Communication Studies, Department of


ORCID IDs M.E. Cardwell

Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 37:5 (2020), pp 1653–1672.

DOI: 10.1177/0265407520906256


Copyright © 2020 Megan E. Cardwell, Jordan Soliz, Lisa J. Crockett, and Gretchen L. Bergquist. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Secure ethnic-racial identity (ERI) is tied to well-being, especially for minority individuals; however, there is still little consensus on the key processes and optimal outcomes of various multiethnic-racial (ME-R; i.e., individuals with parents from different ethnic-racial groups) identity development models. In this study, we examine the critical incidents in personal and social relationships that are central to ME-R identity development. Twentynine ME-R individuals provided retrospective accounts of incidents and conversations they self-perceived to be critical to their ERI development. Four major themes emerged: incidents and conversations surrounding intergroup contact, confrontation, heritage, and appearance were all recalled as critical to ME-R identity development. These findings highlight the importance of studying the ways that ERI is constituted through interaction with others. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.