Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity
Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity
As defined by Robert M. Sellers and colleagues in the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI), racial identity is the significance and qualitative meaning that individuals attribute to being black in their conceptualizations of self (Sellers, Smith, Shelton, et al. 1998). The significance component of racial identity is referred to as racial centrality, and the qualitative meaning of racial identity is referred to as racial ideology and racial regard. The MMRI outlines four ideologies that reflect African Americans’ views on what it means to be black: (1) a nationalist ideology; (2) an oppressed minority ideology; (3) an assimilationist ideology; and (4) a humanist ideology. Additionally, African Americans vary in their affective and evaluative judgments of their racial group (private regard) and in their beliefs about others’ affective and evaluative judgments of African Americans (public regard).
The Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI) is a measure that assesses the dimensions of racial identity outlined by the MMRI (Sellers, Rowley, Chavous, et al. 1997). Participants indicate their agreement with various statements on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). The MIBI is composed of seven subscales. The centrality scale consists of items measuring the extent to which being African American is central to the respondents’ definition of himself or herself (e.g., “Being black is important to my self-image”). The regard scale is composed of two subscales, private and public regard. The private regard subscale consists of items measuring the extent to which respondents have positive feelings toward African Americans in general (e.g., “I feel good about black people”). The public regard subscale consists of items measuring the extent to which respondents feel that other groups have positive feelings toward African Americans (e.g., “Overall, blacks are considered good by others”). The ideology scale of the MIBI has four subscales. The assimilation subscale consists of items measuring the extent to which respondents emphasize the relationship between African Americans and mainstream America (“Blacks should try to work within the system to achieve their political and economic goals”). The humanist subscale consists of items measuring the extent to which respondents emphasize the similarities among individuals of all races (“Blacks would be better off if they were more concerned with the problems facing all people rather than just focusing on black issues”). The minority subscale consists of items measuring the extent to which respondents emphasize the similarities between African Americans and other minority groups (“The same forces which have led to the oppression of blacks have also led to the oppression of other groups”). Finally, the nationalist subscale consists of items measuring the extent to which respondents emphasize the uniqueness of being African American (“White people can never be trusted where blacks are concerned”). The factor structure and convergent validity have been established in samples of college students (Sellers, Chavous, and Cooke 1998), and all sub-scales of the MIBI have been shown to have adequate internal consistency in studies with adults (Rowley, Sellers, and Smith 1998; Sellers, Chavous, and Cooke 1998) and older adolescents (Chavous, Bernat, Schmeelk-Cone, et al. 2003).
The MIBI differs from other widely used measures of racial or ethnic identity in that it does not assess mechanisms for identity development. Jean S. Phinney’s 1992 model assesses the extent to which the individual has searched for information regarding their ethnic group and the extent to which he or she has committed to that identity. Thomas A. Parham and Janet E. Helms’s Racial Identity Attitude Scale (1981) measures individuals’ movement from problack, antiwhite beliefs to an achieved identity that includes tolerance for other groups and in-group pride. In contrast to these other models, the MMRI is primarily concerned with the significance and content of an individual’s identity at a specific point in time.
The MMRI has made significant contributions to research on African Americans. The MMRI and MIBI have been used in research regarding African American adults’ and adolescents’ experiences with discrimination (Sellers and Shelton 2003; Sellers, Caldwell, Schmeelk-Cone, et al. 2003), adolescents’ academic beliefs and achievement (Rowley 2000; Sellers, Chavous, and Cooke 1998), and family dynamics and substance abuse (Caldwell, Sellers, Bernat, et al. 2004). The MMRI provides a vehicle for understanding the diverse experiences of African Americans in the United States.
SEE ALSO Identity; Ideology; Race
Caldwell, Cleopatra H., Robert M. Sellers, Debra Hilkene Bernat, et al. 2004. Racial Identity, Parental Support, and Alcohol Use in a Sample of Academically At-risk African American High School Students. American Journal of Community Psychology 34 (1–2): 71–82.
Chavous, Tabbye M., Debra Hilkene Bernat, Karen Schmeelk-Cone, et al. 2003. Racial Identity and Academic Attainment among African American Adolescents. Child Development 74 (4): 1076–1090.
Parham, Thomas A., and Janet E. Helms. 1981. The Influences of a Black Student’s Racial Identity Attitudes on Preferences for Counselor’s Race. Journal of Counseling Psychology 28: 250–256.
Phinney, Jean S. 1992. The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure: A New Scale for Use with Diverse Groups. Journal of Adolescent Research 7 (2) 156–176.
Rowley, Stephanie Johnson. 2000. Profiles of African American College Students’ Educational Utility and Performance: A Cluster Analysis. Journal of Black Psychology 26 (1): 3–26.
Rowley, Stephanie Johnson, Robert M. Sellers, Mia A. Smith, et al. 1998. The Relationship between Racial Identity and Self-esteem in African American High School and College Students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (3): 715–724.
Sellers, Robert M., Cleopatra H. Caldwell, Karen H. Schmeelk-Cone, et al. 2003. Racial Identity, Racial Discrimination, Perceived Stress, and Psychological Distress among African American Young Adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 44 (3): 302–317.
Sellers, Robert M., Tabbye M. Chavous, and Deanna Y. Cooke. 1998. Racial Ideology and Racial Centrality as Predictors of African American College Students’ Academic Performance. Journal of Black Psychology 24 (1): 8–27.
Sellers, Robert M., Stephanie Johnson Rowley, J. Nicole Shelton, et al. 1997. Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity: Preliminary Investigation of Reliability and Construct Validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73 (4): 805–815.
Sellers, Robert M., and J. Nicole Shelton. 2003. The Role of Racial Identity in Perceived Discrimination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 (5): 1079–1092.
Sellers, Robert M., Mia A. Smith, J. Nicole Shelton, et al. 1998. Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity: A Reconceptualization of African American Racial Identity. Personality and Social Psychology Review 2: 18–36.
J. Nicole Shelton
Stephanie Johnson Rowley