Date of this Version
Published in Multicultural Assessment in Counseling and Clinical Psychology, edited by Gargi Roysircar Sadowsky and James C. Impara (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1996).
The attitudes one holds about oneself as a member of a specific racial or ethnic group and how those attitudes influence perceptions and behavior have been topics of increasing interest since the introduction of Cross's (1971) model of Nigrescence. However, in 1984, Janet Helms opened new vistas by urging that the racial outlook of Whites also be considered, particularly as it may affect cross-racial dyadic interactions. In addition to the potential benefits for practice, an increased understanding of White racial outlook is thought to have significant utility for both training (Sabnani, Ponterotto, & Borodovsky, 1990) and research (Atkinson & Thompson, 1992).
Although several models of White Racial Identity Development (WRID) have been proposed (Helms, 1984, 1990; Ponterotto, 1988; Sabnani, Ponterotto, & Borodovsky, 1990; Sue & Sue, 1990), the conceptual model put forward by Helms has received the most attention and has been the only one with an associated assessment device, the White Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS-W; Helms & Carter,1990). However, most theoretical WRID models share certain problematic aspects: the use of oppression-adaptive models (although useful in explaining minority racial attitudes) to explain White attitudes, even though the experiential history of Whites and racial and/ or ethnic minorities in the United States is radically different; the use of a developmental interpretation (with its Procrustean consequences); and the burden of additional complexity and surplus implications associated with the abstraction "identity" that result from invoking the construct of racial identity. Therefore, problems that we consider to be inherent in WRID models (Rowe, Bennett, & Atkinson, 1994) and the apparent psychometric deficiencies of the RIAS-W (Bennett, Behrens, & Rowe, 1993; Swanson, Tokar, & Davis, 1994; Tokar & Swanson, 1991) have led us to develop a pragmatic model of White racial consciousness and an associated instrument designed to assess persons on the dimensions proposed by that model.