The Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity: Its Use with Euro-American, Latino, and Native American Undergraduates

Article excerpt

This study examined the reliability and validity of scores from the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity with 550 Euro-American, 112 Latino, and 41 Native American undergraduates. Data for the Centrality, Private Regard, and Public Regard scales indicate that these scores have construct validity. Scores have acceptable Cronbach alpha internal consistency reliabilities across the 3 groups.


For the last 2 decades, counselors have been encouraged to be multiculturally sensitive and to take clients' racial or ethnic identity into consideration during counseling. Similarly, counseling researchers are also expected to consider how participants' racial or ethnic identity potentially interacts with outcome variables. In spite of these expectations, the reliability and validity of scores from racial or ethnic identity measures have been problematic. Measures developed for one racial or ethnic group have not been consistently tested for appropriate use with other groups. For instance, the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI; Sellers, Rowley, Chavous, Shelton, & Smith, 1997) was created for use with African American individuals but has not been tested for possible use with other racial or ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the Centrality and Regard (Private and Public) scales of the MIBI could be used with college freshmen of self-reported Euro-American, Latino, and Native American heritage.

As Helms (1996) noted, "there is no clear conceptualization of what constitutes 'measurement' of racial or ethnic identity" (p. 144). Furthermore, most instruments designed to "measure" racial or ethnic identity are constructed for use exclusively with individuals of one minority group (e.g., African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans). Based on the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI; Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998), the MIBI (Sellers et al., 1997) is one such instrument. The MIBI does, however, have dimensions of racial identity that might be relevant to other racial or ethnic groups.

The MMRI (Sellers et al., 1998) proposed four dimensions. The first, identity salience, is defined as the level of significance race has in an individual's self-concept at a specific moment in time and is the only dynamic dimension of the model. The second dimension, centrality, represents the extent to which an individual normatively defines him- or herself in terms of race. Third, ideology represents an individual's beliefs, opinions, and attitudes about how members of one's race should act. The final dimension, regard, is characterized by an individual's affective and evaluative judgment of his or her race. It is important to note that racial identity is not synonymous with any one dimension of the MMRI (Rowley, Sellers, Chavous, & Smith, 1998).

Constantine, Richardson, Benjamin, and Wilson (1998) reported that the MMRI (Sellers et al., 1998) contains the most contemporary, all-inclusive conceptualization of the functioning and development of Black identity and provides a theoretical foundation for the importance African Americans give to race by the manner in which they define themselves and their membership in their racial group. Sellers et al. (1998) also proposed this model in an effort to bridge gaps evident in the research on the racial identity of African Americans.

Developed to measure the three static dimensions (i.e., centrality, ideology, and regard) of the MMRI, scores from the MIBI have been reported to be reliable. In addition, construct validity evidence consistent with the theoretical premise of the MMRI has been reported (Sellers et al., 1997). One of the unique qualities of the MIBI is that its interpretation can be used in several ways. For example, results can be interpreted within the perspective of existing research on universal aspects of group identity as well as within the context of intragroup experiences specific to African Americans. …