Race Terminology in the Field of Psychology: Acknowledging the Growing Multiracial Population in the U.S.

Annabelle L. Atkin, N. Keita Christophe, Gabriela L. Stein, Abigail K. Gabriel, Richard M. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The field of psychology is coming toward a critical juncture; scholars are increasingly recognizing that race, ethnicity, and culture play important roles in their fields of study, but do not always have the language to integrate race and culture into their own work. Furthermore, common conceptions of race may systematically exclude those from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds in favor of fixed and discrete racial categories that ultimately perpetuate white supremacy. Meanwhile, as the Multiracial population of the U.S. is growing at an unprecedented rate, psychologists need language to acknowledge this population in their studies and pursue research to advance the field's knowledge of this diverse group and its many subpopulations. In an attempt to educate psychologists across subfields and disciplines, we provide a detailed account of preferred terms related to race and ethnicity with emphasis on ways to think about and talk about Multiracial populations in the United States. While preferred terms may change across time, the aim of this article is to provide psychologists with the tools to begin nuanced and necessary discussions about how race informs their research and the populations they work with in uniform and nonstigmatizing ways. By highlighting terminology related to those of multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds, we demystify and legitimize these rapidly growing but often hidden populations. Different perspectives on various terms are provided throughout to set psychologists on the path to beginning more race-conscious conversations and scientific inquiries into the experiences of Multiracial Americans and those from other marginalized racial-ethnic groups. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-393
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a predoctoral fellowship provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32-HD07376) through the Carolina Consortium on Human Development, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to N. Keita Christophe.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. American Psychological Association


  • Biracial
  • Identity
  • Multiethnic
  • Multiracial
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Racial Groups
  • Communication

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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