Behavioral Approaches to Community Psychology

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At this level we examined the effectiveness of mechanisms set by the NCC to increase communication and support among Site Coordinators.

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These mechanisms included grouping the fifteen sites in three cohorts of five with their counterparts in other cities. The second level, mesosystem, is concerned with organizations and their relationships to smaller microsystems and individual members, as well as their relationship with the larger community and society. The third level, exosystem, is interested in the structures of the larger community, particularly its decision-making, political and business bodies and the way in which those affect and interact with individuals. This is important as individuals participate in the life of their shared locality through community institutions.

Finally, the broadest level, macrosystem, includes societies and cultures, as well as governmental and economic institutions beyond the local community.

This level may also include regional differences within a national culture, multiple levels of government, and international corporations. Open Systems Theory. The Open Systems Theory perspective of organizations as comprehensively presented by Katz and Kahn was also based on a biological metaphor that was very similar to the one used by Bronfenbrenner , as it focuses on describing the systemic nature of organizations. Katz and Kahn emphasized the interrelatedness of the organization and its environment as well as relationships between subsystems that comprise the organization. Katz and Kahn considered open systems to be defined by the cyclical pattern of energy transformation necessary for system survival.

This transformation process is critical for organizations and highlights the importance of the interrelationships between organizations and the environments where they exchange information and resources. Thus, Open Systems Theory is analogous to the Ecological Model as it emphasizes the interaction between sub-systems, the system, and the environment. Misalignment, according to this model, would lead to dysfunction for the organization. In addition, this theory postulates that the levels are displayed in a hierarchical order. Each higher level of a system is composed of lower level systems.

The Ecological Model guided the levels of analysis that were investigated, while Open Systems Theory guided the methodological approach to assess multiple levels of a system within an organizational context. Methodological Approach. In order to evaluate the development of a multi-level organization, our model utilized a methodological approach based on the systems model of alignment presented by Cummings and Worley The critical level of assessment for our project was what Cummings and Worley termed Group Level Diagnosis.

Group Level Diagnosis focuses on evaluating inputs, transformations design components , and outputs that are necessary in achieving team effectiveness related to performance and quality work life. Therefore, the measure focused on assessing the group level design components of goal clarity, task structure, group composition, team functioning and group norms to ensure alignment with the organizational structure of the larger system in which these work groups were embedded.

Inputs refer to human and other resources, such as organizational structure and culture, coming into the system. Methodological emphasis was given to understanding how the organizational structure of the NCC provided support to each site. Transformations Design Components. Transformations refer to processes that convert inputs into outputs. In organizations, transformations are generally carried out by a production or operation composed of social and technical components. The social component consists of people and their work relationships.

The technological component involves tools, techniques and methods of production or service delivery.


Outputs are the result of what is transformed by systems and sent into the environment. In order for the project to be implemented successfully, local sites need to function organizationally well. In addition to incorporating the use of group level diagnosis in our model, our framework emphasizes the use of feedback as a mechanism to obtain information regarding the actual performance and results from the system.

QAT members receive information from all members of the project via multiple methods e. Guiding Values and Principles.


Our integrative model includes values and principles from organization development and community psychology. This was another area where commonalities between the two fields were found. The principle of psychological contract within the field of organization development refers to the exchange relationship between the individual employee and the organization. A related topic that has been of particular interest recently in the organizational literature concerns the dimensionality and influence of the construct of organizational justice. In essence Colquitt et al. These findings go hand in hand with the value of social justice presented by community psychology.

According to Prilleltensky Dalton et al. Particularly for this project where people at the local sites were very sensitive to issues related to social justice and where different issues may be salient at different locations, it was particularly important to collect information from the various constituencies and make changes based on this information.

Community psychology

Therefore, part of the assessments conducted by the QAT focuses on organizational justice by determining the extent to which staff at the NCC and at each of the 15 sites feel working conditions are just and resources are distributed fairly throughout the system. Additionally, the QAT assesses procedural justice by asking staff to describe their satisfaction with their involvement in the decision making process of the project.

The QAT systematically assesses this construct and makes recommendations to revise the C2P project structure in ways that increase the level of distributive and restorative justice experienced by the staff.

Community Psychology Theories

Individual Wellness. Individual wellness refers to the physical and psychological health of workers, including personal well-being, development of healthy identity and attainment of personal goals Dalton et al. Community psychology has made significant contributions in the development of interventions, social and academic development in children, adolescent behavior and adult health, which focus on this value.

However, from an organizational standpoint, the concept of individual wellness has not been studied, particularly regarding the wellness of the employee relative to the conditions of the workplace environment, policies, and procedures. The concept of social-support has been studied and discussed as an important issue in enhancing individual wellness. Ultimately, the objective is for staff at the fifteen sites to be engaged in the project in a productive and creative way.

For this purpose, the QAT assesses the effectiveness of the mechanisms which are currently embedded within the system to foster such values including one-on-one calls individual calls between the local site staff and the NCC staff on monthly basis , cohort calls monthly calls are conducted with three groups which included five sites , and remote support included email, phone and teleconferencing.

Furthermore, the Quality Assurance Team has suggested revision of old mechanisms and creation of new ones. The interview process conducted by the QAT every six months has become a support mechanism itself. Sense of Community. Organizations like the ATN can be defined as a community, even though our discipline has not chosen it as frequent unit of analysis. The systems perspective, from organization development, was a good fit with this community psychology value as we assess group functioning at different levels in order to assess and intervene if necessary to facilitate the development of group cohesion and productivity.

Citizen Participation. This was particularly relevant for this project due to its interdisciplinary nature.

Unequal power structures can result when working with team members from diverse disciplines and organizational settings, especially in medical settings where hierarchical staff structures are common. The highest educational level obtained by research team members often influences both the level of perceived and actual power in these work settings.

When these power differentials occur within multi-site community-based research efforts, the voices, experience, and wisdom of all members cannot be fully appreciated and realized.

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Given this potential for limiting true citizen participation from all involved in the project, the QAT put feedback mechanisms in place that have facilitated the equal sharing of multiple voices and perspectives, and that allows all team members the ability to recommend additional modifications. Collaboration and Community Strength.

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Behavioral Approaches to Community Psychology reviews and evaluates the extension of social learning procedures to various demanding community. As we will see in this chapter, the Behavioral Community Psychology approach allows for a more focused and targeted method to define and change a range of.

This value refers to the relationship between community psychologists and the citizens with whom they work. Some have referred to this value as the most distinctive of our discipline Dalton et al. For the community psychologist, creating of an egalitarian partnership becomes a desired outcome of all endeavors. The QAT advocates for organizational structures and mechanisms which foster an egalitarian relationship within the leadership structures of the National Coordinating Center. Respect for Human Diversity.

This value is very much interrelated to those mentioned above. In this context, competence refers to the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in an organizational setting to increase the effectiveness of the work environment; thereby producing better outcomes.

Cultural competence calls for a level of value instituzionalization which would not be present if only cultural sensitivity awareness is achieved. Empirical Grounding. A very important goal in the field of community psychology is the relevance and practicality of bringing about social change. Since its origins, our discipline has sought to strike a balance between research and practice. Community psychologists strive to define and address community problems and issues, in ways that can be studied in research.

According to Dalton et al.

In this respect, the QAT is invested in a balance between research and practice. The QAT makes its recommendations based on data analysis that uses information triangulation. If this organizational structure is functional and supportive of the local staff, that in turn will assist to catalyze community mobilization at the various cities to reduce HIV incidence among youth. Participatory Action Research. Community psychology has a strong focus on participation and action.