Multidimensional model of racial identity: A reconceptualization of African American racial identity

Robert M. Sellers, Mia A. Smith, J. Nicole Shelton, Stephanie A.J. Rowley, Tabbye M. Chavous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1221 Scopus citations


Research on African American racial identity has utilized 2 distinct approaches. The mainstream approach has focused on universal properties associated with ethnic and racial identities. In contrast, the underground approach has focused on documenting the qualitative meaning of being African American, with an emphasis on the unique cultural and historical experiences of African Americans. The Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI) represents a synthesis of the strengths of these two approaches. The underlying assumptions associated with the model are explored. The model proposes 4 dimensions of African American racial identity: salience, centrality, regard, and ideology. A description of these dimensions is provided along with a discussion of how they interact to influence behavior at the level of the event. We argue that the MMRI has the potential to make contributions to traditional research objectives of both approaches, as well as to provide the impetus to explore new questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-39
Number of pages22
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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