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Cultural Diversity, Breaking Barriers, & Racist Micro Aggressions
If you would like additional information on this topic,
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. (2015, January 1). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Legal_Ethics/Code_of_Ethics.aspx
- Derr, A. S. (2016). Mental Health Service Use Among Immigrants in the United States: A Systematic Review. Psychiatric Services, 67(3), 265-274. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201500004
- Duncan, K. A. (2008). Working with Culturally Diverse Families. Lecture presented at the Indiana Counseling Association Annual Conference.
- Garcia, C. M. & Duckett, L. J. (2009). No Te Entiendo Y Tú No Me Entiendes: Language Barriers Among Immigrant Latino Adolescents Seeking Health Care, Journal of Cultural Diversity, (10).
- Gilbert C. G., Walsemann, K. M., & Brondolo, E. (2012). A Life Course Perspective on How Racism May Be Related to Health Inequities: The Science of Research on Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and health. American Journal of Public Health, 102(5), 1-8.
- Hall, J. C. & Theriot, M. T. (2016). Developing Multicultural Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills: Diversity Training Makes a Difference? Multicultural Perspectives, 18(1), 35-41.
- Hannon, M. D. (2012). Supporting Siblings of Children with Disabilities in the School Setting: Implications and Considerations for School Counselors. Journal of School Counseling, 10(13). Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ978869.pdf.
- Jenkins, A. (2009). Bridging The Racial Opportunity Gap. National Civic Review, (10).
- Johnson, J. M. & Lambie, G. W. (2013). Ethnic Identity and Social-Cognitive Maturity in a Multicultural Group Experience. Counselor Education & Supervision, 52(3), 193-206.
- Kagnici, D. Y. (2014). Reflections of a Multicultural Counseling Course: A Qualitative Study with Counseling Students and Counselors. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 14(1), 53-62.
- Lee, C. (2004). Racial Segregation and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Boston. Harvard University. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED489182.pdf
- National Association of Social Workers. (2017). NASW Code of Ethics. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English
- Nava, J. (n.d.). Mexican Americans: A Brief Look at their History. Washington, D.C.: Office of Education, Department of Health, Education & Welfare. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED040134.pdf
- Pascoe, E. (1997). The Asian-Americans. In Racial prejudice why cant we overcome? (pp. 80-87). New York: F. Watts.
- Pascoe, E. (1997). Latinos. In Racial prejudice why cant we overcome? (pp. 100-106). New York: F. Watts.
- Perez, A. D., & Hirschman, C. (2009). The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of the US Population: Emerging American Identities. Population and Development Review, 35(1), 1-51. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2009.00260.x
- Perry, M., & Schweitzer, F. M. (2002). Conclusion. In Myth and hate (pp. 259-264). New York: Palgrave.
- Reamer, F. G. (2001). Ethics Education in Social Work. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.
- Reamer, F. G. (2003). Social Work Malpractice and Liability: Strategies for Prevention (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.
- Reamer, F. G. (2001). Tangled Relationships: Managing Boundaries in the Human Services. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Reamer, F. G. (2000). The social work ethics audit: A risk-management strategy. Social Work, 45(4), 355-366.
- Rothstein, M. A. (2014). Tarasoff Duties after Newtown. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 42(1), 104-109.
- Rowan, C.T. (1996). Education - Black Hope and Despair. In The coming race war in America (pp. 266-269). Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company.
- Scottham, K. M., Sellers, R. M., & Nguyên, H. X. (2008). A measure of racial identity in African American adolescents: The development of the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity--Teen. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14(4), 297-306. doi:10.1037/1099-9809.14.4.297
- Tatum, B. D. (1999). Identity Development in Adolescence. In "Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?": And other conversations about race (pp. 54-59, 71-74). New York, NY: BasicBooks.
- The Lewin Group, Inc, LinkinsK. W., McIntosh, S., Bell, J., & Chong, U. (2002). Indicators of Cultural Competence in Health Care Delivery Organizations: An Organizational Cultural Competence Assessment Profile. The Health Resources and Services Administration. 1-23.
- Tornero, M. D., & Capella, C. (2017). Change during Psychotherapy through Sand Play Tray in Children That Have Been Sexually Abused. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00617
- Vishwanatha, K., & Hirisave, U. (2008). A Preliminary Report on the Use of the Narrative Approach for Childhood Mental Health Problems. Journal of Indian Association Child Adolescent Mental Health, 4(1), 12-15. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ918870.pdf.
- Williams, M. E. (2001). How Should Policymakers Respond to Minorities' Concerns? In Race relations: Opposing viewpoints (pp. 125-126). San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
- Williams, M. E. (2001). Is Racism a Serious Problem? In Race relations: Opposing viewpoints (pp. 93-94). San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
Employment Discrimination, Segregation, and Health.
A recent development in the literature on labor market discrimination is the claim that the relevant factors influencing wage differentials between Blacks and Whites are premarket or extramarket factors. Several researchers investigating the NLSY sample have claimed that evidence of in-market discrimination against Black workers is all but eliminated once cognitive skill differences are taken into account. To control for such differences, these researchers used Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT) scores recorded in the 1980 routine of the NLSY. When they included these scores in a garden-variety wage equation, they found that very little of the wage gap between racial/ethnic groups remains unexplained by factors other than the productivity-linked characteristics of workers.
However, this body of work neglected to control for psychological capital or workers' motivation/effort levels. In 2 articles involving data from the 1992 and 1993 routines of the NLSY, Goldsmith, Veum, and I reestimated the garden-variety wage equation, including both AFQT scores and scores on the Pearlin Mastery Scale as right-hand-side (independent) variables.( n1, n5) This was an especially powerful exercise, because Black workers' effort scores would have been influenced by their previous work histories, which generally were less salutary than those of Whites or Hispanics in the NLSY sample. Nonetheless, once we controlled for motivation, there was a strong, negative race effect in terms of wages among Black respondents, despite the presence of AFQT scores in the regression analysis.
Indeed, full sample results from the NLSY indicate evidence of both sex discrimination against women and racial discrimination against Blacks in regard to wages. Moreover, among sub-samples of the respondents, there was evidence of significant intra-sex earnings discrimination against Black men as well as Black women, although such discrimination against Black men appeared to be greater than that against Black women.
Reinforcing the evidence of discriminatory processes in labor markets are the results we uncovered when we estimated a labor force participation equation using the 1993 NLSY.( n5) Again, we found strong negative race effects among both male and female Blacks after controlling for motivation and AFQT scores as well as other standard factors (education, work experience, age, marital status, presence of children, urban or rural residence). These findings were entirely consistent with the "last in" side of the employment ledger.
We reported in the same article( n5) that individuals with lower motivation levels, regardless of race, are less likely to be labor force participants, less likely to engage in on-the-job training programs, more likely to experience job separation, and more likely to be unsatisfied with their job if they have one. It has been shown that Blacks actually have higher levels of motivation than Whites with comparable work histories. One can only imagine the levels of motivation Black workers might possess if labor market discrimination somehow vanished and the mean profile of their work histories was similar to that of Whites.
Does exposure to labor market discrimination have adverse health effects on Blacks residing in the United States? No existing data set permits us to address this question directly. A study conducted among ethnic minority groups in England and Wales revealed that "a marked independent association existed between reported experience of racism [verbal abuse or physical attack] and perceptions of Britain as a 'racist society'" and adverse health effects, including greater self-reported incidence rates of high blood pressure, higher risks of heart attack, more respiratory illnesses, higher estimated weekly prevalence rates of depression, and higher estimated annual prevalence rates of psychosis.( n11)
Findings from studies conducted in the United States also suggest that not only does the perception of exposure to racism affect health, but also the way in which an individual anticipates responding to racism. It has been shown that Black Americans who describe themselves as inclined to lodge a complaint about or confront racism are likely to have lower blood pressure levels than Blacks who report that they would not report or challenge racism.( n12, n13) However, no existing studies have directly connected employment-based acts of racism to the health status of Black Americans.
In this context, it also is essential to be alert to the important distinction between perceptions of discrimination and actual exposure to discrimination. One of the few data sets permitting explicit consideration of this distinction is the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality (MCSUI), a survey in which data were gathered from 8000 households and 3000 employers in 4 major cities: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles. In a collaborative study, Major Coleman, Rhonda Sharpe, and I (unpublished data, 2002) examined responses to 2 of the questions included in this survey: ( 1) During the past year, were you discriminated against at your place of work because of your race/ethnicity? and ( 2) Have you ever felt in the past that others at your place of employment got promotions or pay raises faster than you did because of your race or ethnicity?
We found that 20% of Black male MCSUI respondents answered affirmatively in response to the first question, while 16% of Black female respondents answered affirmatively. In the case of the second question, 27% of Black male respondents answered affirmatively, while 20% of Black female respondents indicated that they had experienced pay or promotion discrimination. Among Whites, 5% of men and 7% of women reported that they had experienced discrimination at their place of work, while 8% of men and 7% of women indicated that they had experienced discrimination in the area of raises and promotions (M. Coleman, W.A. Darity Jr., and R. Sharpe, unpublished data, 2002).
We decided that, in the case of both Black and White respondents, it would be useful to compare these patterns of responses against direct statistical measures of wage discrimination. Using a variant of the Blinder--Oaxaca--Blau--Duncan decomposition procedure, we were able to construct individual estimates of wage discrimination for each respondent in the MCSUI sample (M. Coleman, W.A. Darity Jr., and R. Sharpe, unpublished data, 2002).
We found that, among more than 97% of Black male and female MCSUI respondents who reported experiencing discrimination at their place of work, there was statistical evidence of wage discrimination, while the opposite was the case among Whites who reported workplace discrimination (97% of White women and 100% of White men displayed no evidence of wage discrimination). The results with respect to the second question were similar. In the case of 96% of Black men and 98% of Black women who reported discrimination in regard to promotions and raises, there was statistical evidence of wage discrimination, while about 15% of White male and female respondents who included such reports exhibited evidence of wage discrimination (M. Coleman, W.A. Darity Jr., and R. Sharpe, unpublished data, 2002).
More interesting still, Coleman, Sharpe, and I found that more than 90% of the Black men and women who did not report being subjected to discrimination in their responses to either question also exhibited statistical evidence of wage discrimination, while the rate was below 3% for White male and female interviewees with similar responses. If the statistical evidence is taken seriously, it would suggest that the vast majority of Blacks either do not recognize the discrimination to which they are being subjected or are engaged in some form of cognitive dissonance or denial (note the evidence described earlier suggesting that the adverse health effects of exposure to labor market discrimination are more pronounced among Blacks who do not report their experiences),( n12, n13)
Nevertheless, we cannot determine whether Blacks who perceive or acknowledge that they have experienced employment-based discrimination are healthier psychologically or healthier in other ways than Blacks who report that they have not been subjected to discrimination. Is it the perceptual response that is linked to health outcomes, or is it the discriminatory practices themselves? We know that discriminatory practices leading to joblessness result in psychological harm, but previous research has linked such harm to the exposure to joblessness itself rather than the associated racist processes. We need further investigations and new data sets to examine whether either the perception or the practice of discrimination leads to physiological damage.
Phenotypical variations within racial/ethnic groups also are associated with different social and economic outcomes. The alleged "one-drop rule" for creating racial boundaries in the US context (metaphorically, "one drop of Black blood makes one Black") does not operate in the unequivocal pattern asserted by social scientists who seek to construct a contrast with Latin American norms of race relations.
Seltzer and Smith, using data from the 1982 General Social Survey sample of 510 Blacks distinguished as dark, medium, or light skinned, found that dark-skinned Blacks fared worse on all social and economic dimensions.( n14) Similarly, Keith and Herring, using data from the 1979--1980 National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA), developed by James Jackson at the University of Michigan, found that Blacks with darker complexions had less education, less prestigious occupations, lower personal incomes, and lower family incomes than Blacks with lighter complexions.( n15) Telles and Murguia found, in their study involving data from the 1979 National Chicano Survey, that Chicanos with lighter skin tones and more European features had higher earnings, were of higher socioeconomic status (SES), and faced less discrimination.( n16)
It is not dear, however, that lighter-skinned Blacks consistently face less employment discrimination. In preliminary research that Darrick Hamilton and I have conducted with the MCSUI data set, results suggest that lighter-skinned blacks, while earning more than their darker-skinned brethren, actually face higher discriminatory deficits in terms of wages. The updated NSBA, the year 2000 National Survey of American Life, also will enable researchers to further explore the social and economic consequences of skin shade variations.
However, these data sets are not rich in information about health outcomes, although the National Survey of American Life data set will contain all of the Pearlin Mastery Scale questions (the NSBA included an abbreviated Rotter instrument). Without a still newer data set, it will not be feasible to explore the relationships between race/ethnicity, phenotype, labor market outcomes, and health outcomes.
A further cautionary note is in order: phenotypical information is vital, especially in examining labor market and health linkages among Latinos, but such information is not available in the NLSY. The reason is the wide gulf between racial social classifications and self-classifications among Latinos. Many Mexicans, Puerto R/cans, and Cubans share an aversion to self-identification as Black to such an extent that members of each group with dark complexions frequently will self-report their race as White, bypassing "intermediate' categories (e.g., "brown," "mulatto").( n17) Thus, it is important that interviewers also provide their own coding of an individual's race and phenotypical attributes to establish how he or she is most likely to be perceived in the general society.
Sorting between the effects of race and SES on health outcomes is a tricky business as well. An excellent recent study conducted by Darrick Hamilton (unpublished data, 2000) sought to explain racial differences in infant mortality rates. The Black rate persistently is more than double the White rate. Hamilton found that socioeconomic attributes and demographic and geographical differences did not provide an explanation of the higher Black infant mortality rate. Indeed, more than 4 times the disparity in rates remained unexplained by this set of factors, leading Hamilton to conclude that there are racial differences in access to prenatal care that must reside at the heart of the infant mortality gap.
Similarly, David Williams points out that although "low-income whites have rates of heart disease that are about twice as high as those of high-income blacks ... racial differences in heart disease persist at every level of SES."( n18)(p3) According to Williams, this is suggestive of a discriminatory environment that operates to create a Black health disadvantage in 2 ways.( n18)
First, current economic circumstances of Black men and women do not provide a gauge of their exposure to economic disadvantage over the course of their lifetime. This effect, associated with life cycle conditions, would be reinforced by intergenerational transmission of resources and prospects for well-being. Using the Integrated Public Use Micro-Sample, which includes all available censuses from 1850 to the present, Jason Dietrich, David Guilkey, and I have shown that powerful group-based legacy effects are present in American labor markets.( n19) We found that the human capital characteristics and degree of labor market discrimination faced by groups' ethnic ancestors during the period 1880 to 1910 had powerful effects on the occupational outcomes of theft descendants a full century later. One might expect such a pattern to translate into intergroup differences in health outcomes as well.
Second, Williams observed that, as a result of the processes of discrimination, "blacks are less able than whites to translate economic status into desirable resources in society." He continued: "In 1990, for example, among persons working full time in the labor force, white males who graduated from high school had a median annual income that was $6000 more than black males and $5000 more than Hispanic males.... Research also reveals that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are lower in SES and desirable neighborhood amenities."( n18)(p4)
Typically, however, SES measures involve controls for personal or family income but not the measure of class difference that is most pronounced for Blacks and Whites: wealth. Wealth is a stock concept rather than the flow concept associated with income, and it includes property holdings (e.g., real estate) as well as financial assets (e.g., stocks and bonds). The highest reported estimate of the mean ratio of Black wealth to White wealth is 0.25. Some studies place the ratio of median Black to White wealth at zero.( n20)(pp179-180)Williams made a similar point:
[A]lthough there are large racial differences in income, focusing on income differences grossly understates the tree racial differences in economic circumstances. ... [R]acial differences in wealth are much larger than racial differences in income and these disparities persist at all levels of income.... [A]mong persons who fall into the lowest quintile of income, the median net worth of whites is $10,000 compared to one dollar for African Americans.( n18)(p4)
Thus, an important but unanswered set of questions includes the following: How can we improve the caliber of our attempts to control for SES in research on racial disparities by incorporating information about wealth? How long (for how many generations) would racial differences in health outcomes such as infant mortality or heart disease persist if the wealth gap were dosed by raising the Black wealth profile? Is wealth redistribution according to race a vital strategy for improving health outcomes among Blacks? To what extent would discriminatory processes continue to inhibit improvement in Black health outcomes if the wealth gap were dosed?
Finally, Thomas LaViest outlined the connection between residential segregation and adverse health outcomes among Black Americans:
A study of the effect of racial residential segregation on race differences in infant mortality in U.S. dries found that the Black infant mortality rate was higher and the White rate lower in highly segregated cities.... Although the empirical link between segregation and mortality is relatively straightforward, the specific mechanisms that connect these variables are less direct. Previous studies have demonstrated a greater prevalence of negative social conditions in many highly segregated African American urban communities. These studies have shown that such communities are highly toxic environments ... that are not well served by basic city services ... and that lack adequate medical services.... A recent study also demonstrates an excessive availability of alcohol in greatly segregated dries.... Thus, racial segregation is an indication of the magnitude of the differences in material conditions in which African Americans and Whites live in the same city. A wide racial divide in exposure to these conditions measured by racial segregation is manifested in racial differences in health outcomes.( n21)(p151)
Such segregation is maintained through discrimination in housing and real estate markets, documented most comprehensively in audit studies conducted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.( n22)
Part of the impairment in terms of Black American health resulting from segregation can be attributed to the lower income levels and greater incidence of concentrated poverty in many predominantly Black communities. However, there is a salient dimension linked to race and lack of political power. The absence of accessible, high-quality hospital or health care services is a function of metropolitan political decisions regarding allocation of resources. And race plays a role in determinations of which communities are given priority, with Black communities frequently on the short end of the stick. That stick becomes shorter still as the growing diversity of American society expands the range of groups with legitimate claims for redress of their grievances.( n21)(p153)
In concluding, a companion issue that needs to be addressed is that of advocacy. In the case of monitoring of Black health affairs, there is no federal watchdog unit that possesses credibility and influence. Clovis Semmes recently advocated restoration of a version of Booker T Washington's National Negro Health Week movement and the renewed publication of a modern equivalent of the National Negro Health News, first published at Tuskegee Institute in the early part of the 20th century and then taken over by the US Public Health Service until its demise.( n23)
The eventual demise of National Negro Health News was associated with the elimination of the Office of Negro Health Work, an event being examined by psychologist Shawn Thompson, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. According to Thompson, the Office of Negro Health Work maintained a spotlight not only on health conditions among Blacks but on strategies for improving Black health from its inception through its subsumption by the US Public Health Service during the interval between 1932 and 1950. In I950 it was dosed, ostensibly because, in the gravitation toward a color-blind society, there was no need to maintain a federal unit focused on the health needs of a single group. The disparities between Blacks and the larger society had not been eliminated, however, and the social conditions facing Blacks remained distinctive. In a color-fair society, the Office of Negro Health Work would have been maintained and its activities expanded.
Thus, one part of a new research agenda must involve a focus on the issue of how to design and establish an effective federal advocacy unit for Black health that will incorporate a broad view of the causes and consequences of racial disparities in health. There is also a need to develop a new longitudinal data set that encompasses from the outset individuals in a wider age range than, for example, the NLSY (in its first round of interviews, the NLSY targeted youths, therefore interviewing individuals aged 14 to 22 years). Such a data set would provide researchers with detailed information about respondents' economic characteristics (work histories, income and wealth status), demographic characteristics (age, sex, neighborhood, race, ancestry), self-reported physical health, scores on standardized tests of achievement, and mental well-being.
Careful attention should lead to the design of a survey that provides information about individuals' perceptions of their exposure to discrimination in a variety of arenas--especially the workplace and the housing market--as well as their phenotypical attributes, particularly their skin shade. An ideal survey design would also enable researchers to assess respondents' educational backgrounds as well as obtain information regarding their parents' and grandparents' occupations, educational status, and income levels. In addition, such a survey would provide data on individual's (and their parents') economic characteristics.
Thus, there is a need for a single data set that would enable us to trace the connections between health outcomes and discrimination, both perceptually and in terms of statistical measures of discrimination, while controlling for a wide range of factors that we now consider pertinent. My recommendations of future directions involve developing a new institution whose focus is on Black health conditions and developing a new database that will facilitate a comprehensive investigation of the links between race, ethnicity, labor market outcomes, and mental and physical well-being.
Exploring the Relationships Between Racial/Cultural Identity and Ego Identity Among African Americans and Mexican Americans. By: Miville, Marie L.; Koonce, Danel; Darlington, Pat; Whitlock, Brian. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development, Oct2000, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p208, 17p, 3 charts; (AN 3688696)
Relationships between collective identity and ego identity were examined among 299 African American and Mexican American university students. Participants completed scales measuring racial or cultural identity and ego identity. Regression analyses indicated that ego identity was significantly related to racial identity for African Americans and cultural identity for Mexican Americans.
Recently, collective identity models have been proposed that describe the quality of identification with one's presumed social or demographic groups (e.g., racial or cultural identity). These models propose that individuals do not react identically to conditions of discrimination and exploitation, but develop different schema or strategies for interpreting such experiences (Helms, 1990, 1995). A core aspect of these collective identity models is that individuals experience conflict regarding their collective identities that may result in a variety of identity resolutions (Miville & Helms, 1996). Many studies have investigated how collective identities are significantly related to various aspects of personality, such as self-actualization and psychological functioning (e.g., Carter, 1990; Helms, 1990; Parham & Helms, 1985a, 1985b). For example, African Americans with a positive racial identity may have higher self-esteem and feelings of inner security than those who have a more conflicted or distorted racial identity (Parham & Helms, 1985a, 1985b). In contrast, African Americans whose identity is dominated by a European American frame of reference may have lower self-esteem and think, act, and behave in ways that devalue their racial identity (Parham & Helms, 1985a, 1985b).
Turner (1987) proposed that collective identities represent one level of abstraction of the self-concept, one's overall organization of knowledge regarding oneself (Schlenker, 1985). According to Turner, other levels or aspects of the self-concept include (a) identity based on membership in the human race and (b) identity based on oneself as a unique individual, or personal identity (Turner, 1987). Personal identity in the present article will refer to identity traditionally conceptualized by Erikson (1968) and Marcia (1980) as those identifications pertaining to oneself as a unique individual living in the larger society (also known as ego identity). Turner further speculated that these different levels may be interrelated (e.g., personal identity may be related to collective identity), although he did not provide empirical support for this notion.
Several theorists and mental health practitioners (e.g., Casas, Wagenheim, Banchero, & Mendoza-Romero, 1994; Helms, 1985; Miville & Helms, 1996; Tajfel, 1981; Tajfel & Turner, 1986; Vasquez, 1984) have proposed that collective identities are a significant component of one's self-concept, especially for members of nondominant or subjugated demographic groups. Because of the history of sociopolitical subordination that people of color may have experienced and the ensuing psychological work in which they may engage to create a more positive racial or cultural identity, racial or cultural identity may become a psychologically central or salient part of the self-concepts of this group of people (Miville & Helms, 1996). Thus, how an individual identifies as a racial or cultural being, particularly if he or she has to work at feeling positively about their racial or cultural characteristics, may significantly influence how they identify as a unique individual (regarding, for example, personal values and beliefs, political ideology, and perhaps career choice; Marcia, 1980).
Identity at the personal level generally has been conceptualized as a dynamic integration of childhood identifications focusing on the self as a unique individual in the larger society that allows one to interact with others and at the same time maintain an internal sense of continuity (Erikson, 1968; Marcia, 1966). Marcia (1966,1980) defined one of the most well-known models of identity at the personal level, the Ego Identity Status (EIS) Model, which focuses on two basic processes--crisis and commitment. Ego identity is theoretically anchored in a variety of personally relevant domains, such as Occupation, Political Ideology, and Interpersonal Relationships (Marcia, 1980). Several studies have examined how ego identity is related to other aspects of personality, such as self-actualization, anxiety, and achievement needs. For example, Individuals who have an achieved ego identity (i.e., who have experienced both crisis and commitment) have lower levels of anxiety and higher levels of self-actualization than do individuals who are in crisis regarding their Identity (Marcia, 1980).
Some research indicates that racial and cultural themes may influence the ego identity of people of color. For example, Phinney and Alipuria (1990) found that both African Americans and Mexican Americans self-reported race-ethnicity as an Important or very important Identity area to explore and resolve, whereas White American participants rated this area as least Important. Aries and Moorehead (1989) also found that race, when investigated as a domain of ego identity, was the most important of all identity domains in self-definition among a sample of African Americans.
Unfortunately, few studies have directly examined the relationship between racial or cultural identity, as defined by Cross (1971) and Helms (1990,1995), with the EIS model. That is, it would be interesting to explore whether Identity at the collective level ls significantly related to identity at the personal level. For example, it is possible that periods of conflict with respect to racial or cultural identity might predict similar periods of crisis in ego identity (see Table 1), presumably because of the psychological salience of conflicts at the collective level. It also might be interesting to examine whether resolutions of collective identity conflicts predict resolutions of ego identity crises and whether these resolutions reflect similar themes. We view conflict at the collective identity level and crisis at the ego identity level as generally analogous processes.
A recent study (Miville & Helms, 1996) examined the relationship between cultural identity and ego identity for Hispanics of primarily Cuban and Central or South American origin. They found that, as predicted, cultural identity conflicts predicted ego Identity crises. That is, at the same time that Hispanics were experiencing conflict about defining themselves as Hispanics (i.e., defining their cultural identity), they were also experiencing a crisis about defining themselves as unique individuals (i.e., constructing an ego identity). Miville and Helms (1996) also found that the themes of cultural Identity resolutions predicted similar themes of ego identity resolutions; cultural identity commitment predicted ego identity commitment and cultural identity conformity to societal values predicted ego identity conformity to parental values.
These findings point to a need to further examine how collective Identities might be related to ego identity among various racial and ethnic groups. It is even possible that collective identities may serve as psychological guides for defining one's overall self-concept, at least for members of historically oppressed groups who psychologically work to define positive collective identities. This information would be of great value to counselors seeking to provide effective interventions to clients from these groups.
The present studies extended research conducted by Miville & Helms (1996) by focusing on African Americans and Mexican Americans. The purpose of the present studies was to examine how collective identity (i.e., racial and cultural Identity) predicted ego identity among these groups. The following hypotheses were explored.
Differentiation was made between identity resolutions in Hypotheses 2 and 3 in that the former hypothesis focused on internally oriented resolutions for racial and cultural identity and ego identity, whereas the latter hypothesis focused on externally oriented resolutions. Externally oriented resolutions may occur by adopting either majority (White-Anglo) or minority (Black-Hispanic) cultural values; the primary focus is conforming to external standards. We would like to note that although Marcia (1980) originally differentiated between a confused ego identity status (i.e., Diffusion) and an ego identity status marked by crisis (i.e., Moratorium), the differential measurement of these identities has proven difficult (Bennion & Adams, 1986). As a result, the current hypotheses treat both statuses similarly regarding predicted relationships with collective identity statuses.
Study 1 examined the relationship between racial Identity and ego identity among African American college students. As mentioned previously, racial identity has been linked with several aspects of personality functioning (e.g., Carter, 1990). Thus, it was believed that racial identity would be significantly related to different aspects of ego identity.
Participants were from a historically Black college in the South. Participants (N= 104) had a mean age of 21 years (SD = 4.31 years), and most were women (56%) and enrolled as full-time students (95%). Approximately half of the students were freshmen (51%); 18% were sophomores, 18% were juniors, and 13% were seniors.
The demographic data sheet created for the study Included multiple choice and open-ended questions regarding the participants' demographic background (e.g., age, school status, major area of study, household income, mother's and father's highest degree, and work status).
The Black Racial Identity Attitude Scale (BRIAS; Helms, 1990, 1995) is a widely used 50-item, self-report measure of racial identity attitudes of African Americans. Subscales reflect the stages of racial identity development proposed by Cross (1971). Participants respond to items using a 5-point, Likert-type scale, and items are assigned to four subscales: (a) Pre-Encounter, internalizing White/Anglo culture while denying/distorting one's own racial (African American) self, (b) Encounter, conscious awareness that the previous White/Anglo racial view is not viable and of the need to find another racial identity, (c) Immersion/Emersion, embracing African American/Black culture and rejecting White culture, as well as developing one's own positive, nonstereotypical African American view of the world, and (d) Internalization/Commitment, reflecting a resolution of racial identity conflicts and the integration of a positive racial identity. Higher scores on each subscale denote stronger expression of the respective status.
Coefficient alphas of the BRIAS estimating internal consistency obtained in the present study were .75 (Pre-Encounter), .35 (Encounter), .59 (Immersion/Emersion), and .59 (Internalization/Commitment). Lemon and Waehler (1996) and Fischer, Tokar, and Serna (1998) obtained similar acceptable reliability coefficients for the Pre-Encounter, Immersion/Emersion, and Internalization subscales, but not for the Encounter subscale. Means and standard deviations of the BRIAS obtained here were M = 39.16, SD = 9.03 (Pre-Encounter); M = 16.31, SD = 3.24 (Encounter); M = 27.24, SD = 5.6 (Immersion/Emersion); and M = 54.60, SD = 6.38 (Internalization/Commitment).
As evidence of the construct validity of the BRIAS, Lemon and Waehler (1996) found that self esteem scores were positively correlated with Internalization scores and negatively correlated with Pre-Encounter and Immersion/Emersion scores. All correlations were significant at the .05 level of significance. Fischer, Tokar, and Serna (1998) also obtained mixed but generally supportive evidence for the construct validity of the BRIAS instrument through tests of the relationships between the BRIAS and social desirability, anger, within-group contact, and social comparison techniques. However, although recent findings seem to provide support for the construct validity of the Pre-Encounter, Immersion/Emersion, and Internalization subscales, the construct validity of the Encounter subscale seems questionable. Nonetheless, because the BRIAS remains the primary instrument available for measuring differential statuses of racial identity for African Americans, it was included here.
The Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (EOM-EIS; Bennion & Adams, 1986) was used to measure the presence of crisis and commitment in eight personally relevant domains (i.e., Occupation, Politics, Dating, Religion, Philosophical Lifestyle, Friendship, Gender Roles, and Recreation). The scale is based on the ego identity status paradigm proposed by Marcia (1966,1980). The EOM-EIS contains 64 Likert-type items that represent four subscales. These subscales are (a) Achievement, which measures identity crisis and commitment to identity-defining values in personally relevant areas; (b) Moratorium, which is marked by the presence of crisis and a search for commitment; (c) Foreclosure, which reflects a commitment to identity-defining values generally based on parental values and desires in the absence of crisis; and (d) Diffusion, which is the absence of both crisis and commitment. Each subscale includes 2 items for each of the eight identity domains for a total of 16 items for each ego identity subscale. Higher scores denote higher levels of that identity type.
Bennion and Adams (1986) obtained Cronbach alphas for the EOM-EIS subscales ranging from .58 to .80. Miville & Helms (1996) obtained coefficient alphas ranging from. 73 to. 88 on the EOM-EIS, again indicating adequate levels of internal consistency. Alphas for the EOM-EIS in the present study were also adequate: .65 (Achievement), .71 (Moratorium), .80 (Foreclosure), and .60 (Diffusion). Means and standard deviations for the EOM-EIS were M = 63.30, SD = 11.49 (Achievement); M = 49.20, SD = 10.22 (Moratorium); M = 43.17, SD = 11.69 (Foreclosure); and M = 45.88, SD = 8.54 (Diffusion).
Miville and Helms (1996) found that Achievement was either uncorrelated or significantly negatively correlated with all other scales for their Hispanic sample. Meanwhile, Diffusion, Foreclosure, and Moratorium were all significantly positively correlated with each other. These results, consistent with theory, indicated the construct validity of the EOM-EIS for at least one racial--ethnic minority group, Hispanics--Latinos. Generally, the present study replicated this pattern of correlations for the sample of African Americans, providing further evidence of the construct validity of the EOM-EIS.
Packets containing the instruments were distributed during classes by faculty members who agreed to administer the study. After reading and signing an informed consent form, students were asked to complete the packet in class and return it to the administrator. Students were then given a debriefing form.
Regression analyses were conducted for each ego identity status (Achievement, Moratorium, Foreclosure, and Diffusion). For each of these analyses, the racial identity statuses were entered together as a block of independent variables. Thus, the BRIAS racial identity subscales (Pre-Encounter, Encounter, Immersion/Emersion, and Internalization) were the independent variables in the prediction of each of the EOM-EIS scales (Achievement, Moratorium, Foreclosure, and Diffusion). For each analysis, the significance levels of beta weights of the subscales were examined to determine which of the racial identity subscales (e.g., Pre-Encounter or Internalization) significantly contributed to the variance explained in the dependent variable. It should be emphasized that this analysis was exploratory, therefore, the order of entry within the block of racial identity variables was not specified in advance. To avoid an inflated risk of Type I error, a Bonferroni adjusted significance level of .01 was used for each of the overall F statistics. Table 2 shows a summary of the regression analyses that were conducted for each EOM-EIS subscale using the BRIAS subscales as predictors.
Overall, racial identity predicted significant amounts of variance in three of four ego identity statuses: Achievement, Moratorium, and Diffusion. Specifically, the BRIAS explained 8% of the variance in Achievement, F (1,91) = 7.87, p < .01, with Internalization significantly contributing to the amount of variance explained: beta = .28, t (91) = 2.8, p < .01. The BRIAS also explained 9%, F(1,90) = 9.17, p < .003 and 7%, F(1,93) = 7.43, p < .01, respectively, in the predictions of Moratorium and Diffusion. The Pre-Encounter subscale was the best predictor of both Moratorium and Diffusion variables: beta = .35, t (93) = 3.03, p < .003 and beta = .27, t(91) = 2.73, p < .01, respectively. None of the BRIAS subscales predicted a significant amount of variance in Foreclosure.
Results indicate that racial identity was significantly linked with ego identity for the sample of African Americans, although the relationships were somewhat weak. As expected, a positive racial identity significantly predicted ego identity achievement. This finding indicates that internalizing a positive image of oneself as a racial being is critical to making commitments in personally relevant domains. Thus, it seems that resolving conflicts regarding racial issues (e.g., externalizing racism, becoming connected with similar others) may help one resolve crises and make commitments in more personally relevant domains.
Unexpectedly, ego identity crisis (Moratorium) and confusion (Diffusion) were linked with Pre-Encounter racial identity attitudes. This indicates that more naive and White-oriented racial identity attitudes were linked with experiencing ego identity crisis and exploration. One explanation is that the psychological impact of holding White-oriented attitudes (e.g., Carter, 1990) might be experienced at a more personal level, that is, as crisis or confusion about oneself as an individual. Another interpretation regarding the link with Moratorium is that the more Eurocentric attitudes of Pre-Encounter might be linked with a psychological focus on the self as an individual rather than as a racial being. One result of a focus on the self as an individual is that psychological energy is used to deal with identity crises at the personal versus the collective level of self-concept.
Study 2 examined the relationship between cultural (Hispanic) identity and ego identity. The study extended research conducted by Miville and Helms (1996) who examined this relationship in Hispanics living in southern Florida. The present study included Mexican Americans living in the southwestern part of the United States.
Participants were recruited from several colleges and universities in the Southwest in which student populations were predominantly Mexican American. Participants (N = 195) had a mean age of 19 years (SD = 2.42 years) and were mostly women (67%). The large majority of participants were enrolled as full-time students (99%), and most students were freshmen (74%). Most of the participants and their parents had been born in the United States. English was the first language for approximately 50% of participants; 30% learned Spanish first, and 20% were bilingual. Most students currently spoke only English (52%), although nearly 40% were bilingual.
The demographic data sheet created for the study included multiple choice and open-ended questions regarding the participants' demographic background (e.g. age, school status, major area of study, household income, mother's and father's highest degree, and work status). Other information was collected concerning parents' and grandparents' countries of origin, native languages, and languages currently spoken. The information was collected for descriptive purposes.
The Visible Racial/Ethnic Identity Attitude Scale (VIAS; Helms & Carter, 1985) was used to measure the cultural identity of students who identified themselves as Hispanic-Latino. The VIAS is an adaptation of the BRIAS, with the term Hispanic substituted for the term Black (Miville & Helms, 1996). The 50 items of this self-report scale were rated on a 5-point, Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). As with the BRIAS, subscales of the VIAS represent different types of collective identity conflict and resolution. Scores were summed across each subscale, with higher scores denoting a stronger expression of the corresponding cultural identity attitude. The subscales were: (a) Conformity, internalizing White/Anglo culture while denying or distorting one's own cultural (Hispanic) self, (b) Dissonance/Introspection, involving cultural identity conflict fueled by a desire to reject negative stereotypes about Hispanics as well as negative or rigid positive stereotypes regarding Anglo culture, (c) Immersion, involving the embracing of Hispanic culture and the rejection of Anglo culture, and (d) Awareness, reflecting the process of internally resolving cultural identity conflicts and integrating a positive Hispanic cultural identity.
Canabal (1995) found internal consistency estimates for the VIAS ranged from .74 to .82, whereas Miville and Helms (1996) obtained coefficient alphas of .71 to .83. Alphas in the present study were indicative of adequate internal consistency for the modified VIAS: .72 (Conformity), .73 (Dissonance/Introspection), .83 (Immersion), and .65 (Awareness). Means and standard deviations of the scales were M = 22.42, SD = 5.35 (Conformity); M = 33.36, SD = 6.89 (Dissonance/Introspection); M = 36.67, SD = 8.29 (Immersion), and M = 43.99, SD = 4.20 (Awareness).
Intercorrelations of VIAS subscales, an indicator of the scale's construct validity, obtained by Miville and Helms (1996) were similar to those of Canabal (1995). These correlations were generally in the predicted directions. The Conformity, Dissonance/Introspection, and Immersion scales had significant positive correlations with each other, except for the Conformity/Immersion correlation, which was negative and nonsignificant. Awareness scores were negatively related or unrelated to Conformity and Dissonance/Introspection (Miville & Helms, 1996). Similar intercorrelations were found in the present study. Canabal also found that the VIAS was a significant predictor of personal and collective self-esteem in a manner consistent with theoretical predictions.
The Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (EOM-EIS; Bennion & Adams, 1986) described in Study i was also used in the present study to assess ego identity. Alphas for the EOM-EIS in the present study were adequate: .64 (Achievement), .73 (Moratorium), .88 (Foreclosure), and .65 (Diffusion). Intercorrelations of the EOM-EIS here replicated those obtained by Miville & Helms (1996), providing some construct validity of the EOM-EIS for Mexican Americans. Means and standard deviations of the EOM-EIS for Study 2 were M = 63.22, SD = 11.48 (Achievement); M = 52.04, SD = 10.42 (Moratorium); M = 39.79, SD = 13.09 (Foreclosure); M = 47.01, SD = 8.70 (Diffusion).
Packets containing the instruments were distributed during classes by faculty members who agreed to administer the study. After reading and signing an informed consent form, students were asked to complete the packet in class and return it to the administrator. Students were then given a debriefing form.
As in Study l, regression analyses were conducted for each type of ego identity status. For each of these analyses, the cultural identity statuses were entered together as a block of independent variables. Thus, the four subscales of the VIAS (Conformity, Dissonance/Introspection, Immersion, and Awareness) served as the independent variables in the prediction of each of the EOM-EIS scales (Achievement, Moratorium, Foreclosure, and Diffusion). For each analysis, the significance levels of beta weights of the subscales were examined to determine which of the cultural identity subscales significantly contributed to variance explained in the dependent variable. Table 3 is a summary of the regression analyses that were conducted for each EOM-EIS subscale using the VIAS subscales as-predictors. To avoid inflated risk of Type I error, a Bonferroni adjusted significance level of .01 was used for each of the overall F statistics.
The four subscales of the VIAS (Conformity, Dissonance/Introspection, Immersion, and Awareness) were entered together as the predictors in the equation for the EOM-EIS Achievement subscale and accounted for 13% of the variance in Achievement, F(1,171) = 26.89, p < .0001. Awareness significantly and positively contributed to the amount of variance explained in Achievement: beta = .36, t (171) = 5.19, p < .001. In the second set of analyses, 21% of the variance in Moratorium was explained by the VIAS, F(1,170) = 46.40, p < .0001, with Dissonance/Introspection significantly contributing to the amount of variance explained: beta = .46, t(170) = 6.81, p < .001. In the third set of analyses, the block of VIAS variables explained 5% of the variance in Foreclosure, F(1,170) = 9.38, p < .003, with Immersion significantly contributing to amount of variance explained: beta = .23, t(170) = 3.06, p < .003. Finally, in the fourth set of analyses, the Diffusion subscale of the EOM-EIS was the dependent variable. According to this analysis, the block of VIAS variables explained 13% of the variance in Diffusion, F(1,170) = 26.29, p < .0001, with Dissonance/Introspection significantly and positively contributing to the amount of variance explained: beta = .37, t(170) = 5.13, p < .001.
The results of Study 2 closely replicated those obtained by Miville & Helms (1996) in their study of the relationship between cultural and ego identity among Hispanics; current findings indicate a fairly strong relationship between cultural identity and ego identity for Mexican Americans. As predicted, positive cultural identity predicted an achieved ego identity. This means that themes of successful resolution of cultural identity were linked with making commitments among ego identity domains.
Also as predicted, cultural identity conflicts (Dissonance/Introspection) predicted both ego identity crisis (Moratorium) and confusion (Diffusion), demonstrating that resolving cultural and ego identities may be parallel processes. That is, for Mexican Americans, these differing types of identity may be somewhat intertwined in times of crisis and conflict. Also, as predicted, Immersion attitudes predicted "foreclosed ego identity resolution." Foreclosure represents the adoption of parental values, and Immersion attitudes reflect the embracing of traditional Hispanic/Latino values. One critically important cultural value for Hispanics, including Mexican Americans, is familismo, a component of which might include the adoption of parental values (Levine & Padilla, 1980; Sue & Sue, 1999). These findings suggest that Foreclosure for Mexican Americans may represent a more healthy ego identity resolution through the adoption of parental cultural values.
Several authors have argued that both African Americans and Mexican Americans have developed collective identities (racial or cultural) based on their respective group's history of exposure to widespread and continuing discrimination (Helms, 1990, 1995; Miville & Helms, 1996). These identities were proposed in the present study to be related to other aspects of the self-concept, including ego identity. Therefore, it was predicted that for both African Americans and Mexican Americans, racial and cultural identity would be significantly related to ego identity.
For African Americans and Mexican Americans, both racial identity and cultural identity significantly related to all four ego identity statuses, except for Foreclosure with racial identity for African Americans.
Regarding specific identity statuses, the study yielded several interesting findings:
These findings are intriguing in both the similarities and differences found between African Americans and Mexican Americans. For both groups, it seems that achieving an ego identity was predicted by achieving a positive racial or cultural identity. That is, making commitments about oneself as an individual coincided with internal resolutions about oneself as a racial or cultural being. This finding is important, although not surprising, given the psychological salience that racial or cultural identity may have attained in the overall self-concept. Salience likely results from the psychological work in creating a positive sense of self based on race or culture. This positive sense of self as a racial being might then extend to making commitments in ego identity domains, such as politics, dating, and even occupation.
Despite the exploratory nature of the present studies, our findings indicate that current models of identity and the self-concept need to be revised. Traditional models of the self-concept, and in particular, ego identity (Erikson, 1968; Marcia, 1980), have tended to ignore the potential impact that experiences with racism have on the lives of members of the affected groups. The present studies demonstrate that psychological reactions to these experiences significantly influence another aspect of the self-concept, ego identity, at least for African Americans and Mexican Americans. In addition, the nature of these relationships was affected by the type and quality of identification with collective identity (e.g., internalized versus externalized).
Counselors must, thus, be able to be aware of the psychological impact that collective experiences may have on the psyche of their clients. The current findings indicate that the processes of search and commitment at the collective identity level (racial or cultural) may affect similar processes at the personal level. It is also possible that the opposite might be true. That is, ego identity search and resolution may affect collective identity search and resolution. Or, perhaps, some theoretical combination of the two levels better represents the process of overall identity development (Cross & Fhagen-Smith, 1995; Frable, 1997; Robinson, 1993). That is, it may be more accurate to conceptualize identity development at the various levels (collective and personal; Turner, 1987) as being mutually interactive and influential, depending on the time and circumstance.
The Relationship Between Racial Identity Cluster Profiles and Psychological Distress Among African American College Students. By: Neville, Helen A.; Lilly, Roderick L.. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development, Oct2000, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p194, 14p, 2 charts, 1 graph; (AN 3688695
One hundred eighty-two African American college students completed the Racial Identity Attitudes Scale. Results from the multivariate categorization scheme revealed 5 types of empirically derived racial identity attitude profiles: "dissonance internalization" (34%), "committed internalization" (30%), "engaged internalization" (21%), "undifferentiated racial identity" (8%), and "dormant racial identity" (7%). The profiles significantly differed on Brief Symptom Inventory subscale scores.
In the past two decades, there has been increased attention given to the racial identity development of African Americans. An area that has received increasing attention in the literature has been Helms's racial identity theory and the corresponding Racial Identity Attitudes Scale (RIAS; Helms & Parham, 1990). Building on Cross's (1971,1978) model of Nigrescence, Helms has conceptualized African American identity development as a dynamic maturation process through which African Americans understand themselves in the context of a race-based society by moving from internalization of negative racial messages to adoption of a positive racial group orientation (Helms & Parham, 1990; Helms & Piper, 1994). This process includes one's interpretation of racial information and also one's attitudes, cognitions, and behaviors toward one's own racial group, other racial groups, and the dominant racial group (i.e., White; Carter, 1996). The RIAS is designed to assess African Americans' racial identity schemata and measures the following theoretically derived statuses: (a) Conformity (formerly known as Pre-Encounter), which involves the internalization of negative societal racial stereotypes and the idealization of Whites; (b) Dissonance (formerly known as Encounter), which is characterized by racial confusion and involves increased awareness of racism; (c) Immersion/Emersion, which involves the idealization of Blackness while denigrating Whiteness; and (d) Internalization, which is the integration of a positive Black identity.
A growing body of literature has provided support for Helms's theoretical assertion that greater internalization of a positive racial identity is related to better adjustment. Generally, studies have found that anti-Black/pro-White (Conformity) or anti-white/pro-Black (Immersion/Emersion) or both attitudes are associated with lower levels of psychological well-being (Carter, 1991; Parham & Helms, 1985a, 1985b; Pyant & Yanico, 1991; Wilson & Constantine, 1999). For example, Neville, Heppner, and Wang (1997) found that higher Immersion/Emersion attitudes were associated with greater perceived stressors and less effective problem-solving appraisal. Conversely, studies have also found that higher levels of a positive Black identity (Internalization) are associated with greater psychological health (e.g., Wilson & Constantine, 1999). For example, Martin and Nagayama-Hall (1992) found that Internalization attitudes were related to increased internal locus of control, and Jackson and Neville (1998) found that increased comfort with one's racial identity (Internalization) was related to greater perceived hope in setting and achieving goals. Although most studies have produced results in the expected direction, it is important to mention that a few published studies have found little or no relationship between racial identity attitude schemata and adjustment variables. Carter, DeSole, Sicalides, Glass, and Tyler's (1997) research is a recent example; they found that RIAS was not significantly related to psychosocial competencies.
Helms (1995,1996) argued that African Americans have attitudes, cognitions, and behaviors from each of the racial identity statuses. However, few studies have attempted to examine African Americans' composite racial identity schemata or the underlying dimensions of their racial identity patterns. Carter (1996) was the only published study that we were able to locate that used a cluster analysis to examine the level, pattern, and shape of RIAS scores among an African American sample. He found three distinct clusters of racial identity attitudes: (a) Pro-White (mostly internalized negative beliefs about Blacks and relatively little internalization of a positive, Black identity); (b) Racial Confusion (significant endorsement of all four racial identity statuses); and (c) Racial Pride (mostly shaped by Internalization attitudes). Carter (1996) significantly contributes to the literature by examining the complexity of racial identity attitudes. However, Carter delimited his study to identifying underlying themes and did not examine the relationship between the multidimensional categories and outcome variables, such as psychological distress.
The purpose of the present study was, thus, to build on Carter's (1996) innovative research and to identify nominal racial identity categorical profiles using clustering techniques and to determine if these categories were related to psychological health among African American college students. Clustering techniques allowed us to consider the differential effects of level, shape, and scatter of the RIAS scores and, moreover, assisted in the classification of types. On the basis of Carter's (1996) findings, we hypothesized that we would find homogeneous profiles of racial identity attitudes as measured by the RIAS (Hypothesis 1). Just as Carter (1996) as well as the literature suggesting greater endorsement of internalization attitudes among college students has done, we hypothesized that there would be at least one cluster reflecting greater endorsement of a positive Black racial identity in our study sample (Hypothesis 2). Conversely, we predicted that at least one of the clusters would reflect a less defined or evolved racial identity profile (Hypothesis 3). We also wanted to extend Carter's (1996) work by exploring whether the profiles were related to indices of psychological distress. On the basis of racial identity theoretical principles articulated by Helms, we predicted that the cluster profile or profiles that reflected greater internalization of a positive, Black racial identity would be related to less psychological distress when compared with the cluster profile or profiles reflecting a less defined or evolved racial identity schemata (Hypothesis 4).
Participants were 182 (123 women and 59 men) undergraduate
African American college students attending one of two predominantly White universities in the Midwest. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 39 years, with a mean age of 19.46 (SD = 3.14). The majority (59%) of the participants were first-year students; about 14% of the sample were sophomores, 16% were juniors, and 11% were seniors.
In addition to a brief demographic data sheet, covering, for example, age, sex, and academic standing, participants completed two self-report measures.
Racial identity attitudes. The RIAS (Helms & Parham, 1990) was used to assess participants' levels of racial identity attitudes. The RIAS is designed to assess four racial Identity statuses: Conformity (Pre-Encounter: pro-White and anti-Black attitudes), Dissonance (Encounter: racial confusion and commitment to explore a Black racial identity), Immersion/Emersion (pro-Black and anti-White attitudes), and Internalization (internalization of a positive Black identity). The 50-item Instrument (long form) has 11 filler items and is rated on a 5-point, Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Results of a factor analysis have provided initial support for the four subscales; sample items include Conformity (e.g., "I feel Black people do not have as much to be proud of as White people do"), Dissonance (e.g., "I am determined to find my Black identity"), Immersion/Emersion (e.g., "I believe that everything that is Black is good, and consequently, I limit myself to Black activities"), and Internalization (e.g., "I feel good about being Black but not limiting myself to Black activities"). Subscale averages are calculated with higher scores indicating more endorsement of the status. The Internal consistency coefficients have ranged from .50 (Dissonance) to .79 (Internalization) (Helms, 1990). The alpha coefficients for this sample ranged from .35 (Dissonance) to .88 (Conformity). Subscale scores have been found to be related to psychological indices in predictable ways. For example, lower statuses have been found to be related to higher levels of depression (Munford, 1994), anxiety, and hypersensitivity (Parham & Helms, 1985b).
Psychological distress. The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis & Spencer, 1982) is a widely used instrument designed to assess psychological distress in nine domains: Somatization, Obsessive-Compulsiveness, Interpersonal Sensitivity, Depression, Anxiety, Hostility, Phobia, Anxiety, Paranoid Ideation, and Psychoticism. Three global indices are also assessed: Global Severity Index (GSI), Positive Symptom Total (PST), and Positive Symptom Distress Index (PSDI). For this study, the nine domains and the GSI were used. The 53 items are rated on a 5-point, Likert-type scale ranging from 0 (not at all distressed) to 4 (extremely distressed). Sample items include "Nervousness or shakiness inside" and "Numbness or tingling in parts of your body." Internal consistencies have been found to be acceptable and have ranged from .71 (Somatization) to .85 (Depression; Derogatis, 1993). The alpha coefficients for the current sample ranged from. 74 (Somatization) to. 86 (Depression); the internal consistency coefficient was .94 for the GSI. The BSI also has been related to several physical and psychological health indices in samples of African Americans including sleep disturbances among elderly Black women (Bazargan, 1996).
Data collection for this project occurred over a 3-year period as part of an ongoing project investigating the psychological and academic adjustment of Black college students attending predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Participants were either enrolled in one of seven Black studies courses (n = 90) or were recruited by telephone to participate in the project (n = 92). The Black studies subsample completed all of the measures used in the study, whereas the telephone recruit sample completed only the RIAS. Participants in the Black studies courses were given the surveys to complete outside the classroom; the names of students who returned completed surveys to the instructor were entered into a drawing to win a cash prize. Participants recruited by telephone completed the survey in either a group format or through the mail; these participants were given $5 each for their participation. Students were assured that their participation was voluntary and confidential. There was a 60% participation rate for both samples.
We used a k-means algorithm (Hartigan, 1975), a nonhierarchical clustering method, to test our first hypothesis that there would be distinct homogeneous profiles of racial identity attitudes. The k-means algorithm, which uses the Euclidean distance as the proximity measure, was selected because it considers the pattern and elevation of RIAS subscale scores and is sensitive to extreme profiles. The choice of our cluster solution was guided by empirical decision rules as well as conceptual and practical considerations. A 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-cluster solution was considered. According to Hartigan (1975), an increase of at least 10 in the within-cluster variance statistic (R) is needed to justify moving to a solution with more clusters. For the present sample, the criterion was satisfied for an increase of 4 (R = 24.70) to 5 (R = 35.77) clusters. Further inspection supported a conceptually distinct profile of mean RIAS subscale scores for each cluster in the solution, providing support for Hypothesis 1, and thus a 5-cluster solution was retained and used in subsequent analyses.
The descriptive statistics for the RIAS subscales by cluster membership as well as the results from the separate analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with cluster as the independent variable and each racial identity subscale score as the dependent variables are presented in Table 1. Results from the ANOVAs were all significant (p < .001), providing further support for our first hypothesis and suggesting that the clusters were empirically derived. Figure 1 depicts each cluster's ratings on the RIAS subscale scores.
We classified three of the clusters as Internalization racial identity types because of their relatively high Internalization scores and low Conformity scores, thus supporting our second hypothesis that at least one profile would reflect a positive and developed racial identity. Relative to the scale midpoint, participants in Cluster 1 (n = 38; 21%) showed high Internalization and Dissonance subscale scores, moderate Immersion/Emersion scores, and low Conformity scores. We labeled Cluster 1 the Engaged Internalization group, because the participants seemed to be confronting their racial identity and racial situations. Participants in Cluster 2 (n = 14; 8%) endorsed moderate levels of attitudes on all four of the RIAS subscales; we thus named this group Undifferentiated racial identity. We named Cluster 3 (n = 54; 30%) the Committed Internalization group, because participants showed relatively high Internalization scores and significantly lower levels of attitudes on the remaining three RIAS subscales. Participants in Cluster 4 (n = 13; 7%) endorsed low to moderate levels of attitudes on each of the RIAS subscales, and thus we named this cluster the Dormant racial identity group. Clusters 2 and 4 provide support for our third hypothesis that at least one profile would reflect a less developed racial identity. We labeled Cluster 5 (n = 62; 34%) the Dissonance Internalization group because of the very high Internalization scores, relatively high Dissonance scores, and relatively low endorsement of Conformity and Immersion/ Emersion items.
To determine if clusters differed significantly on conceptually meaningful external measures (i.e., to test Hypothesis 4), a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) with cluster as the independent variable and the 9 BSI subscales as the dependent variables was conducted on the Black studies subsample (n = 90); this sample completed each measure used in this study. Cluster 4 (Dormant racial identity) was not included in this analysis because of the small number of participants (n = 7) in this group; this means that only 7 of the 13 participants who were classified as Cluster 4 completed both the RIAS and the BSI. The results indicated that with the use of Wilks's lambda the overall MANOVA was significant, F(27,205) = 1.56, p < .05. Subsequent univariate analyses revealed a significant difference on four of the BSI subscales: Interpersonal Sensitivity, F(3,78) = 4.01, p < .01; Depression, F(3,78) = 3.48, p < .05; Paranoid Ideation, F(3,78) = 3.32, p < .05; and Psychoticism, F(3,78) = 4.99, p < .005. To determine which clusters differed on these variables, post hoc comparisons were conducted between all pairwise means using Tukey's honestly significant difference test. The cluster means for each of the nine BSI subscale scores and the results of the Tukey test are presented in Table 2. Results suggest that Cluster I generally had significantly lower Interpersonal Sensitivity and Psychotocism than Clusters 2 and 5 and less Depression than Cluster 2.
A one-way ANOVA was also conducted to determine if the clusters differed on general psychological distress as measured by the Global Severity Index (GSI). The results from the GSI analysis were significant, F(3,77) = 3.67, p < .05 (see Table 2). Similar to the previous post hoc comparisons, Cluster I generally reported lower psychological distress than did Cluster 2; this provided support for Hypothesis 4 that more secure or developed racial identity development profiles would be related to less developed racial identity profiles.
As one of the first studies intended to both identify empirically derived racial identity profiles among African American college students and to explore whether these profiles differed on psychological indices, this study contributes significantly to the racial identity literature. As predicted, using a multivariate system of classification, we identified empirically derived racial identity profile categories that had conceptual meaning and initial external validation. Using the RIAS subscale scores, we identified five homogeneous clusters of African American college students. This study, thus, contributes to the racial identity literature by providing a simple structure to describe the complex relationships among racial identity attitudes.
Our findings provide partial support for Carter's (1996) results. We replicated two of the three types of clusters he identified. Specifically, we found one cluster consistent with his Racial Confusion type, with significant endorsement of all of the statuses (we named this type Undifferentiated racial identity). We also found three clusters that were consistent with his Racial Pride type; we referred to these clusters as various aspects of an internalized racial identity profile. Unlike Carter (1996), however, we did not find a pro-White cluster with predominantly Conformity attitudes in our sample.
One of the strengths of this investigation was that it included external validation measures and, consequently, our findings have both empirical and practical implications. Regarding empirical studies, findings from previous research consistently suggest that Internalization attitudes (i.e., internalization of a positive Black identity) are associated with higher psychological functioning, including psychological closeness (Brookins, Anyabwile, & Nacoste, 1996), positive self-concept (Wilson & Constantine, 1999), and goal directed behavior (Jackson & Neville, 1998). However, in this sample, we identified three kinds of Internalization racial identity categories with differing RIAS profiles: Committed Internalization group (Cluster 3; primarily internalization of a positive Black identity), Engaged Internalization group (Cluster 1; comfort with one's racial identity and also confronting racial issues), and Dissonance Internalization group (Cluster 5; comfort with one's identity as a Black person but conflict over the meaning of being Black in a racially oppressive society). Although these clusters are similar with regard to greater internalization of what it means to be Black in a society in which racial oppression exists, there are some conceptual differences. For example, Engaged Internalization (Cluster 1) individuals might focus more on race--to frequently think about race and always be surprised by the new dimensions of racism in daily life, even though they are highly involved in Black related activities. Individuals that reflect a Committed Internalization racial identity profile (Cluster 3) are less consumed with race and issues of racism in their daily life. Although being Black is central to their identity, they may also have other social identities that they actively embrace. Individuals with a Dissonance Internalization racial identity profile (Cluster 5) are very similar to those with the preceding profile, with one primary exception: they may be more confused and conflicted by race and racism in society.
Our findings also suggest that these underlying dimensions or types are important in differentiating between people who endorse high Internalization attitudes. The distinction between the three Internalization types was found on several indices of psychological well-being. Specifically, the Engaged Internalization group (Cluster 1) reported lower levels of general psychological distress as well as psychological symptomology (i.e., Interpersonal Insensitivity and Psychoticism) than the Dissonance Internalization group (Cluster 5). Although these profiles are quite similar, they seem to differ in their endorsement of Immersion-type attitudes. It may be that when individuals express relatively high racial Dissonance, endorsement of more positive Immersion attitudes helps to enhance psychological adjustment. The Committed Internalization group (Cluster 3) reported fewer Paranoid Ideation symptoms than the Dissonance Internalization group (Cluster 5). These findings are logical because participants who were more engaged with racial issues and their racial identity (Cluster 1) and participants who had more consistent Internalization attitudes (Cluster 3) reported fewer psychological symptoms than did participants whose positive Black racial identity was also influenced by strong feelings of racial dissonance (Cluster 5).
Another important finding was that the Engaged Internalization (Cluster 1) group reported significantly lower psychological distress when compared with the Undifferentiated racial identity (Cluster 2) group. This finding also seems logical because it supports the notion that individuals who are comfortable with their Black identity and aware of racial issues report lower levels of psychological distress than do people who are relatively unclear about their racial identity.
In the future, researchers may want to examine the potential types of racial identity profiles of their samples. One purpose, of course, is to explore if the profiles identified in this study can be replicated in different samples. Moreover, this technique may be useful with college populations because they generally seem to report high levels of Internalization scores. By uncovering multivariate categories, researchers can investigate the complex structure of those endorsing high Internalization attitudes. Participants may self-report higher levels of Internalization attitudes, as we have found, but consideration of underlying patterns of responses may help to differentiate between people with high Internalization scores.
Our results also have practical implications. It has been argued that counselors acknowledge the potential role of racial identity attitudes in the counseling process (Thompson & Carter, 1997). Our findings suggest that in exploring racial identity attitudes, counselors and student personnel officers should consider the complexity of racial identity schemata. That is, exploration of racial identity attitude patterns rather than racial identity categorization (e.g., Conformity) seems warranted. On the basis of our findings, we suggest that counselors attend to the racial identity development of Black students even if they seem to have internalized a positive Black identity. In particular, it seems that counselors could work in conjunction with others such as staff in Black culture centers, Black studies program or department, and other student service offices (e.g., career centers) to design programs that would help promote a positive Black identity (Internalization attitudes) and encourage students to explore and identify racial issues as important and valuable (Dissonance and Immersion/Emersion attitudes). Programming to promote what we have called an Engaged Internalized identity profile could include organizing events to stimulate higher order thinking about race-related issues (e.g., affirmative action) followed by informed discussions, offering a structured group experience on racial identity issues, and explicitly discussing the complexity of one's racial attitudes in a therapeutic context.
Although this study advances the research on Black racial identity development by identifying empirically and conceptually meaningful homogeneous racial identity profiles, there are several factors that limit the generalizability of our results. First, the results may be limited to African American students attending one of two predominantly White universities in the Midwest. Future studies may want to include samples from both PWIs and historically Black colleges and universities as well as people from the community to increase generalizability. Also, the subsample In which the validity analyses were performed consisted of students enrolled in Black studies courses. It may be that students interested in receiving Instruction in a topic related to the African American experience are different from Black students in the general college population. However, we did not ask participants if they were currently enrolled in or had completed a Black studies course, so we were unable to determine whether there was a difference between students who had received instruction in Black studies and those who had not. We are only certain that about half of the sample was currently enrolled in a Black studies course. Also, the majority of participants In this sample were women; future studies should strive for greater representation of men. The low alpha coefficient for the Dissonance subscale of the RIAS is consistent with reported reliability coefficients of the subscale in published studies. Further revision of the RIAS is needed to address this psychometric concern. In addition to replicating the results in this study, especially in terms of the cluster profiles themselves, researchers should consider additional quantitative and qualitative external validation assessments on variables such as racial self-esteem, perceived stressors and coping styles, and presenting concerns.
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