Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology, Clinical-Community

Date of Defense

1-25-2013

Graduate Advisor

Matthew J. Taylor, Ph.D.

Committee

Brian Vandenberg

Miles Patterson

Vetta Sanders-Thompson

Abstract

Contemporary multiracial theory posits that racial identifications are a product of perceptions of the macrolevel social environment in which they are embedded (Renn, 2003; Rockquemore, Brunsma, & Delgado 2009; Rockquemore, Laszloffy, & Noveske, 2006; Root, 1996; Root, 2003). This conceptualization of the multiracial experience suggests that research attention should begin examining the specific macrolevel factors that influence the process of biracial identification (Rockquemore et al., 2009). To date, however, relatively little empirical research has done so. The present study sought to examine the extent to which perceived macrolevel social pressure regarding racial identification impacts the multiracial experience. Structural equation modeling on a sample (N= 254) of biracials found that, as hypothesized, perceived macrolevel social pressure regarding racial identification may have a broad and substantial impact on the biracial experience, both in expected ways and unexpected ways. Perceiving greater social pressure regarding racial identification in the macrolevel social environment appears to create a racial identification based insecurity in the need for social relatedness. This insecurity then seems to predispose biracials to base their racial identifications in microlevel situations on the perceived expectations of that immediate context, leading to greater inconsistency in identification. Higher levels of perceived macrolevel social pressure regarding racial identification also predispose multiracials to experience poorer psychological health, but this does not appear to be related to increased relatedness insecurity. Future research should thus attend to the ways perceived macrolevel pressure influences psychological health. Scholarship should also consider how multiracials respond to racial identification based relatedness insecurity, as it may be that certain responses, including featuring greater inconsistency in identification, may buffer any negative effects of relatedness insecurity on psychological health.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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