Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Stephen L. Franzoi

Second Advisor

Stephen M. Saunders

Third Advisor

Debra L. Oswald

Abstract

Based on the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism and race as a social construct, individuals with biological parents racially distinct from each other have biracial identity options (i.e., Singular, Border, Protean, and Transcendent) (e.g., Rockquemore and Brunsma, 2002). The purpose of the current study was to examine factors that influenced biracial individuals' level of racial/ethnic identity development and the impact on biracial identity and psychological adjustment (i.e., self-esteem and psychological well-being). A total of 199 biracial individuals, who ranged in age from 18 to 55 years, completed an online survey that measured factors such as the rule of hypodescent (i.e., one-drop rule), physical appearance, self-monitoring, and exposure to multicultural experiences. Although the one-drop rule was not a significant predictor of biracial identity options, there were other significant findings within this population. Physical resemblance to two or more racial groups and exposure to multicultural experiences predicted biracial individuals' identification with a Border or Protean identity. Second, this study found that a high level of exposure to multicultural experiences best predicted a high level of ethnic identity development and positive interactions with other racial groups. Lastly, the current study found that the previously mentioned factors also contributed to biracial individuals' psychological adjustment (i.e., self-esteem and psychological well-being). Limitations of the current study and recommendations for future research with this population were also discussed.

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