Purdue University Graduate School
Clifton Master's Thesis, Final.pdf (585.36 kB)

The Promotive and Protective Role of Racial Identity Profiles

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posted on 2020-03-03, 19:43 authored by Richelle CliftonRichelle Clifton
AIM Racial identity has been shown to buffer against the effects of racial discrimination among African Americans. Recently, researchers have developed a more comprehensive assessment of racial identity through the construction of profiles. These profiles help better identify combinations of racial identity that are most protective, as well as those that have the potential to increase risk. To date a majority of the research has been conducted on internalizing and academic outcomes, with limited research on externalizing outcomes, such as substance use. The current study aimed to fill this gap in the literature. METHODS 345 African American college students (80.0% female, 88.4% USA-born, and Mage=21.56) completed measures on racial identity, racial discrimination, internalizing symptomology, academic motivation, and substance use. RESULTS Four racial identity profiles were identified and labeled race-focused (n=228), multiculturalist (n=64), integrationist (n=38), and undifferentiated (n=15). Several direct effects were observed. Multigroup analysis, stratified by profile, revealed several direct relationships between racial identity profiles and outcomes. The probability of being in the multiculturalist profile was negatively associated with depression and stress and positively associated with academic motivation. The probability of being in the race-focused profile was positively associated with cannabis use and the probability of being in the integrationist profile was negatively associated with academic motivation. Being in the undifferentiated profile was not significantly related to any of the outcomes. Two specific moderating effects were also observed; individuals in the integrationist profile were significantly lower in academic motivation as a result of racial discrimination than individuals in the race-focused profile (b=0.10, SE=0.05, p=0.046). Individuals in the integrationist profile were also higher in stress as a result of racial discrimination than individuals in the race-focused profile, however this effect was only trending toward significance (b=-0.14, SE=0.08, p=0.080). CONCLUSION Based on these results, there is evidence for the differential direct and moderating associations of racial identity profiles with various health and behavioral outcomes, such that some appear protective whereas others increase risk. These findings can be used to inform future research related to racial identity and interventions for African Americans experiencing racial discrimination.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Psychological Sciences

Campus location

  • Indianapolis

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Tamika C. B. Zapolski

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Evava S. Pietri

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Wei Wu

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