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Cultural Assimilator for Training Army Personnel in Racial Understanding

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Final rept. Nov 1973-Feb 1975 and Jan-Dec 1977

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A cultural assimilator was developed to teach white junior officers about black culture in the Army. Scenarios involving commonly occurring incidents of misunderstanding between blacks and whites in the Army were presented, and respondents were asked to identify the correct reasons for these misunderstandings. The effectiveness of this cultural assimilator as an Army race-relations training technique was evaluated in three separate field tests, with mixed results. In the first evaluation respondents showed evidence of learning from assimilator training but cultural sensitivity to black culture on a related measure did not increase, and stereotyping was not reduced. In the second evaluation, subordinates rated their company commanders as being more effective in race relations when these commanders demonstrated greater knowledge of black culture, as measured by assimilator performance. However, this was only true for white and Hispanic subordinates and not for black subordinates as was expected. The assimilator was implemented as part of a 1-day race-relations seminar for command personnel in an Army Reserve Unit in the third evaluation. Effectiveness of training was evaluated 2 months later by a survey. Neither self-reports nor reports of supervisors or subordinates provided evidence that trained personnel were seen as being more effective in race relations than those who received no training. One problem associated with this assimilator may have been poor identification of the correct answer for some scenarios. Assimilator scenarios may be useful training aids as part of race-relations discussions but are not likely to have a strong favorable impact by themselves.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History

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