Racial identity development: A construct validity study

Kellie Victoria Walker, Pace University


In recent years, Black identity and ego development have become focal constructs in psychological theory and research. They both attempt to define the self and the process by which an individual's personality takes shape and meaning. Black identity deals specifically with an individual's awareness, values, attitudes, and beliefs about being Black, whereas ego development deals more universally with how an individual integrates and organizes all aspects of his or her personality--striving for integration of the self. Their relationship to one another as developmental constructs has not been investigated and is the subject of this study. In the present study, the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) was looked at in comparison to two well validated and reliable measures of development; the Loevinger Sentence Completion Test (SCT) and the Erikson Psychosocial Stage Inventory (EPSI). High school students were used as participants and were derived from three sources. (1) A High School in northern Westchester. (2) A New York City public high school. (3) A modified network technique. Fifty-nine African American subjects took the RIAS, the EPSI, and the SCT. RIAS and SCT scores were examined by developmental categories with similarly described groups hypothesized to show similar developmental patterns. Relationships between the RIAS and the SCT were not found to be significant, contrary to what was hypothesized. However as hypothesized, all subscales of the EPSI, with one exception, were negatively correlated with the Pre-encounter subscale of the RIAS. Psychometric problems with the RIAS, as well as social/cultural explanations and differing perceptions of identity and development will be discussed as accounting for these results. It appears that considerable work is to be done if we are to adequately assess Black identity and its relationship to other developmental constructs.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Walker, Kellie Victoria, "Racial identity development: A construct validity study" (1993). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9405087.



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