Multiple racial identities as sources of psychological resilience

Margaret Shih, Leigh S. Wilton, Serena Does, Brianna M. Goodale, Diana T. Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Much of the research on multiracial individuals has focused on the impact of a multiracial background on psychological well-being. This work, often using clinical samples, identified a higher prevalence of negative psychological outcomes among multiracial individuals, such as low self-esteem, poor grades, or self-hatred, and has emphasized that these negative outcomes stem from the unique challenges associated with navigating multiple racial identities. However, research on nonclinical samples finds that multiracial individuals fare as well as monoracial individuals on these, and other, outcomes. We put forth a synthesizing theory aimed at understanding how multiracial individuals develop adaptive coping strategies, which help them learn to navigate multiple identities and maintain positive psychological outcomes. In the current contribution, we build on existing research to theorize that multiracial individuals can engage in two psychological strategies that increase resilience: (a) switching between multiple racial identities and (b) reduced essentializing of race. Evidence and consequences of these two strategies are discussed. Taken together, in contrast to traditional depletion models of coping, this work highlights the unique experience of multiracial individuals and the potential psychological benefits of belonging to multiple racial groups in a racialized world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12469
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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