Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Shawn Utsey, Ph.D.


During late adolescence and emerging adulthood, individuals undergo identity formation (Erikson, 1956). During this period, individuals may be insecure about their group memberships (Myers & DeWall, 2015). Subcategorizations have developed among Black people in America resulting from their traumatic history (Blair, Judd, Sadler, & Jenkins, 2002; Levingston & Brewer, 2002). This subcategorization creates in-group/out-group dichotomies. In order to increase one’s self-image, Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) poses that individuals attempt to enhance the image of their in-group. This study aimed to determine whether a person feels anxiety due to fear of rejection from the in-group when challenged on one’s group membership. Participants were asked to rate their physical features and assess their adherence to iv cultural norms and behaviors. They then completed a measure assessing their state anxiety. It was hypothesized that the fewer typical physical and cultural characteristics that one possessed, the greater their anxiety would be. Results from this study did not support the original hypotheses. However, research suggests that this is still an area worth exploring. Future directions are discussed.


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