Date of Completion


Embargo Period



multiracial, racial discrimination

Major Advisor

Dr. Michelle Williams

Associate Advisor

Dr. Rhiannon Smith

Associate Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Milan

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Multiracial individuals are a sizable and growing population, and yet there is a dearth of research focusing exclusively on their distinct experiences, especially pertaining to pervasive social exclusion (i.e., racial discrimination) and cultural belonging. Given that multiracial individuals may experience racial discrimination from U.S. ethnic/racial minority groups and Whites, how they cope is an important area of inquiry. Whereas ethnic/racial identity (ERI) has often been found to psychologically mitigate the negative impact of racial discrimination on well-being among racial/ethnic minorities, fewer studies have examined this association among multiracial individuals. The current study investigates whether ERI moderates the association between racial discrimination and mental/behavioral health outcomes, and whether this association varies by multiracial individuals’ self-identified ethnic/racial group affiliation (as multiracial, monoracial minority, White, or nonracial). Secondary analyses were conducted from a nationally-representative dataset that included multiracial college students (n = 696) of diverse racial backgrounds. ERI was conceptualized as ethnic identity affirmation and belonging, and its impact with racial discrimination on depression, generalized anxiety symptoms, social anxiety symptoms, self-esteem, binge drinking, and risky sexual behavior were assessed. Regressions and multivariate analyses were conducted (i.e., ANCOVAS, MANCOVAS, and hierarchical regressions) to test associations among predictors and outcomes, and to examine the interaction of ERI x racial discrimination x ethnic/racial self-identification. Only one significant, 3-way interaction of small magnitude for social anxiety was detected. For students identifying as multiracial, racial discrimination predicted social anxiety at high levels of ERI, whereas for students identifying as White, racial discrimination predicted social anxiety at low levels of ERI. For students identifying as monoracial minority, main effects of racial discrimination on anxiety and depression symptoms were found, as was a significant, positive association of ERI with self-esteem and a significant, negative association of ERI with social anxiety. For students identifying as multiracial, ERI was significantly and positively associated with self-esteem, and significantly and negatively associated with social anxiety. Although little evidence for the buffering effect was found, results suggest that ERI may be a useful construct for multiracial individuals. Future research on multiracial individuals should continue to investigate the bearing of ERI on experiences of social exclusion.

Available for download on Thursday, May 03, 2029