Ethnic Id

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Ethnic Id

Ethnic Identity References

created by the Native Elder Research Center (NERC), University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Increasingly, researchers are studying the effect of ethnic identity on various social and health outcomes. To date, many different scales have been created in the attempt to measure ethnic identity. Most ethnic identity research stemmed from research on racial identity, particularly during childhood and adolescence. The following brief list of references present a broad mix of references that may be useful for introductory explorations into the field of ethnic identity research. Unfortunately, relatively little research on ethnicity among the elderly exists, although ethnic and racial identity scales have been used in studies of older populations.

  • Cross, W. E. (1971). The Negro-to-black conversion experience: Toward a psychology of black liberation. Black World 20:13-27.
Studies of racial identification in general preceded models of ethnic identification. This influential article presents a model of racial identity development that hypothesizes that blacks progress through four stages (pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization) in the conversion from devaluing blackness to becoming self-confident in a black identity. The model subsequently led to the development of the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS; Parham, T. A., & Helms, J. E. (1981). The influence of black students’ racial identity attitudes on preferences for counselor’s race. Journal of Counseling Psychology 28: 250-257), which was further refined to the 50-item Black Racial Identity Attitude Scale (BRIAS, or RIAS-B) (Yanico B. J., Swanson, J. L., & Tokar, D. M. (1994) A psychometric investigation of the Black Racial Identity Attitude Scale-Form B. Journal of Vocational Behavior 44:218-234.) Not designed to capture ethnic identity separate from racial identity.

Brief discussion of the potential effects of using DNA testing to establish ancestry and membership in ethnic as well as racial groups.

Review article of theories and methods regarding individuals’ identification with several group and class identities.

One of the few explorations of the nature of ethnic identity among a middle-aged and older minority tribal population. Reviews the historical context (period effects) that may account for generational differences in ethnic identity found in previous studies.

Presents theoretical model outlining the dimensions of competence in two cultures. Review of the literature on biculturalism and cultural acquisition.

  • Moran, JR., Fleming, C.M., Somervell, P., & Manson, S.M. (1999). Measuring bicultural ethnic identity among American Indian Adolescents: A factor analytic study. Journal of Adolescent Research 14(4):405-426.
Develops and explores an 8-item scale of ethnic identity that recognizes persons may identify with more than one ethnic group. Tested among adolescent American Indians. Article also briefly discusses ethnic identity research among American Indians. Based on work by Oetting and Beauvais (1991) but with addition of specific questions regarding involvement in cultural practices.

Develops an approach to measurement of ethnic identity that allows identification with more than one culture (or ethnic identification) and measures the strength of ethnic identification. The scale consists of four items.

  • Phinney, JS. (1992). The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure: A new scale for use withy adolescents and young adults from diverse groups. Journal of Adolescent Research 7:156-176.
Widely used and easily administered 14-item measure measuring identity, affirmation, belonging, and commitment to a single ethnic identity. The term “multigroup” indicates that the scale can be administered to different ethnic groups; it does not refer to persons who identify with more than one ethnic group. Developed for adolescents but used among adults. Factor analysis reference: Roberts, R., Phinney, J., Masse, L., Chen, Y., Roberts, C., & Romero, A. (1999). The structure of ethnic identity in young adolescents from diverse ethnocultural groups. Journal of Early Adolescence 19:301-322.

  • Ponterotto, JG, & Wise, SL. (1987) Construct validity study of the Racial Identity Attitude Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology 34(2):218-223.
Examines the reliability and validity of the widely used Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS; Parham, T. A., & Helms, J. E. (1981). The influence of black students’ racial identity attitudes on preferences for counselor’s race. Journal of Counseling Psychology 28: 250-257.). Provides support for three of four constructs (pre-encounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization) of Black racial identity originally developed by Cross (1971) (See Cross 1971 reference).

  • Smith, EJ. (1991). Ethnic identity development: Toward the development of a theory within the context of majority/minority status. Journal of Counseling and Development 70(1):181-188.
Provides conceptualization of the development of ethnic identity within the context of social inequality and broadens the framework of ethnic identity development for members of both minority and majority ethnic groups.

Last updated October 2005