The relationship of self-concept and family cohesion to racial identity attitudes of Black American college students

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Kent Burnett - Committee Chair


The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether attitudes representative of the different stages of racial identity (Pre-encounter, Encounter, Immersion-Emersion, and Internalization) were related to the level of self-concept and family cohesion of Black American college students. Cross' (1971, 1980, & 1991) theory of racial identity development provided a representation of the different racial attitudes Black Americans have about themselves and others. The self-concept descriptions offered by Mead (1934) and Cooley (1902) provided the foundation for understanding people by explaining the "I" and "me" dimensions of self. Nobles (1973) subsequently added the construct called "we-ness" as a way of accounting for the impact of the Black American community on the self-concept development of its members. Nobles (1972a) specifically highlighted the Black American family as playing a major contributing role in facilitating the overall identity development of its members. Several simple correlation analyses were used to examine the direction and strength of relationships between the racial identity, self-concept, and family cohesion scores. To test the hypothesis of whether family cohesion scores added significantly to the variance among the racial identity attitudes beyond what was already explained by self-concept scores several step-wise multiple regression analysis procedures were employed. The simple correlations results suggest that Pre-encounter, Encounter, and Internalization attitudes were significantly related to self-concept. As persons moved developmentally through the racial identity stages, from Pre-encounter towards Internalization attitudes, their self-concepts tended to progress from less positive to more positive. The results additionally suggest that higher family cohesion scores were associated with Internalization attitudes. The results further indicate that information about a person's experiences of family cohesion did not add much, if anything, to the ability to predict racial identity beyond the information already provided by self-concept scores alone. Unexpectedly, the results also showed that an overwhelming majority of the sample was operating most from racial attitudes representative of the Internalization stage (95%) and least from the Pre-encounter stage (87%). Lastly, no subject was operating primarily and independently from attitudes representative of Pre-encounter or Immersion-Emersion attitudes.


Black Studies; Education, Educational Psychology; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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