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Racial Identities

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IDENTITY: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THEORY AND RESEARCH, 6(1), 61–84 Copyright © 2006, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

A Multicultural Critique of Identity Status Theory and Research: A Call for Integration
Joel R. Sneed
New York University

Seth J. Schwartz
Department of Psychiatry University of Miami School of Medicine

William E. Cross, Jr.
Graduate Center City University of New York

Although identity status theory has inspired over 500 theoretical and empirical publications, it is unclear to what extent this tradition has incorporated non-White ethnic groups and theories of racial and ethnic identity development. We reviewed 57 empirical articles published between 1993 and 2003 in 6 leading outlets for identity status research and found that (a) 35% failed to report the ethnic composition of the sample, and (b) 74% of the samples consisted primarily of White participants. Given the increasing diversity of the United States and other Western countries, non-White ethnic groups need to be incorporated in identity status research, and the ethnic composition of research samples need to be adequately described. We review 4 models of racial and ethnic identity development that parallel the more general identity development process. We conclude by providing both methodological and theoretical suggestions for how identity status and racial or ethnic identity models can be integrated.

Erikson’s (1963) eight-stage model of psychosocial development is one of the most influential life span developmental theories in the personality literature. It is by far the most frequently presented stage theory of development in both introducCorrespondence should be addressed to Joel R. Sneed, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, 1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 98, New York, NY 10032. E-mail: JS2627@columbia.edu



tory and advanced undergraduate psychology textbooks (Whitbourne & Hulicka, 1990). Each of Erikson’s “ages” involves a convergence of...


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