking when it came to acquiring foreign language skills. Also, for all my love of all things foreign, I was also well aware that a long-term, cross-cultural experience would be daunting. In short, the loss of the familiar could be an adventure, or it could be lonesome.

It was with that mind-set that I joined a special interest group in 1986 at the University of California, San Diego, whose mission it was to further the knowledge of international human resources. I was the only psychologist among cross-cultural consultants, trainers, foreign student advisors, educators, and other international specialists. One of the interests expressed by the cross-cultural trainers and teachers was in an assessment instrument for cross-cultural adaptability.

In response to that need, I began a collaborative research project with Dr. Colleen Kelly, a human resource specialist in La Jolla, California who shared my interests and insights into the cross-cultural process. Dr. Kelly specialized in cross-cultural training and I had a concentration in assessment and diagnosis. The combination of our skills resulted in a 50-question self-assessment tool that was designed for use in cross-cultural training to address the universal aspects of culture shock and cultural awareness. The psychological constructs that are the underpinnings of this instrument

reflect the literature in cross-cultural psychology, cross-cultural communication, and international management. Thus, the instrument also has application in a wide variety of settings, including psychotherapy, assessment of cross-cultural competence in counselors and educators, training for effective communication in diversity workshops, and decision-making for overseas assignments.

The Test Development Process

Our development of the instrument began with an extensive electronic search of the literature on cross-cultural adaptability. We found that, although key factors involved in cross-cultural adaptability were cited in the literature, almost no usable materials were readily available to the cross-cultural consultant or psychologist. Having established the need for a tool like the CCAI, we studied the literature on cross-cultural adaptability. Requests for information were sent to individuals with specialized but unpublished knowledge in the area. A composite list was made of all traits and skills associated with the ability to adapt effectively to other cultures.

A preliminary Checklist for Cross-Cultural Readiness was developed, consisting of dimensions identified as important in the literature and by cross-cultural specialists. The Checklist contained 58 rated items and one fill-in item. Two criteria were used to select cross-cultural specialists to complete the Checklist: (a) cross-cultural knowledge or sophistication, and (b) experience living abroad.

The traits rated highest on the Checklist were compared with findings in the cross-cultural literature. Statistical analysis shows that sixteen checklist items were consistently given the highest ratings by the cross-cultural experts. After comparing the correlations among the items and relevant discussions in the literature, items were grouped into four clusters. Four judges also sorted the items into four categories using index cards.

Our four skill sets (Emotional Resilience, Flexibility/Openness, Perceptual Acuity, and Personal Autonomy) were among those most often cited in the research literature. A fifth skill set (Positive Regard for Others) that was discussed in the literature and had been rated near the top by the experts was added to the initial four skill sets to complete the five original CCAI dimensions. Some items were not included because they are easily measured by other means, such as being conversant in the language of the culture and knowledge of the culture.

Ten items on each of the five dimensions were written for the initial form of the inventory. The CCAI was then tested using panels of cross-cultural experts as well as interested members of the general public to gather data and feedback. After three revisions, based on feedback from those who responded to the instrument, the final version of the CCAI was presented in a workshop at the SIETAR (International Society for Intercultural Education Training and Research) Conference in Montreal in May 1987.

Following this conference, a pool of cross-cultural trainers administered the CCAI to collect results with which to refine the CCAI scoring. The responses of 653 people were statistically analyzed. On the basis of the analysis, the fifth dimension was eliminated, as it became obvious that this dimension was actually a subset of Flexibility. In addition, based on this analysis certain items were shifted from one dimension (skill set) to another. In May of 1987, this new version of the CCAI was presented at the SIETAR Conference in Boston. In late 1991, new and more sophisticated statistical tests were run. As a result of this analysis, six items shifted from one dimension to another. The present version of the CCAI was published in January 1992.

Personal Perspectives on Test Development

The ability to be a test developer requires the same skills needed to navigate a cross-cultural experience. Cognitive flexibility helps you refine your preconceived ideas, which will invariably be challenged throughout the test development process. Emotional resilience is critical to dealing with frustrations and setbacks, especially as you deal with the intellectual challenges of your colleagues. Because a test by definition requires the author to limit the psychological constructs, write specific questions, and decide on a particular response set, there will always be challenges to the test construction. One needs to learn to meet these with equanimity. Finally, one must learn to tolerate the ambiguity of not knowing where the process will lead and whether all your efforts will ever result in a tangible end point—a valid and reliable test. My advice for success in this process is to select an area of research you are passionately interested in and surround yourself with a supportive co-author, research group, and funding source if possible.

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