Cross's Nigrescence Model: From Theory to Scale to Theory

By Vandiver, Beverly J.; Fhagen-Smith, Peony E. et al. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, July 2001 | Go to article overview

Cross's Nigrescence Model: From Theory to Scale to Theory


Vandiver, Beverly J., Fhagen-Smith, Peony E., Cokley, Kevin O., Cross, William E., Jr., Worrell, Frank C., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


This article describes the theoretical and empirical evolution of the revised Cross nigrescence identity model (W. E. Cross, 1991) in the context of developing a new multidimensional measure, the Cross Racial Identity Scale (Vandiver et al., 2000). The research resulted in an expanded nigrescence model (W. E. Cross & B. J. Vandiver, 2001), and preliminary factor analytic strategies support the existence of 6 subscales.

Este articulo describe la evolucion teoretica y empirica de el modelo indentidad de nigrescence creado y revisado por W. E. Cross (1991) en el contexto de la creacion de una nueva escala miltidimensional, la Escala de Identidad Racial Cross (B. J. Vandiver et al., 2000). La investigacion resulto en un modelo de nigrescence extendido (W. E. Cross & B. J. Vandiver, 2001), y las estrategias factor analiticas preliminarias sustentan la existencia de 6 sub-escalas.

This article describes the process of developing a new scale to measure the revised nigrescence model (Cross, 1991). First, the identity clusters that characterize the nigrescence theory and that are measured in the Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS; Vandiver et al., 2000) are presented by stage. Thus, we first discuss the Pre-Encounter identity clusters, then the Immersion-Emersion identity clusters, and third, the Internalization identity clusters. The second section of the article chronicles the evolution of four scale-development phases of the CRIS and the subsequent changes to the scale and theory at the end of each phase. For a more detailed summary of nigrescence theory and the changes to it over time, readers are referred to Cross (1971, 1991) and to Cross and Vandiver (2001).

historical and theoretical considerations

PRE-ENCOUNTER: A MARISKA [MATRYOSHKA] PUZZLE

Like the multinested Mariska [Matryoshka] dolls, Cross's (1971, 1991) Black racial identity stage of Pre-Encounter (Stage 1) is deceiving. On the surface, Pre-Encounter seems to reflect a unitary construct, composed of two polar aspects of Black identity: pro-White and anti-Black attitudes. In the original nigrescence model (Cross, 1971), Pre-Encounter Blacks were believed to operate from an assimilation-integration paradigm, internalizing a "pro-White" identity that affirms "White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant" characteristics and negates non-WASP behavior (Cross, 1971, p. 16). Blacks who were viewed as pro-White were believed to be anti-Black and self-hating and to have low self-esteem (poor mental health). However, after an extensive review of the Black identity literature, Cross (1991) concluded that Pre-Encounter was more complex than originally conceived, and Pre-Encounter is now believed to be characterized by at least three identity clusters (Cross & Vandiver, 2001). In addition, psychological functioning or self-esteem is no longer directly linked to racial group preference.

Pre-Encounter and Black self-hatred. The term Black self-hatred, which can be defined as a Black person's hatred of the self because of race, has a long history in the discourse on Black identity. As early as the 1930s, scholars believed that Blacks' preference to be White was indicative of self-hatred, and, thus, reflective of an identity problem (see Clark & Clark, 1947; Horowitz, 1939). Kardiner and Ovesey (1951) noted that Black self-hatred (a term traced to their work) could be revealed by indirect and direct evidence. Definitive statements reflecting anti-Black feelings or beliefs (e.g., "I hate being Black" or "I dislike my Black features") were seen as direct evidence of self-hatred. Examples of indirect evidence included Blacks' idealization of White people and White culture (e.g., through assimilationist behavior and attitudes). Both direct and indirect manifestations of Black self-hatred were included in the original description of the Pre-Encounter stage (Cross, 1971) and in other Black identity change theories (e.g., Fanon, 1967; Memmi, 1965; Milliones, 1973; Thomas, 1971). …

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