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Can Identifying As Mixed-Race Boost Well Being?

smiling girlStanford Study Finds It Can.

A study by a group of scholars at Stanford graduate school of business, which sought to answer the question: Does identifying themselves as multiracial help or hinder the psychological well-being of individuals of diverse ethnicity has come up with some interesting results?

In the study, high school students who belonged to multiple racial groups were asked to indicate their ethnic heritage by checking as many boxes as necessary on a form. They were also asked an open-ended question about which groups they primarily identified with. They were then classified as identifying with a group the researchers had designated for benchmarking purposes as having a relatively low social status (black or Latino), a relatively high social status, (Asian or white), or multiple groups (for example, black and white or multiracial). Those who identified with multiple groups reported either equal or higher psychological well-being and social engagement than those who identified primarily with a single group.

Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether the groups the students identified with were characterized as low or high-status. ‘We were surprised to find virtually no differences between individuals who identified with either low- or high-status groups,’ said Kevin Binning one of the researchers. ‘What mattered was whether they acknowledged their multiracial identity.’ In the past, research suggested that members of high- and low-status groups differed psychologically.

Binning and fellow researchers Miguel Unzueta, Yuen Huo, and Ludwin Molina have some theories about why there might be some psychological benefits associated with having a multiracial identity. ‘For one, perhaps being able to 'stand one’s ground' and reject social pressure to identify with a single racial group indicates resiliency,’ said Binning. Additionally, instead of falling between the cracks of two separate cultures, individuals who identify with multiple groups might be better equipped to assimilate into both racially homogenous and racially mixed environments. In this way, multiracial individuals in diverse environments might have a broader sense of "fitting in," which can boost both their psychological and social

Alternatively, being forced to identify with one race over another can be disconcerting. ‘If I'm a member of multiple groups and am forced to identify with only one group, I'm — by necessity — rejecting part of my identity,’ said Binning. ‘Typically, this means taking on the race or ethnicity of one parent over another. This can put people on the defensive, emotionally.’

The authors also felt that individuals who feel comfortable in several different cultures might be able to better ‘frameswitch’ between different cultural mind sets.

‘Such individuals might be able to seamlessly switch between their different cultures' ways of perceiving the world, whichcould help them navigate through racially diverse environments,’ said Binning.

Given that this research highlights the benefits of possessing a multiracial identity, should society encourage individuals to adopt this attitude? ‘Much more research is needed to determine an answer to this,’ said Binning. A major question, for example, is whether adopting a multiracial identity causes psychological and social well-being, or if the reverse is true. ‘It could simply be that better-adjusted individuals tend to accept their multiracial identity,’ said Binning. ‘We are not sure at this point what the causal relationship is’.

Whatever the causal relationship is it seems that those who identify with all of their mixed-race background definitely feel better for it.

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Source:Stanford business School


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