Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Racial Identity Status Profiles and Expressions of Anger in Black Americans: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Racial Identity Status Profiles and Expressions of Anger in Black Americans: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

The relationship between Black adult racial identity status profiles and anger expression was examined. Two profiles, Undifferentiated and Immersion-Emersion, emerged. A comparison of modes of anger expression revealed that the Immersion-Emersion dominant profile was associated with higher scores on Anger-Out and lower scores on Anger-Control. Implications for research and counseling are discussed.

Se examino la relacion entre los perfiles del estado de la identidad racial de individuos Negros adultos y la expresion de ira. Surgieron dos perfiles, Indiferenciado e Inmersion-Emersion. Una comparacion de los modos de expresion de la ira revelo que el perfil dominante de Inmersion-Emersion estaba asociado a registros mas altos en Ira-Fuera y mas bajos en Control de la Ira. Se discuten las implicaciones para la investigacion y la consejeria.


Racial identity is now a widely accepted construct within the psychological intrapsychic processes, such as self-esteem and personality (Mumford, 1994; Whatley, Allen, & Dana, 2003), to cognitively based outcomes, such as academic performance and perceptions of counselors (Want, Parham, Baker, & Sherman, 2004). Given that racial identity statuses are considered to be an aspect of personality (Carter, 1995), it is reasonable to assume that racial identity statuses would be related to various types of emotional states, social beliefs, and aspects of psychosocial competence (Carter, DeSole, Sicalides, Glass, & Tyler, 1997; Carter, Helms, & Juby, 2004). However, few researchers have empirically tested whether racial identity statuses are related to emotional and behavioral states. Therefore, we explored the influence of racial identity status profiles, rather than racial identity group mean scores, on modes of anger expression in a sample of Black American adults.

The understanding of anger and how it affects human functioning has a long-standing history in psychology (Thomas, 1990). This interest is evident in the initial work on anger by Hall (1899), who conceptualized anger as an instinctual drive. More recent efforts have focused on examining the physical and psychosocial correlates of varied forms of anger expression (Fang & Myers, 2001; Porter, Stone, & Schwartz, 1999). A small and important subset of the psychological literature on anger is devoted to the experience of anger among Black Americans. The view that anger and its expression is an integral aspect of Black Americans' lives is widely held (Childs, 2005). Blacks are often stereotyped as angry and out of control with regard to their feelings and emotions (Franklin, 2004). Researchers have focused on understanding the relationship between expressions of anger and the physical health of Blacks (see Johnson & Broman, 1987), yet there has been less attention given to psychological factors that might be associated with anger expression in this population.

The experience and expression of anger in Black populations has been widely documented (Wade, 2006), and some scholars discuss anger and its manifestations as a response to racism-related experiences. For instance, Franklin (2004) provided descriptions of Black men who were angry in response to daily "microaggressions" (e.g., people crossing the street as they approached), and he argued that these types of encounters contribute to Black men's sense of invisibility. Swim, Hyers, Cohen, Ftizgerald, and Bylsma (2003) found that anger was the most frequently reported emotional reaction to racism among African American college students. It is important to note, however, that not all studies support the notion that the uncontrolled expression of anger is characteristic of Black people. A study exploring the influence of race in anger expression among children found that Black children tended to score higher on anger control and lower on anger expression (Steel, Elliot, & Phipps, 2003). Similarly, Johnson and Greene (1991) found that for young Black men who were faced with a number of race-related anger-provoking situations, "feelings of anger [were] suppressed because of fear of negative consequences" (p. …

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