Emerging Factors in Identity Experiences

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Identity experiences were assessed in this study using a recently created measure that had been psychometrically validated based on a longer version; this study assessed the factors that emerged from the Multiracial Challenges and Resilience Scale (MCRS) using the 30-item measure with this population. The four factors that emerged were consistent with previous research on the identity experiences unique to multiracial individuals (Jackson, 2012; Nadal et al., 2013; Sanchez, 2010). Three of the factors were consistent with the original factor analyses conducted by Salahuddin and O’Brian (2011) on their 74-item measure: appreciation of human differences, lack of family acceptance, and identity questioning. Specifically, for this sample, appreciation of human difference retained all of its items as originally intended by the measure’s creators, which lends psychometric support to this subscale for use with multiracial participants. Lack of family acceptance retained three of its five items with the addition of one item that had loaded on to the multiracial discrimination subscale for the 74-item factor analyses. The item inquires about the experience of having someone outside of the family saying something derogatory about multiracial/biracial people. It is possible that this item loaded onto the lack of family acceptance because the item brought up instances where someone outside of the family said something derogatory and a family member did not support the participant. Identity questioning, also called others’ surprise and disbelief at racial heritage on the original MCRS, retained three of its five items based on factor analyzing this measure with the present sample. For this sample of multiracial participants, the two items that were not retained because of the variation in responses, which could have been due to error rather than a true reflection of the participants experience. It is particularly important to note that a new factor emerged, racial regard, which was a combination of positively scored items of multiracial pride and reverse scored items from challenges with racial identity. All items on this factor appear to reflect an internal sense or valuing of multiracial identity; similar to what Sellers and colleagues (2006) described as psychological closeness with one’s identity which includes perceptions of others’ views of one’s group. The factor emerging in this study lends empirical evidence that racial regard is a distinct aspect of racial identity. Racial regard has been an important factor for monoracial samples (Sellers, Copeland-Linder, Martin, & Lewis, 2006) as well as multiracial samples (Sanchez, Shih, & Garcia, 2009). For this sample, racial regard was significantly negatively correlated with perceived stress, which demonstrates that a positive racial regard is related to decreased perceived stress. Racial regard was also significantly positively correlated with appreciation of human differences and significantly negatively correlated with identity questioning. This suggests that positive racial regard may be related to a positive view of one’s multiracial identity such as seeing oneself as appreciating human differences, but that regard decreases with an increase in identity questioning experiences. Thus, when questioned, individuals may feel a lack of psychological closeness with their identity or that their identity is not valued by others, which is consistent with research highlighting the role of social interactions in individuals’ expression of their multiracial identity (Gaither, Sommers, & Ambady, 2013; Jackson, 2012) This factor should be explored in future studies to assess whether it is applicable for use with other samples; further due to the correlation of regard with perceived stress it is important to consider the impact of regard on multiracial well-being. The only emerging identity experience factor that was significantly, positively correlated to racial malleability was appreciation of human differences. It is possible that awareness of human differences and being more appreciative of those cultural differences relates to being more racially malleable because that awareness leads to identifying differently in varying contexts. It is not clear from this study what the order of that relationship may be, but it is clear that the awareness and appreciation of human differences is positively related to racial regard and being more racially malleable. This finding is consistent with research on multiracial identity integration (Cheng & Lee, 2009). Cheng and Lee (2009) found that integrating one’s multiracial identity was malleable based on positive and negative environmental cues, which impacted the individual’s perception of racial distance or conflict among their racial groups. Thus, heightened perception of human differences and environmental cues about the regard of one’s racial identities may impact the individual’s racial malleability.

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