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Date of Award

9-2012

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

David Scherer

Second Advisor

Linda Tropp

Third Advisor

Harold Grotevant

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Ethnic Studies

Abstract

A review of theories explicating identity processes and racial categorization demonstrate a growing trend towards continual adaptation and response to social context. However, current models of racial identity are characterized by relatively static, linear development. The current study introduces the construct of malleable racial identity in multiracial individuals as a means to resolve the current disconnect between racial identity models and definitions of race and identity as socially-constructed. Two methods of malleable racial identity were developed and tested, and predictors of malleable racial identity were explored. One hundred and twenty multiracial college students with parents from two different racial groups completed a series of measures assessing malleable racial identity, self-perception of skin tone, racial composition of social networks, and familial racial socialization practices. Three main findings emerged. First, confirmatory factor analyses provided preliminary support for the construct of malleable racial identity as assessed through an 8-item self-report measure. Second, individuals who identified as having darker skin tones reported greater levels of malleable racial identification. Third, shifts towards more racially homogenous academic environments during college were associated with increased levels of malleable racial identification. Improvements to study measures are described and results are discussed in terms of the implications for conceptualizations of race and identity.

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