Race And Ethnicity Essay

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Research suggests that the categories used to collect data regarding race and ethnicity in modern psychological research is not inclusive enough for modern America (Helms, Jernigan, & Mascher 2005). Race can be defined as “the biological characteristics reflected in physical appearance” (Helms, Jernigan, & Mascher 2005, p.1) and it is definitions like this one that most researchers use to design measures of race. It should be noted, however, that race can be thought of as a social construction and not an innate concept. Social construction is “-the human ability to invent meanings and act as they are true,” (Smedley & Smedley 2005, p.17). This highlights that a simple race question cannot encompass everything about a person’s experience as a member of a racial group in this country. Race may not truly exist, but it is treated as though it does and should be measured because of its potential to shape psychological experiences. It is also important to measure ethnicity, which is defined as a cultural identity or a group’s values, meanings, and practices of living (Markus 2008). Ethnicity differs from race in two particular ways. First, ethnicity can also be described as groups that have common distinguishing cultural phenomena. Second, ethnicity is subject to change by the people of that ethnic group (Smedley & Smedley 2005). These brief definitions cannot fully…show more content…
Phinney and Ong (2007) claim that race and ethnicity are too complicated to be measured by simple categories. They claim that race and ethnicity need to be measured by questions that complete the picture of an individual’s’ race and identity. Phinney and Ong suggest that future research create group specific measures that include ethnicity and race. They also suggest that measures that assess racial identity that apply only to certain racial and ethnic groups be adjusted so that they fit other racial and ethnic
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